The higher a player is drafted, the more games he tends to start as rookie. That’s pretty obvious.
Players drafted higher tend to be worse than players drafted lower, and teams picking higher tend to be worse – meaning a lower-quality lineup to break into – than teams picking lower.
So how many games should we expect a No. 9 pick, like Andre Drummond, to start this season? A simple analysis says 32.
I took each first-round pick since 1989, when the NBA expanded to 27 teams, and counted how many games each player started as rookie (normalized to an 82-game schedule due to two lockouts in the span). Add a line of best fit, and you have a decent benchmark for first-round picks starting.
This analysis doesn’t account for how Drummond fits Detroit’s needs, Drummond being just 19 years old or any other factor besides where he was drafted. But based on the history of first-round picks, Drummond starting 32 games this year is a reasonable expectation.