Hoop-math.com has some pretty awesome statistical splits for the past 3 years, and I decided to take advantage of that to look at a certain angle for all prospects in this draft: who can get to the rim in the half-court the most frequently?  Not that getting to the rim is everything– Austin Rivers excelled at penetrating defenses in the half-court and was bad at finishing and everything else, so he’s looking like a bust to start his career in spite of this skill.  But the reason why I feel this has value is because Otto Porter was exceptionally bad at penetrating through the defense unassisted, and this is likely correlated with him underperforming draft models, scouting reports, and his actual draft position as a rookie.  He was such a solid and well balanced player that almost every school of thought graded him as a surefire future starter, but that hypothesis now appears to be in doubt.  It’s likely that his lack of handle or burst were both underplayed warts and this was the signal that forecasting his downside risk.

So I looked at a narrow split of half-court unassisted rim FG’s that are not putbacks.  This is going to approximate creation ability, as it offers a glimpse of who can penetrate best through a set defense.  Granted, these numbers should all be taken with a grain of salt since they are scraped from play by play and they are far from precise.  They are all at the whim of assist scorers and play by play timestamps to approximate whether a basket came in transition or not. Also these are unadjusted for strength of schedule, and I measured these per minute instead of per possession since I figure up tempo teams have more transition possessions on average.  I split the sample into point guards, wings, and bigs, and also included assisted HC rim FG’s on the side.  Let’s start with wings:

Player UA FG Mins UA FG/40 Assisted
Isaiah Sykes 61 958 2.55 13
Jordan Clarkson 68 1228 2.21 7
Austin Rivers 51 1129 1.81 5
TJ Warren 54 1238 1.74 47
Doug McDermott 40 1181 1.35 81
Lamar Patterson 34 1174 1.16 17
KJ McDaniels 33 1212 1.09 14
Okaro White 27 1084 1.00 36
Markel Brown 28 1201 0.93 18
Rodney Hood 24 1150 0.83 13
Spencer Dinwiddie 32 1602 0.80 4
Deandre Daniels 22 1103 0.80 27
Andrew Wiggins 22 1148 0.77 17
Roy Devyn Marble 19 995 0.76 14
Nik Stauskas 24 1281 0.75 11
Jordan Adams 18 1082 0.67 31
Aaron Gordon 18 1187 0.61 59
Glenn Robinson 17 1194 0.57 28
PJ Hairston 11 804 0.55 4
James Young 17 1296 0.52 9
Gary Harris 13 1131 0.46 11
CJ Wilcox 12 1116 0.43 12
Otto Porter 11 1097 0.40 20
Nick Johnson 12 1257 0.38 20
Cleanthony Early 9 986 0.37 22
Zach LaVine 7 904 0.31 4

It’s nice to see Isaiah Sykes up at the top since he’s one of my favorite deep sleepers in the draft. He had a high volume role where he likely attacked too much given his ultimate efficiency, but the ability to penetrate is clearly present and it’s one of his multiple skills to work with in the pros.

I had wondered why everybody was so high on Jordan Clarskon, and this largely explains it. The guy can get to the rack! He’s probably just an older Austin Rivers, but he seems like a fine round 2 flier nevertheless.

In spite of all of Dougie’s McBuckets, many of them came assisted. He’s still left with solid unassisted volume, but a fair amount of these are likely post-ups over bigs that are too small to play in the NBA. He’s going to have a difficult time translating his inside the arc scoring to the pros.

Andrew Wiggins grades out in the middle of the pack, which is pretty good for a freshman. In spite of his limited handle, he still had the tools to get to the rim on occasion which is something to work with. His vision and finishing over length are the bigger holes in his slashing game.

Nik Stauskas played PG part-time at Michigan and his rate of getting to the rim is less impressive through that lens, but this isn’t too bad for his limited tools. He has slick handles and the athleticism to finish, and it’s nice to see him with nearly double the rate of Otto Porter.

I am a bit disappointed that Aaron Gordon rated this low, but the entire Arizona team had a curiously low % of rim attempts and high % of assisted FG’s at the rim. Nick Johnson’s unassisted FG per 40 was much better as a sophomore (0.69), for instance. Given Gordon’s youth, tools, handle, finishing ability, and incredibly gaudy assisted total I’m not reading much into this.

