Just By The Numbers: Evaluating This Year's Power Foward Crop

Just By The Numbers:  Evaluating This Year's Power Foward Crop
Jun 22, 2008, 12:22 am
In part three of our "just by the numbers" series, we take a look at the top power forwards in the 2008 draft class on a purely statistical basis. While stats certainly don’t paint the entire picture of what a player can do on the court, they have become a very valuable measure in evaluating certain aspects of the game. As statistics become more advanced, and you stack up the players side by side, you can even start to predict where a college player might have struggled in an area because of a limited role, and it becomes easier to predict the areas where they still have upside.

Just by the Numbers: Evaluating this Year's Point Guard Crop
Just by the Numbers: Evaluating this Year's Shooting Guard Crop
Just by the Numbers: Evaluating this Year's Small Forward Crop

Serge Ibaka's numbers from the LEB Gold League in Spain weren't available for this comparison.

To gain a better understanding of the statistics used, visit the glossary by Noah Libby-Haines. Interested in making your own statistical comparisons? You can do so here.

Points Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Top prospect Michael Beasley leads our power forward class in scoring by a wide margin. He is indeed the #1 scorer in this entire draft class, which helps begin to explain why he is so highly touted. A pair of Pac 10 players in Ryan Anderson and Kevin Love also crack the top five with around 24 points per 40 minutes on the season. The bottom of the list contains many players who made a name for themselves in other ways than scoring. Joey Dorsey has a very limited offensive game and scored mostly on dunks and put-backs inside. Anthony Randolph finds himself towards the bottom of the list, a trend we’ll continue to see throughout the article.

Rebounds Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Kevin Love established himself as a dominant force down low, and used his physical nature to lead this group in rebounding. His terrific hands, timing, tenacity and his technique boxing out opponents lead us to believe that he’ll continue to excel as a rebounder at the next level as well. Michael Beasley follows him closely at over 14 rebounds per game, despite the fact that he measured out at just 6-7 in shoes. Beasley also has outstanding hands and an above average wingspan, to go along with great quickness and a hunger to dominate the glass. Some of the question marks about his motor can be answered with a chart like this. Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph both need to rebound the ball more effectively considering where they'll likely be drafted. Both players have terrific tools, but lacked the focus and aggressiveness to translate their physical superiority at the college level to production on the glass, which is a major concern. Josh Duncan spent much of his time in college playing on the perimeter, and sits second from the bottom of all 25 power forwards in the comparison. Ryan Anderson played shot a lot of 3-pointers too, but he still found a way to get the job done on the glass, even while playing next to a physical marvel like DeVon Hardin. Richard Hendrix and D.J. White show why they are appealing prospects with their excellent rebounding numbers, despite standing just 6-8. They have the wingspans and standing reaches of NBA centers.

Offensive Rebounds Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Offensive rebounding can be a good measure of toughness, aggressiveness, and athleticism, particularly when looking at players who competed in stronger conferences. Joey Dorsey spent the majority of his time on offense setting screens and crashing the glass, and he ranks as the top offensive rebounder with over 5 rebounds per game. He has all the qualities discussed above in spades. Kevin Love played against many NBA caliber big men in the Pac-10, and still managed to collect 5.1 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes, which is a real feather in his cap. He does not play like an undersized or under-athletic power forward by any stretch of the imagination. Michael Beasley and Richard Hendrix fared well here once again, and James Mays ranks quite highly despite his average overall rebounding numbers. Kyle Hines may have played in a fairly weak conference in the Big South, and he is only 6-4 without shoes, but you can’t argue with the work he did on the offensive glass.

Blocks Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Undersized power forward and statistical marvel Kyle Hines blocked 4 shots per game playing in a smaller conference, aided greatly by his excellent 7-1 wingspan. Joey Dorsey became known for his ability to change shots at Memphis, and James Gist did quite well in this area. Anthony Randolph did better than you would expect considering his build, and Kevin Love and Michael Beasley rank towards the middle of the pack. Darnell Jackson and Ryan Anderson aren’t much of a presence coming from the weak-side. Walter Sharpe only played in 12 games before being declared academically ineligible, but it’s not difficult to see why NBA teams have been quietly intrigued by his outstanding physical tools, in spite of the numerous red flags.

Assists Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Passing remains a very important aspect of playing power forward at the NBA level, as many teams like to run their offense through the high post these days and prefer to have an intelligent and sound decision maker to give their half-court sets some added versatility. Maarty Leunen showed an excellent feel for the game at Oregon, and is the only forward to average over 3 assists per game. He shows a prototypical skill-level of what you look for from a modern day power forward, and should be viewed by teams as solid weapon to bring off the bench, despite his marginal physical tools. James Mays has great vision out of the high post, and did quite well in this category as a result, even when adjusting for his team’s fast pace. Kevin Love became known for his outlet passes, but he is also terrific with post-entry passes and is rarely flustered by double teams inside. Richard Hendrix continues to measure out well in almost all statistical categories. Some of the players ranked towards the bottom of this list have a reputation for being “black holes,” specifically Michael Beasley, D.J. White, J.J. Hickson, Anthony Randolph and Darrell Arthur, particularly when taking the amount of possessions they used into account.

