Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now

NBA Draft Trends: How Western teams make their picks

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The NBA draft has seen trends from different teams take shape in the past 15 years. (USATSI)
The NBA draft has seen trends from different teams take shape in the past 15 years. (USATSI)

We're in the midst of the 10-week period on the calendar that blends the basketball universes of the NBA and college hoops. It's the systemic benefit to the draft: the event brings all us hoop lovers together. With that in mind, I wanted to look at draft patterns and trends -- on both ends. How have NBA teams been selecting over the course of a generation? Which college hoops programs have earned the most draft selections? How has the foreign influx coursed during that period?

We're going to have a handful of posts related to draft trends since 1998 from both the professional and college level over the course of the next week at CBSSports.com. You'll inevitably be surprised at some of the data.

Why 15 years? It's a large enough sample size without going completely overboard. This reaches back to the late '90s, when the philosophy of the NBA in so many ways was different than what it is today. And, of course, the college game was contrastive to what we have now.

Today, we look at the Western Conference and how its 15 teams have drafted over the past 15 years. Which teams have been heavy drafting foreign players, and which have shied away from looking across the Atlantic? Which teams favor the ACC but haven't even selected a player from the Big 12 or Big Ten? Charted below for each team is a donut graph of draft picks and the percentage of their collective picks from leagues and foreign lands since the 1998 draft.

All instances in which a team had zero picks in a given group are noted in the nutgraph above the graphs. And I eliminated/didn't graph out all picks during the high-school-to-the-pros era, though I have noted the cases in which teams drafted the most/no players out of high school. Important note: in the instance of draft-day trades, whichever team acquired a given player as a result of the trade was given the draft nod in the interest of this exercise. So, for example, Jimmer Fredette was technically drafted by the Bucks in 2011, but he was traded to Sacramento on the same night. Ergo, it's the Kings' pick of Fredette.

For a look at this year's post-lottery mock draft, check out our latest mock drafts. Here's the West, with teams assorted in order of regular-season winning percentage.

San Antonio Spurs

Record: 832-350 (.703 win percentage)
Draft picks: 27
Playoff appearances: 15
Number of coaches: 1
NBA titles: 4
NBA Finals: 4

The Spurs are the NBA exception in just about every way. No team in the league comes close to San Antonio in terms of consistency. The 48.1-percent/half-donut of draft pick pattern is unlike any other team in the league. And it's coming from outside national borders. San An has taken no players from the SEC or Big Ten since 1998. It also is the only NBA team not to have a lottery pick in that time, hence the only team to make the playoffs every year.

Los Angeles Lakers

Record: 761-421 (.643 win percentage)
Draft picks: 30
Playoff appearances: 14
Number of coaches: 9
NBA titles: 5
NBA Finals: 7

How about this for something slightly surprising: the flashy team in LA has gone to smaller schools more than anything else. And the most popular conference pick of the past 15 years (the ACC) only has two Lakers selections.

Dallas Mavericks

Record: 756-426 (.639 win percentage)
Draft picks: 30
Playoff appearances: 12
Number of coaches: 3
NBA titles: 1
NBA Finals: 2

The Mavericks have selected at least one player from every major conference, and their only repeat pick from the same school is Florida (twice).

Phoenix Suns

Record: 670-512 (.566 win percentage)
Draft picks: 22
Playoff appearances: 9
Number of coaches: 7
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Suns' 22 draft picks over a 15-year span is the fewest in the league. Interesting trend of going out East and plucking from the ACC while taking half as many from the Pac-12. The only conference ignored by Phoenix since '98: SEC.

Utah Jazz

Record: 669-513 (.565 win percentage)
Draft picks: 33
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 2
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

Despite a hefty 33 picks, the Jazz have found no need to pick a player from the ACC in 15 years; the ACC has more draft picks than any other league in that time (more coming on college trends next week!). Utah's six picks from the Big Ten are the most by any team for that conference.

