Tag Archives: 2014 NBA Draft

When a prospect slips in the draft, how much salary do they lose?

This post has been revised after noticing a mistake in salaries of four-year rookie contracts. My air head regrets the error. 

With top college basketball players declaring for the draft left and right save for Jabari Parker, whose decision seems very much up in the air, I looked at the contracts for first round picks and how much money is really lost when top prospects slide in the draft. There are also cases when a player like Anthony Bennett gets drafted, when a team either reaches for a draftee or takes a player that might not have been on the radar for that draft slot.

But to start, contracts for first round picks are scaled ahead of time (up to the year 2020 can be found here) with teams having the option to offer as little as 80 percent of the fixed price or as high as 120 percent, according to Larry Coon’s cbafaq.com. Players often have that slight raise with Anthony Davis as just one example, but taking less than the slot scale has happened before thanks to Andre Roberson. Those contracts can last up to four years, but teams have options after the first two seasons to either release their once-first rounders or hold onto them at what’s likely a bargain price.

Below is a table looking at the scaled salaries for first rounders in the 2014 NBA Draft, sorted by draft slots. The first sheet is the combined salary, year after year, of the first four years. That’s assuming they all play through their rookie contracts and take the slight raise that teams can offer. The second sheet is the salary each season with the raise percentage they could get in their fourth.

But the first sheet is most important as it’ll be applied to a second batch of tables comparing how much money could be lost between draft slots. Take a look at the most money each slot could make through their first four seasons:

For a player like Anthony Davis, whose combined salary over four years is around that $20 million range, he makes as much over those seasons as Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and LeBron James make this season alone, among others. But that’s for Davis, who was drafted first overall in 2012. The 8th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft will make just under half of the 1st overall pick’s salary over four years (unless their contract includes incentives).

It’s simply a huge get for a franchise to score a first round pick that’s not only productive and can stay in the league, but an overall positive on the court. The sooner they’re a positive contributor the better, obviously, but even if a player hangs on for three years of his contract despite producing little and then becomes a key cog in Year 4, it still seems worth it given how many contracts around the $10 million/year range end up not so terrific. Looks like fun times all around for teams with those first rounders.

As for the draft prospects projected to go in the first round, slipping in the draft may provide positives such as a chip on their shoulder and a better fit with a better team. However, depending on how far a prospect slides and how high they were slated to go, it can be quite a blow to their bank account. For example, if the first overall pick and sixth of the 2014 Draft each play out all four years of their rookie contract (and take that raise they can be offered), the difference in salary between them is over $10 million. Maybe something comes up with Joel Embiid that hurts his draft stock or teams have second thoughts on Andrew Wiggins, who knows. Crazier things have happened, for better or for worse.

Regardless, dropping in the draft means an obvious decline in the salary they can earn and below are tables hopefully showing the difference for each draft pick over the course of two, three, and four seasons under their scaled pay. Again, that includes taking the slight raise they can be offered. Salary lost is in parenthesis while salary gained — if a prospect is drafted ahead of their projected slot or range — is not.

Also, because the sheets were fairly large, I made columns of draft slots on the bottom of them and to the right side in case it becomes hard to tell which draft slot is which. Anyway, take a look if you’d like:

Jabari Parker could very well be that player who slips in the draft not because of a performance issue but the overall talent that’s at the top. Is it worth it for him to trade being a top-5, maybe top-7 pick in this year’s draft in exchange for being a top-3 pick in 2015 and Duke being a title contender next year?

Some other highly-touted prospect is bound to drop in the draft regardless, but hopefully to a team that he’ll fit right in with. Trey Burke, Gorgui Dieng, and Tim Hardaway Jr. probably weren’t the ninth, 21st, and 24th-best available players in last year’s draft but they all look like they’ll end up as solid gets for the teams that chose them.

Which players will be this season’s Burke, Dieng, or Hardaway? Better yet, will anyone be the next Anthony Bennett in terms of rising in the draft for whatever reason? I guess we’ll have to wait, um, like 76 more days for all of this, though. Ugh, but if some player drops or rises then hopefully the tables posted above can help look at the impact it’ll have in their paychecks.

Any other thoughts are certainly welcome. You can find previous years here.

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The battle in the middle of the NBA lottery

By this point of the season, teams that started (and remain) with depleted rosters have come down to earth, making their way to the bottom of the league’s standings. Sometimes they become so bad they separate themselves from the rest of the pack, like the 2010 New Jersey Nets who were 4-48 at about this time four years ago, the 2012 and ’13 Charlotte Bobcats, and this season’s poor, poor Milwaukee Bucks.

