I went to B-R.com and organized each draft class from 1994 to 2009 in order from highest career win shares to lowest. Looking at each class this way I determined subjectively for each class a win share cutoff below which you would not have been very happy to have burnt a pick on a player. These cutoffs are similar but not identifcal for every class. As I said, they are subjective. I then noted the following information about the set of what you might call draft worthy players from each class: how many came from the lotto, how many came from outside the lotto, how many came from picks 15-30, how many came from picks 31-45, how many came from picks 46-60, and how many were foreign. I found a few interesting things I thought I would share.
Let's look at the Bulls-Nuggets pick swap this year. The Bulls traded picks 16 and 19 for the 11th and Anthony Randolph's bad deal. The good news for Chicago is that since 1994 an average of nine draft worthy players from each class came from the lottery. Those are pretty nice odds.
The bad news is that the 15-30 range is pretty effective at producing solid NBA players too. Since 1994 an average of six draft worthy players from each class came from the 15-30 range. Those odds are not as strong as you get in the lotto, but the odds of either the 16th or 19th pick hitting are definitely greater than the odds of just the 11th pick hitting. So really it's Denver who should have had to throw in a sweetener, not the Bulls. Very unsportsmanlike move by Denver.
Now let's look at the Wolves sale of the 44th and 53rd picks. Not surprisingly the news here is only bad. The odds of a pick in the 31-44 range hitting are not fantastic, but you do have a real shot at landing a productive player there. Since 1994 an average of 13% of players who end up being useful come from this range. For the 45-60 range the number is 4%.
Things might be even worse than that though. The 2001 draft appears to have been a turning point for foreign talent making it in the NBA. Prior to 2001 there was an average of only 1 foreign player to make it into the draft worthy set each year; from 2001 to 2009 there have been nearly 4 foreign draft worthy players each year. This influx has led to more value coming outside the lotto, and no pick range has gained more than 31-45. As I mentioned before from 1994-2009 an average of 13% of draft worthy players came from the 31-45 range; but from 2001-2009 18% of draft worthy players came from the 31-45 range. The number is 6% for the 45-60 range starting in 2001.