Steals Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


A high steal average can indicate that a big man possesses good timing, length, anticipation skills and quickness. James Mays showed all four of these things at the top of Clemson’s full-court press on his way to a 2.3 steals per 40 minute average, tied with Kyle Hines. Walter Sharpe, Joey Dorsey and Richard Hendrix also did quite well in this area. Kevin Love, D.J. White, Ryan Anderson and Darrell Arthur all rank towards the bottom, hinting at a potential lack of athleticism, wingspan and/or hustle.

Turnovers Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Turnovers can be a strong indicator of a power forward's decision making ability and awareness passing out of double teams. Players with high numbers here tend to force things when trying to create offense, or may have been relied on too heavily by their college team for production. As a freshman, J.J. Hickson struggled to locate the open man once he established post position, and his unwillingness to give up the rock did not do him many favors in N.C. State’s locker-room. He’s not a great passer by any stretch, but it’s concerning to see how turnover prone he is on top of that. Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, and DaVon Jefferson also turned the ball over quite a bit, as they all liked to play facing the basket and had a tendency to run into brick walls more than you’d like. It’s interesting to note that players like Kevin Love and Richard Hendrix not only pass the ball extremely well, but they are both excellent at not coughing up possessions for their team, which is quite valuable. Maarty Leunen ranks first in assists, and second to last in turnovers—which tells you almost everything you need to know about the type of player he is. Ryan Anderson and D.J. White may not be great passers, but at least they don’t turn the ball over that much. James Mays passes the ball well, but he also turns it over at a high rate. Joey Dorsey’s low-turnover ratio is probably more of an indicator of how little he touched the ball rather than any real strength.

Assist to Turnover Ratio


Maarty Leunen was the only power forward to score an assist to turnover ratio over 1. His mark of 1.8 would actually rank him 6th amongst point guards, which is remarkable. Kevin Love's intelligence is reiterated again by this statistic as well, and the same can be said for Richard Hendrix. Darnell Jackson and James Mays also scored quite high in this area, while the usual suspects, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Darrell Arthur, and J.J. Hickson struggle.

Pure Point Rating


Teams often look for big men to play in the high post, and it's important for them to have at least one big who can make plays for others. This stat can be a strong indicator of awareness and feel for the game that teams look for in this type of player, and is calculated with the formula [100 x (League Pace / Team Pace) x ([(Assists x 2/3) - Turnovers] / Minutes]. Leunen was the only player on our list to score in the positive range here. He's followed by Hendrix, Love, Jackson, and Dorsey. The usual suspects from the last few charts rank out towards the bottom.

Free Throws Attempted Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


Power forwards with a high number here usually show great quickness in the low post or the ability to attack the basket off the dribble. Slow-footed matchups trying to defend them are often no match, which is something NBA coaches love to exploit in the league with one on one isolation plays. Michael Beasley averaged a whopping 10 free throws per game, thanks to his incredible proficiency both inside and from the perimeter. Frank Elegar is a terrific athlete who was nearly impossible for Colonial conference big men to contain when he put his mind to it, and Kevin Love again defies the odds, stereotypes and scouting report by averaging more than 9 free throws per game as well. J.J. Hickson also gets to the charity stripe at an outstanding rate. Anthony Randolph sits towards the middle of the pack, despite clearly possessing superior athleticism. [ Darrell Arthur ranks especially low in this category considering his physical tools—indicating his very apparent lack of aggressiveness offensively.

Free Throws Attempted Per Field Goal Attempt


Getting to the free throw line is a far more efficient way of putting up points than shooting from the field, and thus players that “live at the line” are huge assets in the NBA. Frank Elegar averaged .82 free throws for every field goal he attempted this season to lead our power forwards, and he is followed by Joey Dorsey and J.J. Hickson. Kevin Love also does very well in this area. Darrell Arthur ranks right ahead of a European prospect with an average skill-level, extremely poor physical tools and very little chance of even getting a sniff from the NBA.

Three Pointers Made Per 40-Minutes Pace Adjusted


NBA teams are always looking for "spread fours", power forwards (like Al Harrington, Antawn Jamison, Rasheed Wallace and of course Dirk Nowitzki) who can pull their matchup away from the basket and open up driving lanes for slashers with their ability to space the floor. This statistic becomes very important when seeking this type of player, even though the NBA 3-point line is much farther (four feet from the top of the key) out than the college line. Serbian forward Tadija Dragicevic made three long range shots per 40 minutes playing in the ULEB Cup, followed by Xavier's Josh Duncan who converted a very large number of his three point attempts this season. Ryan Anderson is probably the best example of a spread four from this draft, and Maarty Leunen also displayed the ability to space the floor in the Pac 10. Lottery picks Michael Beasley and Kevin Love both look to have a long range jumper that will translate the NBA game. Anthony Randolph will absolutely have to develop this part of his game is he’s going to find success with his rail thin frame.

