Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Sweet 16. The players to watch that remain in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

There is no need to wig out just because Andrew Wiggins is out of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. There are still plenty of prospects to ponder. The group that remains in the Sweet 16 includes more than a dozen future NBA players. We have come up with a list of 16 players we are watching closely from an NBA scouting perspective... (Note: players with the NBA logo next to their name, are players we have certified as "NBA athletes")


Aaron Gordon - Arizona. 6'9" 212 Freshman. Gordon is an NBA athlete, and he defends at a high level. He led the Pac 12 in Defensive rating this season. He is tremendous in the open-court not only as a finisher but also as a decision maker. Gordon is a rare 6'9" athlete that has enough finesse to have more assists than turnovers. He also has enough flair in his game to wow crowds with an amazing array of acrobatic dunks. He is excellent on the offensive glass due to his ability to move his feet so well. ...Gordon's shooting stroke is not ready for primetime. He is shooting 33% from beyond the arc but the long-ball is not a major part of his game. He is a horrid 43% free throw shooter. ...Aaron Gordon is the younger brother of former New Mexico standout Drew Gordon. 


Randle dominates paint.
Julius Randle - Kentucky. 6'9" 248 Freshman. ...Randle projects as a bonafide top-tier Power Forward at the next level. The lefty scorer has a quick first step, and natural ability that is rarely seen in a BIG body.  He has advanced footwork for his age, and a knack for simply getting buckets with his soft touch. Randle shoots 70% FT. ...Randle's "defensive rating" needs improvement. The one area of his defense that is strong is defensive rebounding. He led the SEC in total defensive rebounds. …It's easy to see the low post offensive skills that Randle possesses. He needs to tighten up his decision making and be better than nearly two turnovers for every one assist. 

Kyle Anderson - UCLA. 6'9" 235 Sophomore. ...Anderson is the on-court leader for the Bruins. He is a 6'9" point guard that seemingly plays in slow-motion, as his nickname, "Slo Mo" suggests . He led the Pac 12 in assists per game, and in defensive rebounds per game. That's a combo you rarely, if ever, see. …Anderson owns a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averages 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. He shoots the three-ball at 37% (career), and hits 74% of his foul shots. Some have questioned Anderson's ability to defend but his Defensive Rating is better than average (significantly better than Julius Randle's Defensive Rating). Anderson's length allows him to get deflections, and close-out "stops" with a defensive rebound. While others may doubt Anderson, I do not. He is too smart, too gifted, and too skilled to fail. I think he is a future starting NBA player at minimum. 

Harris has poise
Gary Harris - Michigan St. 6'5" 210 Sophomore. ..."As steady as they come" is the way I like to describe Gary Harris' game. He is a 6'4" shooting guard that gets you 17 points per game, hits 37% of his three point shots (career), has a 1.25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, all while playing good defense. He needs to gain weight (he will as he ages) but Harris plays with energy and appears to have a "self-starter" motor. Harris' mother, Joy Holmes-Harris, played for the WNBA Detroit Shock. 

Sam Dekker - Wisconsin. 6'7" 220 Sophomore. ...Watching Wisconsin games can be fun! Sam Dekker is more athletic than he looks, and he has a skill level that is not matched by many college wings. He has deep range on his jumper and he has a toughness about him that NBA coaches will love. He averages 12 points and six rebounds per game, and he has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (something I love to see in a SF). Dekker is shooting 36% (career) from beyond the college arc. He shoots 68% FT. Defensively, he ranks in the upper-half of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. 

Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky. 7'0" 244 Sophomore. ...Cauley Stein is a rim protecting BIG that is remarkably quick off his feet. He averages three blocked shots per game but scores only seven points per outing. He knows his limitations reasonably well and he seldom takes a bad shot. He shoots 62% FG. ...Far from complete, Cauley Stein is a horrid free throw shooter (42% FT), and he has more turnovers than assists. But his upside is ridiculously high. You just don't find seven footers that can move the way Cauley-Stein does. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona. 6'7" 215 Freshman. ...Arizona is loaded, and freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stands out among great athletes, as the most hyper-athletic guy on the Cats' roster. Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender with a Defensive rating of 88.6. (That's tremendously good). …Hollis-Jefferson has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio but he struggles as a perimeter shooter (he hit only two 3-pt shots all season). He shoots 67% from the line. ...I view him as an top-notch athlete with a huge upside. If the shooting gets better, look out. 

A major Payne to opponents
Adreian Payne - Michigan St. 6'10" 245 Senior. ...The improvement in Payne's game is remarkable. He averaged 2.6 points as a freshman, and now he's good for 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is experienced, having played four seasons for Tom Izzo, and as a member of USA Basketball's World University Games team. Payne has added range to his face up game and now hits 43% of his three point shots (39 of 89 this season). His free throw percentage is 75% (career). ...The only thing Payne does not do is make great decisions with the ball (more than two turnovers for every one assist). 

Chris Walker - Florida. 6'10" 220 Freshman. ...Walker is a long, NBA athlete that can finish in transition with the best. He made his NCAA debut in early February and he has only played 77 total minutes this season. However, he was a 2013 McDonald's All-American, and his physical tools are obvious. He was ranked as the 12th best overall player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. ...In a small sample size of minutes as a Gator, his defensive rating is 84.7 - which is incredible. 