A couple other teams are bound to be just as hopeless. Together they’ll combine for half, sometimes even two-thirds of the chances of lottery teams scoring a top-3 pick. Below is a slot-by-slot breakdown of the odds of reaching the final three:

  1. 64.3%
  2. 55.8%
  3. 46.9%
  4. 37.8%
  5. 29.2%
  6. 21.5%
  7. 15.0%
  8. 10.0%
  9. 6.1%
  10. 4.0%
  11. 2.9%
  12. 2.5%
  13. 2.2%
  14. 1.8%

The odds of landing a top-3 pick are still decent in places four through six, spots often up for grabs between several teams, some legitimate enough to be a force the following season with their current roster and a draft pick high enough to land a future star.

Take this season’s ongoing battle, for example. Six teams currently have between 18 and 20 wins, the difference between fourth and ninth place in the lottery and over a 30 percent chance of sitting in the top three on draft night. After those teams is a group of 22 and 23-win squads well within reach such as New Orleans, who already has a gem in Anthony Davis. Score a top-3 pick and the West has another team to worry about in 2015 and on.

Here’s a look at this season so far, not taking into account draft picks owed:

Tier 1 and 2 are pretty similar in terms of skill level and the stages of their franchises, though making up ground on Orlando and Philadelphia seem like quite a task. Each team can become that much worse with a trade before the deadline, but there’s still room for others to move up and grab anywhere from a fifth to a third of the lottery pie.

But is it really worth it for teams to tank for a serious chance at a high draft pick? It depends. Teams outside the top three or four in the lottery are vastly different from each other. Below are some examples of teams less likely to tank:

  • Teams that don’t own their own draft pick, like the current 20-32 Knicks. There’s no incentive for them to lose more games.
  • Others, like the 2010 Pacers and usually the Bucks don’t believe tanking helps as much as staying competitive while rebuilding.
  • Teams with rising stars such as the early days of LeBron James and currently the Brow, though I wish Cleveland hung on for one more top pick. Same with New Orleans with Nerlens Noel, or even a top-5 pick this summer.
  • Teams with good pieces looking to rise through a blockbuster trade, like the 2010-13 Rockets.
  • Teams that just acquired a star, like the 2005 Golden State Warriors with Baron Davis. I would include the 2013 Raptors or the current Kings except Rudy Gay has never even been an all-star. This can also apply to teams that splurged in the summer but struggled out of the gate, like this season’s Pistons after grabbing Josh Smith.
  • Teams stuck in no man’s land with established stars, like the 2006 and 2007 Timberwolves with Kevin Garnett and the 2013 Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki. The 2009 Suns can also fall in here, but the standings at the end of the season showed a 17-game difference between ninth and 10th place in the West and 10 games between 13th and 14th in the lottery.
  • Playoff hopefuls going through injuries, like a ton of teams out East earlier this season, the 2013 Blazers, and the 2013 Timberwolves.
  • Talented pieces that don’t fit, like the 2013 Raptors and 2010 Grizzlies. Seriously, the 2010 Grizz featured Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet, Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Allen Iverson, Ronnie Brewer, Mike Conley, Jamaal Tinsley, and Marcus Williams. They might also fit under the teams that…
  • …want to see what they have versus resting them for a higher draft pick, but I honestly don’t remember a ton about that squad other than the names they had at one point or another. The 2013 Wizards and Timberwolves are probably better examples with them looking at the John WallBradley Beal combo and the Ricky RubioKevin LoveNikola Pekovic trio, respectively.

Basically, every situation is different.

Over the next two months, we’ll see which teams battle for a better slot in the lottery and which would rather chase for a playoff spot. At the moment, it seems like places eight to 14 will see a lot of action between East teams moving in and out of the playoff race. Places four to seven should also be active, and Sacramento is just too talented to be in fifth place.

Historically, teams have moved up and scored a top-3 pick (2005 Blazers), but others have lost major ground yet still hung on (2013 Wizards). Below is a history of lottery movement since 2003. Standings are as of February 11 of every season but 2012, which I moved up to March 11. That’s a week off compared to this year, sure, but standings are just about the same with teams already having played a similar percentage of games.

Anyway, take a look if you’d like (here’s a link too):

I didn’t adjust for playoff slots in the tables as of either February and March 11, as well as draft picks owed to other teams for any of the tables. Percentages were based off sites such as NBA.com, its team pages, and draft-based sites like DraftExpress. Percentages may still be off by a hundredth of a percentage point, but whatever.

Feel free to chime in with any other comments.

