NBA GMs and Fed Governors

Here is Nate Silver, discussing the growing accuracy of NBA mock drafts:

Mock drafts — and rumors/reporting about who would go where — were shockingly accurate this year. There aren’t a lot of dumb teams in the NBA anymore, and it’s getting harder to find picks that come out of nowhere.

I suppose one could think of mock drafts as sort of like “the market” and NBA general managers as sort of like the Fed.  Are the mock drafts getting more accurate because mock drafters are getting smarter, or because (As Silver hints) NBA GMs are getting smarter?  Or maybe GMs are realizing the market is smarter than they are.

My hope is that the market will become increasingly accurate in predicting monetary policy, because monetary policymakers will increasing take their lead from the market.



29 Responses to “NBA GMs and Fed Governors”

  1. Gravatar of Edit Edit
    22. June 2017 at 23:05


  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    23. June 2017 at 04:10

    Thanks edit, I fixed it.

  3. Gravatar of Garrett M Garrett M
    23. June 2017 at 05:27

    Trading Jimmy Butler is Chicago’s 9/2008 Fed moment

  4. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    23. June 2017 at 07:40

    Actually, I think the GMs have collectively lost their minds. Lonzo Ball? Every time I saw him play he got outclassed by the guy opposite him. Especially in the Kentucky game.

    Zach Collins was about the fifth best player on Gonzaga, but he’s the eleventh pick of the NBA!

  5. Gravatar of ChacoKevy ChacoKevy
    23. June 2017 at 07:55

    @Garrett M
    That’s pretty good! It’s as if the Bulls fleeced themselves as an apology to Thibs for the way we chased him out.

  6. Gravatar of sean sean
    23. June 2017 at 09:56

    The analytics guys had ball as the best player in the draft.

    Zach Collins had amazing per minute stats. They just didn’t play him much.

    Also remember the lottery pick guys are all 18 year olds playing against a lot of 22 year olds. All the best players are 1 and done. The physical maturation between 18 and 22 is very significant. If an 18 is competing against the best 22 year olds it means a ton.

  7. Gravatar of Matthew D McOsker Matthew D McOsker
    23. June 2017 at 10:12

    Michael Lewis’s new book “The Undoing Project” says it all on this topic.

  8. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    23. June 2017 at 10:28

    NBA trades, on the other hand…

  9. Gravatar of mpowell mpowell
    23. June 2017 at 14:21

    The most likely possibility is that with increased scrutiny, teams are leaking draft board info and this means mock drafts and real drafts come closer in alignment.

  10. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    23. June 2017 at 15:44

    I think I get this.

    On the other hand the developed nations may be entering a new era in which central banks must constantly spur growth through, say, helicopter drops.

    In this new era of required activism, I am not sure what market signals the Fed should respond to.

  11. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    23. June 2017 at 16:20

    If someone were willing to donate $10,000, would that help the NBA?

  12. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    23. June 2017 at 17:17

    Garrett, I can see why they’d trade him (to rebuild), but I’d certainly want more value in return. I wonder what Boston was offering? I’d have thought that Boston would have given them a package with more value.

    Patrick, You said:

    “Zach Collins was about the fifth best player on Gonzaga”

    Umm . . . no.

    Bob, It would make them $10,000 richer.

  13. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    23. June 2017 at 20:23


    Based on your extensive experience watching the Zags?

    Collins was 5th on the team in scoring at 10.0 pts/game. Seventh in minutes played. He was even out rebounded by a tenth of a board per game by point guard Nigel Williams–Goss.

  14. Gravatar of rtd rtd
    24. June 2017 at 04:25

    I get the point you’re attempting to make & I suppose it’s cute, but I can’t imagine GMs pay any attention to mock draft boards. One driver of improved accuracy is the one-and-done being a relic. Also, info on international players is more accessible. These have both decreased uncertainty. Also, teams & players seem to talk more. This increased information provided the makers of draft boards to simply use the info given from the teams/draftees to minimize their dart tosses. Asymmetric information is less than years prior. E.g. we know, based on pre-draft workouts, where a player is likely to be drafted – typically in a range of 5-10 slots. This info is based on the assessment of teams and is relayed to the media by the players and/or their college coaches. Combine the aforementioned with each team’s needs/desires and the math becomes a lot easier.

  15. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 10:01

    Nigel Williams-Goss: 1241 minutes, 227 rebounds.
    Zach Collins: 670 minutes, 230 rebounds.


