Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Center Crop

Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Center Crop
Jun 24, 2013, 01:20 pm
In our final “by the numbers” analysis, we take a look at the top-17 centers eligible for the 2013 NBA draft.

-Just by the Numbers: the 2013 Center Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Power Forward Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Small Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Small Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Shooting Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Shooting Guard Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Point Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Point Guard Crop

While the 2013 draft class is described as relatively weak compared to past years, it is particularly deep at the center position. Likely lottery picks Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Steven Adams top the list, but ultimately, as many as nine centers could hear their names called in the first round.

A key component of the game of basketball, statistics are both exalted for their comprehensiveness and condemned for their ridiculousness. There are an unlimited number of ways to evaluate a player on paper, with each seemingly generating non-stop debate over its value. In recent seasons, Synergy Sports Technology and other companies have brought on a new generation of statistics in basketball, and along with the likes of John Hollinger and Dean Oliver, have changed the way NBA teams evaluate prospects.

Accounting for every jumper missed on a fast break, pick and roll from the top of key, and bad pass in crunch time, the data at the disposal of NBA decision-makers seems to get deeper almost daily. As statistics become more advanced, you can even start to predict what areas a college player may struggle in moving forward based on what their numbers in college or where they may still have upside.

As we get further and further away from the actual season that was played between November and April, we tend to forget at times how productive prospects actually were on their individual teams between all the talk about wingspans and upside and performance in private workouts and such.

With that in mind, we're running a simple analysis of how all the top prospects in this draft compare in all the different facets of the game statistically that matter at their individual position, which should help us identify red-flags, learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of each prospects and evaluate how they compare with each other.

We conclude with the center crop.

Note: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Philipp Neumann, and Walter Tavares withdrew from the 2013 NBA Draft, but since they're potential draftees down the road, we opted to use them in our analysis.

Points Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell24.9
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia24
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne22.3
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State19.2
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke19.1
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame19
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron18.4
Alex LenNCAAMaryland17.6
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas17.3
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier16.2
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes15.8
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg15.6
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona14.8
Rudy GobertFranceCholet14.7
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh13.5
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky12.9
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville12.5
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC11.9
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria10

This stat tells us plainly how often these centers put the ball in the basket, adjusting for minutes played and pace, which levels the playing field as best as we can without taking into account competition level, individual team roles, and teammates into consideration. This is a good place to start with this group of players, as it tells us about their versatility, the range of roles they played last season, and a little bit about each prospect's mentality as a scorer.

As you can see, there is a death of prolific offensive talents in this group. Yet, despite the relative lack of productivity, nearly half of these prospects have a chance at hearing their names called in the first round.

Mike Muscala has seen his stock rise dramatically this season, in large part thanks to his advanced scoring instincts – particularly his ability to score inside the post – as well as his versatility as a perimeter scorer. At 24.9 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted, Muscala ranks as the fourth most productive overall scorer in our top-100, in addition to topping this list. At 6'11.5 in shoes with a 7'1 wingspan, 9'0 standing reach and solid athleticism, the Bucknell senior has the size and skill to play the center position at the next level, particularly once he fills out his lanky frame.

While Muscala may still qualify as an under-the-radar prospect among casual draft fans, few outside of the scouting community and fans of the Spanish ACB are likely to have heard the name of Montenegrin center Bojan Dubljevic. Dubljevic enjoyed an incredibly productive first season in Valencia, where the thrived as a “stretch-five,” with a fundamentally sound post repertoire to match. Without elite size (6'10) and athleticism (27.5 maximum vertical), scouts are unsure of whether Dubljevic can be as productive at the next level, but what is clear is that he is the second most productive scoring center in this draft, while competing in one of the world's best basketball leagues. Expect Dubljevic to hear his named called somewhere in the second round, despite the fact that he's likely two years away from joining a NBA team.

Colton Iverson will turn 24 years old just two days after the 2013 NBA Draft, making him one of the oldest players in this year's class. Following his transfer from Minnesota to Colorado State, he also emerged as one of the more productive players slated to be drafted as well. Putting up 19.2 points per 40 minutes pace adjusted, the 7'0 senior finds most of his offense in the post, boasting a rudimentary, but solid, arsenal of back to the basket post moves. Like Dubljevic, Iverson's athletic deficiencies leave much to be desired, but given his toughness and productivity inside the paint, a NBA team will almost certainly take a chance on him in the second round.