Mediocre NBA teams deserve special slogans too

“Riggin for Wiggins” is just one slogan the 2014 NBA Draft and its potential prospects have created for teams tanking in March and April. Bill Simmons may or may not have gotten carried away with them last night. Check it out:

I can’t say much, especially when I’ve always thought about tweeting “play like Shart for Smart”, so I saved it for my blog. Nice. That’ll boost my credibility.

But if we could go back in time, I’d also make slogans for teams that tried to stay good in the short term in exchange for a dent in the future. Here they are. Read if you dare:

Washington Wizards: So distraught without Gortat

Charlotte Bobcats: Understand the rationale for Big Al

Cleveland Cavaliers: Ain’t jack without Jack

New York Knicks: Scrawny without Bargnani

Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings-lite with Brandon Knight.

New Orleans Pelicans: Turn away as we trade for Holiday.

Detroit Pistons: Happily writhe for Josh Smith.

Dallas Mavericks: Overzealous for Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers: I’m just sayin, Chris Kaman?

If none of these worked for you, I apologize. Proceed to jump through the laptop and hit me with a frying pan.

NBA Tankapalooza Power Rankings 1.0

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The 2014 NBA Draft is to die for. Okay, not really. Why would you want to die before or after watching the NBA Draft? Doesn’t seem logical to me, but the crop of draft picks next year looks that good.

Some teams have already lined up for pegged future all-stars such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart. All three are college basketball players who will probably declare for the 2014 NBA Draft. Other teams are one disaster–during the off-season or regular season–away from going into tank mode in hopes of acquiring as many lottery balls as possible.

I ranked the top ten teams in terms of how tank-worthy they’ve become with 1 being total tank-worthy and 10 being, like previously said, a disaster away from joining the lowly Bobcats and Co. The rankings will likely fluctuate as the off-season goes on, but here are my top ten for now:

Tier 1 – Tanking and we know it

1. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers could’ve settled for another season of 30 to 40 wins, but took a gamble on trading Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 top-5 protected draft pick from New Orleans. Basically, the 76ers are hoping to have two top-ten picks in a loaded 2014 draft. It’s a near-lock that their own pick will be in the top ten as they’ve chosen to bottom out in the standings. New Orleans looks like they’ll make a run at a lower seed in the Western Conference playoffs unless health takes a toll on their trio of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis.

What’s left for Philly? Andrew Bynum could be re-signed, but he’s a bigger risk than Noel at this point. Evan Turner’s about to have his last chance to prove he’s a piece to rebuild around. If not, he and Thaddeus Young will probably be on the trading block. The same can be said for Spencer Hawes, so they should hang his mustache in the rafters while they still can.

Maybe Philadelphia’s secretly trying to rebuild around Kwame Brown?

2. Boston Celtics

Boston’s cleaning house as they’ve already shopped Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry for the Nets poo-poo platter led by Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. The prize of that trade will come at least a few years from now with the 2016 and 2018 unprotected draft picks Brooklyn sent (along with one from 2014). By 2016, Boston’s hoping Brooklyn will be in a rebuilding phase.

Right now, they’re trying to put the final nail in the coffin of their 2014 season by shopping Rajon Rondo. Even if they keep Rondo, Boston should still be projected to win under 30 games. Their identity without Garnett and Pierce is gone, but Avery Bradley still remains a key rebuilding piece for the Celtics.

3. Phoenix Suns

The Suns were another team who could’ve spent a season letting Nerlens Noel rehabilitate before jumping into the NBA waters (or desert, since it’s Phoenix we’re talking about). Instead, the Suns went with Alex Len who has injury concerns of his own. Obviously, time will tell if they chose wisely in the draft but like Charlotte passing on Noel, I thought it was a head-scratcher. The Suns can also afford to wait on Len though. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley will be trade chips throughout next season, though there’s not much else to look forward to when watching the Suns. Goran Dragic’s another rebuilding piece, but he’s going to ease the tanking process more than turn the Suns into a playoff contender in the future. Check out his per-36-minute numbers at basketball-reference. They haven’t improved or regressed. At 26, Dragic is what he is and he will probably continue to have similar numbers for the next five or so seasons unless an injury occurs or (gasp) a woman comes along.

Other than those players there’s Michael Beasley, Shannon Brown, the Morris twins, Luis Scola, Kendall Marshall, and Hamed Haddadi among others on the Suns roster. Words to describe this roster: cluster****.

Some team will probably take one last chance on Beasley or Brown though, and Scola can be a missing piece off the bench for a contender. If Phoenix can ship those three players for second round picks and/or raw, young players with potential, it wouldn’t be that bad of a return on previous lukewarm investments.

4. Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats lost Anthony Davis to the lottery balls in 2012, then passed on Noel less than a week ago for Cody Zeller. While Zeller will compliment Bismack Biyombo better in the post, the Bobcats probably should’ve gone with Noel when looking at their rebuilding phase. They’ve been rebuilding for what seems like the beginning of life, but why not tank again by acquiring a center who may not even play next season?

Outside of Zeller, the Bobcats will get another year out of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bismack Biyombo. They also have some cap room to fill this summer. Where they use that remains to be seen, but it may decide if Charlotte stays a 15-25 win team or one over 30.

Does Michael Jordan have the patience to tank for one more season?

Tier 2 – Kinda-sorta hiding the Tank Card but we kinda-sorta know they’ll use it

5. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have nearly $30 million coming off the books this summer, though reports have shown that Milwaukee will use up a good chunk of it on re-signing Brandon Jennings. Maybe that’s so they can get pieces back in a future trade involving the shoot-first point guard but, like most teams who passed on Nerlens Noel, Milwaukee isn’t going anywhere with or without Jennings.

The future of the Bucks has shifted instead towards the forwards and centers of Larry Sanders, John Henson, and Ersan Ilyasova. Those aren’t exactly players who can transform a franchise, but they’re nice compliments to a team who could, ahem, snag a future star in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Should the Bucks go into tank mode, Fear the Deer will be no more. It will be replaced by Tears for the Deer.

6. Sacramento Kings

With new ownership, the future for the Kings at least looks brighter than a black hole, but their roster still comes off as one from a fantasy basketball league. The Kings will have to figure out how to distribute the shots around DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Jason Thompson, and first-round pick Ben McLemore. You could say Ben McLemore will defer to others if he didn’t take the initiative often enough at Kansas, but then why draft him with the seventh overall pick?

This roster will have several chances to change from now until February though. Teams will line up to make offers at restricted free agent Tyreke Evans this summer as well as make trade offers for the troubled DeMarcus Cousins, the latter likely continuing all the way until February. Depending on what the Kings receive in return, they could stay outside the five worst teams in the league or make a move to be included.

Remember though: as dysfunctional as the Kings were last season, they finished with only the seventh overall pick.

7. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors shipped Andrea Bargnani yesterday to the New York Knicks for most notably a 2016 first round pick and two second rounders in the future. The trade’s a win for the Raptors, but we’ll see if they’re done making moves this summer and through the season. Just remember that GM Masai Ujiri has no attachment to the current roster and Rudy Gay–a polarizing talent in front offices across the league–could be trade bait in the near-future.

Ujiri knows better than to be a late-lottery team like Toronto is slated to be. He’ll find a way to either hit bottom or find a diamond in the rough that gives Toronto a head start from other teams on this list.

Edit: The trade involving Bargnani might be held off because Kenyon Martin does not want to be signed and traded to Toronto, via Marc Stein.

Tier 3 – One disaster away from using the Tank Card

8. Los Angeles Lakers

Disaster: Dwight Howard signing with another team.

It almost looks like they’re trying to make Dwight Howard leave and with all but Steve Nash’s contract coming off the books after next season, the Lakers could swallow the tankapalooza pill and join their rival Celtics in the chase for Andrew Wiggins.

If Dwight Howard chooses to come back, the Lakers get either another first round exit in the playoffs or no playoff appearance at all, but not good enough odds to get in the top 3 of the lottery. Drat.

9. Dallas Mavericks

Disaster: Signing no marquee free agents.

Coming up empty-handed for a third summer in a row could mean cutting their losses, shipping Dirk (who has a no-trade clause, worth noting), and building from the bottom up. The Mavericks’ draft pick is currently owed to Oklahoma City, but it’s top-20 protected.

Could Mark Cuban stomach the thought of tanking for a high 2014 draft pick and starting all over for the first time in 15 years?

10. Portland Trail Blazers

Disaster: Trading LaMarcus Aldridge

Trade rumors around LaMarcus Aldridge, legitimate or not, will continue to be discussed throughout the summer and could intensify if Portland gets out to a rough start in the regular season. Even if he leaves, Portland still has Damian Lilliard, C.J. McCollum, and Nicholas Batum to build around. With two of those three under rookie contracts, that’s not a bad start to rebuilding a team into a contender.

Honorable mentions: Atlanta Hawks (disaster: signing no marquee free agents and losing Josh Smith for nothing), Minnesota Timberwolves (disaster: injury Gozilla bites them again next season).

I like the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons to consistently stay away from tank-worthy territory. Neither might not make the playoffs though both seem near-locks to stay out of the bottom five in standings. Basically, there will be too much ground between these teams and the likes of Philadelphia and Boston, for example, to tank and get a juicy spot in the lottery.

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