Jordan Adams - UCLA. 6'5" 220 Sophomore. One of my favorite players is Jordan Adams. I believe he is being underrated by most NBA draft web sites. At a minimum, a very good Shooting Guard meets this criteria: defends his position, can create his own shot, ranks high in points-per-minute, shoots the three-ball > .333, has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, shoots free throws at or > 80%. Jordan Adams 'checks off' in all those categories. He is an NBA athlete that averages 17.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He has a "feel" for the game. Efficient shooting guards can be hard to come by, and teams with great, or even 'very good' shooting guards are usually winners (presently, that's Harden, Ginobili, Wade, Bledsoe, Stephenson, Monta Ellis, DeRozan - all with winning records in the NBA). 

Alex Poythress - Kentucky. 6'8" 239 Sophomore. ...Poythress is an NBA athlete with a high ceiling. He is a strong 6'8" 239 lbs but he is quick enough to take defenders off the dribble on the wing. In the low post, he overpowers smaller wing players. Poythress shoots 34% from beyond the college arc (career) but he does not shoot a high volume of deep shots. He's only playing 18 minutes per game this season, and consistency has been an issue for him. He may wind up being more of a Power Forward than a Small Forward. 

Nik Stauskas - Michigan. 6'6" 200 Sophomore. Stauskas is a confident guard that can really shoot the ball. He scores 17 points per game, and hits an amazing 44% of his three-point attempts. At the free throw line he makes 83%. He has a 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. ...His defensive numbers are not good (DEFRTG of 107.6 this season). Stauskas has proven he can play offense at the NBA level, but his relative lack of defensive ability may prohibit him from being anything more than a backup wing player in the NBA. 

Melvin Ejim - Iowa State. 6'6" 230 Senior. Ejim was the 2013-14 Big 12 Player of the Year, posting averages of 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He is a smart, hustling, active player that, in college, plays forward. In the NBA, if he makes the cut, we see Ejim as a TWO. He has improved to 34% as a three-point shooter. He rebounds exceptionally well for his 6'6" size, and he hits 73% of his free throws. 

Cory Jefferson - Baylor. 6'9" 210 Senior. Jefferson improved his scoring, and rebounding averages in each successive season at Baylor. He topped out this season as a Senior at 13.6 points, and 8.2 rebounds per game. …Jefferson is an NBA athlete that plays above the rim. He rarely takes a bad shot, and as a result he's made 55% of his career field goal attempts. He is dependable too, suiting up for every Baylor game (74) in the last two seasons. While he has improved his perimeter shooting, his decision making remains a work in progress. He presently turns the ball over twice for every one assist. 

Kaminsky parks one.
Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin. 7'0" 234 Junior. Frank Kaminsky is a seven-footer with skill and shooting touch. He has a feel for the game. He averages 13.6 points, and 6.3 rebounds per game. He can make three point shots, owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and he shoots 76% from the foul line. He is not terrible on defense but he'd rank in the lower tier of NBA Centers due to average-to-below average athleticism. Overall, I like Kaminsky. I think he CAN crack an NBA roster due to his high skill level combined with his height.  

Glenn Robinson III - Michigan. 6'6" 210. Sophomore. The son of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson is an athletic wing player that is shooting 52% FG for his two-season career at Michigan. He is tremendous as a finisher in transition, playing above the rim. He routinely finishes on the run with highlight dunks. ...Robinson's decision making with the ball is just okay. He has slightly more assists than turnovers in his career, although this season, he's in negative territory. Robinson is not an accurate three point shooter, hitting on just 30% career. He shoots 71% FT. ...Defensively, Robinson's DEFRTG is below average for his position. I view Robinson as another gifted athlete that has a high upside. Improving just a handful of percentage points in his shooting could be HUGE for Robinson's NBA career.   




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Point Guards to watch in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Annually we analyze a player's production per minute, and ability to defend as it relates to a future in the NBA. ... Here are the best all-around Point Guards as we view it...

Smart can carry a team
Marcus Smart - Oklahoma State 6'3" 200 Sophomore. ...Smart is a strong, athletic 'lead guard' that I believe projects as a possible NBA All-Star someday. Smart is a terrific defender, posting the third best Defensive Rating among PG's in the 2014 NCAA Tourney. He averages 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, and he led the Big 12 in steals. He raised his career assist-to-turnover ratio to 1.5-to-1, which puts him on the border for being a "Point" guard. The clear weakness in Smart's game is his perimeter shooting. He hits just 29% from 3-pt. (career). 

Kyle Anderson - UCLA 6'9" 235 Sophomore. ...As unique a player as you can find in the college game, Anderson is a 6'9" point guard that seemingly plays as his nickname suggests (Slo Mo). He led the Pac 12 in assists per game, and in defensive rebounds per game. That's a combo you rarely, if ever, see. …Anderson owns a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He averages 14.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game. He shoots the three-ball at 37% (career), and hits 74% of his foul shots. 

Briante Weber - VCU 6'2" 165 Junior. ...Weber is the best defensive guard in the Tournament, with a Defensive Rating of 84.7. …He averages 9.5 points per game but he wreaks havoc on D, snatching 3.4 steals per game (that is an incredibly high number, and even more impressive considering his DEFRTG). His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.9-to-1. ...Weber needs to improve his deep shooting (career 24% 3-pt). 

Terry Rozier - Louisville 6'1" 170 Freshman. ...Rozier only plays 19.3 minutes per game as a freshman but in those minutes he has shined as a future star. His 3.17-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is incredible. …Rozier also shoots the long ball well (37% 3-pt FG). 