In a close fourth place finish sits Mason Plumlee, a player who made big strides as a senior to live up to his RSCI Top-20 billing in the high school class of 2009. Plumlee never developed a perimeter game as recruiting analysts predicted, but he did emerge as a dependable, albeit mechanical, post scorer, aided by his well above average size (7'0+) and athleticism (36.0 maximum vertical). How much better he can get remains to be seen (as he turned 23 in March), but Plumlee has the potential to become a starting-caliber center at the next level should he continue to develop in his capacity as a pick-and-roll finisher.

Rounding out the top-five is Notre Dame's Jack Cooley. Cooley lacks NBA-caliber size and athleticism for the center position, but he shows excellent instincts and fundamentals as a rebounder to complement his brute interior offense. His potential of sticking in an NBA rotation likely hinges upon his ability to develop his face-up game, which, as of now, is lacking at best. Regardless of what happens on draft night, however, Cooley should enjoy a long and productive professional career at a high level.

The bottom of this list is hardly a surprise, even if it features some of the top center prospects in the draft.

USC junior DeWayne Dedmon is one of the oldest and most raw prospects in this draft, lacking much in the way of scoring instincts or post moves, which explains his utter lack of productivity. That being said, at 6'11 with a massive 7'4 wingspan, a decent frame, and intriguing athleticism, Dedmon may be a prospect a team decides to take a plunge on later in the second round, if only to provide a body and six fouls.

Scouts have had much more time to evaluate Gorgui Dieng as a key contributor on both ends of the floor during Louisville's 2012 National Championship run. While he does not show a lot on the offensive end, particularly with his back-to-the-basket, scouts are intrigued with his potential to spot-up from mid-range and pass the ball thanks to his strong feel for the game. Currently projected as a mid-to-late first round pick, Dieng will be expected to play a role right away, though his development on offense may ultimately dictate what that role may be.

Ahead of Dieng by a slight margin is potential top pick Nerlens Noel. At 6'11 in shoes with a 7'3.5 wingspan, Noel is vaunted for his defensive potential and intriguing physical and athletic profiles rather than his scoring abilities, even though he ranks as one of the best finishers in his class, converting on 64% of his shots around the basket. Whether or not his solid freshman campaign is enough to transcend scouts' concerns about his offensive limitations and his troubling injury history is something we'll likely learn more about on Thursday night.

At 12 and 13 sit two of the drafts most raw, yet intriguing young players, Rudy Gobert and Steven Adams.

At 7'2 with a nearly-7'9 wingspan, Gobert has all of the physical potential in the world to make a difference on the defensive end of the floor. On the offensive end, however, he is limited mainly to catching and finishing, and it is clear that he will have to bulk up substantially before he plays a serious role in the NBA.

Currently projected as a top-10 draft pick, Pittsburgh freshman Steven Adams already possesses NBA caliber physical and athletic tools, but struggled with long bouts of inconsistency on both ends of the floor. After showing more skill than expected during the pre-draft process, however, scouts may be willing to overlook his underwhelming freshman campaign and draft him somewhere in the late lottery.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that Alex Len – who's draft stock is fluctuating from #1 to the mid-lottery – ranks eighth on this list. Despite his excellent physical profile, solid athleticism, and intriguing post scoring ability, he inconsistent at Maryland in terms of production. Some of this comes from playing alongside some incredibly selfish guards, and some of it may be attributed to the fact that he was playing the last month of the season with a stress fracture in his ankle. Scouts will have to ponder how likely he is to reach his very high upside.

Three Point Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia4.1
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona1.8
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell0.6
Alex LenNCAAMaryland0.3
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier0.2
Rudy GobertFranceCholet0.2
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC0.2
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne0.1
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame0.1
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron0.1
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State0
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke0
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas0
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes0
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg0
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh0
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky0
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville0
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria0

In the NBA, centers are not expected to make perimeter shots, but those who are able to stretch the floor with their shooting ability – inside and outside of the three point line – are valued by scouts and coaching staffs alike. This statistic shows how many three point field goals these prospects attempted, adjusting for minutes played and pace. It also gives us an idea about the roles these big men played for their respective teams, the confidence they had in their perimeter shooting ability, and the freedom they were given by their former coaches.

