Ben McLemore: Historical Comparisons to the Possible #1 Picks

May 27th, 2013 by Kevin Hetrick

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:

McLemore – 6’ 3.5” barefoot height, 6’ 7.75” wingspan, 189 lbs, 32.5” no-step vert, 11.87 agility, 3.27 sprint.  Age 20.4 at draft time.  119 orating on 22 usage.  Percentage = 50 / 42 / 87.  Location = 42 / 37 / 20.  Dreb% = 12.3.  Stl% = 1.8, Blk% = 2.2, Ast% = 12.5.  A:TO Ratio = 0.9.

An explosive dunker with a sweet shooting stroke, he never grabbed the part of “superstar”, instead settling into a mid-usage role on the Jayhawks.  HIs defensive impacts were notable, and his shooting percentages excellent.

In looking at McLemore, the two closest comparisons derived are:

Player A – 6’ 2.75” barefoot, 6’ 10.75” wingspan, 201 lbs, 32.5” no-step, 10.39 agility, 3.11 sprint.  20.8 at draft time.  120 orating on 24 usage.  49 / 42 / 72.  42 / 40 / 17.  dreb% = 8.5, stl% = 2.6, blk% = 2.6, ast% = 18.7.  A:TO ratio = 1.4.

Player B – 6’ 4.25” barefoot, 202 lbs, 6’ 6.5” wingspan, 31.5” no-step, 11.14 agility, 3.20 sprint.  Age 21.7 at draft time (season used here is the season when he was age 20.7 at draft time).  121 orating on 21 usage.  47 / 40 / 83.  49 / 36 / 15.  dreb% = 11.2, stl% = 1.9, blk% = 0.5, ast% = 10.7.  A:TO Ratio = 1.2.

Player A was probably the best comparison.  Although slightly longer and definitely quicker, both players displayed excellent athleticism and strong offensive efficiency while using just under one-quarter of their team’s possessions.  Both guys made nearly half their field goals, and an identical 42% of their threes, while scoring approximately 40% of their points both inside and outside the arc.  McLemore rebounded better, but the comparison proved slightly more disruptive otherwise on defense.  Player A also distributed the ball more frequently.

I chose Player B as the second best comparison.  He is similarly sized, and again slightly quicker than McLemore, but also less explosive.  Both were very efficient shooters, using 21 – 22% of their team’s possessions, and scoring 36 – 37% of their points from deep.  The players rebounded and collected steals at similar rates, but McLemore utilized his superior leaping to block more shots.  For passing skills, they rated very comparatively.

Player A is Rashad McCants, the 14th pick in the 2005 draft.  Player B is Wayne Ellington, the 29th pick in the 2009 draft.  Without knowing who they were , if I just looked at the age, measurements, and stats for McCants versus McLemore…I would pick McCants.  Of course, he was also a head-case.  While Ellington’s measurements and stats are simlar, he falls right below McLemore across the board.

What does it all mean?  Do I think McLemore will be better than Ellington and McCants?  Yes.  Do I think McLemore will provide great value as a top-three pick?  No.  My inclination is that he is a very good complimentary player in the NBA.

Ok, one final guy…Player C is 6’ 3.25” barefoot, 6’ 9.25” wingspan, 213 lbs, 33” no-step, 10.69 agility, 3.25 sprint.  21.2 at draft time.  122 orating on 23 usage.  60 / 44 / 75.  62 / 18 / 20.  dreb% = 13.9.  stl% = 4.5.  blk% = 2.8. ast% = 15.1.  A:TO ratio = 0.9.

These two players are similar in length, but Player C packs on 25 extra pounds while leaping as well as McLemore and maintaining better quickness.  He played offense more efficiently, while using a slightly higher amount of his team’s possessions.  On defense he was a terror, collecting steals on 150% more possessions than McLemore.  He was nine months older though, so McLemore has some time to catch up.  Do I think he does?  No.

Player C is Victor Oladipo.  Let’s talk about him tomorrow.

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