Analytics help separate the All-Stars from the potential busts – ESPN

According to ESPN’s model, no player in this draft is more likely to develop into an NBA starter than Jonathan Isaac. 

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The process of catching the champion Golden State Warriors continues (or in some cases starts) Thursday with the NBA draft, in which teams will be doing everything they can to identify the players who can elevate their franchises.

Separating the players who will be All-Stars from those who will merely be role players is part of a front office’s job, and one that we’ve set out to quantify using our NBA-caliber player-percentage metric below.

In the chart below, we’ve ranked the likelihood of members of the 2017 draft class becoming NBA-caliber players based on a projection of their statistical plus-minus (SPM) in Seasons 2 through 5 in the league. (Seasons 2-5 roughly represents the time frame players are under team control for below-market prices but omits rookie years, which are often not reliably predictive of future success).

After we’ve determined whether a player is NBA-caliber, we’ve drilled down further to predict whether they’ll become one of three levels of players:

(For more on the model’s inputs, outputs and performance projections of past classes, see FiveThirtyEight’s 2015 write-up or this explainer on ESPN’s draft model.

ESPN Analytics

Lonzo Ball is the top prospect, according to ESPN’s NBA draft model, with a projected average SPM of 1.47 in Seasons 2-5 of his career. Ball is also the least likely bust among all prospects, with a 28.6 percent chance of him not playing at least at a replacement level in the NBA. Despite all the debate about Ball, the model has him as the lowest-risk player in the draft. The UCLA product’s adjusted assist rate of 30 percent is fifth best of any player in this draft, and

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