Topping this list by a wide margin at 4.13 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted is Bojan Dubljevic, who at 6'10 shows the ability to knock down 3-pointers at a 45% clip this season, on a decent sample size at that. This is one of his biggest selling points as a prospect, as its unlikely he'll be able to score inside the paint at quite the same rate in the NBA against the longer and more athletic big men he'll face making the transition from the ACB.

Marko Todorovic ranks second with 1.75 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Like Dubljevic, Todorovic also plays in the prestigious ACB League, even if at age 21, he averaged a paltry 7.3 minutes per game for Barcelona. For that reason, the 6'11 center's placement on this list (or his 20% 3FG) should be taken with a grain of salt, just noting the fact that he has the ability to step outside.

Mike Muscala ranks third, attempting 0.6 three point field goals per 40 minutes pace adjusted. While Muscala has the reputation of being a good shooter at the collegiate level, he did not quite extend his range out to the 3-point line by the time his eligibility was used up. He was neither prolific – 21/67 for his college career – nor particularly efficient, as he has made just 31.3% of his total attempts. NBA scouts will note the potential he has to develop into a solid face-up threat, but it's clear that this skill will have to be developed further.

Fourth comes Alex Len who, like Muscala, only attempted a handful of perimeter jumpers throughout the 2012-2013 season.

Beyond Len, few other prospects displayed much in the way of a dependable sample size and did little to distinguish themselves as perimeter shooters thus far in their careers. Worth noting, however, is the case of Gorgui Dieng, who established himself as a first round pick, in part, because of his mid-range shooting during Louisville's National Championship run. Having attempted just three perimeter jump shots during his entire career, however, and making just one, his range is obviously inside of the NBA three point arc.

Free Throw Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell8.9
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State8.8
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron8
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke7.9
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne6.8
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame6.5
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas6.5
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg6.4
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona6.3
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia6.1
Alex LenNCAAMaryland6
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky5.4
Rudy GobertFranceCholet4.6
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier4.3
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville4.3
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes4.1
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh4.1
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC2.7
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria1.7

Free throws attempted per-40 minutes is a good statistic to measure the aggressiveness of a player getting to the rim, as well as his athleticism and ball-handling skills. Additionally, this statistic can tell us how a center deals with contact around the basket (or if they avoid it altogether). In some ways, it provides an inverse look at the three-point stats we just looked at.

Unsurprisingly, Mike Muscala takes the top spot here, averaging an impressive 8.9 free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Muscala was dominant at the Patriot league level, going up against weaker competition than most of the players in this sampling, but his productivity is noteworthy nonetheless. He will have to get stronger to continue to be a major threat inside the paint in the NBA, but he does have the skill-set to operate with his back to the basket, which is more than most of the players in this group can say.

Colton Iverson also performs favorably in this statistic, ranking second on this list and fourth among all prospects in our top-100. Iverson's advanced age and extremely mature frame begs the question of whether he will be able to get to the line consistently against bigger and more athletic competition at a nightly basis than he faced in the Mountain West Conference. Regardless, Iverson is one of the tougher and more aggressive big men you'll find in this draft class, and that is certainly reflected in his placement here.

Akron senior Zeke Marshall makes his first appearance as the third most prolific free throw shooting center in this draft. At 7'0 with a 7'5 wingspan and solid athleticism, Marshall finally began to show some life in the post as a senior, attempting eight free throws per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Yet, at a wiry-235-pounds, it remains to be seen whether he will be able to score effectively in the NBA facing better big men than he saw in the MAC.

Mason Plumlee possesses an NBA-ready frame and got to the line against far better competition on a nightly basis to the tune of 7.9 free throw attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. His size, strength and athleticism certainly helped him in this regard.

The bottom of this list makes a good deal of sense except for one notable exception. As the worst center in this statistic, DeWayne Dedmon has outstanding size and athleticism, but lacks the strength and skill required to utilize it on a consistent basis.

Similarly lacking NBA-caliber strength and toughness, Lucas Nogueira is not much of a post threat at this point, and is most effective as a finisher around the basket. Therefore, his third worst finish is hardly a surprise, especially considering he played against much better big men than most of the players in this group.