Ennis = CLUTCH
Tyler Ennis - Syracuse 6'1" 180 Freshman. ...Ennis showed the ability to lead his team in "clutch" situations as a freshman. He averages 12.7 points, and 5.6 rebounds per game. He led the ACC in steals and assists. More importantly, as a point guard, he has a 3.24-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. He shoots the three ball well (37%), and hits 76% of his foul shots. 

Shaquielle McKissic - Arizona State 6'5" 200 Senior. ...This may be a stretch, as McKissic is not known as a point guard. He is on the same team with Jahii Carson and McKissic has not been given an opportunity to run a team on his own. McKissic owns an impressive 2.86-to-1 assist to turnover ratio which should help keep him on the radar for NBA teams. ...McKissic has a troubled past but now seems focused. He is averaging nine points, and five boards per game in a handful of minutes. 

Joseph Young - Oregon 6'2" 185 Junior. ...Young is a scoring point guard that is right above the cutoff line for an acceptable assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6-to-1). …Young is fantastic in the open-court, showing excellent speed and an ability to finish despite being under 190 lbs. Young played his freshman season at Houston before transferring to Oregon. His Defensive Rating is terrible (107.9). 

Shabazz Napier - Connecticut 6'1" 180 Senior. ...Napier is a gifted player that can break his man down off the dribble. He is fiercely competitive, and he will battle for rebounds with bigger players. He was named the 2013-14 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. He averages 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. His former coach, Jim Calhoun said Napier can be a bit moody. One day he is talkative and leading, the next day he hardly says a word. We've watched him scream at his teammates for mistakes they've made. Napier is not my favorite player but I can't deny his skill. 

Kenny Chery - Baylor 5'11" 180 Junior. ...Chery averages 11.6 points, and five assists per game. He scored 29 points in a recent win on the road at Kansas St, earning Big 12 Player of the Week honors. He is money from the foul line (87%) FT. He was a member of 2010 Canadian Junior Men's National Team. 

Fred Van Vleet - Wichita St. 5'11" 194 Sophomore. ...VanVleet is the "quarterback" of the undefeated Shockers. He averages 12.1 points, and 5.3 assists per game. He is an 80% free throw shooter. He plays at a steady pace, reminiscent of a young Mike Bibby. VanVleet has a 2.89-to-1 assist to turnover ratio (career). 

Michael Dixon - Memphis 6'1" 200 Senior. ...Dixon landed in Memphis after playing three seasons at Missouri. He is still the same dangerous offensive player. He averages 11.8 points per game in 22.9 minutes per contest. Dixon can hit the three-ball (38%), and he is an excellent foul shooter (85% - career).

DeAndre Kane - Iowa St. 6'4" 200 Senior. ...Kane has the ability to carry a team for stretches with his fearless style of play. He posted averages of 17 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists this season. He improved his deep shooting this season to a rock solid 39% 3-pt fg. Kane played three seasons at Marshall before transferring to Iowa State. ...He is 24 years old. 

Jahii Carson - Arizona St. 5'10" 175 Sophomore. ...Carson can get into the paint at will off the dribble. He averages 18 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. He is looking to score more than to set up teammates. His assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.37-to-1 (below average for a point guard). 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shooting Guards to watch in the NCAA Tournament

Annually we examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we analyze a player's production per minute, and ability to defend. ...They say good guards will lead you to the winner's circle. Here are the best all-around Shooting Guards as we view it...

Graham = underrated
Treveon Graham - VCU 6'5" 215 Junior. ...Graham projects as a utility type pro that is not afraid to mix it up. He averages 15 points and seven rebounds per game this season. Graham's basketball hero is Paul Pierce and he tries to do Pierce-like things on the court. Graham is a career 34% three-point shooter. He has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio each season, getting into positive territory this year. He is a top-tier defender.

Casey Prather - Florida 6'6" 212 Senior. ...Scottie Wilbekin gets the notiriety but for our money the most important Gator is Casey Prather. Prather is an NBA athlete that has developed from a scrawny inefficient 165 lb. freshman into a skilled 216 lb. Senior. He averages 14 points and five rebounds per game. He projects as more of a TWO in the NBA than the forward position he presently employs at Florida. The most amazing part of his game is his field goal percentage. Prather is shooting 61% FG this season. He shot 62% last season. Defensively, he is excellent, ranking in the top half-dozen of all SG's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. 

Jordan Adams - UCLA 6'5" 220 Sophomore. ...A major reason that UCLA is winning again is due to the play of Jordan Adams. He is an NBA athlete that averages 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He has a "feel" for the game, and boasts a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, which is always nice to see in a "scorer". ...Adams hits 84% of his free throws. We put him into the shooting guard group but it is conceivable Adams can play Point Guard too. 

Denzel Valentine - Michigan St. Sophomore. ...Valentine is a vital part of the Michigan St. team that many see as a virtual lock for the Final Four. Valentine gets eight points, six rebounds, and four assists per game. I like Valentine's 6'5" size as it projects to the next level. He is one of those players that is "all over the court". He has improved his three point shooting this season, hitting at a 36% clip. 

Melvin Ejim - Iowa State 6'6" 230 Senior. ...Ejim was the 2013-14 Big 12 Player of the Year, posting averages of 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He is a smart, hustling, active player that, in college, plays forward. In the NBA, if he makes the cut, we see Ejim as a TWO. He has improved to 34% as a three-point shooter. He rebounds exceptionally well for his 6'6" size, and he hits 73% of his free throws. ...Ejim is from Toronto. 

