NBA Draft Trends: Looking at patterns in the Eastern Conference

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The league and its draft philosophies have evolved over the course of David Stern's tenure. (USATSI)
The league and its draft philosophies have evolved over the course of David Stern's tenure. (USATSI)

We're in the midst of the 10-week period that blends the NBA and college hoops universes. 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 influx of international players affected the draft? We're going to have a handful of posts related to draft trends since 1998 from both the professional and college levels over the course of the next week at CBSSports.com. You may 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.

The series started on Thursday, with a look at the Western Conference's 15 teams and how they've gone about making their draft picks. Below, the Eastern Conference, which hasn't been nearly as successful as the West since 1998 -- or since Michael Jordan left the Bulls.

How might these teams compare historically to what's lining up for them in 2013? For a look at this year's post-lottery mock draft, check out our Jeff Goodman's latest prognostication. Now, here's the East, with teams sorted in order of regular-season winning percentage.

Miami Heat

Record: 668-514 (.565 win percentage)
Draft picks: 24
Playoff appearances: 12
Number of coaches: 3
NBA titles: 2
NBA Finals: 3

The East's No. 1 team matches up with the West's No. 5 group (Utah and Miami both have .565 win percentages). Miami's apparent shunning of the ACC is notable because that conference has had more draftees (99) than any other. Also notable, the Heat opt for the lowest percentage of foreign selections. Generally speaking, the Heat tend to draft against the general trend of choosing players from leagues that send the most athletes to the NBA.

Detroit Pistons

Record: 637-545 (.538 win percentage)
Draft picks: 34
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 1
NBA Finals: 2

Plenty of NBA teams situated in Big Ten country weren't more likely to draft Big Ten players.

Detroit's approach in drafting players in comparison with other NBA teams is generally pretty balanced, though it has gone twice with players from four particular college programs -- Cincinnati, Kentucky, Georgetown and Missouri.

Boston Celtics

Record: 635-546 (.537 win percentage)
Draft picks: 33
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 4
NBA titles: 1
NBA Finals: 2

Boston is one of the few teams to draft at least two players from all eight divisions (six major conferences, the non-majors, foreign). The Celtics have taken multiple picks (two apiece) from Syracuse and Texas. And only the Grizzlies' eight Big 12 picks best Boston's six from that league.

Indiana Pacers

Record: 633-548 (.535 win percentage)
Draft picks: 24
Playoff appearances: 11
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

Not a whole lot of picks for the Pacers to parse, and they keep it fairly simple. It's interesting Indiana has no Big Ten choices through 15 years, while Cincinnati and Colorado have seen two of their players go to Indiana on draft night.

Orlando Magic

Record: 615-567 (.520 win percentage)
Draft picks: 30
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 7
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

Kentucky seemingly has a mini-pipeline to Orlando, as the Magic have selected three Wildcats since 1998. Duke and UNC have placed two players apiece in Orlando. The Magic have made zero picks from the Big 12, and the 10 players they've drafted from non-major schools leads the NBA.

Philadelphia 76ers

Record: 591-591 (.500 win percentage)
Draft picks: 32
Playoff appearances: 10
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

The Sixers' six Pac-12 picks ranks Philadelphia near the top of the NBA's list of draftees from that conference.

USC, Washington, Georgia Tech and Temple all have had two players selected by the Sixers. As with the Magic, the 76ers have selected no players from the Big 12.

Milwaukee Bucks

Record: 554-628 (.468 win percentage)
Draft picks: 28
Playoff appearances: 8
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Bucks, like a few other teams, did not draft a player out of high school when that was still in vogue. Milwaukee also shied away from players out of the ACC and Big East, popular picking grounds, going local withe the Big Ten instead and looking into talent from the non-majors.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Record: 543-639 (.459 win percentage)
Draft picks: 28
Playoff appearances: 5
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

The Cavaliers have taken one draft selection apiece from the Big Ten, SEC and Big East. The Cavs are the only NBA team to go single-choice from the three major conferences. Duke and Kansas have had three players selected by Cleveland in the past 15 years.

New York Knicks

Record: 536-646 (.453 win percentage)
Draft picks: 30
Playoff appearances: 7
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 1

The Knicks are your Pac-12-lovin' NBA franchise. Who'd have thought? Also surprising: New York did not select a player out of high school during the period that applied in this study. Which school do the Knicks like above all others? Arizona. Three picks since 1998.

Brooklyn Nets (New Jersey Nets)

Record: 528-654 (.446 win percentage)
Draft picks: 28
Playoff appearances: 7
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 2

Not only have the Nets not taken an SEC player and just one Big Ten product, the franchise didn't pull the trigger on any high school prospect in the available duration of this study. The Pac-12 love is only bettered by the Nets' New York neighbors.

Chicago Bulls

Record: 528-654 (.446 win percentage)
Draft picks: 37
Playoff appearances: 8
Number of coaches: 8
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Bulls' 37 chances in 15 years are as many or more as any team in the league. And the franchise has spread out its choices, surprisingly not looking to non-major teams nearly as much as other NBA clubs with 10 fewer picks. Chicago has taken three players from UConn and Duke and largely looked past the Big Ten talent -- or lack thereof.

Atlanta Hawks

Record: 514-668 (.434 win percentage)
Draft picks: 31
Playoff appearances: 7
Number of coaches: 5
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Hawks are fairly nondescript (which is to say: being the Hawks), following the pattern and trends, mostly, of the NBA draft picks as a whole. Arizona and Duke are the two programs with two picks by the Hawks.

Toronto Raptors

Record: 514-668 (.434 win percentage)
Draft picks: 28
Playoff appearances: 5
Number of coaches: 6
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

There you have it: Toronto and Atlanta have won and lost the same number of games in the past 15 years. Which franchise would you rather be, though? The Raptors' 28 picks have seen few actually pan out. UNC is the only multiple-pick program (two).

Washington Wizards

Record: 453-729 (.383 win percentage)
Draft picks: 27
Playoff appearances: 4
Number of coaches: 10
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

No Big 12 and just one from the Pac-12. Whatever Washington's doing, it's not working. Ten coaches in 15 years is an NBA high in this examination. Wizards have gone to Maryland's backyard twice for draft picks.

Charlotte Bobcats

Record: 250-472 (.346 win percentage)
Draft picks: 16
Playoff appearances: 1
Number of coaches: 4
NBA titles: 0
NBA Finals: 0

The Bobcats/Soon-To-Be-Hornets are the anomaly to the group, being as the franchise is not even a decade old. That said, interesting of the franchise to afford out a fourth of its picks to date to the local ACC teams. Two of those picks have been from UNC. Also interesting to note just one foreign pick, the lowest of any NBA team.

Coming Monday: examining the major college basketball conferences and which have the most draft picks in the past 15 years.

 
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