With our NBA Draft Data tool, you can take a crack at finding a trend, or maybe just look up some interesting tidbits. That’s what we’re doing today, exploring some fun (and maybe not-so-fun) facts from the Sixers’ NBA draft history.
(For an explanation of the methodology and what win shares, expected win shares, and percentage of expected win shares are — and why we’re only studying the first 54 picks — read the first entry in this series.)
AI a disappointment?
Before you lay waste to my Twitter mentions, remember that this is a relative statement: By comparing his total of win shares against the rest of the 1996 draft class — hold on, let me just hide beneath this desk — Allen Iverson underperformed as the No. 1 pick.
The Class of '96
Iverson is a deserving Hall of Famer, but his 99 win shares were only 90.5 percent of what would have been expected from the top pick in ’96. How did that happen? First, it was a superior class, with three other players — Ray Allen, No. 5; Kobe Bryant, No. 13; and Steve Nash, No. 15 — ticketed for the Hall of Fame and a few more — like Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury, and Peja Stojakovic — who had good to very good careers. They boosted the overall value of the class, thus boosting the expectations for that year's top pick. Second, Iverson’s aggressive style and generously listed 6-foot, 165-pound frame conspired to cut his career short and keep him from adding to his win shares total.
It’s probably not fair to say Iverson was a disappointment — far from it — but his lower-than-expected win shares are a surprise.
A champion and the one who got away
The team’s best returns relative to their expected value came from two second-round picks selected more than 20 years apart: Kyle Korver (taken 51st in 2003, 1,776.8 percent above expectation) and Maurice Cheeks (36th, 1978, 1,260.9 percent).
Sixers' Best Returns on Draft Picks
With Cheeks at point guard, the Sixers went to the NBA Finals three times and captured the Larry O’Brien trophy in 1983. Korver was traded away in his fifth season. His best attribute — three-point shooting — was already apparent, but is valued much more in the NBA today than it was earlier in his career.
Only once have the Sixers picked the player who went on to collect the most total win shares in his draft class. That was 1988, when they picked Hersey Hawkins sixth. Hawkins finished his career with 90.6 win shares, 285.7 percent above his expected total.
But this is where that word relative rears its relevant head again. Of the players ranked No. 1 in their class in win shares whose careers are already over, Hawkins’ total is the third worst. The 1988 class was weak.
Heads of the Class
Take a spin through the draft data tool above. If you find any interesting trends or tidbits, let us know in the comments below or on social media. We’ll have another draft data bit on Tuesday.