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|
|Roy Devyn Marble||19||995||0.76||14|
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 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|
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.
Parker’s inability to get to basket,plus the fact that he shot only 40% and 33% from 3 against top 90 defenses,and the fact that he will probably be a defensive liability least his first few years…i dont get the hype with this guy.How is he even in the discussion for number 1 in this draft?Do you feel hes overrated?And this is coming from a HUGE Duke fan that watched all their games this year.
I think he’s overrated and it would be a big mistake to take him #1. No way should he ever go ahead of Embiid and I take Smart, Gordon, and Exum ahead of him too. There are worries about his ability to score efficiently, whether he will ever learn to pass, and whether he can play acceptable defense. He has plenty of good traits that offer nice upside, but with so many possible negatives to undermine him along the way I’m starting to feel a bit bearish on him.
Silly for me to ask, but how did you do the math? I wanted to go check other players like Oladipo on hoop-math.com although I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. I tried it for Smart where I took the 87 shots made at rim – assisted – putbacks = 38 unassisted FG’s which is wrong from the data chart you have.
I looked at non-transition splits only. So Smart has 60 total – 19 assisted = 41. But he also has 14 putbacks so 27 total.
Ever tried asking questions to Chad Ford on his chat about what makes Wiggins or Parker so amazing next year?Id love to understand how he thinks Parker will average 20 ppg next year,with an answer other than:well teams seem to think so…
That’s pretty much what his value is: collecting the mean average of opinions of scouts/teams that are willing to talk to him. He’s not a sharp basketball mind who is wired to perceive these prospects with efficiency. I’m sure he would have reasons to back up his perspective, they just wouldn’t be good/accurate reasons.
I like the idea here, Dean, but it seems like you’re often interpreting these #s however the fit the narrative you already have in mind. For instance, you weakly excuse Anderson and Stauskas’ mediocre rim finishing in both cases by citing Porter’s even more woeful #s. Then you handwave Ougie’s impressive UA volume by saying he was finishing over weaker opponents (as though at 6’6″ and change DM was towering over the opposition). There seem to be a bunch of different metrics at play that you’re using to grade out prospects however you please, though some of the evidence, like Zach Lavine’s horrid finishing, speaks for itself.
Also, I would be interested in seeing how predictive UA fgs are. It’s an interesting slice of data–if you have time, maybe take a slice from like 2008-2010 or something? Seems like that might paint a clearer picture of how UA FG totals correlate with pro success.
I inherently distrust any scoring stats that McDermott posted in the paint to translate to the NBA given that he didn’t play much strong competition. He’s 6’8 with short arms which is the perfect size to dominate in the post in college and then translate horribly to the NBA. Kyle is 6’9 with long arms and Stauskas never posted anybody up, all of his buckets came on penetration.
So fair point and I see why it came off that way, but for such a volume scorer this isn’t too eye opening for McDermott and it doesn’t change my opinion of him.
And it’s not like this elevates my opinion of Kyle/Stauskas, moreover I just don’t have to move them down my board out of fear that they are too untoolsy to have a shot. Neither of them were volume scorers so there was no reason to expect them to rank much higher than they did.
This info can’t be taken too too seriously to abandon my narrative in mind for players that don’t stand out as different than expected. I probably should have just skipped commenting on those 3 and focused on the guys who actually surprised like Gary Harris + LaVine.
Stats only goes back to 3 years ago, even then you’re calling a man bias although he took back his earlier harsh piece on Aaron Gordon.
Do you think the Arizona numbers reflect a systematic increase in assists by their official scorers? One some level wouldn’t it be advantageous for a school to be liberal with the definition of an assist – since it would increase their players (/prospects) statistical profile?
It is possible that they became more generous with assist scoring. It could also be that they started running more plays to create dunks/layups with all of their athleticism. But it makes plenty of sense for home teams to give generous assist/steal/block scoring to their prospects to make their statistical profiles look beefier. I am especially curious to see if teams start rewarding cheap steals for unforced turnovers given how much weight they receive in draft models.
Stephen D said:
You are so spot on about Parker being selfish this past season. He almost always stared his man down and went into isolation mode whenever he got the ball. The moniker about him being a Carmelo Who Passes is strictly based on his sterling off the court rep than how he played on the court. With the guy he’s supposed to be, it’s not hard to imagine him being an inclusive teammate in the future but it should be grounded in reality.
I don’t know what to make of Parker because he was in such poor shape for most of the season. He seemed to gain weight as the season went on, which should be really hard to do. Maybe he had too many Jabari Bars for his own good. The poorly conditioned version of Parker struggled to beat college 4s and 5s off the dribble, got frequently blocked around the rim, which could be a huge warning sign and just basically had a thin margin of release on his shot. He would’ve struggled to shoot in the mid-30s from the field if he was in the NBA last season. However, I think he would be an above average athlete if he was in good condition and with his skill level, that would make him an annual all-star.
Yeah Carmelo who passes is completely silly when Melo had more assists and double the assist to turnover ratio. Once you consider that he had quite good offensive support and I think he’s clearly more selfish than Melo.
I don’t think a bit of extra athleticism will make or break him. He needs to learn to share the ball and operate as part of a unit, and if that happens he can be a real good player. If it doesn’t, he’ll be a big disappointment. He wasn’t THAT limited physically at Duke, moreover he was unaware of his limitations and tried to dunk on everybody.
I think some guys with high FT rates like Stauskas and Dinwiddie look worse than they are by this analysis because surely many of their potential FGs around the rim became FTAs instead.
This is a fair point. There are a number of factors that make this stuff real fuzzy. So I’m not overinvesting too much in any of the middle of the road guys, it’s mostly interesting to see who shows up on the extremes.
Daniel Kawashima said:
Hey Dean, this is Coach Daniel from my Youtube channel Coach Daniel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo7ttcxRQH9WrDGxxB-QAew
I would be interested in doing a podcast with you which would be posted on my channel. It would probably also be with James Plowright of thelotterymafia.com.
If you are interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll figure out a date and time.
OK, I’ll check out your site and get back to you sometime next week. Not going to be around much this weekend.
Daniel Kawashima said:
Hey Dean did you get a chance to check out my channel? If so let me know if you want to do that podcast. If not I just want to complement you on your site, really good stuff.
Yeah sure I can do a podcast. Hit me up email@example.com for further details.
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Looking at Kirk Goldsberry’s article with several of the lotto picks’ shot charts, Smart has a large volume of at the rim attempts and at a high efficiency. So looking at your info above, my assumption is the good majority of these were in transition. is this correct?
Smart has his share of transition buckets but not as many as others. He also does well with putbacks and assisted half-court hoops for a PG, so I suppose it adds up. I don’t know where Goldsberry exactly gets his numbers, it seems to have a more liberal definition of “rim attempt” than pbp scraped by hoop-math.com
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