Okay, so we know that Skip Bayless is the Grand Master Troll, and not only that, ESPN promotes racial stereotyping from Bayless. According to ESPN, Bayless said that he was totally against taking American-born white players in the NBA Draft.” ESPN has since deleted the tweet promoting Bayless’ position, though it seems a rather silly move considering the cat is out of the bag.
Unlike with Skip’s inanity when it comes to things like “they wanted it more”, which you can make fun of, but is neither provable or disprovable, we can test this. After all, the draft status of players and their careers are out there. Making base observations about race are dumb, and honestly classifying players by race is difficult anyway. I mean, I suppose Blake Griffin growing up in Oklahoma City, and actually being a star high school player there, would not qualify under Skip’s statement. What about Brook Lopez? Did Skip mean him or not? There are numerous others, and so let’s just say this: racial profiling is just as offensive here as it is anywhere else.
I tried to go through, and using Google image search for players I was not as familiar with, find those that would be classified as “white” who were drafted in the first round. I didn’t include Griffin or Kris Humphries or Brook Lopez just so I could not be accused of somehow trying to cook the books on some bullshit stereotyping characterization. Here are the 24 players from 1999 to 2008 who I believe would qualify for Comrade Skip in the first thirty picks of the draft. If I left someone off or incorrectly included someone, it wasn’t intentional and is again just the product of trying to force a classification on our humanity.
What I did below is list the player, the pick number, and his career to date win shares. For comparison, I also list the average win shares of the four players selected immediately before and after them (two each) who are not on this list, as well as their rank compared to the other four players so far.
As a quick note, I include Joe Alexander even though he was born in Taiwan of American parents and is a U.S. citizen, and spent most of his younger life overseas, or the results would be more skewed in favor of white American players. The average win share for the white American born players was 22.9. For the other players drafted immediately around them, it was 20.9.
Kind of smashes the stereotypes, right? I didn’t include the last three years, but Tyler Hansbrough was drafted in 2009 and while he hasn’t been a star by any means, he has been more productive than other players drafted around him. The last two years has been a mixed bag.
I think any perception that white players have underperformed comes from a few things. The first is just like what we saw in the NFL last year at quarterback. Players in the minority stand out, and a few high profile cases can lead to stereotyping. Yes, Adam Morrison was a bust. Plenty of others drafted in the Top 5 have been as well. Just like with the lazy JaMarcus Russell/Cam Newton comparisons, the next white American player in the top 5 will have nothing to do with Adam Morrison.
Also, in the NBA, there are a lot more role players and borderline starters and rotation guys than there are stars like LeBron James or Kevin Durant. There are also a high percentage of first round picks who never pan out, and as I talked about in comparing the NFL and NBA draft curves, the late lottery picks have about the same success as a late 2nd round pick in the NFL, while late first rounders are more like 4th to 5th rounders in football.
So yeah, there are few white American “stars”. There are also fewer busts, too. People like Skip who perpetuate stereotypes don’t put it in context. Morrison was a bust, Kevin Love is a boom. Mike Miller, for whatever you think of his career, was better than the others drafted around him by a lot. Mike Dunleavy has been better than those drafted around him. J.J. Redick has been better than those drafted around him. Nick Collison has been better than those drafted around him. Guys like Jeff Foster and David Lee were major booms relative to where they were taken, in spots where few pan out.
So, I know it’s surprising that Skip is not only an idiot but wrong on something we can actually check. NBA teams seem to be properly evaluating white American born players, and they seem to do just as well as those drafted in about the same spots. A clueless GM who took a position like “don’t draft Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller because they are white” would be giving up value to the rest of the field.
[photo via US Presswire]