The Length and Success of NBA Careers: Does College Production Predict Professional Outcomes?, pp. 4-26

Dennis Coates
Babatunde Oguntimein

This paper uses data on players drafted in 1987 through 1989 covering both their collegiate and their professional careers. This time period is chosen because we wanted recent players whose playing days have ended. Our analysis evaluates the role of college productivity on draft position and the relationship between college career productivity, measured by individual performance statistics and as productivity indexes, with professional career productivity measured similarly and with the length of the career. At issue is the effectiveness of NBA executives in identifying college players who will be successful in the pros. The results suggest that some college productivity significantly influences draft position and that the nature of that influence differs with the nature of the college conference from which a player is taken. Draft position also affects the length of a player’s career, with earlier draftees having longer careers.