The battle for the No. 1 position in ESPN Analytics’ NBA draft projections has never been closer, with Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero virtually tied for the top spot.
Holmgren and Banchero both project to have a 51% chance at becoming an All-Star-caliber player — higher than Anthony Edwards’ odds prior to his selection in the 2020 NBA draft but just short of Cade Cunningham’s in 2021. Each forward is projected to have an average real plus-minus (RPM) of 0.96 in his fourth season, the first time in the model’s eight years that the top two prospects have had the same projection. Auburn’s Jabari Smith follows with a 48% chance to play at an All-Star level and an average projected RPM of 0.68.
ESPN’s NBA draft model forecasts the range of outcomes for players entering the league. A full breakdown of the methodology can be found below. The abridged version is that the final model is based on the combination of five individual models built from:
• Opponent-adjusted NCAA production
• League-adjusted international production
• ESPN draft expert rankings
• AAU/grassroots box score statistics
• Combine measurements
Bottom line: It uses a wide range of inputs to probabilistically predict future performance of prospects about to enter the NBA.
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