    Jonathan Williams: 946, 251.
    Przemek Karnowski: 901, 228.

    Collins led the Zags in points per minute also. And blocks per minute, but that’s probably obvious. I’m guessing fouls per minute too, since they said he led the NCAA in off-the-bench DQ’s with 7, but they don’t have fouls in the ESPN stats.

  16. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 10:54

    Of course in a simple model where GM’s are optimizing their own position via the draft (as opposed to optimizing the team’s position, which is related but not identical), it may be becoming less optimal for them to go against the conventional or collective wisdom than it used to be.

    One thing the Warriors have going for them is that their GM is the guy who took Thompson and Green when he did, which means that he is at least for now more or less above criticism. Whereas other GM’s have to think about how criticism of their moves will be received by their owners.

  17. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 11:29

    On the topic of the NBA draft, let’s revisit this excellent post from two years ago:

    “I looked back over the drafts since 1965, and didn’t find a single example where a team picked a small guy at one or two over a big guy, and strongly regretted it. In contrast, there are 9 cases of where a team picked a big guy over a small guy, and clearly regretted it.”

    And just like clockwork, the pattern is identified, and boom, you have your counter-example (a team takes a small guy 1 or 2, then regrets not taking the big guy that was taken soon after) that very year:

    2: D’Angelo Russell
    4: Kristaps Porzingis

    I’m not criticizing the old post at all – it was a smart post. Also the post was specifically looking at 1 and 2 vs. 2 and 3, not 4, though I’m guessing that if a 2/4 counter-example like the above had been found, it would have been adduced as a counter-example, though maybe not. (And perhaps it can stand as 2 Russell, 3 Okafor, 4 Porzingis under the post’s premise anyway, if people still like Okafor much).

    Also note I say “as of now” because of course Russell could still blossom and Porzingis could still get hurt. If I owned the Knicks and I got have gotten this year’s #1 plus another top pick (plus maybe other assets!) for Porzingis, as was apparently the case, I would have been kind of wondering why such a trade wasn’t pursued. After all, just as it makes sense to try and draft “small” over “big,” you’d think it would also make sense to trade “big” for “small” when you get the chance.

  18. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 11:44

    From the post linked to in my previous comment:

    “I looked at picks one and two over picks two or three—obviously if you look at the entire draft you can find hidden gems, I’m looking at a choice between the top few prospects.”

    Kind of a technical note, here – the 2015 post was clear that it was (mostly) about the top three selections.

    However the following example was included:

    2005: Andrew Bogut (1) over Deron Williams (3) and Chris Paul (4)

    Notice the intervening pick was excluded here, so I think a 2/4 example is at least somewhat relevant. But maybe there were a bunch of 2/4 examples that were excluded, in which case we are still waiting for a proper 1/2 or 1/3 or 2/3 counter-example.

  19. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 11:51

    I meant to add (as my posts continue to pile up, MF-style) that of course in the 2005 example, Bogut over Williams is not nearly as strong as Bogut over Paul, which is a 1/4 comparison with two intervening picks. Hence a reason to think a 2/4 comparison can be considered as relevant to the 2015 post’s premise.

  20. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 12:05

    From the comments to the 2015 post discussed above:

    “My hunch is that Winslow (10) and Booker (13) will be the steals of the draft. I’d take either over the #6 pick.”

    Zing! Another win for The Money Illusion! I think right now if the 2015 draft was re-done it would go:

    1 Towns
    2 Porzingis
    3 Booker
    4 pass (GM had too many scotches to be able to make pick)

    (I had to import a 1960’s or 1970″s prototypical scotch-swilling, rumpled-shirt sports executive into this, even though the days of those guys is long gone, because I don’t know how Harvard MBA’s handle existential despair – maybe the GM couldn’t make a pick because he went for a long bike-ride to let off steam and got lost).

  21. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 14:41

    Once again, from 2015:

    “Even worse, the NBA is rapidly evolving in the direction of centers being unimportant. In the recent playoffs, teams would often go without any center at the end of games, when it mattered most. The team that won the championship was able to do this for long periods, without the big men on the other team being able to take advantage. So this is an even stronger argument to draft small. And yet once again, the top pick and probably the top two picks are expected to be big men.”

    In the comments, I made the point that teams seemed to be reaching less for big men (since the 2009 Thabeet disaster), a point which seems to holding up, so perhaps one of my rare astute points.

