Quantitative Analysis Of Early Entry Decisions: Part II

In part one of this series on the decisions of early entrants to the 2011 NBA Draft, the focus was on the goal of getting drafted. Using recent historical trends, we were able to see that this year’s group of early entrants stand a pretty good chance of being drafted despite a much-maligned status. But most hoop dreams don’t end on draft night. Borderline or questionable prospects have to hope that many factors fall in their favor in order to realize the goal of actually playing in the NBA.

Like in the first post, I’ll be working with the past three years of early entrant draft classes. To get a very basic feel for the post-draft fates of these early entrants, I gathered up the amount of minutes each player has logged over the course of his career. Because lottery picks are a different breed altogether, I once again focused on non-lottery first round picks and second round picks — or the guys who have the toughest decisions to make in terms of whether to stay in college or go pro. After establishing the total minutes played for each segment of players, a per game average was calculated for each eligible year. In graph form:

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Quantitative Analysis Of Early Entry Decisions: Part I

Early entrants by the numbers.

The deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2011 NBA Draft passed on Sunday night, ending two weeks of speculation on the futures of many of college basketball’s prized players. Around this time every year, it is common to read plenty of discussion on the merits of the decisions to stay or go. Without fail there are always a handful of players who decide to stay in the draft who get reamed because of their limited draft buzz. This season there appeared to be more of these fringe prospects declaring early because many of the projected lottery picks decided against testing the draft waters. The common consensus is that the influx of these borderline guys has made a weak drafter even weaker.

Despite the trend of top players staying in school, the overall number of early entrants for the 2011 NBA Draft is very similar to what we have seen in previous years. In total, 40 of the 61 current Division I players who declared opted to hire an agent and stay in the draft — a number that is actually smaller than last season’s figure of 48. However, there was a large decrease in the number of players who decided to test the waters, from 78 in 2010 to the 61 this year. Since the pool of those who stayed in has been relatively constant over the years, I decided to take a look at what has happened to those early entrants in an effort to quantitatively analyze whether or not the players hoping to be drafted this season made a quality decision or not.

To accomplish this task, I gathered lists of all the early entrants for the three drafts since 2008. For the purposes of this post, I’m assuming that the goal of each early entrant is to be drafted. The second part of this series will focus on the goal of actually playing in the NBA. For the first part, then, the results are pretty telling of why players decide to leave. On average, early entrants were drafted 75% of the time over the last three years. Essentially, players have a 3 in 4 chance of being drafted, or a 1 in 4 chance of going undrafted. Those are pretty nice odds for a borderline guy to consider, but they do not tell the whole story. Read more of this post