Measuring the Value of a Draft Pick

Written by Matt Weiss

With the draft coming up in a few days you will hear lots of talk about swapping picks. Teams will trade for a variety of reasons – some will target a player and go all in for them, others will have “too many” picks and see value in swapping some of them for an established player. Regardless of the reason, when a team moves a pick there is always debate over the value of that pick. Obviously who is picked ultimately trumps all. Manu Ginobili was the second to last pick of the 1999 draft. Jonathan Bender was taken 5th overall that year. Clearly Manu at 58 was a much better pick, but no one is ever going to trade the 58th pick for the 5th pick. There is a clear value in drafting higher, the question is, how much value is there per pick?

I used BBall Refernce to track win shares by pick for every player picked from 1990-2000 (hence why there are only 58 picks). I also didn’t count picks that never played in the league. You see lots of this in the late second round, but in recent years, unless a team was desperate to not pay a player, most players drafted have come over. More