I feel vindicated. In providing a mock draft only on the top 14 (lottery) picks, I wrote that going beyond that would’ve been “tedious and irresponsible.” Mock drafts are among those fixtures that the sports media have been churning out in rote fashion for decades. Fans and readers seem to demand this analysis, even though it is rarely based on accurate information and is about as valuable as Zach Randolph’s contract.
Lo and behold, the Web site Sports Media Analysis has undertaken the only task I can think of that is more tedious than doing a mock draft: grading the performance of the writers and media members who did mock drafts. The results were predictable, and to be honest, fascinating.
Using a grading system that provided points for correct picks and weighting for closely projecting where a player would be selected, Sports Media Analysis determined the following:
Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen claimed the overall top spot after ranking 4th in the correct pick portion of the analysis and topping the pick difference analysis. Closely trailing Mr. Thomsen were Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Sam Smith of Sporting News, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press. The Orlando Sentinel’s Tim Povtak, MyNBADraft.com’s Todd Robinson, InsideHoops.com, the Chicago Sun-Times’ John Jackson and the Boston Herald’s David Moore rounded out the top 10. Although he performed well overall, Mr. Feigen deserves some criticism here for completely forgetting (I assume) about Eric Gordon. Not only did he not have Gordon going in the Top 10, as almost every other mock draft did, he completely left him out of the first round.
Mr. Thomsen’s win was fueled by his dominance in the Second 10 picks of the draft. He was the only sportswriter to correctly guess more than two of the Second 10 picks – Robin Lopez to the Suns at #15, Marreese Speights to the 76ers at #16 and JJ Hickson to the Cavaliers – and his picks in the Second 10 averaged only 3.1 draft slots away from where they were actually drafted. No other prognosticator had an average less than 5.0 during the Second 10. Additionally, Mr. Thomsen’s overall average pick difference for the 1st round was 3.667, the only average under 4.0. Finally, Mr. Thomsen finished in the top seven of every single category, with only Mr. Bonnell joining him as a Top 10 finisher in every category. Dominant indeed.
On one hand, I hate to highlight the people who did not perform particularly well on the mock draft, but that is exactly why it is important that someone do this analysis. At some point, we as readers have to trust our sources of information, and it only makes sense that we analyze them to find out who among them is consistently full of it. Much to my own personal surprise, two of my favorite NBA writers – Chad Ford and John Hollinger – were woefully bad on their mock drafts.
It’s not a huge surprise that Mr. Hollinger was off but I had always presumed that Mr. Ford would be at or near the top in an objective analysis such as this considering the amount of coverage he gives the NBA Draft. Mr. Ford was especially dreadful in the Second 10, in which he did not pick a single player correctly and he averaged a second-worst 8.2 draft slots away per player. In addition to picking two players in the Second 10 who were not drafted until the 2nd Round – Mario Chalmers and DeAndre Jordan – he slotted both Kosta Koufos and Donte Greene towards the top of the Second 10.
In addition, the Web site found, “Of the 12 newspaper writers who completed mock drafts only two – the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro and Mr. Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times – correctly picked their local teams’ 1st round pick.” This is interesting because it makes me wonder if the rest of the writers were victims of misinformation and smokescreens planted by the coaches and executives they cover.
The bit on Thomsen being the only mockster to correctly predict more than two picks between Nos. 11-21 only validated my point about how silly it is to even attempt a mock draft that goes much beyond the lottery selections.
I had five correct picks out of the 14 lottery selections, one fewer than Sports Media’s winner, Thomsen. Obviously, he would’ve blown me away with his dominance in the second half of the first round — and the fact that he had Jason Thompson going 14th, only two spots off, proved that Ian was on this big time.
But to further illustrate my point about how fruitless these mock drafts are, the two readers who took me on in my mock draft challenge got seven and six correct picks out of 14, respectively. Presumably, they were doing this off the top of their heads, without the benefit — or should I say, disadvantage — of talking with team executives and agents.
The analysts didn’t count my mock draft in their calculations because I didn’t complete it. In my mind, that means that I should have won.
P.S. Thanks to Henry Abbott of TrueHoop for pointing me to the link. Hey, Abbott, how’d you do in your mock draft?