NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/16/10

NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/16/10
Feb 16, 2010, 09:29 am
Derrick Favors, 6-9, Freshman, PF/C, Georgia Tech
11.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1.0 assist, 2.2 turnovers, 59% FG, 59% FT

Jonathan Givony

Ranked as the #1 overall prospect in the 2009 high school class, expectations were always going to be extremely high for Georgia Tech big man Derrick Favors. And while he's certainly shown plenty of glimpses of his outstanding potential, it's tough not to be slightly disappointed in the production he's achieved thus far--relative to other members of his class at least.

Before analyzing his strengths and weaknesses, it's very much necessary to take a look at the situation Favors has found himself in at Georgia Tech, a team that struggles badly in the half-court and relies extremely heavily on their defense and offensive rebounding ability to keep them in games. They have little in the ways of perimeter shooting, suffer from very poor spacing on the perimeter, and have given their opponents few reasons not to pack it in defensively and just try and control the paint.

With no playmakers on the roster to create easy looks for him or even consistently make a fundamentally sound post-entry pass, and clearly playing redundantly alongside a big man with almost the same exact strengths and weaknesses as him in Gani Lawal, Favors' weaknesses could not possibly be magnified or exposed any worse than they already have.

Favors' profile as an NBA prospect is pretty cut and dry, and have been analyzed in a fair amount of depth in the many times we evaluated him over the course of his high school career. He's incredibly gifted from a physical standpoint, showing a combination of length and athleticism that is simply unparalleled at the college level. He runs the floor like a deer, is outrageously explosive around the rim, and is a fantastic target for entry-passes thanks to his terrific hands and the amazing extension he gets around the basket.

Favors converts a super efficient 59% of his field goal attempts (ranking him 11th in our database), a testament to his terrific finishing ability. Unfortunately he takes only 7.5 shots per game, as his teammates are often unwilling or unable to get him the ball in a position to score. The more wide open style of the NBA game should benefit him in this regard, both in transition (where he truly excels) and as a pick and roll finisher in the half-court—especially with more talented shot-creating guards alongside him.

Offensively, Favors is fairly limited as a shot-creator in the half-court, showing raw footwork and little in the ways of a go-to move, struggling to finish with his left hand and being fairly turnover prone when forced to put the ball on the floor.

Due to the situation he's in, he's been forced to create too much of his offense by himself this year, which is not something he's comfortable doing at this point in time. He has good touch around the basket and a very nice looking jump-hook shot, but still hasn't grown into his outstanding frame quite enough to establish deep position in the paint and finish as well as his terrific athleticism indicates he should. Getting stronger down the road should be able to help him improve his post-game considerably, as it will allow him to set up shop much closer to the basket than he's often able to at the moment.

Favors' agility makes him a magnet for drawing fouls, but he hasn't been able to knock down his free throws at a very consistent rate—hitting just 59% of his attempts. He shows great potential with his long strides and terrific first step, but is still too raw to be relied on consistently in isolation situations. Nevertheless, this is an area he can improve in rapidly with the better spacing he'll find in the NBA—the paint won't be nearly as crowded at the next level as it currently is for Georgia Tech with their lack of perimeter shooting. He must continue to polish his skill-level though.

As a jump-shooter Favors has been incredibly streaky over the course of the year—knocking down just 5/20 attempts according to Synergy Sports Technology, something that has made it increasingly difficult for him to play alongside the similarly perimeter challenged Gani Lawal at the power forward position, one of the reasons he's playing just 26 minutes per game. His shooting mechanics don't look terrible, especially when he's not rushing his shots (an issue at times), but some of the bad misses he has on occasion certainly do. This is unfortunate considering the strides we saw him make from the perimeter over the course of his high school career.

Defensively, Favors has all the tools needed to become an elite player down the road, even if his lack of experience definitely shows at times, mainly in the form of cheap fouls. His terrific length and timing already make him an imposing shot-blocking threat at the college level, and his excellent lateral quickness allows him to step out onto the perimeter, hedge screens and stay in front of smaller players attacking the basket with the greatest of ease. As he gets stronger, he shouldn't have too much of an issue seeing minutes at the center position from time to time in smaller up-tempo lineups in today's NBA.

There are a certain amount of assumptions that are made in projecting the career trajectory of a prospect like Favors—he's a fairly raw player who is still a long ways away from being a finished product, and will have to improve considerably in certain areas. With that said, Favors' terrific intangibles make it quite a bit easier to see him reaching his incredibly high ceiling compared with the likes of a DeMarcus Cousins for example, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him improve rapidly over the next few years.

Whoever drafts him must be patient though, as it's unlikely that he'll be ready to compete for Rookie of the Year honors, and he surely isn't ready to play a major offensive role right away. Players with his natural tools are incredibly hard to come by, though, which is exactly why he won't have to wait very long before hearing his name called on draft night.

Chris Singleton, 6-8, Sophomore, Small Forward/Power Forward, Florida State, 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.4 turnovers, 2.3 steals, 1.7 bocks, 43.2% FG, 32.9% 3FG, 50% FT

Kyle Nelson

While Florida State combo-forward Chris Singleton will likely not receive any votes for ACC Player of the Year this season, there are few players in the country with his physical tools and NBA potential. Since arriving at Florida State, Singleton has been an equally frustrating and tantalizing player, capable of dominating one game and struggling badly the next. His boom or bust style complicates his NBA draft stock and is definitely worth watching as this season progresses. That said, there is no denying Singleton's potential.