Steven Adams ranks as the second worst center in this statistic. Despite being a fairly low usage player, Adams is known for his unique combination of size and athleticism. Yet, his raw footwork and average skill level makes it difficult for him to take advantage of his impressive physical profile. Making matters worse, Adams converted just 44.3% of his free throws.

Free Throw Attempts Per Possession
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron0.57
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State0.53
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke0.47
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg0.47
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas0.44
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona0.44
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky0.44
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame0.43
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell0.41
Alex LenNCAAMaryland0.39
Rudy GobertFranceCholet0.39
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne0.38
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville0.37
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes0.36
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh0.35
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia0.31
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier0.3
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC0.22
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria0.13

Even though Free Throws Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted tells us how much a player attacks in bulk, it doesn't show how much they attack relative to their usage rate. This stat tells that story, even if there are few surprises here.

Zeke Marshall, Colton Iverson, and Mason Plumlee rank 1-2-3 in this group with DeWayne Dedmon still holding court in last place. Mike Muscala falls to the middle of the pack, as his team's reliance on him as the focal point of their offense makes his free throw attempts look slightly less impressive.

Vitalis Chikoko, Bojan Dubljevic, Steven Adams, and Lucas Nogueria round out the bottom five.

True Shooting Percentage
Rudy GobertFranceCholet73.4
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes67.6
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron67.5
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne65.8
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke64
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg64
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier63.2
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas63.1
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia62.9
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame62.1
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State60.7
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky59.3
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell58
Alex LenNCAAMaryland57.8
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville57
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona56.2
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh56.1
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC52.9
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria52

True Shooting Percentage is adjusted to account for what a player adds to their efficiency and team's point total with free throw attempts and 3-pointers. This stat attempts to adjust for all the ways a player can put points on the board. A player who makes 4/10 3-pointers contributes the same amount of points as a player who made 6/10 2-pointers, something that show up in the traditional field goal percentage stat (which would have the 3-point shooter at 40% FG% and the 2-point shooter at 60% FG%). This stat attempts to adjust for that.

For a list of centers, this stat largely represents the best finishers. Accordingly, Cholet's Rudy Gobert makes his first appearance in a top-five in this statistic to the tune of 73.4%, which ranks first in the entire French Pro A league as well as in our top-100. Limited offensively, Gobert thrives on simple catch and finishes, primarily scoring around the basket where he can utilize his size and massive wingspan to his advantage.

Lucas Nogueira is in a similar position to Gobert, possessing outstanding size (7'0) and length (7'6), and having excellent hands and finishing ability. For these reasons, he ranks second at 67.6%, which is an impressive feat despite his limited usage.

In what is emerging as a trend among prospects with freakish length and NBA-caliber size, Zeke Marshall ranks a close third. Marshall isn't particularly skilled in the post, but he can run in transition and finish well above the rim.

Mason Plumlee places fourth on this list thanks to his impressive athleticism. There was no denying his efficiency as a senior.

It is also worth introducing Vitalis Chikoko, who rounds out the top-five. At 6'10, Chikoko is a bit shorter than Gobert (7'2), Nogueira (7'0), Marshall (7'0), but he compensates with an outstanding 7'4 wingspan. As we recently noted, Chikoko is incredibly raw on the offensive end of the floor, but he shows some intriguing flashes of jump shooting ability to complement his athletic finishes in transition and around the basket.

The bottom five in this statistic consists of DeWayne Dedmon, Steven Adams, Marko Todorovic, Gorgui Dieng, and Alex Len.

Assists Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell3.1
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville2.5
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke2.2
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky2
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State1.8
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona1.6
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg1.5
Alex LenNCAAMaryland1.4
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier1.3
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne1.2
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas1.2
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame1.2
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh1.2
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron1.1
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia1.1
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC1.1
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria1.1
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes0.8
Rudy GobertFranceCholet0.7

While assists are seen as an essential component to perimeter players' games, they are often viewed as an added bonus to a center's skill set. After all, the best assist average per 40 minutes pace adjusted ever posted a center in our entire database would place just eleventh among prospects in our top-100. Yet, passing is important as NBA-caliber centers are expected to be able to move the ball in the half court offense, pass out of double teams, and occasionally find their teammates cutting towards the basket.

Mike Muscala finishes atop this list to the tune of 3.1 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted, which speaks both to his strong feel for the game and extremely high usage role he played for Bucknell.

