Conference Finals Picks and Draft Notes

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals featuring Detroit at Boston. The Lakers host the Spurs in Los Angeles tomorrow night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. My picks are Celtics in seven and Lakers in six.

In anticipation of the conference finals, here are some bits of information for your next NBA conversation that connect this year’s conference finalists to the draft.

  • There is an average of 3.3 players left playing from each draft dating back to 1992. Over that span, only the 1994 NBA Draft, which featured Jason Kidd and Grant Hill, is not represented among the four finalists.

  • The 1998 Draft has just one representative, Boston’s Paul Pierce.

  • The 1995 Draft leads the way with eight active participants in the conference finals, including four Spurs. The list: Antonio McDyess (2nd overall), Rasheed Wallace (4th), Kevin Garnett (5th), Damon Stoudamire (7th), Kurt Thomas (10th), Brent Barry (15th), Theo Ratliff (18th) and Michael Finley (21st).

  • Seven undrafted players are employed by teams still playing this, including two starters for San Antonio, Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto.

  • The Spurs also lead the way with three starters they originally drafted (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.) The other teams each have just one starter that they drafted (Paul Pierce for Boston, Tayshaun Prince for Detroit and Derek Fisher for Los Angeles).

  • Detroit’s starting lineup has the best average draft position of 7.8. Four of their starters were top-7 picks.

  • The Lakers’ starting lineup comes in second with an average draft position of 11.2. League MVP Kobe Bryant was taken with the 13th overall selection in 1996 behind players such as Kerry Kittles, Todd Fuller and Vitaly Potapenko.

  • Boston’s starting lineup has an average draft position of 13.6. Boston is the only team left without a player on its roster drafted in the top-3. The highest selected players on their roster are Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Both players were picked 5th overall.

  • The Spurs’ three starters (minus the undrafted Bowen and Oberto) have what is easily the worst average draft position of 28.7 despite having former number one overall pick Tim Duncan. Why such a skewed number? Because 6th Man of the Year Manu Ginobili was drafted, believe it or not, 57th overall in 1999.

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