So, What Do We Realistically Have in Peyton Siva?

Well, to start with, we have the presence of Peyton's #1 fan (with a bullet) in KC3 and we're all really glad to have her here. And no one will debate that.

As the excitement brews for next year, I see an increasing number of references to Peyton Siva as a rotation player next year and maybe even a starter--"because of his defense".

My own cold-hearted guess is that he's still a long-shot to make any sort of real impact in the NBA. I get that he's disciplined, determined, an exceedingly hard worker, and a great teammate. Character does matter (in most cases), because if you don't have the drive, the consistency, the character, there's a pretty good chance that you won't maximize (or even come close to) your potential. So, it seems to me that the primary reason for high hopes with Peyton Siva is that he, though less physically endowed and lacking the same level of skillset as others, will maximize his potential and become a valuable part of a good NBA team.

And he might…he certainly looked like he showed some development over the course of last season. But I’m still going to be a doubter. And here are my reasons:

First of all, the Age of the Internet has led most of us to greatly inflate the potential for our players, especially the new arrivals. The reality is that most of us have read more about Peyton Siva (or Tony Mitchell or possibly even a Doug McDermott or Aaron Gordon) than we did about Isiah Thomas during his entire playing career. In them olden days, we were limited to Al Ackerman on WDIV, the daily article in the Free Press or News, and (for the lucky few) the early days of ESPN. The casual fan (and even the rabid fan) in 1988 just didn’t have much to go on.

Today we can read seemingly endless accounts of even the most obscure prospects and whereas the elite players might spawn some articles warning about bust potential, pretty much any Peyton Siva or Luigi Datome will generate a bevy of blog posts, tweets, and online articles about their great qualities and their potentials to be "hidden gems". None of this suggests that the "hidden gem" label will be wrong about Peyton or Datome or anyone else. But we are inundated by reports on the superlative character of a lot of these guys and it gets hard not to buy the press. Just because we’re aware of the various reasons why someone *could* be a "hidden gem" doesn’t make it more likely that he will be. It’s just easier to play out the "Man, if he only develops an outside shot…" types of fantasies.

Secondly, there are seemingly some limitations to Peyton Siva’s game. He’s a small guy in a big man’s game. Mind you, players his size and smaller are very successful, but in today’s NBA being a 6’4" point guard is a huge advantage. It’s hard to imagine that Peyton would be able to consistently guard the big and very strong point guards in the league or that getting his shots off (especially inside) will be very easy for him.

And then there is the matter of his shooting ability. Peyton Siva has never shown that he shoots the ball very well. He shot 34% from 2 last year, 28% from 3, and 32% overall. In four years of college, the result was 48% from 2, 29% from 3, and 42% overall. (The 48% from two sounds encouraging, but I’m willing to wager that a lot of that came from driving to the hoop, which it doesn’t seem like he’ll be regularly able to do in the NBA). His best year as a shooter from downtown was his freshman year in which he shot 40%; in his three subsequent years, he never topped 29% (and was below 25% as a junior).

The consensus that I’m reading is that Siva would need to be a three point threat for him to be able to do more than hang around on the fringes of the NBA. It *could* happen. He *could* find the right coach or will himself to improvement. At the same time, he’ll turn 24 before the start of the new season and as both a small and dedicated guy, I have to assume that he’s worked on his shot diligently for years. It just hasn’t happened.

Finally, I did some light research into how other late second-round draft picks have fared. Certainly, there have been some true "hidden gems". (Korver, Gortat, and Manu among others.) But, as you’ll see from the charts and discussion below, they are rare.

It is popular to disparage "the so-called experts" and to remember the times when the consensus got it wrong. But as a general rule, I tend to trust the collective judgment of the hundreds or even thousands of people who have made assessing NBA talent into a career. Lottery picks pan out far more frequently and in more spectacular fashion than second-rounders (despite what the isolated example of Darko vs. Amir might suggest).

So in addition to looking at the track record of the* last* ten picks of the past 25 drafts, I also compiled a chart of the *first* ten picks of the 2nd round for those same seasons. I would have expected the second group of players to have found significantly more success in the NBA than the first group has/did. Have a look at the charts:

(Note: You need to click on them to be able to read them.)

Final 10 Draft Picks, 1987 - 2013



First Ten Picks of the 2nd Round, 1987-2013



You'll note that I sorted and color-coded the players. I divided them into three categories:

* Red--Non-Entities (These guys basically didn't have NBA careers)

* Yellow--Role Players (I might have been a little generous here, but I counted anyone with a career total of 5 Win Shares or more in this category. To me, this means that the guy had at least a decent season or two or stayed around the league long enough that some team(s) thought he was worth keeping. As local points of reference, Jason Maxiell, Maurice Evans, and Charlie V. have around 20 WS. Jarvis Hayes retired with 10. Brandon Knight is at 5.1. Austin Daye is currently at 4.5. Obviously, I didn't set the bar too terribly high.)

* Green--These were/are legitimate NBA starters. I can't say that I remember all these guys on the list, and stats only tell part of the story. But from what I can see/remember, these players who were legitimate NBA starters--and at times stars--at least for parts of their careers.

You'll also note that I refrained from categorizing the 2012 and 2013 draft picks. I didn't feel that enough time had passed to fairly assess these guys.

So, what difference does top of the 2nd round vs. bottom of the second round make? It appears that there is a fairly major gap in performance.

The Bottom Ten Picks shook out like this:

Green (Legit NBA Starters)--7 (James Jones, Kyle Korver, Luis Scola, Isaiah Thomas, Manu Ginobli, Amir Johnson, Martin Gortat)

Yellow (Role Players)--15 (See the list)

Red (Non-Entities)--128

In short, 5% of these picks turned out to be really good NBA players, and another 10% had somewhere between marginal and decent careers. But 85% were more-or-less out of the league without making any mark.

How about the Top Ten Picks of the Second Round?:

Green (Legit NBA Starters--15 (Pekovic, Landry, Varajao, Arenas, B. Bass, R. Lewis, M. Chalmers, D. Jordan, Asik, Ilyasova, Boozer, Okur, L. Stephenson, M. Ellis, C. Parsons)

Yellow (Role Players)--42 (See the list)

Red (Non-Entities)---93

In short, 10% of these picks turned out to be really good NBA players, and another 28% had somewhere between marginal and decent careers. 62% were more-or-less out of the league without making any mark.

Now, an obvious point to make is that none of these 300 players have anything to do with Peyton Siva because they...well, they aren't Peyton Siva. Point taken.

But predicting the future--of the careers of NBA draft picks, or really anything--isn't a matter of having a crystal ball. And while the "gut feeling" ends up feeling really good when it's spot on, it just usually isn't. Predicting the future is about having a good sense of what is probably, given the circumstances. And 85% of NBA players where Peyton Siva was ended up not having more than a cup of coffee in the NBA. Based on the much better performance of the early 10 second-round picks, "the experts" seem to have a pretty good idea of what they are talking about.

So this is why I don't anticipate Peyton Siva a valuable piece for the Pistons. Not only because I like Kathy, but because I like Siva and because I'd love the team to have a good point guard, I hope he makes it. Given how last season went, I wanted to see him get more minutes and I can think of no reason not to renew his contract. Probably isn't certainty.

But at the end of the day, I see a 6 foot guard who doesn't shoot well and was drafted #56. And this makes him a longshot.

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