In second and third, Gorgui Dieng and Mason Plumlee are two players who really developed as passers throughout their collegiate careers. While neither is capable of the making more advanced high post and post facilitators' passes, they have both improved on their ability to sense and pass out of double teams and to make an occasional dump pass to streaking cutters.

Nerlens Noel finishes fourth here, and it should be said that while he is neither particularly skilled, he has above average instincts for his age, which is a sign that he could improve as a passer if he continues to develop.

Rudy Gobert and Lucas Nogueira's place at the bottom of this list, as their roles consisted almost entirely of catching and finishing and they were rarely double teamed.

Turnovers Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria5
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona3.8
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia3.6
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke3.2
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier3.2
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne2.9
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg2.9
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State2.8
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC2.8
Rudy GobertFranceCholet2.6
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas2.5
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell2.3
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky2.3
Alex LenNCAAMaryland2.3
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville2.3
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame2.1
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh2
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron1.8
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes1.6

Perhaps most impressive about the aforementioned list are the players that show up on the lower half of this list. Mike Muscala, Gorgui Dieng, Nerlens Noel, and Alex Len average only 2.3 turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted.

It is worth pointing out that, when considering turnovers per possession, their actual turnover proneness looks very different. In this statistic, Muscala ranks as one the least turnover prone players in our top-100, turning the ball over on just 9% of his overall possessions.

Zeke Marshall also did a fine job of valuing possessions by any metric.

Marko Todorovic and Bojan Dubljevic rank as the most turnover prone players in this group, with Mason Plumlee, Vitalis Chikoko, and Colton Iverson rounding out the top-five.

Pure Point Rating
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell-0.56
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville-1.44
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria-1.62
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky-2.52
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron-2.76
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes-2.78
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh-3.14
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame-3.16
Alex LenNCAAMaryland-3.44
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State-3.91
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas-4.22
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke-4.36
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg-4.81
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC-5.17
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne-5.35
Rudy GobertFranceCholet-5.41
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier-5.74
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona-6.7
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia-7.3

Developed by John Hollinger, Pure Point Rating takes a look at a players overall passing value, weighing turnovers as slightly more detrimental than assists are helpful.
With the aforementioned analyses in mind, it comes as no surprise that Mike Muscala and Gorgui Dieng top this list. Both players have a high basketball IQ and look ready to step in and play a complimentary role for a team from day one.

Nerlens Noel measures out somewhat favorably amongst these players as well, which has to be a good sign considering he's the youngest prospect in this group.

Bojan Dubljevic finishes last here, as not only did he rarely dished out assists, but also turned the ball over a very high rate.

Marko Todorovic, Vitalis Chikoko and Rudy Gobert are the next three worst players in this group in this particular statistic, showing that they all have a ways to go in terms of their knowledge of the game.

Rebounds Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell14.9
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame14.7
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria14.4
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State13.6
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne13.4
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC12.3
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville12
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh11.8
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona11.8
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky11.7
Alex LenNCAAMaryland11.6
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke11.1
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas10.7
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes10
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron9.8
Rudy GobertFranceCholet9.3
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg9
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia7.7
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier7.6

Rebounding is an important aspect of the game, perhaps the most important aspect of a NBA center's skill set. While centers often have the benefit of being the largest, the strongest, and, sometimes, the most athletic players on the floor, this statistic can also speak to a center's tenacity, aggressiveness, and how well they use their size and athleticism against smaller and less athletic players, thus providing a good look into how they'll fare at the next level.

Mike Muscala is best known for his ability to score both inside and out, but as his placement on this list suggests, there is an awful lot more to like about his game. Leading all prospects in our top-100 and one of the best rebounding seasons in our entire historical database. Muscala is a capable offensive rebounder, but he absolutely shines on the defensive glass.

Second by an extremely close margin is Jack Cooley, who, despite being undersized, is a relentless rebounder for his position. This is his biggest calling card as a NBA prospect and is a significant one.

Colton Iverson, DeWayne Dedmon, and Gorgui Dieng round out the top five with Steven Adams, Marko Todorovic, Nerlens Noel, and Alex Len finishing extremely close behind.

