Archive for the ‘Draft Profiles’ Category

Anthony Bennett: Comparisons to the Potential #1 Picks

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

While not my most lazily researched, this probably qualifies as my most lazily written.  Various media reports link the Cavs to half the NCAA with the first pick, but rarely does Anthony Bennett come up.  During my comparison series on players last month, several commenters inquired about the UNLV freshman though.  Due to surgery, he was unable to participate in athleticism drills at the combine, but here is his statistical profile:

Anthony Bennett – 6’ 7” in shoes, 239 lbs, 7’ 1” wingspan.  114 orating on 26 usage.  Shooting percentanges = 53 / 38 / 70.  Scoring Location Distribution = 59 / 19 / 22.  Oreb% = 10.2.  Dreb% = 21.8.  ast% = 8.7.  stl% = 1.4.  blk% = 4.5.  A:TO Ratio = 0.5.  Age 20.4 at draft.  NCAA’s 74th most difficult schedule.

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Alex Len: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

This post is the most tedious of the series…but you’ll survive.  Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 3.0 (ESPN Insider) noted that Alex Len was still being considered by the Cavs at #1.  The Maryland sophomore was also brought up by a few commenters last week, so by popular demand, I’m back with another player comparison*.  The young Terrapin is nimble, yet 250 pounds; a 7-footer, with rim protecting and scoring potential.  Of course, he is currently rehabbing from surgery to stabilize an ankle stress fracture, leaving him unable to participate in the combine or workouts.

Len’s numerical profile is (without measurements**):

Alex Len – Age 20 at draft.  112.7 orating on 22.6 usage.  Shooting percentages = 53 / 13 / 69.  Scoring location distribution = 76 / 1 / 23.  oreb% = 13.1.  dreb% = 19.3.  ast% = 7.7.  stl% = 0.4.  to% = 15.6.  Blk% = 7.9.  A:TO Ratio = 0.6.  Postseason = NIT Final Four behind averages of 11 points, 7 boards, and 4 blocks in four games.  Played NCAA’s 96th toughest schedule***.

Solid…not spectacular.  I’m going to take a different tact for today’s article and make you work a little bit.  I’ve included six other centers, all drafted in the early to mid-first round.  If they were drafted older than Len, I included their age 20 season and their final collegiate campaign.  Look at the provided information, and “tier” the players into similar levels of prospect.  Include Len.  After ten minutes, put your pencils down…eyes on your own paper.

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Rudy Can’t Fail

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

How you get a rude and a reckless?
Don’t you be so crude and a feckless
You been drinking brew for breakfast
Rudie can’t fail

-The Clash

Bonjour.  Frenchman Rudy Gobert, like most players in the 2013 draft is a human Rorschach test.  He has incredible strengths and glaring weaknesses.  Gobert, unlike most college players, doesn’t have an extensive body of work that we were able to watch from which to draw conclusions.  What we can do is infer from the information we know, and project onto him.

Rudy Gobert was once rumored to be 7’4,” was measured at 7’2″ in shoes at the combine along with a 7’8.5″ wingspan and a 9’7″ standing reach, both records. As has been discussed in this blog before by the estimable Kevin Hetrick, Rudy Gobert’s numbers do not exactly project “star.”  As Kevin has noted, reach alone does not correlate to production, and speed of centers has been the best predictor of NBA success.  Rudy Gobert’s 3/4 court sprint is 3.57, which isn’t great.  His agility score of 12.77 wasn’t elite either.  And as Kevin has also noted, standing reach and wingspan haven’t been great indicators of NBA success.  In fact, at the extreme end, I’ve noticed they tend to be negative predictors.  Perhaps most of these guys get so long they just can’t control their arms.  But there are players who’ve posted corresponding numbers who’ve fared well in the NBA.  Brook Lopez ran extremely similar numbers with a 3.57 and 12.77.  He has fared well in the NBA.  Andrew Nicholson posted a 3.66 3/4 court sprint and posted a similarly condorian wingspan of 7’4″.  Nicholson just posted a fairly solid rookie season, and frankly should have replaced Tyler Zeller on the all-rookie second team.

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Let’s finish this…Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Note: The disjointed nature of this post pretty ably reflects my ability to make sense of the first pick.

Having looked closely at Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter and Nerlens Noel, my draft board for the Cavs says:

  1. Noel
  2. Porter
  3. Oladipo

I am not excited about it though.  Noel’s size, athleticism and production are worthy of the first pick, but I can’t get over the two knee surgeries.   And honestly, whether the Cavs do or don’t pick him, I’m not sure there will be a lot of room for future “I told you so’s”.  What fan will legitimately be able to say, “I knew what would happen with his left knee”?

