Kevin Pelton of ESPN has created an algorithm that is programmed to predict the value of a drafted player for his first five years in the NBA. Being a guy with a background in mathematics, such models are often exciting for me. However, some of these projections are a bit hard to swallow.
Basically, Pelton includes NCAA performance, Nike EYBL performance, and ESPN player rankings. This program predicts how each player will perform as a rookie, and then looks on to their first five years in the league to assign a WARP (wins above replacement player) value. Pelton has ranked his top 30 players based on the WARP result, indicating the impact these players will have over a mythical, average NBA player.
There is only one member of the Kentucky Wildcats that appears on the list, and it may not be who you were expecting.
No. 24 - Tyler Herro, 1.1 WARP
The top-ranked player on a John Calipari team whose prospects generally did not project well by my model, Herro has a strong combination of size (6-foot-5), shooting ability (36 percent on 3s, but an impressive 94 percent on free throws as a freshman) and ballhandling chops.
The top of this list closely mimics most NBA Draft projections with Zion Williamson (5.2 WARP), Ja Morant (3.3 WARP), RJ Barrett (2.2 WARP), Darius Garland (2.1 WARP), and Cam Reddish (2.0 WARP) taking the top five spots.
But when you start listing players like John Konchar from Purdue-Fort Wayne, Dylan Windler of Belmont, and Alen Smailagic of the G-League without including PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, or even Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga, I have to question your model.
What do you make of these statistical projections?