Houston Rockets

Record: 635-547 (.537 win percentage)
Draft picks: 36
Playoff appearances: 7
Number of coaches: 4
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Rockets' 36 picks in the past 15 years are the third-most among NBA teams. Only three teams have selected more foreign players than Houston, and the team is one of just two from the Western Conference that has taken at least two picks from every major conference and two from non-major leagues as well (Memphis being the other). A lot of variety in Houston's methodology.

Portland Trail Blazers

Record: 618-564 (.522 win percentage)
Draft picks: 37
Playoff appearances: 8
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Bulls and Blazers have walked away with more players on draft night in the past 15 years than all other teams. With the 37 picks, Portland's foreign allotment is bested by only San Antonio. Despite all the choices, the SEC and Big 12 only combine for 5.8 percent of the inventory.

Denver Nuggets

Record: 616-566 (.521 win percentage)
Draft picks: 28
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 7
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

Denver's only double-dip from the same school in the past 15 years? Bet you can't guess it. Fresno State. Amazingly, the Nuggets have made the playoffs for a decade straight, losing in the first round nine times.

Oklahoma City Thunder (Seattle SuperSonics)

Record: 609-573 (.515 win percentage)
Draft picks: 34
Playoff appearances: 7
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

The Thunder's 11 foreign draft picks are bested only by two other teams. Oklahoma City is one of four teams to allot 35 percent or more of its draft picks to one group. You can also see the local love for Big 12.

New Orleans Pelicans (New Orleans/Charlotte Hornets)

Record: 584-598 (.494 win percentage)
Draft picks: 24
Playoff appearances: 8
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The 76ers and Warriors share the most SEC picks with the Pelicans, but those other two teams didn't have their biggest percentage of picks come from the SEC like New Orleans does. Geographical bias there? No team has completely shunned foreign prospects, but the Pelicans are one of six NBA teams to only draft one foreign prospect since 1998.

Sacramento Kings

Record: 609-655 (.481 win percentage)
Draft picks: 26
Playoff appearances: 8
Number of coaches: 7
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Kings, the Magic and the 76ers hold the title of most love given to the small guys; those three teams have the most picks from non-major leagues with 10 apiece. I was a bit surprised by just three foreign picks for Sactown here.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 525-657 (.444 win percentage)
Draft picks: 30
Playoff appearances: 6
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Timberwolves could've had 32 choices were they not forced to forfeit picks in both 2002 and 2004. The five Big Ten picks is the second-most in the league to Utah. Minnesota has taken no players from the Big 12.

Memphis Grizzlies (Vancouver Grizzlies)

Record: 499-683 (.422 win percentage)
Draft picks: 35
Playoff appearances: 6
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Grizzlies have made 35 picks in the past 15 years, fourth-most in the league. Because of that, Memphis has, by far, taken more players from the Big 12 than any other team AND they've taken more players from the Big East than any other team.

Los Angeles Clippers

Record: 472-710 (.399 win percentage)
Draft picks: 31
Playoff appearances: 3
Number of coaches: 7
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Clippers have completely shunned the coasts, picking zero players from the Pac-12 and the Big East. The Heat and the Spurs are the only other teams in the NBA to bypass two leagues entirely since 1998. The Clippers are the only team to not pick a Big East player in the past 15 years.

Golden State Warriors

Record: 472-710 (.399 win percentage)
Draft picks: 32
Playoff appearances: 2
Number of coaches: 9
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Warriors love them some Tar Heels, picking three UNC players since 1998. They've also double-dipped on Michigan State and Pittsburgh. And Golden State is one of three teams to select the most SEC players (five).

Coming Friday: a look at the Eastern Conference.

 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre

Latest Video

August 7, 2014
UK and Calipari prepare for tournament (1:04)
1 July 22, 2014
NCAA autonomy
(1:56)
2 July 7, 2014
Jim Rome Newsmaker: Isaiah Austin
(4:58)
3 June 24, 2014
Jabari Parker 'Student of the Game'
(2:49)

Latest

Most Popular

CBSSports.com Shop