I included PJ Hairston’s 2012-13 numbers, and they show how heavily dependent he is on his jump shot. I am starting to cool on him a decent bit, as I’m not sure his shot alone is enough to become a good player.

James Young grades disappointingly for a player who is going to depend so heavily on scoring to succeed. Either he needs to improve his handle significantly or he is going to be leaning hard on his jumper.

Gary Harris was better as a freshman (0.63 per 40) but this illuminates how bland he is as a prospect. He’s a jack of all trades and master of none, and if he’s too small to guard SG’s he isn’t going to make much of an impact. He’s not going to be much of a slasher in the pros and if you measure his creation rate vs. PG’s he is completely blown out of the water. I don’t believe there is any justification for drafting him in the lottery.

If there was any doubt that Cleanthony Early is a worthless prospect, this should eradicate it. He played in the Missouri Valley conference where he was taller than most bigs and this was all of the creation he could muster. For a 23 year old whose main value lies in scoring, that is pathetic.

Zach LaVine finishes in dead last. If there is any statistical signal that the guy is good at basketball, I have yet to find it. His creation stats, his assist rate, and his steal rate are all bad. Perhaps he could have done more with more ball handling responsibilities, but I am highly skeptical of the narrative that he has superstar upside. In all likelihood the guy is not good enough at basketball to be a useful NBA player.

Now let’s move on to point guards, who have a higher frequency of getting to the rim due to greater ball handling responsibility:

Player UA FG Mins UA FG/40 Assisted
Elfrid Payton 65 1258 2.07 31
Deonte Burton 53 1236 1.72 2
Aaron Craft 45 1204 1.50 3
Russ Smith 38 1084 1.40 10
Jahii Carson 38 1168 1.30 13
Tyler Ennis 37 1215 1.22 6
Kendrick Perry 32 1168 1.10 11
Marcus Smart 27 1014 1.07 19
Shabazz Napier 37 1404 1.05 2
Semaj Christon 31 1200 1.03 35
Scottie Wilbekin 25 1150 0.87 0
Kendall Williams 24 1200 0.80 5
Kyle Anderson 23 1196 0.77 5

Elfrid Payton was expected to top this list given his Sun Belt dominance without a jump shot.

Marcus Smart ranks a bit lower than I had hoped. I don’t think this is a serious red flag, but he will need to really tighten his handle to become a star.

On the upside, Kyle Anderson finished with roughly double the creation rate of Otto Porter. On the downside, he finished dead last for PG prospects. While he is going to play SF/PF in the pros, he ran the UCLA offense full-time so he should have made frequent trips to the rim. So this offers a glimmer of hope while also demonstrating his lack of burst all in one.

On to bigs:

Player UA FG Mins UA FG/40 Assisted
Dwight Powell 39 1167 1.34 19
Noah Vonleh 25 794 1.26 21
Javon McCrea 29 937 1.24 71
Julius Randle 37 1233 1.20 29
Jarnell Stokes 34 1199 1.13 50
Adreian Payne 23 870 1.06 34
Jabari Parker 28 1074 1.04 42
Patric Young 25 1019 0.98 43
Jerami Grant 22 1005 0.88 32
Joel Embiid 14 647 0.87 53
Mitch McGary 20 967 0.83 43
Isaiah Austin 20 1065 0.75 36
Khem Birch 10 1037 0.39 41

Jabari Parker’s rate is a disappointment to me. For a guy who was so selfish and took so many shots, he didn’t get to the rim on his own that much. And without knowing the precise splits, I imagine many of these came from bullying small big men anchoring poor defenses. For somebody so dependent on scoring, it looks like he will have to lean hard on his jump shot in the pros. But he is not currently a great shooter and he doesn’t have Melo’s quick release or Durant’s go go gadget arms to get off a high volume of looks, so there is some doubt as to whether he can score efficiently enough to justify a top 3 selection.

Joel Embiid’s rate is not a concern to me. Given his size, rim touch, and footwork, he obviously has quite a bit of creation ability to build upon. Also a fair amount of his assisted FG’s entailed him catching the ball with his back to the basket and doing the brunt of the work.

Khem Birch exemplifies why he isn’t as good as his statistical ranking. The guy has nearly no skill whatsoever but doesn’t even have good size for a PF. I believe he’s going to have a tough time amounting to much as a pure garbage man in a PF body.

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