Scouting vs. statistical analysis

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ESPN Insider's Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton return to provide the kind of discussions that are happening in front offices around the NBA -- where scouts and statistical experts are breaking down NBA draft prospects using their "eyes, ears and numbers."

Kevin Pelton: This week, we're going to do something slightly different from our usual dialogue about individual draft prospects. Instead, with the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference beginning Friday in Boston, I'd like to take a step back to explain why both scouting and statistical analysis are helpful in projecting prospects to the NBA.

In his book "The Signal and the Noise," Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com put PECOTA, his baseball projection system, to the test and found that it was not as effective at predicting major league success for young prospects as the scouting consensus. It's interesting to take a similar look at the NBA draft. For drafts between the introduction of the age limit in 2006 (before which many top prospects came out of high school with few if any meaningful stats) and 2011 (the most recent draft where players are in their fourth year or later), I looked at three groups of players:

• Those drafted in the top 10 who also were rated in the top 10 of my WARP projections (the consensus)

• Those drafted in the top 10 who were outside the top 10 of my WARP projections (scouting favorites)

• Those in the top 10 of my WARP projections who were drafted outside the top 10 (stat favorites)

Let's take a look at each of those groups. First up, the scouting favorites, along with their performance over the first four seasons of their career (the life of a rookie contract for first-round picks):

Chad, what stands out about this group?