Bing Predicts: Pro Basketball Draft

Bing Predicts returns to estimate where the best amateur basketball players will call home next season. Three of the largest market teams, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Boston, won the drawing for the top-three lottery slots for 2016. And each is rewarded with strong amateur talent to draw from, as we describe below.

Bing Predicts has had good success with the pro-basketball draft, correctly picking nine of the first 11 picks within one spot in 2014, including getting the top three exactly right. In 2015 the players predicted for the lottery by the model (top 14 picks) were all correctly selected by the time the 14th pick was made.

Our methodology for draft predictions involves building a base model that assesses the projected future success of all eligible amateur athletes by estimating a wins-above-replacement player value, and then applying a re-ranking based on web and social co-mentions of teams with players. The latter leverages the wisdom-of-the-crowd approach where—despite all attempts by team management to hide their interests—fans, journalists, and other public sources do a surprisingly good job of matching the best players with teams.


The top two players are close, similar to what we found for the pro football draft. In the end, Bing predicts that Philadelphia will use their first pick for Ben Simmons while Los Angeles will follow by taking Brandon Ingram. Ingram’s stock rose with his performance in the college basketball tournament, as success and leadership there have proven to be meaningful for professional success. Dwyane Wade and Stephen Curry are two players whose stock rose due to tournament success, and they have followed that up with solid professional careers.

Boston is expected to take yet another Kentucky freshman in Jamal Murray at the No. 3 spot. The rest of the lottery is predicted to be:

4. Dragan Bender – Phoenix takes a risk on the Croatian big man

5. Buddy Hield – leading Oklahoma to a deep tournament run improved his value

6. Kris Dunn – the 2014-2015 Big East player of the year returned and further improved his game, becoming a two-time player of the year this year, pushing him into our projected No. 6 spot

7. Jaylen Brown – his season at Cal actually dropped him slightly but still a top 10 pick

8. Marquese Chriss – he has dramatically vaulted up the ranks since declaring for early departure

9. Jakob Poeltl – some experts say he’s the player most likely to have immediate impact in the pros

10. Deyonta Davis – web signals are mixed on him but there seems to be enough talent for a top-10 pick

11. Henry Ellenson – hard-working Marquette player headed to Florida—sounds familiar, Dwyane Wade?

12. Timothe Luwawu – an international player from France with long wingspan fits Utah’s needs

13. Skal Labissiere – no draft is complete without multiple Kentucky players taken during the lottery picks

14. Domantas Sabonis – like father, like son—talented big man takes the final lottery spot

Notable amongst the lottery are the group of foreign players again getting drafted early. Will either be like Kristaps Porzingis, who made an immediate impact last year, or will they have a career like Darko Milicic? The lottery is again filled with underclassmen as the Bing Predicts models see eight freshmen taken out of the 14 from US colleges and only one senior.

Denzel Valentine originally fit as the classic AP college player of the year who ends up a late lottery pick. In the past, AP players of the year taken late in the lottery have included Frank Kaminsky (2015), Doug McDermott (2014), Trey Burke (2013), and Jimmer Fredette (2011). However, concerns about Valentine’s knee were observed recently in our web/social sentiment signal, thus demoting him to a lower spot in the 1st round.

- Walter Sun, Bing Predicts Team Lead