caseyholdahl

Sep 25

Pelton: There's A 65.4 Percent Chance Portland Sends Their 2015 First-Round Pick To Charlotte

By caseyholdahl

On Monday, ESPN.com released the newest iteration of their Future Power Rankings. The Trail Blazers were ranked 11th, up three spots from the last ranking conducted in May 2013, which is great news if you buy into these sort of things.

The way the rankings work is teams are given a score from zero to 100 in five categories:  players, management, market, draft and money. The scores are then averaged, which gives you the team's overall score (in Portland's case, 52.9) that is used to rank all 30 teams. The Trail Blazers pulled scores of at least 50 in all the categories except for draft, which brought down Portland's overall rank thanks to a score of 31.8. I assumed this was due to Portland still owing the Charlotte Bobcats a conditional first-round pick from the Gerald Wallace trade.

And it sounds like my assumption is correct, at least according to ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton, who was on the panel assessing each team. Pelton posted his future draft value rankings, what he used to give each team's draft score for the Future Power Rankings and which he derived through a two-step process.

First, he simulated the next two season for each team then applied lottery odds to estimate what picks each team would get (so for example, Pelton's simulation assumes the Phoenix Suns will have the worst record for the next two seasons, making then the team most likely to get the top picks in the next two drafts). Then, he used the historical WARP score from those projected picks to conclude how much each team's draft picks over the next two years would help their respective teams (as in, the higher the pick, the more likely that player is to help a team, historically).

When all the numbers are crunched, the Trail Blazers end up ranked No. 18 in the future draft value rankings, and according to Pelton, that's due to owing the pick to Charlotte and Portland's status as fringe playoff team.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (1.8 WARP from draft picks)

Some factors can't be quantified, and teams' efforts to keep their protected picks fall into that category. We estimate a 65.4 percent chance of the Blazers sending their first-round pick to the Charlotte Bobcats from the Gerald Wallace trade and a 29.6 percent chance of the worst-case scenario -- losing the pick (top-12 protected) and missing the playoffs. In reality, if Portland is eliminated from postseason contention the team will probably do its best to finish in the top 12 of the draft.
That "worst-case scenario" was why I was almost hoping the Trail Blazers would end up sending their 2013 first-round pick to the Bobcats. On one hand, I think CJ McCollum is going to help this team, but on the other, it sure would be nice to have a first-round pick in the reportedly stacked 2014 Draft. Not to mention that the idea of missing the playoffs AND not getting a pick in what many expect to be the best draft in a decade is almost too horrible to contemplate. Seeing Pelton project a 30 percent chance of that scenario happening is scary.

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