-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Point Guard Crop
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.
We start with the point guard crop.
Points Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||26.6|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||24.4|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||23.8|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||19.3|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||17.2|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||16.4|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||13.9|
This stat tells us plainly how often these guards 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 playmaker or scorer.
Three of the top four players on this list come from mid-majors and below, with scoring phenom C.J. McCollum of Lehigh unsurprisingly leading the pack. While context is important here given the competition level McCollum faced, his 30.6 mark is still extremely impressive and the highest scoring rate of any guard we've seen since Stephen Curry, and the second best overall in the past twelve seasons. His small sample size of 12 games given his injury-shortened season is definitely worth noting, but his numbers aren't all that far out of line with his prior seasons.
Virginia Tech's Erick Green coming in second on this list may in fact be the more impressive feat given the competition he faced night in and night out in the ACC. Green shouldered a comparable burden of offensive responsibility compared to McCollum, and his 22.1 possessions per game is actually the highest of any player in this group and second highest of all players in our database this season.
Nate Wolters and Isaiah Canaan round out the top four. Both are incredibly gifted scorers who played significant roles on mid-major teams that needed their point guards to produce points for them to have any chance of winning games.
The #1 ranked point guard in this group overall, Trey Burke, comes in at a respectable sixth place in this category, which is certainly understandable given the competition he faced, his well-balanced team, and his propensity as a ball distributor.
Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams unsurprisingly ranks near the bottom of the group in this category, as scoring the ball at a high rate has never been his forte, but he makes up for it in some of the other categories later on.
Usually in these studies we find that the European prospects lag far behind their American counterparts in both departments due to their significantly smaller roles and the levels of competition they face. That's not really true this year in regards to Dennis Schroeder and Nemanja Nedovic. Both point guards averaged nearly a point for every two minutes they were on the floor, which is very impressive all things considered.
Three Point Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||9|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||7.2|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||6.2|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||5.7|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||5.3|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||5.2|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||2.6|
This stat tells us a lot about the roles these prospects played for their respective teams, the confidence they had in their perimeter shooting ability, and the freedom they were given by their former coaches.
Isaiah Canaan leads off this category by a sizeable margin, and this taken together with him creating most of his own shots and being his team's clear go-to scorer makes his 37.1% three-point percentage much more impressive overall.
Baylor's Pierre Jackson unsurprisingly comes next on the list, and the diminutive perimeter-oriented point guard's 35.9% three-point percentage also looks more impressive when you consider this context.
C.J. McCollum and Trey Burke both rank in the top third of this group, highlighting their ability to shoot the ball from behind the arc, but also having numbers low enough to illustrate they're not just specialists in any sense.
Michael Carter-Williams ranks near the bottom of this category as well, as he does in most all of the scoring-related categories.
Three Point Attempts Per Field Goal Attempt
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||0.54|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||0.51|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||0.45|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||0.4|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||0.34|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||0.29|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||0.23|
This stat examines how heavily these guards relied on the 3-ball to score, which is a good indicator of the roles each prospect played last season, but also an indirect gauge of how well each of them got to the rim as well. Players which attempted a large proportion of their shots from beyond the arc may have some deficiencies in terms of size, ball-handling ability, athleticism, aggressiveness, or shot-selection. Or they simply could be outstanding shooters. Every player should be judged individually in this regard.
The rankings shift around a bit in this category compared to the last, making it easier to distinguish shooting specialists from those who see many three-point attempts simply based on a high volume of possessions.
Matthew Dellavedova jumps from third to first place for instance, seeing over half of all of his field goal attempts from behind the arc.
Elijah Johnson and Shane Larkin both move up a good deal in this category, as both see nearly half of their attempts come from behind the arc on their relatively low number of possessions per game compared to the rest of the group.
It's also worth noting Erick Green ranks third to last in this category despite earlier being ranked with the second highest scoring rate overall. Being able to score as prolifically as he did with a very low rate of three-point attempts with very little help alongside him against ACC competition is fairly unique and speaks to his other attributes.