Smith is a pest... in a good way.
Russ Smith - Louisville 6'0" 160 Senior. ...Smith is a whirl of energy that puts extreme pressure on opposing defenses with his ability to score. He shoots 35% 3-pt. (career), and 76% FT (career). ...Despite his 6'0" frame, Smith is a good defender too. He has the best Defensive Rating of any SG in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Smith has made strides at running a team from the Point Guard position but his nature is reflected in his 1.21-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. That is not PG worthy. 

Tyler Haws - BYU 6'5" 200 Junior. ...Haws is as skilled a wing scorer as there is in the college game. He moves without the ball like a seasoned veteran and his jumper is accurate and reliable. He is an 86% free throw shooter that hits 38% of his long balls. His defensive rating is not good but his offensive ability puts him on the map. 

Josh Hart - Villanova 6'5" 202 Freshman. ...Hart is coming off of an 18 point, eight rebound performance in Villanova's most recent game. He is widely considered one of the top-50 freshman in the country. He is shooting 50% FG, and in a small sample size of minutes, he owns an impressive 1.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

Royce O'Neale - Baylor 6'6" 220 Junior. ...You don't hear much hype about Royce O'Neale but he is a player that has compiled some impressive numbers in his three-season NCAA career (he played his first two seasons at Denver). He is shooting 53% FG, and he owns a 1.37-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He shoots 38% from three-point range (career). He is worth keeping an eye on. 

Kyle Casey - Harvard 6'7" 225 Senior. ...Casey is an NBA athlete that averages 10.6 points, and 5.6 rebounds per game. He is a grown man at 24 years of age. For his position, he is an excellent defensive rebounder. For his career he shoots 50% FG, and 75% FT. Casey is an aggressive defender that can get himself into foul trouble. ...Casey sat out a year at Harvard after being involved in a school-wide cheating scandal. 

Michael Frazier II - Florida 6'4" 200 Sophomore. ...Frazier is a accurate shooting wing that hits an amazing 46% of his three point attempts (career). At the line, he further proves his great shooting touch at 86%. He led the SEC in True Shooting Percentage this season. ...Frazier averages 12.9 points, and 3.5 rebounds per game. Frazier exploded for 37 points in early March in a rout at South Carolina. 

Sean Kilpatrick - Cincinnati 6'4" 215 Senior. ...Kilpatrick scores 20.7 points, and grabs 4.4 rebounds per game. He has a 1.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. …34% 3-pt. (career), 78% FT (career). He led the AAC in free throw attempts this season. …Kilpatrick has a three year old daughter. 

LaDontae Henton - Providence 6'6" 215 Junior. ...Henton plays forward but we project him as a TWO if he cracks the next level. He averages 13.9 points, and 7.8 rebounds per game. Henton is really good on the defensive glass. …Henton was arrested in May 2013 on a domestic dispute charge. 

Small Forwards to watch in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Annually we examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we analyze a player's production per minute, and ability to defend. Here are the best all-around Small Forwards as we view it...

Big time prospect, Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker - Duke. 6'8" 241 Freshman ...Parker is a special talent that projects as an NBA All-Star someday. He led the ACC in rebounds per game as a freshman (8.8 rpg.), and finished second in the ACC in points per game (17.8 ppg).  …He shoots 74% from the free throw line, and he hits 37% of his three point attempts. ...Parker was a starter on high school teams that won four consecutive Illinois state championships. ...The one hole in Parker's game is his decision making. He has close to two turnovers for every one assist. ...The 2013 McDonald's All-American is the son of former NBA player Sonny Parker.  

Mike Moser - Oregon. 6'8" 230 Senior. ...Moser has bounced around a bit. He started his NCAA career at UCLA before transferring to UNLV. He now balls for Oregon. …Moser is an NBA athlete that plays with reckless abandon. He has improved his deep shooting this season (now a 37% 3-pt. shooter). ...Moser is a good defensive rebounder, and he has the skill to start a fast break on the dribble. His shot selection can be sketchy but Moser's overall natural talent shines through more often than not. ...Moser is a career 76% free throw shooter. 

Cleanthony Early - Wichita St. 6'8" 215 Senior. ...Early averages 15.8 points, and 5.9 rebounds per game as a key cog on the undefeated Shockers. We rank Early as the fifth best defender among small forwards in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in Defensive Rating. ...Early is solid in many areas. He raised his three point shooting percentage to 36% this season. He shoots 82% (career) from the foul line. 

Hollis-Jefferson slams
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona. 6'7" 215 Freshman. ...Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender. His Defensive rating of 88.8 ranks him number one among 2014 NCAA Tournament small forwards. …Hollis-Jefferson has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio but he struggles as a perimeter shooter (he hit only two 3-pt shots all season). 

Nick King - Memphis. 6'7" 220 Freshman.  ...The jury is still out on Nick King. He was a five-star recruit but he only plays 11 minutes per game as a freshman on a talent-laden Memphis team. King's overall efficiency is on an early path that projects well for his future. He shoots 52% FG, and has a nose for the ball on the offensive glass. ...He is worth keeping an eye on. 

Doug McDermott - Creighton. 6'8" 225 Senior. ...McDermott is perhaps the most hyped player in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He is a skilled offensive forward that has a knack for making shots. …McDermott can stretch the floor with his accurate shooting. He hit a ridiculous 45% of his three point attempts this season in the Big East. He shoots 84% (career) from the free throw line. ...McDermott ranks in the lowest 25% of small forwards in the Tourney at Defensive Rating. He also has more turnovers than assists. 

