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How accurate are preseason mock drafts?

Nov 4, 2013, 2:15 PM EDT

Shabazz Muhammad AP

People love rankings.

Whether it be top 100 recruiting lists, preseason top 25s, mock draft, best point guards, or simply a list of the best Vince Vaughn movies since 2000 — he’s never come close to replicating the success of Wedding Crashers.

Rankings let us argue the pointless and speculate about the future. For those of us covering college hoops, they generate page views while leading the discussion about Player X on Team Y doing this, that and the third this season.

But rankings, particularly preseason rankings, aren’t much more than educated guesses by people that pay just a bit too much attention. They aren’t a crystal ball looking into the future, and on Monday morning, Ken Pomeroy proved just that with an insightful look into preseason mock drafts and the likelihood of a player actually getting picked.

Pomeroy looked at the preseason mock drafts from Draft Express over the last six seasons and, after crunching a bunch of numbers (if that’s your thing, head over to KenPom.com and read through how he generated the data; it’s interesting), figured out that only the top 22 players have a better than 50% chance of actually getting picked in the first round. If you’re projected as the No. 30 pick in the draft, there’s only a 34.9% chance you’re drafted in the first round and just a 74.4% chance you get picked at all. If you’re projected as the No. 5 pick, there’s only a 66.0% chance you get drafted in the lottery. That number drops below 50% from the projected No. 9 pick and down to 33.8% from the projected No. 14 pick.

Some of that is the result of stars inflated by high school rankings — Perry Jones, Willie Warren, Jared Sullinger, Shabazz Muhammad — slipping through the cracks and some of it is unheralded kids — Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams — flying up draft boards.

Why is that relevant this season?

Because with such a heralded freshmen class entering this season, it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees. Preseason hype is quickly forgotten if nothing is proven once the games actually begin.

“Stay away from the Internet because that’s the one thing that’s worse for the kids,” Muhammad, warning this year’s class, told SNY.tv. “It hypes up your head. Just looking at the rankings and the draft the beginning of the year, the draft doesn’t really matter where you’re starting at. It’s where you are at the end, and that’s one thing I learned.”

This isn’t a knock on Draft Express — these results are actually pretty impressive — but it certainly goes to show you how helpful the one-and-done rule can be. Dominating at the high school level is a lot different than competing in college.