While the centers in this group have their share of deficiencies, it is a group of very proficient rebounders, many of whom will earn rotation minutes due to their tenacity in this area.

In fact, outside of the aforementioned names, those other prospects who stand out here do so for the wrong reasons. The bottom five, therefore, are almost as telling as the top.

Vitalis Chikoko and Bojan Dubljevic rank as the worst in this group, but Rudy Gobert, Zeke Marshall, and Lucas Nogueria's placement in the bottom line is truly surprising. After all, these players are the tallest and longest prospects in the draft and hardly below average athletes for their size. The problems concerning their lack of bulk are at their most glaring here, and each of these players must work hard to convince scouts that they can be more committed to rebounding the basketball should they want to hear their names called on draft night.

Blocks Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky5.5
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron5.1
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas5
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC3.8
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh3.8
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria3.3
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes3.3
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville3.2
Rudy GobertFranceCholet3.2
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell3.1
Alex LenNCAAMaryland3
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier2.3
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona2.2
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame1.7
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke1.6
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg1.4
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne1.2
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State1
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia0.6

We have a long ways to go before we'll be able to effectively quantify a player's defensive prowess statistically, especially using just box-score numbers. There are too many variables involved in whether a team comes up with a stop on any given possession to effectively isolate a single player out using such simple metrics.

This statistic gives an idea of players' size, length, and shot-blocking instincts and can be a telling athletic marker as well.

Nerlens Noel shines particularly bright in this statistic, blocking an outstanding 5.5 shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted and proving himself as the best shot blocker among prospects in our top-100. Noel's length, athleticism, and timing are unrivaled here.

Zeke Marshall, Jeff Withey, DeWayne Dedmon, and Steven Adams rank 2-3-4.

Lucas Nogueira, Gorgui Dieng, Rudy Gobert, Mike Muscala, and Alex Len comprise the middle, averaging between 3.3 and 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted between them.

Mason Plumlee ranks toward the bottom of this list, which highlights perhaps his only physical weakness, a wingspan that is shorter than his height, without the timing and instincts to compensate.

Colton Iverson's lack of explosiveness is likely a factor in his standing here, while the same can certainly be said for Bojan Dubljevic, who plays the game well below the rim.

Steals Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky2.6
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC1.9
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville1.7
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes1.4
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh1.2
Rudy GobertFranceCholet1.2
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona1.2
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne1.2
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia1.2
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria1.1
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke1.1
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas1
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame1
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron0.9
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell0.7
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg0.7
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier0.6
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State0.6
Alex LenNCAAMaryland0.3

Steals can be used as another indicator of a prospect's athleticism and length, as well as his anticipation skills and instincts. The defensive scheme and principles of the team they played on can also be a factor here, in terms of how aggressively coaches want their teams to play on the defensive end.

True to his reputation and projection as a defensive stopper, Nerlens Noel tops this list, as well. What makes Noel such a special prospect is not only his physical and athletic profile, but also his aggressiveness and willingness to put his body on the line and make hustle plays.

DeWayne Dedmon's second place finish and favorable showing overall in the defensive statistics suggests that scouts may want to take another look at the long and athletic center on draft night. Though he doesn't have much in the way of skills or instincts on the offensive end of the floor, players with his size and athleticism are not exactly commonplace.

Gorgui Dieng and Lucas Nogueira also perform well in this statistic, adding credence to their projections as defense-oriented role players in the NBA.

Worth noting at the bottom of this list is Alex Len. Many analytic models discount Len's potential at developing into a useful NBA player for precisely this season: his lack of steals. It will be interesting to see if Len is able to change the perceptions about the importance of steals in the minds of analytic types with his play in the NBA.

Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell31.6
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia27.3
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke24.3
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State23.4
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne23.3
Alex LenNCAAMaryland22.7
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame22.6
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas21.4
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona20.3
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron19.8
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier19.4
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg18.8
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC18.5
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria17.7
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh17.6
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky17.3
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville16.9
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes16.1
Rudy GobertFranceCholet16.1

One reason why we compare prospects using statistics adjusted over 40 minutes and for pace is twofold. For one, teams in the NCAA and abroad, alike, play at a variety of different paces, which tends to inflate player statistics in faster-paced systems. Secondly, players play a variety of roles at the collegiate and international level, and usage rate as measured by a player's percentage of a team's total possessions, speaks to the size of their role at the collegiate or international level, as well as their productivity given this role.