Andrew Wiggins - Kansas. 6'8" 197 Freshman. ...Wiggins is an NBA athlete that can be an explosive scorer at the wing position. The son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins averages 17.4 points, and 6.4 rebounds per game. He is a 77% free throw shooter. Efficient wings are hard to come by, and Wiggins projects as potential "top half-dozen" small forward down the line. …But in no way, do I believe Wiggins is a potential LeBron/Durant, or even Carmelo Anthony type talent.   …Wiggins has more turnovers than assists, and his defensive rating is in the lower-third of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Can he improve? Absolutely. He surely will. I'm simply saying that his reputation is blown out of proportion.

Alex Poythress - Kentucky. 6'8" 213 Sophomore. ...Poythress is an NBA athlete with a high ceiling. He is a strong 6'8" 239 lbs. but he is quick enough to take defenders off the dribble on the wing. In the low post, he overpowers smaller wing players. Poythress shoots 35% from beyond the college arc (career) but he does not shoot a high volume of deep shots. He's only playing 18 minutes per game this season, and consistency has been an issue for him. He may wind up being more of a Power Forward than a Small Forward. 

Sam Dekker - Wisconsin. 6'7" 220 Sophomore. ...Dekker is more athletic than he looks. He has deep range on his jumper and he has a toughness about him that coaches will love. He averages 12 points and six rebounds per game, and he has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (something I love to see in a wing player). Dekker is shooting 36% (career) from beyond the college arc. He shoots 68% FT. Defensively, he ranks in the upper-half of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.  

LaQuinton Ross - Ohio St. 6'8" 220 Junior. ...Ross averages 15.4 points, and 6.1 rebounds per game. He has worked to become a more reliable three point shooter (37% career 3-pt.). ...He is a top-tier defender (Defensive rating of 94.2). 

Warren is silly good on offense
T.J. Warren - North Carolina State. 6'8" 233 Sophomore. ...The 2013-14 ACC Player of the Year is a personal favorite prospect. He averages 24.8 points, and 7.1 rebounds per game this season. Warren has an easy way about his game that allows him to score points in bunches. His defense is a work in progress, and it will have to improve for him to be taken seriously by NBA coaches. We listed him as a SF but in the NBA he may be even more valuable as a shooting guard. ...The holes in his game are: below average free throw percentage (66% FT), and he has more turnovers than assists. 

Josh Huestis - Stanford. 6'7" 230 Senior. ...Huestis averages 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He is more of a FOUR offensively but we think he CAN guard SF's and he has improved his perimeter shooting and decision making, which are necessary traits of a small forward. He rebounds well, and he is an above average defender. ...Huestis was an iron-man this season, averaging 35 minutes per game. 

Taylor Braun - North Dakota St. 6'7" 210 Senior. ...Braun averages 18.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He is an exceptionally accurate shooter even while being the focus of opposing defenses. He shoots 42% (career) from beyond the college arc. Braun also gets to the foul line with regularity, hitting 78% FT. 

Power Forwards to watch in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

We annually examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we analyze a player's production per minute, and ability to defend. Here are the best all-around Power Forwards as we view it...

Chris Walker - Florida 6'10" 220 Freshman ...Walker barely plays on a Gator team featuring Senior Patric Young, but make no mistake, Walker, not Young, is the player NBA scouts have their eyes on most. Walker is a long, athletic, NBA athlete that can finish in transition with the best. He made his NCAA debut in early February and he has only played 69 total minutes this season. However, he was a 2013 McDonald's All-American, and his physical tools are obvious. He was ranked as the 12th best overall player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. ...In a small sample size of minutes as a Gator, his defensive rating is 84.3 - which is incredible. 



Brice Johnson scores.
Brice Johnson - North Carolina 6'9" 210 Sophomore. ...Johnson is a scoring forward with NBA athleticism. He has a reputation for not being a great defender. However, his Defensive Rating of 91.8 is far from poor. It is actually in the upper-third of DEFRTG's relative to his position. ...Among all 2014 NCAA Tournament PF's in our database, Johnson ranks as the best in efficiency per-minute. ...Johnson has a thin frame that is, at this stage, more suited for the Small Forward position. However, the three-ball is not a part of Johnson's game at all (zero attempts from beyond the arc in two seasons). 

Montrezl Harrell - Louisville 6'8" 235 Sophomore. ...Harrell is all hustle, and heart. He is not the most skilled player, but he makes up for that with his determined efforts. He is a tremendous offensive rebounder. ...Harrell ranks as the second best Power Forward in the 2014 NCAA Tournament in "Defensive Rating". Harrell led the newly formed American Athletic Conference in field goal percentage this season, shooting 61%. On the flip side, Harrell is a terrible free throw shooter at 48%, and he turns it over more than he assists it. 

Jarnell Stokes - Tennessee 6'8" 250 Junior. ...Stokes averages 14.7 points, and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is a physical presence that enjoys contact in the paint. He has improved his scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons at Tennessee. Stokes has the ability to get good position due to his strength. He can score with his back to the basket in the low post. He is a good offensive rebounder, and he gets to the free throw line often - converting at 61%, something he will have to improve. 


Dawson = TOUGH
Branden Dawson - Michigan State 6'6" 220 Junior. ...Dawson is an under-sized power forward that averages 10.4 points, and 8.3 rebounds. He is explosive, and powerful. He is shooting 56% FG (career) but struggles at the foul line (57% FT). …Dawson is good on the offensive glass, ranking fourth in the Big Ten this season.

