Updated Midseason College Prospect Ratings (CPR): Russell and Okafor on Top

By Stephen Shea, Ph.D.

February 20, 2015

The College Prospect Rating (CPR) System assigns to every college player, based on their age, class, projected NBA position, and college box score production, a number that approximates their pro potential.  Basketball Analytics: Spatial Tracking contains the full methodology for the calculations of CPR.

The following table presents the ratings through the February 19th games of 25 possible 2015 first round selections.

1D'Angelo Russell10.7
2Jahlil Okafor9.2
3Kevon Looney7.9
4Myles Turner7.2
5Kris Dunn5.8
6Christian Wood5.2
7Bobby Portis5.1
8Tyus Jones4.9
9Karl Towns4.6
10Stanley Johnson4.5
11R.J. Hunter3.8
12Kelly Oubre2.9
13Frank Kaminsky2.6
14Jerian Grant2.4
15Justise Winslow2.4
16Devin Booker2.3
17Jakob Poeltl2.3
18Montrezl Harrell1.7
19Caris LeVert1.5
20Rondae Hollis-Jefferson1.3
21Justin Anderson1.1
22Trey Lyles1.1
23Cliff Alexander1.0
24Willie Cauley-Stein1.0
25Sam Dekker0.8

Russell and Okafor continue to rise up the rankings.  Russell now rates in elite territory.  Historically, the group of players rating 10 or above has rarely disappointed.  Russell’s current rating of 10.2 is approximately where Blake Griffin, Greg Oden and Jabari Parker rated coming out of college.  Before we get too excited about Russell, we should note that he is a step below Tim Duncan, Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, who rated between 12.5 and 15.  He is nowhere close to Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis, who rated above 20.

Still, the 2015 class is shaping up to be the best in recent memory.  Parker led the 2014 class with a rating of 10.2, but Andrew Wiggins and Marcus Smart were the only other 2 prospects to rate above 7 and neither topped 8.5.  The 2013 class was worse.  No player in that crop even hit a CPR of 8.  The 2012 class had the great Anthony Davis, but no one else drafted in the top ten broke 6 in CPR.

The 2011 draft class rated as very deep.  Reggie Jackson, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic, Kenneth Faried, Iman Shumpert, and others had ratings that would suggest they were mid first rounders in most drafts.  However, in 2011, there were 24 such players according to CPR.  That does not include non-NCAA prospects such as Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas and Nikola Mirotic.  The result was that players like Butler slid to the end of the 1st round.

The 2011 class was deep, but rated very weak at the top.  No player hit a CPR of 7.  (Kyrie Irving probably would have topped 7 in a full season’s worth of games.)  CPR liked Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson more than many scouts.  Both were rated in the top 5 in CPR for the 2011 class, but neither was drafted in the top 10.  CPR also rated Jimmer Fredette about equal to Leonard and Thompson.  (You can’t win them all.)

It’s important to note that CPR does not take into account position scarcity.  The difficulty in finding a high quality center means Okafor (at a CPR or 9.2) is still probably the better pick than Russell (at a CPR of 10.7).  It also means that Towns (ranked 9th in CPR) should go off the board before several of the smaller players rated above him.

While we’re on Towns, the remarkable collection of talent in Kentucky diminishes all of their players’ CPR scores.  CPR looks for transcendent performances, instances where players have taken over college games.  Kentucky doesn’t need any 1 of their players to ever do that. (I’m currently working on possible revisions to CPR that would better account for a situation like Kentucky’s.)

The 2015 class doesn’t have a Kevin Durant or Anthony Davis at the top (but drafts rarely do).  Otherwise it appears as strong or stronger than any of the last 4 draft classes.  The season is not yet over.  Karl Towns, Kelly Oubre, and Stanley Johnson all improved since we last updated the ratings.  As talented freshman, we would expect their play, and thus, their ratings to improve as they adjusted to the college game.  Expect to see them continue to rise up the CPR ratings.  The final CPR ratings are yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, the 2015 class will rate highly in comparison to recent drafts.

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