Anthony Bennett, first overall pick, is last in win shares among rookies

Erik Drost | Flickr

Now that’s a high-percentage shot. (Erik Drost | Flickr)

It’s early. I keep telling myself that whenever I see Anthony Bennett (and even Shabazz Muhammad) struggle with their first season in the NBA. In particular, Bennett has started off exceptionally slow. Chad Ford was quoted a couple weeks ago on saying he’s looked like the worst number one pick in the last 20 years, including worse than the injury-prone Greg Oden.

Lots of statistics back that up, at least right now. Bennett’s PER is a grand total of 1.0 and his combined true shooting and effective field goal percentages (.322 + .291) is still below the true shooting percentage of 24 players this season. When on the court, Cleveland’s offensive rating of 91.3 would be far and away last place in the NBA when compared to the efficiency of the 29 other teams, according to NBA.com.

There are plenty of other stats, but I’ll include just one more: Among the 2013 draft class, Bennett is last in win shares. (For help on what win shares mean, this might help.) Here are the top and bottom 10 players, according to Basketball-Reference:

Top 10

Rank Round Pick Player Team Total WS WS/48 Minutes
1 1 12 Steven Adams OKC 1.7 0.154
2 1 11 Michael Carter-Williams PHI 1.3 0.074
3 1 22 Mason Plumlee BRK 1.3 0.133
4 1 24 Tim Hardaway, Jr. NYK 1.3 0.100
5 1 15 Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 1.2 0.089
6 1 8 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DET 0.8 0.047
7 1 9 Trey Burke MIN 0.6 0.041
8 1 20 Tony Snell CHI 0.6 0.059
9 1 2 Victor Oladipo ORL 0.4 0.019
10 2 38 Nate Wolters WAS 0.4 0.032

Bottom 10

Rank Round Pick Player Team Total WS WS/48 Minutes
26 1 27 Rudy Gobert DEN -0.1 -0.018
27 2 41 Jamaal Franklin MEM -0.1 -0.038
28 2 43 Ricky Ledo MIL -0.1 -0.332
29 2 49 Erik Murphy CHI -0.1 -0.115
30 1 17 Dennis Schroeder ATL -0.3 -0.083
31 1 29 Archie Goodwin OKC -0.3 -0.043
32 1 30 Nemanja Nedovic PHO -0.3 -0.106
33 2 56 Peyton Siva DET -0.3 -0.212
34 1 18 Shane Larkin ATL -0.4 -0.066
35 1 1 Anthony Bennett CLE -0.8 -0.125

This may or may not confirm how much value there was in the middle and late first round of the 2013 Draft compared to the very top. Only one player drafted in the top five (Victor Oladipo) is in the top 10 in win shares while draftees in the 10-25 slots have produced the most for now.

But win shares reward, well, wins. Steven Adams is a very serviceable player off the bench for Oklahoma City, but he also benefits from starting his career on a team aiming to get back to the NBA Finals. Nonetheless, the top five is rounded off with players on teams well below .500, and like I already said, Adams is a very solid player already. In fact, he should probably be starting.

In time, Bennett should be able to move up in the rankings if he can stay healthy, in shape, and at least be a key reserve off the bench since total win shares help players who stay in the league past their rookie contract. He might be sitting at the bottom for the rest of this season, however, with Tristan Thompson and now Luol Deng taking up considerable time at the forward slots. His minutes will be squeezed along with Earl Clark’s and Alonzo Gee’s.

When looking at win shares per-48-minutes, Bennett is third-worst and ahead of Peyton Siva and Ricky Ledo who were drafted 56th and 43rd overall, respectively. You can choose which win shares stat is more reliable, but they both have their flaws. Any per-X-minute stat rewards players who are productive in only limited time while total win shares reward longevity, consistency, and it helps to play on successful teams. One example is when Ray Allens defensive win shares (DWS) jumped from 0.9 in 2007 to 4.1 in 2008. Half of Allen’s DWS’s as a Celtic should be gift-wrapped to Kevin Garnett

Win shares are still an interesting stat to look at, though. The best players in the NBA often total more win shares than actual wins from cellar-dwelling teams, such as in 2012 when LeBron James totaled twice as many (14.5) as actual wins by the Charlotte Bobcats (7). You can bet that if LeBron played on that squad he would lead them to 21 wins, at the very least. As for Bennett, plenty of statistics prove that his current production leads to losses, which shows in his negative win share total.

Just for fun, here are a few other notable number one picks while measuring them to Bennett:

Notable #1 picks during the Lottery Era

Name Year Team WS Rank
Among
Draft Class
Total WS WS/48 Minutes Games
Kwame Brown 2001 WAS 17/49 20.8 0.079 607
Michael Olowokandi 1998 LAC 35/56 2.5 0.055 500
Greg Oden 2007 POR 25/50 6.8 0.180 82
Anthony Bennett 2013 CLE 35/35 -0.8 -0.125 29

This shows both how impactful Greg Oden was when he was healthy and how rewarding a decade-long career is when looking at Kwame Brown. Michael Olowokandi’s total is surprising given the fact that he played 500 games, and what a perfect amount to end a career on. I’ll never forget being so excited to have him on the 2004 Minnesota Timberwolves squad. Come on, guys! Give him a chance! He was the first pick in the draft, well, back in 1998 but still! Never again.

Lastly, here are some other notable high draft picks since 1985. They’re sorted by the year they were drafted:

Notable high draft pick, low win share totals during the Lottery Era

Name  Pick Year Team WS Rank Among Draft Class Total WS  WS/48 minutes Games
Chris Washburn 3 1986 GSW 68/68 -0.6 -0.046 72
Bo Kimble 8 1990 LAC 46/52 0.1 0.004 105
Bobby Hurley 7 1993 SAC 43/43 -1.2 -0.014 269
Sharone Wright 6 1994 PHI 35/45 1.3 0.027 156
Nikoloz Tskitishvili 5 2002 DEN 48/48 -1.6 -0.039 172
Rafael Araujo 8 2004 TOR 45/46 -0.4 -0.013 139
Adam Morrison 3 2006 CHA 51/52 -1.4 -0.021 161
Joe Alexander 8 2008 MIL 42/50 0.5 0.030 67
Jonny Flynn 6 2009 MIN 49/50 -1.1 -0.015 163
Austin Rivers 10 2012 NOH 50/50 -1.0 -0.029 82

That’s an interesting mix of players, blending guards who couldn’t shoot with forwards who were either injured, didn’t have a real position, or just weren’t good.

There’s also Rafael Araujo, who was a massive strikeout for Toronto. To summarize a tangent running through my mind, blowing draft picks after hitting it big has not helped small markets keep their superstars. We saw it already happen once to Cleveland, but hopefully it doesn’t happen again.

As a reminder, all statistics are according to Basketball-Reference.com unless noted otherwise.

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2 thoughts on “Anthony Bennett, first overall pick, is last in win shares among rookies

  1. […] would help him realize just how bad Kendrick Perkins is, but he continues to start him ahead of Steven Adams. We’re hopeless. It’s amazing the Thunder remain a title contender with both Perkins and Brooks […]

  2. […] O’Neal, Doug Christie, Kobe Bryant, Dale Davis, and Tracy McGrady. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, win shares have their flaws. Heck, during the Detroit Pistons’ title seasons of 1989 and ’90, […]

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