Julius Randle - Kentucky 6'9" 248 Freshman. ...Randle is the second rated Power Forward among 2014 NCAA Tournament PF's in efficiency per-minute. He is a scoring BIG with good footwork, and a knack for getting buckets. He has a soft touch. Randle shoots 70% FT. ...However, he rates low among his peers in "defensive rating". The one area of his D that is strong is defensive rebounding. He led the SEC in total def. rebs. …It's easy to see the low post offensive skills that Randle possesses. He needs to tighten up his decision making and be better than nearly two turnovers for every one assist. 

Juvonte Reddic - VCU 6'9" 250 Senior. Reddic is a possible second round pick in my opinion due to his high-energy game. He led the Atlantic 10 in offensive rebounding this season. Reddic gained 30 lbs. from his freshman to Senior season. 

Sam Dower - Gonzaga 6'9" 243 Senior. Dower led the West Coast Conference in True Shooting Percentage this season. He has a great, soft touch for a big man. Dower is a career 80% free throw shooter. He averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game this season. 

Aaron Gordon - Arizona 6'9" 212 Freshman. ...Gordon is an NBA athlete, and he defends at a high level. He is tremendous in the open-court not only as a finisher but also as a decision maker. Gordon is a rare Power Forward that has more assists than turnovers. He does have at least one major hole in his game though. Gordon is a putrid 43% free throw shooter. 

Dwayne Evans - St. Louis 6'6" 230 Senior. ...Evans gets 14 points and six rebounds per game while playing lock down defense as an under-sized forward. He ranked fourth in Defensive Rating in the A-10 this season. He has improved as a free throw shooter to 75% this season. 

Shawn Long - Louisiana Lafayette 6'9" 245 Sophomore. ...Long led the Sun Belt Conference in total rebounds, total blocked shots, Defensive Rating and field goal percentage this season. He averages 18 points and ten rebounds per game. 

Cameron Ridley - Texas 6'10" 230 Sophomore. ...Ridley has shown improvement as a sophomore. He more than doubled his scoring per game, while improving dramatically overall offensively. Ridley led the Big 12 in total offensive rebounds.

Shaq Goodwin - Memphis 6'9" 242 Sophomore. ...Goodwin averages 11.8 points, and 6.6 rebounds per game. He is a solid defender that was fourth in blocked shots per game in the AAC. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Centers to watch in the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament


Every year we examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we zone in on production per minute, and ability to defend. We start with the Center position...

Joel Embiid - Kansas 7'0" 240 - Freshman. ...Embiid missed the final game of the regular season against West Virginia due to a stress fracture in his back and he is questionable to play during the month of March. …Embiid is an NBA athlete in a narrow-shouldered, seven foot frame; that alone making him rare. He also happens to be the most efficient (per-minute) BIG in the 2014 NBA Draft. Embiid reacts quickly and has the ability to erase penetration from guards that get into the paint. Embiid is an exceptional rebounder. He leads our database in rebounds per minute, and ranked third among Centers in the NCAA Tournament in blocked shots per minute. ...How he can improve: be a better free throw shooter (68% FT), improve with decision making (he has more turnovers than assists). 


Cauley-Stein defends the rim
Willie Cauley Stein - Kentucky 7'0" 244 - Sophomore.  ...Cauley Stein is a rim protecting BIG. He averages three blocked shots per game but scores only seven points per outing. He knows his limitations reasonably well and he seldom takes a bad shot. He shoots 62% FG. ...Cauley Stein is a horrid free throw shooter (42% FT). He has more turnovers than assists. 

Adreian Payne - Michigan St. 6'10" 245 - Senior. Payne is the big-man to trust in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He is experienced, having played four seasons for Tom Izzo, and as a member of USA Basketball's World University Games team. He averages 15.8 points, and 7.8 rebounds per game this season. He has added range to his face up game and now hits 42% of his three point shots (34 of 81 this season). He hits his free throws at 74%. ...The only thing Payne does not do is make great decisions with the ball (more than two turnovers for every one assist). 

Aside: A caller phoned the "Mad Dog" Chris Russo Show on Selection Sunday complaining that Wisconsin was seeded too high. He said, "Wisconsin has slow white guys and they never win anything in the Tournament". While that statement may come close to the truth historically, it has nothing to do with this year's version of the Badgers. 

Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin 7'0" 234 - Junior. Frank Kaminsky is an efficient Center with shooting touch and a feel for basketball. He can make three point shots, owns a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and he shoots 76% from the foul line. In our opinion, Kaminsky is a possible second round pick in the NBA Draft either this year or next. 

Sim Bhullar - New Mexico State 7'5" 355 - Sophomore. Sim Bhullar is HUGE. MAMMOTH. GIGANTIC. The 7'5" 355 lb. Center is also a shot-blocking, space-eating, BIG that can score a bit. He ranks second in blocked shots per-minute among Centers in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. …Bhullar is a poor free throw shooter at 49%. He turns it over more than he assists it. 

Amir Williams - Ohio State 6'11" 220 - Junior ...Williams is an NBA athlete, and a premier defender. He has the best "defensive rating" (86.9) among Centers in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, Williams is terrible with the ball in his hands, posting more than five turnovers for every one assist. He also is a poor free throw shooter at 58%. If he cracks the NBA - it will be because of his defensive ability. 

Jon Horford - Michigan 6'10" 250 - Junior. ...Horford only plays 14 minutes per-game but he has shown enough in that time to warrant a look. He has some touch, as evidenced by his 71% free throw shooting. He shoots 56% FG (career). 