Free Throw Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||8.9|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||7.7|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||6.6|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||4.8|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||4.7|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||3.8|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||3.5|
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. In some ways, it provides an inverse look at the three-point stats we just looked at.
Following up right where we left off in the last section, Erick Green easily tops this category, showing the great contrast in his inside-out offensive game. Clearly one of the most aggressive players in this group, Green gets to the line at a very high rate, ranking first by a solid margin and showing how he gets a bulk of his scoring.
C.J. McCollum and Pierre Jackson stand out as the only two players to rank in the top five in both this category and in three-point attempts per 40, speaking to their versatility and proficiency from all over the floor on the offensive end. Players who both make 3s and get to the free throw line at a high rate are coveted commodities in today's hyper-efficient NBA, and their work here will be duly noted by front offices.
This category marks Texas' Myck Kabongo's first appearance in the top five, seeing 7.5 free-throw attempts per 40 despite one of the relatively low number of possessions overall. One of the fastest guards in this draft, Kabongo has always shown a propensity for getting into the lane and drawing contact despite his other scoring deficiencies, so it's interesting to see how well he fares here.
This is also the first category where Michael Carter-Williams ranks in the top half, posting a respectable 5.3 free-throw attempts per 40, and this is an area where his size and aggressiveness can make up somewhat for his lack of scoring prowess.
Free Throw Attempts Per Possession
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||0.38|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||0.37|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||0.29|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||0.29|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||0.27|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||0.23|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||0.2|
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.
A few players shift around some here, again indicating the differences in usage among the players.
Myck Kabongo easily jumps to the top of the list here, getting nearly one free-throw attempt for every other possession on average.
Detroit's Ray McCallum is another player who moves up a few spots to third place, and he is a player who has always had a propensity for getting to the basket area with the ball thanks to his terrific athletic ability, and partially because of the lesser competition he regularly faced.
Michael Carter-Williams also moves up slightly from eighth to sixth, illustrating that he actually gets to the basket on an above average number of his own possessions, though many may not notice is just because he doesn't use many possessions for scoring overall.
On the other end of the spectrum, Elijah Johnson stands out in this category for how rarely he gets to the free-throw line, and his 0.17 FTA/Pos rate is the second lowest we've seen in the past three years overall. Despite excellent physical tools, Johnson's ability to get to the line has been a problem for him since we began profiling him at the college level.
Nemanja Nedovic, at 6'4 with excellent athleticism, is another player who ranks very low in this category despite excellent physical tools. The fact that he plays against grown men in a more physical league on a nightly basis certainly contributes to this, but we've noted in the past that he does not do a great job initiating contact around the basketinstead preferring to settle for floaters--and this really shows in this department.
The other players rounding out the bottom five, Shane Larkin, Phil Pressey, and Peyton Siva, are all guards on the more diminutive size in height and stature, so it's less surprising to see them ranking low in this area.
True Shooting Percentage
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||61.1|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||60.5|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||60|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||58.3|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||55.6|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||55.2|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||51.6|
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.
This is one of the more interesting categories to look at, especially combined with scoring rate overall, to see those who is both using a large number of possessions AND scoring at a very high efficiency. Interestingly, the top three players in scoring rate overall (C.J. McCollum, Erick Green, and Nate Wolters) also rank in the top four in True Shooting Percentage, indicating quite clearly their scoring propensity doesn't come from just a high volume of shots.
Going down the list, this category actually correlates fairly highly with scoring rate overall, indicating no player in this group benefitted noticeably from a high volume of shots and that most of these players were playing roles well suited to their abilities.
The one player who stands out as having a TS% not in line with his overall scoring rate is UNLV's Anthony Marshall, though he actually has a TS% suggesting he might be capable of taking on more possessions effectively, as he ranked fifth in TS% overall despite ranking dead last in overall scoring rate. A bit of a late bloomer as a scorer, Marshall has gradually expanded his role his four years in Las Vegas, but now is capable of scoring in a variety of ways, and is in no means a specialist in any one area as one might guess at first glance from these numbers.