    I would also make the following points:

    1. Even if you accept the idea that you want to draft “small” and not “big,” there will still be particular situations where you want to take a big guy anyway. (This is a “well duh” point I realize, as otherwise no big would ever get drafted, which obviously makes no sense). The point where you want to take big over small could be at the top of the draft.

    1A. 2015 just happened to be one of those years – Towns was the right pick, because as it turns out there were no small alternatives that were better, at least none that we know of at this point.

    2. Whatever the prototypical “big who you don’t want in the game at crunch time” is, Towns and Porzingis certainly wouldn’t fit the profile.

    3. Even the prototypical “big who you don’t want in the game at crunch time” can be a very valuable player, as one of the strategies in the modern game, at least in Golden State’s version, is to have a lot of lineup flexibility and not let opponents be able to prepare against one basic lineup. GS had Bogut/Ezeli in 2015, Bogut/Ezeli/Varejao in 2016, Pachulia/McGee in 2017 and played them about 20 minutes per game (21, 23, and 18 more precisely) each year.

    4. As many have pointed out, away from Golden St. vs. Cleveland, the NBA is seeing a bit of a big man revival, at least with “bigs” like Davis, Towns, Porzingis, Nurkic and Jokic. Of course these are all guys with special scoring/passing skills. More traditional rebounder/rim protector types like Howard seem to be still near a value nadir.

  22. Gravatar of anon\portly anon\portly
    24. June 2017 at 14:51

    Last comment, I promise (well, unless I stumble across another half-formed surmise I feel the need to unload). Who are this year’s sleepers, a la Booker in 2015? Don’t be holding out on your readers!

  23. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    25. June 2017 at 10:52

    It is literally impossible for any “central bank” not subject to competition, individual property rights, and profit and loss, to “take their lead from the market.”

    There is no market in the production and distribution of money.

    The only “lead” Sumner is (inadvertently but no less actually) referring to is effectively the reading of tea leaves and tracking star constellations.

    For if it were possible for central banks to “take their lead from the market”, then so too would it be possible for government monopolies in food production to “take their lead from the market”, and for government monopolies in clothing production, and medicine production, and schooling, everything and anything can be monopolized by the state, and the state can “the the lead from the market” to do a better job than the non-existent market.

    Surely the same “doubt” that makes Sumner question whether private free banking is superior to government monopolized currency, can also be used to question every other important good or service.

    Summer is invoking a mythology, a faith, a “nose” derived ideology that boils down to the belief from the old 1930s doctrine of “market socialism” as a tenable economic system.

    You cannot have a state monopolist in X “take the lead from the market” in X. In order for the market to take the lead in anything, it has to be the actual method of producing and distributing that thing, MONEY INCLUDED YA BUNCH OF ECONOMICALLY ILLITERATE BLOCKHEADS.

  24. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    26. June 2017 at 03:58

    Scott Sumner recently posited that news and The Onion are becoming hard to distinguish.

    “MAY 28, 2017 10:23 AM
    Critics close white women’s Portland burrito stand for cultural theft

    A Portland burrito eatery has shut down after the two white women who ran it were criticized for making food from a culture that wasn’t theirs.

    The controversy began after the Willamette Week newspaper ran a standard restaurant profile on Kooks’ Burritos on May 16.

    The two young owners, one with a tattoo of the iconic St. Johns Bridge on her arm, were pictured with burritos at their food cart.

    The women said they learned burrito making tips while on a 2016 road trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico.

    “Kali Wilgus and Liz ‘LC’ Connelly lost their minds over tortillas,” the story said.

    Now the pair have lost their business as well.

    Accused of “cultural appropriation,” the women have shut down their food cart after a barrage of criticism and bad reviews.”

    Critics opened up after one of the women said in the story, “We were peeking into the windows of every kitchen.”

    It’s a Mexican tradition to place the “tortilla lady” at a street side window where her techniques can be observed. But, the story didn’t elaborate.

    Commenters accused them of stealing recipes and techniques from Mexican women. ran a story titled, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business.”

    Like the church lady who refuses to hand over her famed casserole recipe, the Mexican women were reluctant to give their secrets to the American women. That was a red flag for some.

    Portland’s other alternative paper, The Portland Mercury, said the “predatory” women had “colonized” the food style.”


    The story is in Onionland many times over; not least of which is, since when is the burrito an exotic food item?

    Yeah, only Italians can make spaghetti and meatballs.

    Germans only for frankfurters.

    BTW, a burrito is nearly anything you want to wrap a flour or corn tortilla around. Anything that is handy and edible is authentic. Add spices and sauces as desired.

