Average Years from Draft process to Playoffs

This Rookie class is expected with so much interest. The order of the Lottery picks results from a draw. More possibilities to take a higher position have the worst teams of the previous season (unless there are some trades).
Every organization having the fortune to select one of the first 3 picks, usually needs a ready player from the college to build around him (not prospects). “Success” is a notion which may differ from one organization to another, but here it would defined as the post-season appearance of a team.

We are going to estimate the time a team, which selects one of the first 3 Lottery picks, has to wait before appearing in playoffs.

The data started from the draft of 1984 where Rockets picked Olajuwon and Blazers picked Bowie, letting Jordan for Bulls. That year participated for the first time in history, 8 teams in playoffs from each Conference. The team with the more years of absence (14) is LA Clippers, which in 1998 selected first. What about the average years?

We have an outcome. Has your team one of the first 3 picks? You have to be patient for 3 to 4 years. It is all about the historical data. You will be shocked if you don’t remember it, but in 2003 Detroit Pistons despite the worst decision of choosing Milicic (2nd pick), appeared in this year’s playoffs. Some million meters away, Cleveland citizens had to wait 3 years to see LeBron (1st pick) amaze the world in post-season. The next question concerns the frequent assumption that one Conference is tougher than the other.

From this side of view it is simple to conclude that Western teams have to overcome more powerful obstacles to achieve their goal. Presenting numbers, the average years for an Eastern team to appear in playoffs are 2,63 and for a Western 4,24. It is not matter of luck that all the teams with the maximum number of absence years are from West. For instance, LA Clippers (14), Golden State Warriors (12), Minnesota Timberwolves (10) and Dallas Mavericks (7) are the biggest values observed. This result changes your average time of patience, according to the Conference of your favorite team.

A new issue emerged after the first observations. Some of the teams had to select –one of the first 3 Lottery picks- more than one time to make the playoffs. Between the years the player selected the first time didn’t help as they waited or the other pieces weren’t perfect for the puzzle. Let’s see how many times has a franchise to be in these high selections to make the post-season.

So there is almost 30% possibility for your team to select at least 2 times before making the playoffs. It is important for everyone to know that a team having a bad season, isn’t rare to face the same procedure one more time before the success. The LA Clippers selected in 1998 (1st pick) and after three more picks (2000/3rd pick, 2001/2nd pick, 2009/1st pick) made the playoffs in 2012. Philadelphia 76ers also had two times in their history to select 4 picks before making the playoffs. The first in 1993 and they made it in 1999, the next in 2014 and they haven’t achieved their goal until now(they are favorite for this upcoming season playoffs), despite the fact that they had 4 Top-3 Lottery picks from the last 4 drafts.

In conclusion, historical data give us some intriguing information about the Draft and its relation with the playoffs. If it would be obligatory to choose the worst front office threw the years, concerning the Draft process, the answer is “by far the LA Clippers’”.


Application Used for Data Analysis: Microsoft Excel
Data Extracted from: www.basketball-reference.com

Every second of the day I am surrounded by numbers. My academic background in Statistics, helped me acquiring knowledge to collect and process data effectively. My ambitions are to conduct researches that only a few people think and most people are willing to read. Statathlon is a different project with professional analysts and intriguing researches with unique outcomes.

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