Houston Rockets: The difference between the 1st and 4th pick in the draft

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28: (L-R) Anthony Davis, head coach John Calipari and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the Kentucky Wildcats pose during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 28: (L-R) Anthony Davis, head coach John Calipari and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the Kentucky Wildcats pose during the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft at Prudential Center on June 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Houston Rockets draft: The difference between the first pick and the second pick

It shouldn’t come as a surprise but the first pick in the NBA draft, historically, is by far the best pick. Since the NBA-ABA merger, the first pick has produced an average of 68.5 career win shares and if you factor out every draft since 2011, that number jumps to 80.7 win shares.

To put a face to that number, Carlos Boozer produced a career total of 80.3 win shares in his 13-year career. While landing Carlos Boozer with the number one overall pick doesn’t seem exciting, it needs to be remembered that for every LeBron James there is a Greg Oden or Michael Olowokandi weighing down that average.

However, the Rockets only have a 14-percent chance of landing the number one overall pick. What happens if the Rockets end up with the second pick? How much expected-value do they lose?

The dropoff from the first pick to the second pick is one of the largest drops in the draft’s history. On average the second overall pick produces 45.4 career win shares and 55.9 if we cut off all drafts after 2011.

Once again, to put a face to that number is a second overall pick that Rockets fans should remember fondly, Steve Francis produced 54.1 win shares over his nine-year career. The peak of Francis’ career was remarkable but it was short-lived due to injury and if he had been the number one overall pick his career would have likely been viewed as a disappointment.

The Rockets’ future changes dramatically if they land the number one overall pick and if they end up with the second pick their ceiling, historically, will be lowered dramatically. That being said, the Rockets can still keep their pick if they land the third or fourth pick, but how much would that lower their ceiling.

Next: The value of the 3rd and 4th pick

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