    It is like going down to Mexico and telling people to stop making sandwiches.

    PS McDonald’s has been selling breakfast burritos since the 1990s.

  25. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    26. June 2017 at 11:14

    Patrick, It didn’t take much watching to see that he was obviously the most talented player on the team. The stats you cite mean little unless put in context, which is why the NBA scouts ignored them.

    Booker was a bench player as a freshman at Kentucky, and scored 70 points in an NBA game last season.

    rtd, I think they pay a lot of attention to the consensus. They don’t want to be blamed for picking another Bennett.

    anon, Good points. But notice that lots of those centers you cite don’t actually produce many wins. Davis and Cousins are supposed to be among the top big men in the game, and yet they can’t win. KAT led Minnesota to fewer wins than Milwaukee, despite a comparable supporting cast to Giannis.

    I didn’t follow the draft closely, but expect the #3 pick to do well.

  26. Gravatar of rtd rtd
    26. June 2017 at 13:09

    Tell me if you think NFL GMs do the same. And, if not, why.

  27. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    27. June 2017 at 10:07

    “But notice that lots of those centers you cite don’t actually produce many wins. Davis and Cousins are supposed to be among the top big men in the game, and yet they can’t win. KAT led Minnesota to fewer wins than Milwaukee, despite a comparable supporting cast to Giannis.”

    Well actually KAT’s Minnesota and Giannis’s Milwaukee were almost dead even in quality, as’s schedule-adjusted point differential for the two teams was almost identical.

    And surely your “*they* can’t win” point is a little unfair, especially to Davis. Jrue Holiday, Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham, E’Twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, Tim Frazier et al doesn’t seem like a supporting cast that any player could turn into a contender, but I admit that I hadn’t even heard of two of them before looking up who played the most minutes on the Pelicans, so maybe they’re not all that bad.

    The two best “traditional” defensive centers, Jordan and Gobert, played for the 4th and 5th best teams in the league, by point differential, so it’s not like you can’t win games while using a center.

    Finally I would say, yes, it was obvious that Collins was the best pro prospect on Gonzaga, but remember they were as good or better as any team in the country (according to the numbers guys, not the polls or anything like that), so it’s not like the rest of the team was schlumps. If you mistakenly thought that Collins was three years older than Williams-Goss, instead of 3 years younger, I think you’d expect their draft positions to be quite different. And you can’t tell their relative ages by watching them.

    All of which is to say I think Williams-Goss is really good. The knock on him, apparently, besides his old age, is “lack of athleticism.” He can certainly score though, especially down low, and even at 19 and 20 often looked like the best player on the floor in Pac-12 games.

    Hey, when was the last time an older college player went in the second round and turned out to be Rookie of the Year?

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. June 2017 at 19:34

    rtd, Don’t know. I ‘d guess that market is not as efficient, as their are so many more players, and talent is so much harder to evaluate.

    Anon, Regarding the Pelicans, how many other mediocre teams are there with two superstars?

  29. Gravatar of anon/portly anon/portly
    2. July 2017 at 09:59

    Regarding the Pelicans, I don’t know. I’d like them a lot more in the East, where at least they’d be a sure playoff contender every year (the Hawks, half a point better than the Pelicans, were the #5 seed) and might have an easier time attracting quality veterans. Eventually some team like Orlando or Charlotte will probably give them something for Cousins that’s as good or better as what they gave up, so if they are still mediocre with Cousins at least there may be a way out and up.

    I’m not so sure achieving a 34-48 record with a -2.1 point differential (-1.7 scheduled adjusted at with that roster doesn’t show that Anthony Davis is one of the 3 or 4 most valuable players in the NBA. Without Anthony Davis what point differential would you expect? I’d expect them to be the worst team in the league, or very close, down there with the -5/-6 teams (Brooklyn, Orlando, Phil, Lakers, Phoenix) if not below them.

    Anyway I don’t have much to say myself, obviously, but I loved this Bill Simmons analysis:

    Simmons thinks the Bucks should want DeAndre Jordan, that’s his Step 2 to saving the Clippers. Step 1 was to let Blake Griffin go, which makes perfect sense since he’s injury-prone and nearing 30.

    But the real point of the piece is step 11, which I saw coming a mile away. Now that the Clippers have signed Blake, they’re almost guaranteed to be mediocre or worse over the next few years, so I wonder if step 11 isn’t the ultimate goal anyway.

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