But enough of that…I need to find an answer.  I populated my “parallel universe simulator” with the thousands of requisite variables, then let it churn on hundreds of networked computers throughout the course of the week.  The hoped-for output: the answer to the question of “which selection will help win the Cavs win the most games over the next ten years?”

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Nerlens Noel: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Finally, the time has arrived: Nerlens Noel, the majority selection for Number One.  The type of long, super-athletic prospect that front offices drool over, the Kentucky freshman followed up on his place at the top of the high school class of 2012 with an impressive twenty-four games at Kentucky, parlaying that dossier into top-pick status.  Of course nothing is easy though; on February 12th, he tore his left ACL, sidelining him until 2014.  If not for that, this series never exists.  Nerlens numerical profile is:

6’ 10” barefoot, 7’ 3.75” wingspan, 206 lbs (apparently he played at 220 pounds.  Also no athleticism tests, but I will give Noel the benefit of the doubt of a 3.15 – 3.20 sprint time).  Age 19.2 at draft time.  109 orating on 19 usage.  59 / 0 / 53.  78 / 0 / 22.  dreb% = 21.7.  ast% = 9.3.  stl% = 3.9.  blk% = 12.9.  A:TO ratio = 0.8.

Pretty impressive stuff.  Solid rebounding; astounding steal and block rates; and decent offensive play for an 18-year old center.  Tough to find comparisons for those traits, and I’ve split this into a few categories.

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Otto Porter: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Finally, we arrive at a guy playing a position of need for the Cavs.  Well-rounded on the court and hard-working off it, this Georgetown sophomore fills several needs for Cleveland.  A small forward that scores efficiently, moves the ball intelligently, hustles, knocks down threes, and buckles down on defense…sounds pretty good.  But does that sound like a #1 pick?  Most people can not fathom a “yes” for that question.  Let’s look at similar players from season’s past, to see if “no” becomes a “meh”. 

Porter’s athletic and production profile is:

6’ 7.5” barefoot, 7’ 1.5” wingspan, 198 lbs, 27” no-step vert, 11.25 second agility drill, 3.40  second sprint time.  Age 20 at the draft.  119 orating on 23 usage.  Shooting percentages = 48 / 42 / 78.  Scoring locations = 50 / 26 / 24.  dreb% = 18.9.  stl% = 3.3.  blk% = 3.  ast% = 18.5.  A:TO ratio = 1.8.

Really good stuff.  Solid length, young, efficient shooting, stellar block and steal rates, sweet passing.  He is a unique prospect.  How much so though?  Similarities include:

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Victor Oladipo: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 picks

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Finding similar age / production / size / athleticism profiles for Victor Oladipo proved a tad tougher than for Ben McLemore.  High leaping youngsters that finish top-ten in the NCAA for True Shooting and top-fifty for Steal Percentage, don’t grow on trees.  So I had to stretch a bit more than with the McLemore comparisons.  The Hoosier junior’s line is:

6’ 3.25” barefoot, 6’ 9.25” wingspan, 213 lbs, 33” no-step, 10.69 agility, 3.25 sprint.  Age is 21.1 at draft time.  122 orating on 23 usage.  Shooting Percentages are 60 / 44 / 75.  Location distribution of points scored is 62 / 18 / 20.  dreb% = 13.9.  stl% = 4.5.  blk% = 2.8.  ast% = 15.1.  A:TO ratio = 0.9.

For the comparisons today, I came up with:

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Ben McLemore: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Last Friday, Cavs:the Blog proposed wild trade scenarios for the number one pick.  This week, I will look at the collegiate players in the running for that pick: Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, and Trey Burke.  The method employed is to scour the draftexpress.com measurement database and the numbers available at statsheet.com.  For each player, a list was culled of the most athletically and statistically similar players.  Stats and traits selected are intended to closely mimic each guy’s size, athleticism, playing style, and performance.  They include:

  • Barefoot Height
  • Wingspan
  • Weight
  • No-Step Vertical Leap
  • Agility Drill Time
  • Three-Quarter Court Sprint Speed

For performance, I gathered the following traits from each prospective #1 and a comparably aged season from the parallel youngster; i.e. if Player 2013 is 20 at draft time, while a comparison player was 21 at draft time, I used the stats from the comparison player’s previous season.  Those are:

  • Offensive Rating
  • Usage
  • Shooting percentage splits, in the form FG% / 3P% / FT%
  • A split of where they scored from.  If a player scored 50% of his points from inside the arc, 25% from three, and 25% at the foul line, his tally is 50 / 25 / 25.
  • Defensive Rebounding Percentage
  • Steal Percentage
  • Block Percentage
  • Assist Percentage
  • Assist to Turnover Ratio

Using those as markers, the two most comparable players were determined in order to frame a reference for what the future may hold for the youngster.  I started with the draftexpress.com measurements database, looking at players plus or minus 1” from each indivdiual’s barefoot height.

