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Andre Drummond will start 32 games this season (according to a simple formula)

The higher a player is drafted, the more games he tends to start as rookie. That’s pretty obvious.

Players drafted higher tend to be worse than players drafted lower, and teams picking higher tend to be worse – meaning a lower-quality lineup to break into – than teams picking lower.

So how many games should we expect a No. 9 pick, like Andre Drummond, to start this season? A simple analysis says 32.

I took each first-round pick since 1989, when the NBA expanded to 27 teams, and counted how many games each player started as rookie (normalized to an 82-game schedule due to two lockouts in the span). Add a line of best fit, and you have a decent benchmark for first-round picks starting.

For what it’s worth, Greg Monroe (48 rookie starts as the No. 7 pick) and Brandon Knight (60 rookie starts as the No. 8 pick), exceeded their projections.

This analysis doesn’t account for how Drummond fits Detroit’s needs, Drummond being just 19 years old or any other factor besides where he was drafted. But based on the history of first-round picks, Drummond starting 32 games this year is a reasonable expectation.


  • Oct 24, 201211:41 am
    by Oracle


    Interesting variations here.  What I’m gathering, teams drafting at the end of the lottery are about as likely to start their draft pick than teams who had the best records the previous season. 

    I wonder if this is because end of the lottery draft picks are typically high upside picks, while teams drafting at the end of the first round simply want to pick a player who can fill a specific role well?

  • Oct 24, 201211:53 am
    by Quick Darshan


    Wonder why 19 is so low and 24 is so high.

    • Oct 24, 20123:18 pm
      by tarsier


      Randomness. There are only 22 players for each of these data points. A couple outliers can really throw things off.

  • Oct 24, 201211:54 am
    by Quick Darshan


    Moral of the story:  Don’t draft between 10 and 20.

  • Oct 24, 201212:50 pm
    by tarsier


    I don’t think a linear regression is the best fit for the data. I would go with the model:

    y=A*[1-e^(B*x)] where y is the number of starts and x is the draft pick.

  • Oct 24, 20121:15 pm
    by Domnick


    so we will wait for 50 games then start him on 32 games… or switch one player of the starting 5 in some 32 games?
    anyway… im just excited to see him grow… he is our answer!

  • Oct 24, 20126:20 pm
    by jerrific


    If he keeps producing the way he has so far theres no way he doesn’t start more than that. Maxiell can only hold his spot for so long against a player that can actually put up numbers. I’m not as concerned with who starts as I am with who finishes though. Will Frank be able trust him with crunch time minutes in close games?

    • Oct 24, 20126:59 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      That’s where the free throw shooting really hurts him … having him on the floor late in close games will make it really tempting for teams to put him on the line. He might actually be a worse free throw shooter than Ben Wallace. His form needs a lot of work.

  • Jun 15, 20131:46 pm
    by DJ


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