On yesterday’s Wild Speculation and Outlandish Guesses, The Discussants were skeptical when asked if any member of the 2010 draft class would receive a max extension this off-season. Furthermore, multiple respondents added that, on the whole, the class has been pretty underwhelming.
By way of comparison, this past summer two members of the 2009 draft class (Blake Griffin and James Harden) received max extensions, while another five players (Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Taj Gibson) received very large non-max extensions. The first assertion (no player will receive a max extension) is pretty difficult to judge right now, but the second (the 2010 draft class is not very good) can be evaluated right now.
I have added up Win Shares from the first three seasons of the lottery picks of the 2006-2010 draft classes. Since the 2010 draft class is only a quarter of the way through their third season, I have extrapolated a full seasons worth of Win Shares from their current production.
A quick look at the chart above makes it immediately apparent that, assuming the 2010 draft class keeps up their current production, they’re actually fairly average. In fact, there is barely a difference in the quality of the 2006, 2009 and 2010 draft classes. This seems a bit odd at first, as the 2010 draft class hasn’t had breakout stars like LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy (2006); Kevin Durant and Al Horford (2007); Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love (2008); and Blake Griffin and James Harden (2009). The key to the 2010 draft class’ strength has been consistency.
There just weren’t many terrible 2010 lottery picks. Sure, Wes Johnson, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry aren’t very good, but that still leaves 11 out of 14 decent players. Greg Monroe, Paul George and Ed Davis look like they might one day become All-Stars, but behind them there are still a bunch of, at the very least, solid rotation players.
Another key to the 2010 draft class’ strength has been health. Some key players from other draft classes (Greg Oden and Blake Griffin) missed at least one of their first three seasons, and another (Ricky Rubio) didn’t even come over to the NBA until his third season. John Wall is the only player from the 2010 draft lottery to miss significant time, and before this season he was only the seventh best player from the class. Overall, the 2010 draft class is relatively deep and healthy, which makes for a mediocre class. There may not be many (or any) players that get a max extension, but there are many players that will still be playing important roles in the league five years from now.
Finally, I decided to look at two other well-known draft classes from the last fifteen years: the supposedly awful 2000 draft class (top five picks: Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, Mike Miller), and the supposedly amazing 2003 draft class (top five picks: LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade). No surprise here, but the conventional wisdom holds true. That being said, I’m still stunned by how horrifically bad the 2000 draft class was. When Michael Redd ends up as the best player picked in a given year, it was a truly terrible year.