Each day this week, I will present the list for one of those players, before on Friday, announcing my preference for the Cavs on draft day.  While certainly not perfect, it is instructive to see how similar performers progressed through their NBA careers.  Let’s start with Ben McLemore, the 20-year old freshman Kansas shooting guard.  His line is:

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A look at the Combine Results

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Shane Larkin is poised to make noise in the NBA.

(This is Part 14, the final in the series that I published at Hardwood Paroxysm throughout the year.)

The 2013 NBA combine is behind us.  After thirteen parts attempting to quantify what it all means, now it is time to declare winners & losers.  Let’s start with the crew deserving a bump in their draft status.

Winners

Shane Larkin – If his NCAA-leading points produced through pick & rolls (scores plus assists) didn’t impress you, or his 24 points per game during Miami’s ACC Tourney run, then how about his joining this crew: Derrick Rose, Russ Westbrook, Mike Conley Jr, John Wall, Nate Robinson, and Jerryd Bayless?  Those were the drafted underclassmen point guards with sprint speed below 3.15 seconds and no-step vert of 30” or more.  Ignore concerns about his tiny stature; this Hurricane is primed to do big things.

Otto Porter – Tall small forwards rate as the NBA’s most-productive two-way players.  Who stood  tallest of the 2013 small forward class?  Of course, Otto Porter, also the draft’s most productive 19-year old.  I see a strong NBA career, despite middling athleticism tests…which aren’t consistently reflective of NBA success or failure for a small forward, anyways (actually, most of those correlations were negative).

Phil Pressey – He surpassed 3.2 seconds in the sprint and 11 seconds in the agility drill as a draft-worthy upperclassmen point guard.  That’s been a can’t-miss combination over the last thirteen years and a great source of late value.  Peyton Siva also bested these thresholds, but currently ESPN and Draftexpress include him outside the likely draftees*; at nearly 23, he has never been a particularly effective collegiate offensive player.  This serves as opportunity to say, don’t overrate players that otherwise may not warrant drafting, just because of favorable combine results (obviously an Olympic track athlete isn’t likely to find NBA success).

Nerlens Noel – Did I bump my head?  I am giving Noel the benefit of the doubt here.  The small group of very long, very speedy prodigy centers is fairly glamourous.  Nerlens’ 110” reach meets one criteria, and I have faith that his sprint speed bests 3.3 seconds.

Victor Oladipo – The complete list of underclassmen (Oladipo is still 21 as of February 1st, 2014) shooting guards with first-round talent and a 6’ – 9” wingspan, 31” no-step vert and 35” max vert in the last fourteen drafts is: James Harden, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Eric Gordon, Ronnie Brewer and Jeremy Lamb.  I expect the young Hoosier will fit nicely into this list.  Ben McLemore also leapt over 31″ from a stand-still, exhibiting a trait often portending success for first-round, underclass shooting-guard talent.  Allen Crabbe barely missed the combination of qualifiers that Oladipo met.

Cody Zeller - His sprint speed ties the third best of the centers evaluated by this study.   His no-step vert rose the highest of the entire 2013 Combine.  Given the precedent of these traits predicting success in underclassmen centers, this helps solidify Zeller in the top-ten. Norvel Pelle flashed an exciting blend of speed and length…who is he?  I don’t know, but as a late second round project, he may be worth a look.

Losers

Rudy Gobert – Here’s the shocker; my big, contrarian view.  Also, this may not be fair, because this project focused solely on NCAA players.  But heading into May 16th, reports of his wingspan were 7’ – 9”…now it’s a confirmed 7’ – 8.25”.  Why would this bump his draft stock?  As an anecdotal case, the players in the draftexpress.com database with wingspan greater than 7’ – 8” include: Mamadou N’Diaye, John Riek, Alexis Ajinca, Saer Sene, Michael Olowokandi, Chris Marcus, and Boban Majanovic.  Is this a list that inspires confidence?  Detailed here and here, as a general rule, increased size did not correlate to improved offensive or defensive success for centers; instead, elite athleticism generally corresponded to raised performance.