Three Pointers Attempted Per Field Goal Attempt


While NBA teams like to have power forwards that are versatile and can hit the three ball, that isn’t the only thing they look for. When looking at this stat, remember that some players use the three pointer as a weapon among their arsenal and other players tend to rely on it to an extreme degree—making them somewhat one-dimensional. Josh Duncan relied on his ability to shoot the long range jumper quite excessively, and he's followed by two Europeans in Dragicevic and Velickovic. There's a big drop-off after Maarty Leunen, with players such as Anderson, Love, and Beasley using the three pointer as an aspect of their game rather than relying on it. Those that don’t even attempt 3-pointers probably don’t do so for a reason—they just don’t have that type of skill-level at the moment.

True Shooting Percentage


True shooting percentage effectively measures a player's scoring efficiency by taking free throws and three pointers into account, giving us a better overall picture of how effectively he puts points on the board. Maarty Leunen continues to state his case as a fantastic role-playing power forward, garnering a shockingly high 71% true shooting percentage. As we’ve seen in this article, what Leunen does well he is simply terrific at. Kevin Love, Darnell Jackson, and Kevin Love all had a true shooting percentage of 66%. Top two pick Michael Beasley shot 62% in this area, while potential lottery pick Anthony Randolph continues to rank poorly, struggling badly with a true shooting percentage of just 52%.

Effective Field Goal Percentage


Effective field goal percentage measures the difference in value between two point and three point attempts, and accounts for the difference. This stat can reward excellent long range shooters and big men who stay in the paint and take high percentage shots. Maarty Leunen ranks first thanks to his outstanding long range shooting ability, and Joey Dorsey and D.J. White both do well due to the high percentage shots they took near the basket. Kevin Love and Davon Jefferson rank towards the middle of the pack, and Anthony Randolph comes in dead last with 47%.

Points Per Possession


NBA coaches want their players to maximize every possession they have, and efficient scorers are highly rated in this measure. Maarty Leunen again tops this list, by a fairly large margin too. Kevin Love's all-around game has allowed him to stand out in nearly every category so far, and here is no exception. Michael Beasley did quite well for himself considering his high usage rate on the offensive end, scoring 1.23 points per possession. Anthony Randolph ranks second from the bottom in this category, and was one of two players to score less than one point for every offensive touch.

Player Efficiency Rating


Player efficiency rating was created by John Hollinger to measure the overall impact of a player in one catch-all stat. The rating uses an average PER of 15 derived from the NBA, which leads to inflated PERs for top college players in some cases. Michael Beasley has an astronomical rating of 39.3 on the season, which emphasizes the degree to which he dominated college basketball ranks this seasons. Kevin Love impressively comes in second on this list, and his PER of 36.4 ranks second of any player we have looked at in our statistical comparison series. Richard Hendrix and Ryan Anderson also ranked in the top 5. D.J. White and J.J. Hickson scored towards the top of the list as well. Anthony Randolph again does not impress here. It’s unfair to rank players from different leagues (an average player—ranking a 15 in the Euroleague or ULEB Cup-- is far different than an average player in the extremely large pool of players in the NCAA), which helps explain the poor placement of the European players at the bottom.

Efficiency Per 40-Minutes


The "EFF" Statistic was created by the NBA to measure the overall statistical production of a player on the court. It adds up all the positive stats a player accumulates and subtracts all the negatives. For all intents and purposes, this stat makes more sense when calculated over 40 minutes rather than per game. Beasley and Love again dominate in this category, followed by Hendrix and Anderson. Darrell Arthur, Anthony Randolph, and James Mays all sit near the bottom of the list.

Win Score Per 40-Minutes


David Berri’s statistic is created by taking PTS + TRB + STL + .5* BLK + .5*AST - FGA - .5*FTA - TO - .5*PF / Min * 40. The average win score for an NBA power forward is 8.6, but the number will typically be higher for a college player. No suspense here, as Beasley and Love again rank at the top. Richard Hendrix, Joey Dorsey and D.J. White complete the top five, while Anthony Randolph and Davon Jefferson rank at the bottom. Darrell Arthur’s placement is nothing to write home about either.

Percentage of Team's Possessions


This number gives us pretty good insight into the type of role the player played within his team’s offense. A typical starting role player averages around 15% of his team’s possessions, while star players are usually around 20% or higher. Michael Beasley shouldered nearly 30% of the offensive load for Kansas State, while Kyle Hines was used at a very high rate as well. Kevin Love took on 21.1% of UCLA's offensive possessions, and Richard Hendrix and D.J. White sit in the same range. Darrell Arthur ranks quite low considering his offensive skills, and Joey Dorsey comes in dead last, shouldering just 8% of the offensive load for Memphis this season. Anthony Randolph ranks towards the top of this list, but considering how poorly he shot the ball and the amount of turnovers he generated, it’s no wonder LSU was such a bad team this season.

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