Mike Muscala ranks first by a large margin to the tune of 31.6%, quantifying just how essential he was to Bucknell's game plan.

Bojan Dubljevic comes in second at 27.3%, which is one of the most surprising findings of this study. It's extremely rare for a young prospect like Dubljevic to earn such an important role in the offense of an ACB-league playoff team such as Valencia, let alone in his first season outside his home country. It speaks volumes to Dubljevic's skill-level and aggressiveness that he was able to do so at age 21, even if injuries to some key rotation players mid-way through the season did contribute to this.

Mason Plumlee comes in third at 24.3% of possessions, which shows how important he was in Coach K's offense.

Nerlens Noel shouldered just 17% of Kentucky's offense, second lowest among collegiate players in this group. This reflects both Noel's lack of polish as well as Kentucky's struggles getting him the ball in position to score, as the team suffered from poor guard play all season long.

Gorgui Dieng ranks last among collegiate centers, while Rudy Gobert and Lucas Nogueira are last overall.

Player Efficiency Rating
Mike MuscalaNCAABucknell36.3
Zeke MarshallNCAAAkron30.2
Jack CooleyNCAANotre Dame28.9
Nerlens NoelNCAAKentucky27.7
Jeff WitheyNCAAKansas27.7
Mason PlumleeNCAADuke26.8
Colton IversonNCAAColorado State26.8
Mouhammadou JaitehFrance 2Boulogne26
Alex LenNCAAMaryland24.8
Gorgui DiengNCAALouisville24.1
Lucas NogueiraACBEstudiantes23.7
Steven AdamsNCAAPittsburgh23.5
Rudy GobertFranceCholet21.7
Bojan DubljevicEurocup, ACBValencia21.2
DeWayne DedmonNCAAUSC20.6
Marko TodorovicEuroleague, ACBBarcelona17.9
Philipp NeumannEuroleague, GermanyBamberg17
Vitalis ChikokoGermanyTrier16.9
Walter TavaresACBGran Canaria11.8

Created by Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger, PER is a total measure of what a player does on the floor based on more than a dozen weighted calculations. It isn't wise to compare players across different leagues, though, since an average score of 15 (the median) in the NBA would be a totally different figure in another league, with its own averages. The NCAA is especially tricky considering the varying levels of competition we find in the different conferences.

With this in mind, it is unsurprising to see Mike Muscala top this list by a wide margin, as he has performed admirably in nearly every statistic here.

Zeke Marshall also performs well among his peers according to PER, as he was a highly efficient scorer this season who blocked shots and kept mistakes to a minimum. While currently projected as undrafted, Marshall's size, length, and athleticism may be intriguing enough to an NBA team to take a flier on him in the mid-to-late second round. Regardless, he had a good showing by the numbers and as his placement here suggests, he is one of the more productive players in this draft class.

The same can be said about Jack Cooley, even if his lack of an NBA-caliber physical profile and athleticism put him at a severe disadvantage.

Nerlens Noel ranks fourth in PER, speaking both to his effectiveness as a finisher on offense and productivity on the defensive end of the floor. Noel immediately projects as a shotblocker and a defensive specialist, but as one of the youngest players in this draft, his placement on this list shows just how much untapped potential he has left.

A name not mentioned often in this group, Jeff Withey rounds out the top-five in PER, doing a little bit of everything in his breakout senior season. Withey has just as many weaknesses as strengths, but all in all projects favorably as a role player at the next level.

At the bottom of this list sit Vitalis Chikoko, Marko Todorovic, DeWayne Dedmon, Bojan Dubljevic and Rudy Gobert.

Dubljevic is a great example of how misleading PER can be when comparing players across different leagues. His 21.1 PER would place him in the top-10 in the ACB, and is an extremely impressive accomplishment for a 21-year old rookie, but looks poor against NCAA players. Obviously the median player receiving a 15 PER score in the vast college system is a far worse player than someone with the same score in the ultra-competitive ACB, which is a good example of how important context is when evaluating a prospect's statistical profile.

The same can be said about Rudy Gobert and Lucas Nogueira, who have even higher PER ratings, which rate them in the top-10 and top-5 of their leagues respectively.

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