Brimah says "Don't bring it."
Amida Brimah - Connecticut 7'0" 217 - Freshman. Brimah is an elite shot blocker. That is the one area in his game that is NBA ready. His per-minute shot blocking numbers are, as a freshman, higher than the career per-minute shot blocking numbers for Hasheem Thabeet (and Anthony Davis). ...The rest of Brimah's game is a work in progress. He averages four points per game in 16 mins. each outing. He shoots 57% from the free throw line, and has way more turnovers than assists. 

Daniel Ochefu - Villanova 6'11" 245 - Sophomore. Echefu is a solid defender that has an NBA body. His game is not very efficient at all. His defensive ability keeps him on the NBA map. We rate him the fifth best defensive Center in the NCAA Tournament (behind a top four of: Amir Williams, Payne, Cauley-Stein, and Embiid). 

Alex Kirk - New Mexico 7'0" 250 - Junior. ...Kirk averages 13.6 points, and 8.7 rebounds per game. He moves his feet well for a BIG, and he rebounds the ball at a solid rate. …He has had issues with his back in the past. What's most troubling is that as a seven footer - he has never shot over 50% FG in a season. 

Przemek Karnowski - Gonzaga 7'1" 305 - Soph. ...Karnowski improved this season - nearly doubling his scoring and rebounding output from the year prior. Karnowski is mostly BIG. He stinks as a free throw shooter and he turns it over three times for every one assist. 

Daniel Coursey - Mercer 6'10" 220 - Senior. ...Coursey has an outside, outside, outside, shot at cracking an NBA roster. He averages ten points, and 6.5 rebounds per game. 

Kaleb Tarczewski - Arizona 7'0" 240 Sophomore. Tarczewski is a BIG that plays like a BIG. He welcomes contact and will "wang and bang" (Jerry Reynolds voice) with anyone. He has decent touch for a big-man, shooting 70% FT. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Halfway. Centers. Notes from NBA Stat Audit

Each NBA season, after all teams have played their 41st game, I do a statistical audit of the players in the league, looking specifically at efficiency per-minute. I analyze each player that has logged at least 300 minutes (plus a select few players of note). Here are some tidbits I found interesting about the current NBA landscape at the Center position...


Cuz is out for blood
Centers

The most efficient Center per minute played is, by far, DeMarcus Cousins. Following Cousins is Tim Duncan (yes, he is more a Center, than a Power Forward), Al Horford, Brook Lopez, and Al Jefferson completes the top-five. 

Who is in the top 30 in per-minute efficiency at Center, yet is not starting or playing playing heavy minutes? There are five players that fit that description: Timofey Mosgov .603 (14th), Chris Kamen .596 (19th), Chris Andersen .553 (22nd), Kosta Koufos .545 (25th), and Miroslav Raduljica .542 (26th). 

Among those five players, Mosgov, in particular, has shown the most flashes of brilliance. His defensive rating is also good. ...Andersen plays a large role in Miami's winning ways despite logging just 18.5 minutes per game. ...Kamen is seemingly wasting away playing for the Lakers. His EFR suggests he could be helping a team as opposed to receiving DNP-CD's. ...Koufos was given a brief shot while Marc Gasol was injured but the numbers Koufos responded with were nothing to write home about. ...Raduljica is the highest rated rookie Center. At age 26, the Serbian seven footer looks like he has a chance to be heard from in the NBA in the future. 

Which Centers are outside the top 30 in per minute efficiency but are starters or play heavy minutes? There are five here as well: Jonas Valanciunas (31st), Nene (32nd), Channing Frye (37th), Andrea Bargnani (48th), and Kendrick Perkins (54th). 


Bargs is a SF in a C body
Valanciunas is only 21 years old, so I'm not too concerned with his low efficiency relative to his position. ...Nene could be called a Power Forward too. I think he's more of a Center. He would be an ideal first big-man off the bench for a good team. As it stands, Nene gets 30 minutes a game on a decent team. 

Frye and Bargnani just don't rebound the ball well enough to be efficient Centers. Basically these two deep shooting tall guys are Small Forwards in their skill set but they are too slow and big to chase the quicker wing players so they are resigned to playing the position their physical size dictates. 

And Perkins... Perkins can still defend and bang but I'm certain OKC would be better off with the NBA's Kendrick playing less. 

LINKS to analysis of other positions: 
Read Point Guards
Read Shooting Guards
Read Small Forwards
Read Power Forwards


Halfway. Power forwards. Notes from NBA stat audit

Every year after each team has played their 41st game of the NBA season, I do a statistical audit of the players in the league, looking specifically at efficiency per-minute. I analyze each player that has logged at least 300 minutes, plus a select few players of note. Here are some tidbits I found interesting about the current NBA landscape at power-forward...

Power Forwards
Love is #1, Aldridge #3 in PF efficiency.  
The highest rated power forward is Kevin Love at .825. The battle for the runner-up spot in efficiency per minute is a tight one right now. Anthony Davis is fractions ahead of LeMarcus Aldridge, while Blake Griffin ranks solidly in fourth.  ...The crop of efficient power-forwards is deep. Unlike the small forward position, the "four-spot" in the NBA is crowded with players who statistically are not THAT much different from one another. 

We are about to get into some math here - so hang with me... 