Shane Larkin's 60.5% TS% is also worthy of a mention, despite the fact that he did not carry a heavy scoring burden on a senior-laden team loaded with scoring options. The fact that Larkin was able to score as efficiently as he did despite not getting to the free throw line that often and not being all that great of a finisher around the basket emphasizes just how talented of a perimeter scorer he actually is.
Assists Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||8.1|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||7.1|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||6.2|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||5.5|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||5.2|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||4.5|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||4|
Moving away from the scoring categories, some players who didn't stand out in any of the previous categories immediately jump to the top of the list, indicating the rather noticeable schism between pure scorers and pure distributors in this group.
Michael Carter-Williams stands out for and foremost, leading this category and illustrating his excellent abilities as a passer. Lorenzo Brown and Phil Pressey come next, tied for second place, and both ranked towards the bottom of the pack in scoring rate overall.
Pierre Jackson and Trey Burke stand out perhaps the most overall, as they rank towards the top of the pack in both this category and overall scoring rate, while both doing so against high level competition. Jackson and Burke ranked fifth and sixth overall respectively in scoring rate, while inching up one spot to fourth and fifth overall in this category.
Jackson's dual ability despite his small stature and only two years of high level play is extremely impressive, and makes him one of the more interesting players in this group overall projecting to the next level, as he probably has as much pure ability and skill as anyone in this group, with the question for him being if he can overcome his lack of size, length and poor defense.
Trey Burke's prowess both here and in the scoring and efficiency categories start to back his case for being the #1 prospect overall in this group, and shows he holds up well from both a statistical and scouting perspective.
We also get to see the interesting and very stark contrast towards the bottom of this category, as the #1 and #2 ranked players in scoring rate respectively, C.J. McCollum and Erick Green, are mirror images of themselves here, ranking dead last and second to last respectively, suggesting the question of whether they have the mindset to grow into pure point guards at the next level or if they're more suited to a combo guard role.
Turnovers Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||3.9|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||3.58|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||3.5|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||3.1|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||2.6|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||2.6|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||2.3|
A few things stand out on this list, starting with the top three players from the last assist list, Michael Carter-Williams, Phil Pressey, and Lorenzo Brown, all ranking in the top four of this category.
Erick Green and Ray McCallum have the lowest rate of turnovers of any players in this group, and even though that number is helped somewhat by neither of them being prolific distributors, it's still impressive given their scoring rates and how often both players have the ball in their hands. Green's low turnover rate in the context of his second-ranked scoring rate overall and the ridiculous rate he gets to the free-throw line is actually one of the most noteworthy numbers in this article thus far, as it's very rare for a player to be that aggressive getting to the rim by creating his own shot while not turning the ball over at a high rate.
Assist to Turnover Ratio
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||2.4|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||2.3|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||2.1|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||2|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||1.7|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||1.5|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||1.3|
Looking at the prior two categories combined, Trey Burke immediately stands out for his incredibly high A:T ratio, ranking first overall easily and having the third highest number of any NBA prospect in the past 12 years after Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall. Marshall did so as a low-possession passing specialist, making Burke's accomplishment as a more complete offensive player all the more impressive, and further bolstering his claim as the top-ranked guard in this group.
Nate Wolters and Matthew Dellevadova both stand out as players who ranked decently well in the prior two categories, but jump up a few spots here when you combine both categories together.
Interestingly, no one on this list posts a negative A:T ratio overall, and unsurprisingly two of the more shoot-first players in this group, C.J. McCollum and Isaiah Canaan, rank at the bottom of this list.
Rebounds Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||5.9|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||4.9|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||4.4|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||4.3|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||4.2|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||3.7|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||3.7|
Rebounding is an important aspect of the game, and while some guards are seldom asked to head down into the paint and make their presence felt in traffic, others, like Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook for example, have the length, athleticism, toughness, and timing to make an impact in the possession battle on the glass. With that said, it's important to recognize that some of this stat is systematic.
C.J. McCollum and Nate Wolters lead off this list, both benefitting from a combination of very good size and anticipation skills for the point guard position, combined with lower levels of competition, a good formula for allowing a guard to grab more rebounds than normal. While both are likely above average rebounders for small guards projecting to any level, the numbers should probably be tempered some given their small school background.
