It will be a long time before we can truly discern how well the teams that had high picks last June performed in the draft, but early impressions from the season's first two months can tell us a lot. It's also difficult to judge players who play different positions and get varying amounts of playing time, but former ESPN.com writer (and current Grizzlies executive) John Hollinger's player efficiency rating, or PER, gives us as effective a tool as any to do so.
There's no surprise about which rookie has the highest PER amongst this year's lottery picks, as No. 1 pick Anthony Davis claims the top spot. After him, though, the list bears little resemblance to the order in which the players were drafted. For the most part, the picture isn't a pretty one, either. Only four of this year's lottery picks have a PER better than 15.0, which is the mark of an average player.
Last year's lottery selections are listed below in descending order of their PERs. The pick with which they were taken is in parentheses.
- Anthony Davis, Hornets (1) — 21.2: Injuries have limited him to just 14 games so far, but when he's played, he's been about as impressive as advertised.
- Andre Drummond, Pistons (9) — 21.0: The Pistons have kept their center of the future under wraps, playing him less than 20 minutes per game. In that time, Drummond has looked like a steal.
- Damian Lillard, Blazers (6) — 17.6: He's receiving early consideration for Rookie of the Year, though he may have a hard time holding off Davis as the big man gets more games under his belt.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2) — 17.3: He was known for his defense coming out of college, but the small forward is shooting better than 50% so far.
- John Henson, Bucks (14) — 14.4: His playing time has been sporadic, as he's made five starts but is averaging only 10.1 minutes per game. Still, Henson is grabbing 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.
- Meyers Leonard, Trail Blazers (11) — 13.1: Though he's consistently part of the Blazers' rotation, he's yet to have much of an impact, with season highs of 12 points and nine rebounds.
- Jeremy Lamb, Thunder (12) — 12.5: His inclusion in the James Harden trade that brought him from the Rockets has done nothing for his playing time, as he's totaled just 41 NBA minutes so far.
- Dion Waiters, Cavaliers (4) — 11.8: Waiters has started in all 21 of his appearances for the Cavs, unlike college, where he was a reserve for Syracuse.
- Bradley Beal, Wizards (3) — 11.7: Beal was touted as a long-range shooter, and his 29% three-point shooting is just one of many ugly stats on the team with the league's worst record.
- Terrence Ross, Raptors (8) — 10.3: Injuries to others forced Ross into the rotation, but he's put on an uneven performance.
- Harrison Barnes, Warriors (7) — 10.1: It's a little surprising his PER is so low considering he's started all 28 games for Golden State, but many of his other numbers (8.8 PPG, 40.7% shooting, 31% three-point percentage) suggest his subpar PER makes sense.
- Thomas Robinson, Kings (5) — 9.4: He's seeing only 16 minutes per night, but he hasn't done much while on the floor to earn coach Keith Smart's trust.
- Austin Rivers, Hornets (10) — 6.7: His 35.1% field goal percentage looks even worse when you consider he's shooting 36.7% from three-point range.
- Kendall Marshall, Suns (13) — 0.7: Here's where PER is a little bit unfair, since the sample size covers only 38 NBA minutes. What's more disconcerting is Marshall's 9.6 points and 7.6 assists in 31.0 minutes per game in nine D-League contests.