The difference, in efficiency points, from the top player at point guard to the 30th rated player at point guard is .335. The same math at small forward produces a result of .454. Meanwhile, the difference, in efficiency points, from the top player at power forward to the 30th rated player at power forward is .299. This means that the range from best, to "30th best", is not as wide at power forward as it is as point guard or small forward. (In case you wondered, the smallest gap is at shooting guard. #1. Dwyane Wade .597 to #30 Eric Gordon .402 = a difference of .195.)


Jordan Hill needs minutes!
Give them some more minutes!

Who are the players who rate in the top 30 at power forward but do not (yet) play heavy minutes? There are 16 players who have yet to have a chance to shine with consistency. 

  • Jordan Hill - Lakers. .657 (ranks 4th) ...He gets spotty, inconsistent minutes from Mike D'Antoni but Hill produces more often than not. 
  • Brandan Wright - Mavs .652 (ranks 7th) ...He is seemingly always hurt. If he could stay healthy and have a coach trust him, Wright is capable of producing. 
  • John Henson - Bucks .629 (ranks 9th) ...Henson has had his share of starts but he still doesn't play heavy minutes with consistency. That happens when you play on a bad team. 
  • Kris Humphries - Celtics .625 (ranks 11th) ...Humphries too has had a handful of starts in Boston but enough to establish a real groove. 
  • DaJuan Blair - Mavs .613 (ranks 12th) ...Blair may not be able to play heavy minutes due to his knees. 
  • Kenneth Faried - Nuggets .609 (ranks 13th) ...One of the real travesties of the 2013-14 NBA season is Faried only averaging 24 minutes per game. 
  • James Johnson - Grizzlies .577 (ranks 15th) ...If Johnson could shoot the long-ball better, I'd call him a small forward. But he can't. The 2014 James Johnson is more physically fit, and more efficient. Can he maintain this and get a contract for the future? Stay tuned. 
  • Markieff Morris - Suns .574 (ranks 16th) ...Markieff plays. But he doesn't get to play enough in our opinion. 
  • Michael Beasley - Heat .553 (ranks 20th) ...Nobody ever questioned his talent. He is in good condition presently. It's great for Miami to get 16 minutes per game off the bench at this efficiency level (similar to how Chris Andersen does it for them at Center). 
    Evans is long and quick!
  • Jeremy Evans - Jazz .549 (ranks 21st) ...Evans is still trying to bulk up. It might be time for a team to give this kid a chance to play meaningful minutes. His ability to 'quick-jump' is elite. He could be a shot-blocking presence in the future. 
  • Jon Leuer - Grizzlies .547 (ranks 22nd) ...Leuer is a skilled BIG but he has trouble as a defender with quicker FOURs
  • Thomas Robinson - Blazers .546 (ranks 23rd) ...Robinson will most likely never be a player that a team runs any plays for. He is an elite NBA athlete, and his activity level, and rebounding prowess may earn him more minutes. It is worth remembering that Robinson is just 22 years old. 
  • Elton Brand - Hawks .541 (ranks 24th) ...In the absence of Al Horford, Atlanta has juggled their lineups and Elton Brand is proving he can still hold his own. 
  • Trevor Booker - Wizards .540 (ranks 25th) ...Booker is just 26 years old and he still has upside. He is strong willed, and "no nonsense". 
  • Ed Davis - Grizzlies .539 (ranks 26th) ...Ed Davis is still a prospect that may, one day, play BIG minutes in the NBA. He needs to gain weight. 
  • Mike Scott - Hawks .531 (ranks 29th) ...Scott is small to be a power forward but he has shown that he can be relatively efficient. 
Thompson gets rejected
Do they play too much? 

The list of power forwards who play heavy minutes, yet are outside of the top 30 in efficiency at the position: David West (31st), Carlos Boozer (32nd), Ryan Anderson (36th), Tristan Thompson (45th), Josh McRoberts (51st), Glen Davis (52nd), and Jason Thompson (55th). ...David West is a premier defender at his position, and a tough-guy that we have no problem with. Boozer's efficiency has slowly slipped the last couple of seasons. We're keeping an eye on it. ...Ryan Anderson can really shoot and his overall efficiency would be nice as a small forward. As a Power Forward, where the landscape is filled more tightly with efficient players, he is just 36th (or a top-tier reserve player). ...Tristan Thompson simply has never been very efficient. Right handed or left handed, Tristan Thompson hovers around the same "mid-tier backup" efficiency. ...McRoberts simply gets out-muscled as a power forward. ...Glen Davis doesn't rebound well enough. 

What about the Kings? 

Sacramento Kings power forwards do not rate well vs. the rest of the NBA's FOURs. Quincy Acy is ranked 54th, and Jason Thompson is 55th. 

Derrick Williams is 67th. As a Small forward, Williams would rank 35th with a .381 EFR. With improved three point shooting, and better care of the basketball, Williams may indeed, one-day, be looked upon as a legitimate Small Forward. So far, he has not achieved that status in our book. (This is a topic that requires more writing than I am willing to do right at this moment. It's about CONSISTENTLY being able to stretch a defense with reliable, accurate deep shooting. And it's about your small forward being the "second point guard" and having the skill and patience to make plays for others with CONSISTENCY. Derrick Williams continues to turn it over more than he assists it, and he is shooting 27% from beyond the arc.)

Rookies 

The highest rated rookie power forward is Kelly Olynyk. He rates 50th out of 76 PF's we examined. A 50th rating at any position equates to a "low-tier backup" ideally. 

Read Point Guards
Read Shooting Guards
Read Small Forwards
Read Centers