Michael Carter-Williams comes in third, and this is probably more an indicator of his natural ability, given his prolific size and style of play. Myck Kabongo is another player who stands out here, which isn't much of a surprise given his size, athleticism, and style of play.
Four of the smallest players in this group, Peyton Siva, Trey Burke, Isaiah Canaan and Phil Pressey rank among the five worst in this stat.
Steals Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||2.2|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||2.2|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||2.1|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||1.9|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||1.7|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||1.4|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||1.1|
A point guard's ability to apply ball pressure and get in the passing lanes often helps his team quicken the pace of the game without forcing the issue. Though there's a million ways to create a turnover, this stat paints a broad picture of what a prospect brings to the table both physically in terms of quickness and length and mentally in terms of intensity and anticipation.
Bolstering a growing trend, Michael Carter-Williams again leads the pack in a non-scoring category, as his physical tools and aggressiveness are on full display here, as he easily leads the pack at 3.2 steals per 40.
Peyton Siva ranks fairly high in this category as well, playing a key part in Louisville's top-ranked defense nationally, and has always been a player known for his prowess on this side of the ball despite his small stature.
Matthew Dellavadova ranks last, which is not a shock considering his below average length and quickness. Erick Green is third to last. He played for a Virginia Tech team that was one of the worst in all of college basketball on the defensive end, which is one of the concerns scouts have about him.
Blocks Per-40 Pace Adjusted
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||0.6|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||0.4|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||0.2|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||0.1|
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||0.1|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||0.1|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||0.1|
This is yet another stat that can provide some insight into the physical traits that these point guards possess defensively.
No player in particularly stands out in this category this year, and the 0.6 blocks per 40 top mark is the lowest we've seen in the past three seasons.
The two tallest players in this group, Lorenzo Brown and Michael Carter-Williams, rank first and fourth respectively, while arguably the most athletic, Ray McCallum, ranks second.
Trey Burke, who has been criticized at times for not being a freakish athlete, ranks third. Pierre Jackson, who possesses one of the shortest standing reaches of any player ever drafted in our database, ranks last with zero blocks on the year.
Player Efficiency Rating
|Nate Wolters||NCAA||South Dakota St||32.3|
|Erick Green||NCAA||Virginia Tech||31.7|
|Isaiah Canaan||NCAA||Murray State||25.3|
|Shane Larkin||NCAA||Miami FL||22.9|
|Matthew Dellavedova||NCAA||Saint Mary's||20.8|
|Lorenzo Brown||NCAA||N.C. State||20.1|
|Nemanja Nedovic||EURO, VTB, LIT||Lietuvos Rytas||18.4|
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.
C.J. McCollum, with his exceptionally high scoring rate and scoring efficiency, easily takes the top mark here, while another small school player in Nate Wolters comes behind him in second place. Erick Green, Trey Burke, and Pierre Jackson round out the top five, and those may in fact be equally impressive accomplishments given the competition levels they faced.
It's interesting to note the contrast in how these five players earned their top spots, with McCollum and Green doing it based primarily on their superb scoring abilities, while the other three did it with more a combination of scoring and passing overall.
C.J. McCollum's PER is the second highest of any point guard in our database since Stephen Curry. While some might rightfully point out the small sample size of 12 games he played this season, it's important to note that his PER from his junior season is the seventh best rate overall as well.
Wolters (9th best in the past 12 seasons) and Greek (13th best) also rank favorably among point guards historically.
Michael Carter-Williams ranking ninth overall here despite his lack of scoring ability is certainly noteworthy given PER's tendency towards favoring scorers, and is a good illustration of how well he stacks up in the non-scoring categories.
Most of the players towards the bottom of this list tend to be of the lower usage variety, and only Elijah Johnson stood out as having an especially low PER of 11.9, illustrating how his statistical output has still yet to catch up with the talent and potential many have seen in him. Phil Pressey ranked second lowest in this group, which is a product of how much he struggled with his efficiency this season.