Draft tiers by the numbers

Marcus Smart's WARP projection of 3.6 is the highest of any 2014 NBA draft prospect. Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

My WARP projections for the top prospects in this year's draft, released last week, offer a good idea of how the 2014 draftees compare to one another statistically. But by themselves, the projections don't put this year's prospects in the context of their predecessors. To do that, I'm turning to a staple of my colleague Chad Ford's draft analysis for ESPN Insider: the tier system.

By breaking down WARP projections into categories, we can create objective, performance-based tiers similar to Ford's, driven by scouting and the consensus of NBA front offices. In addition to listing players from each tier in the past five drafts, I've also included the average minutes per game and percentage of games started for players in each tier during their fourth season (the end of the rookie contract for first-round picks) and the percentage of players who developed into All-Stars from the 2003 to 2010 drafts.

Let's take a look at how this year's prospects compare.


All-Stars: 60 percent
Percentage of starts in Year 4: 85.2
Average minutes per game in Year 4: 31.2

This year: None

Ford's Tier 1 is reserved for surefire All-Stars or "franchise" players. Besides the undersized big men who excelled in college (Blair and Faried), my slightly larger group fits. This tier also includes Kevin Love, the only player with 4-plus WARP before 2009. Five of the eight players were All-Stars last season, and Cousins is likely to join them in the future.

Although scouts and GMs placed three players in Ford's Tier 1 this year, no one qualifies statistically.

TIER 2: 3-4 WARP

All-Stars: 33.3 percent
Percentage of starts in Year 4: 57.1
Average minutes per game in Year 4: 25.0