Follow me on this gross simplification, as I attempt to illustrate a point.  Of the players investigated in this study:

  • Gobert’s reach of 9’ – 7” exceeds the 70th percentile of centers by 3.5”.
  • His max vert of 29” falls below the 70th percentile by 4”.
  • OK.   Ignore the second bullet point.  Based on his sprint speed of 19.7 ft / sec, compared to 70th percentile speed of 21.2 ft / sec, it takes 1/5 of a second for the faster player to gain 3.5″.

While I’m not sure that solved anything, athleticism provided much more reliable prediction of NBA success for Centers.  Gobert’s sprint speed was third-worst of the 2013 combine, his agility second from the bottom, with max-vert tied for last.  He failed at the more important stuff.  I don’t think the events of May 16 and 17 did anything to positively differentiate from May 15th .

Shabazz Muhammad – At the one position where size rated as consistently beneficial, the UCLA freshman comes up short.  Turning 21 at the start of next season, combined with non-elite NCAA production, he is probably a reach in the top ten.

Late draft shooting guards – Snagging a “two” in the final quarter of the draft is a longstanding popular decision amongst NBA front offices; following that pattern, a recent draftexpress.com mock shows five coming off the board between picks 46 and 60.  Invariably, these picks have not worked out…potentially bad news for Ricky Ledo, BJ Young, Vander Blue, Brandon Paul, or Michael Snaer.  Rolling the dice on a fast point guard is historically smarter.

Myck Kabongo – In addition to the facts that he was not particularly productive at Texas, and that he technically qualifies as an upperclassmen (22 years old by February 1st), his athleticism results were gross.  Not a good combination for a prospective point guard.

Upperclassmen Centers – Over the last 13 drafts, this has typically been the domain of marginally performing players.  The exceptions are Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert, Emeka Okafor, and Brendan Haywood.  Accounting solely for defense, Jason Collins can be added to the list.  Disappointing speed and leaping results from Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Withey do not help their case towards breaking into this tiny group of  successes.  Gorgui Dieng skipped the athleticism testing.

Neutral

Any sub-six foot point guard – Size showed zero inclination towards predicting offensive success for point guards, so if you like Trey Burke, Shane Larkin, Phil Pressey, Pierre Jackson or Isaiah Cannon, don’t be scared-off that they’re shorter than you.

Undersized big men – Richard Howell, Andre Roberson, DeShaun Thomas; if you liked these guys before the combine…carry on.

Anyone not listed here – Basically regardless of how amazing or disappointing the thing they did was…you shouldn’t let it dramatically change your perception of their draft stock.

*Casper Ware did not possess the necessary skill-set to get him drafted, hence he would not qualify in a re-do of this study in five years.  As a small, fast point guard though, I featured him with a picture in the second part of this series.  Due to that, I will always feel a small interest in his career.  This year, in his rookie professional season in Europe, he sits as the second leading scorer (20.4 ppg) and fourth-best assist person in Italian Lega2.  Despite struggling around the basket, he posted respectable true shooting of 55% to go with his bulk scoring.  His team currently battles in their playoffs, clinching a first round series yesterday, behind Ware’s 20 points on 59% true shooting.  Good luck in the semifinals, Casper.  Come on, NBA cellar-dwellars and higher-level Euro teams…next year, we can do better than the Italian second-division for Mr. Ware!!

Hoping the Roulette Wheel Stops on #19

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

An athletic big with a history of strong production, but attitude issues? Take him at #19 and see if a glimpse of D-League life brings him to his full potential.

All credit for stats and much information goes to draftexpress.com, statsheet.com and eurobasket.com; three unique and awesome websites.  Certainly I worked in an original opinion somewhere though.

Regarding the first round of the 2013 draft, I still think the Cavs benefit best by bringing aboard one player to the active roster next year.  Kyrie, Tristan, Dion, 2013 lottery pick, and Zeller need to be surrounded by veteran talent: players to share lessons learned, teach them how to be pros, etc.  Based on that thought, the nineteenth pick would be traded, Euro-stashed, or invested in a young player destined for a year of D-League time.

The latter scenarios present interesting opportunities to swing for the fences.  The Cavaliers employ the aforementioned crew of youngsters, plus possess a multitude of future draft picks to acquire role players.  Why not shoot for the moon with this year’s other first-rounder?

Here are some options.

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