At 6'8 with a NBA-ready frame, Singleton has outstanding size for an NBA small forward and, while he is a bit undersized for a power forward, he has great length to compensate. As we have mentioned before, his athleticism is outstanding, boasting NBA-caliber quickness, explosiveness, and fluidity. It is needless to say that Singleton looks the part, which makes his struggles at the collegiate level all the more frustrating.

Offensively, little has changed since last season. At his best in transition, Singleton still is a somewhat one-dimensional player in the half-court, relying far too much on a streaky perimeter jump shot rather than attacking the basket. In terms of his mechanics, there is little wrong with his shooting stroke. In addition to possessing NBA range and consistent fluidity, Singleton's size and length allows him to shoot with or without a hand in his face. The problem, however, lies in a combination of his shot selection and his lack of ball handling ability.

Singleton shoots just 32.9% from beyond the arc on 4.6 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Far too often, Singleton hoists contested shots while a teammate is open or when there is room to drive to the basket. While he is not nearly as bad of a shooter as his percentages indicate, he is not an efficient player in the least bit. There is simply no reason why an athlete of Singleton's caliber should be taking as many 3-pointers (42% of his overall field goal attempts) as he does.

Singleton in fact attempts as many three point field goals as he does foul shots. Watching him play, it's remarkable at times how little he attacks the basket. While his shaky handle, particularly with his left hand, certainly limits his effectiveness as a slasher, so too does his inability to finish. It is commonplace for Singleton to avoid contact and, in the process, lose position under the basket, putting himself in the position for a less than ideal shot attempt. Singleton is an unbelievable athlete and it is frustrating to watch him float around the perimeter when he could be attacking the basket.

Similar to Al-Farouq Aminu last season compared to this, it's possible that Singleton would be better suited playing the power forward position rather than on the wing full time.

Playing closer to the basket would allow him to get to the rim off a single dribble utilizing his terrific first step, and would also allow him to improve his paltry offensive rebounding numbers, especially relative to his physical tools. Singleton has similar tools to many NBA combo forwards who spend most of their time at the 4-spot in today's small-ball NBA, so it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to see him develop in that direction down the road.

Learning how to utilize his athleticism by attacking the basket is a skill that he must develop before he is considered to be a surefire NBA player. Right now he is an incredibly turnover prone player, coughing the ball up on an amazing 27% of his possessons.

Similarly, it would be nice to see Singleton develop a better mid-range game. Though he has shown the capacity to pull up from inside of the perimeter, his limited handle and instincts hinder him in this area significantly. He's also just a 48% free throw shooter, which is simply unacceptable and makes him a huge liability at the end of games.

Furthermore, consider his size and athletic advantage over many of his collegiate peers, not to mention his lower skill level on the perimeter, it would not hurt Singleton to work on his post game. Now, he looks out of place when he receives the ball in the post and, though he has quick feet, he has little resembling moves or countermoves.

Defensively, Singleton remains one of the most versatile players in all of college basketball. His athleticism, length and strength allow him to make a huge impact all over the floor, and you'll regularly see him switch between guards and big men over the course of a single game and at times a single possession.

He has improved his effort this pas season, particularly on the defensive glass, where he now averages a solid 6.7 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted, over two more than he did last season. Constant improvement is what scouts expect out of a player with Singleton's potential, and he must continue to show scouts that he is improving on this end of the floor.

Singleton's role on Florida State's team must also be taken into consideration, as they are arguably the best defensive team in college basketball, but are below average at best on the offensive end. FSU's guards are clearly lacking, so oftentimes an excessive amount of shot-creating responsibility falls on his shoulders. He oftentimes has to play well beyond his abilities and force the issue on both sides of the ball, as there is little ball movement to speak of, but plenty of length and athleticism.

Florida State's recent slump is not helping matters. Singleton will remain on NBA scouts' minds, but could very likely improve his stock with another year of college, as his potential indicates that he could receive consideration in the lottery coming off a great season next year.

Luke Harangody, 6-8, Senior, Power Forward, Notre Dame
24.1 Points, 10 Rebounds, 1.8 Assists, 2 Turnovers, 48.5% FG, 30.3% 3FG, 78.7% FT

Matthew Williams

The number one scorer in college basketball, Luke Harangody has been one of the most productive bigmen in college basketball for three years now, and we've profiled him accordingly. After declaring and withdrawing from the draft last season after not receiving the guarantees he was looking for, the Indiana native has continued to play at a high level, though Notre Dame (17-9) is having another disappointing season in the Big East. While Harangody's numbers looks comparable to past seasons on the surface, he's made a few subtle adjustments to his skill set that are worth noting.

Though Harangody has made some changes to his game, his biggest weakness from an NBA perspective remains his lack of athleticism. The hard working forward certainly took the draft process seriously last summer, shedding some weight and improving his mobility to a degree in the process, but the strides he made still leave him severely lacking compared to the average NBA power forward. Extremely strong, but very undersized at just 6-6 without shoes, and without a great wingspan (6-10) to compensate for that, Harangody may not have the type of physical tools that would allow him to translate his production to a much smaller role at the next level. While that certainly limits his NBA upside, it may not exclude him from having the opportunity to make an impact as a role player.

Harangody's play this season on the offensive end is indicative of an effort to diversify what he could potentially offer at the next level. His scoring ability is unquestioned, although it should be noted that he also leads all NCAA players in field goal attempts. The senior, known for his bruising play at the rim, has become significantly more perimeter oriented. Harangody showed some range last season, shooting 37% on a little over one three-point attempt per game, but he's revamped his approach on the offensive end this season, nearly tripling the number of shots he's taking from beyond the arc. Haragody has looked to score using his spot up game more frequently, but he's only making 29.8% of the jump shots he's taking according to Synergy Sports Technology, down from almost 37.5% last season. Considering the struggles he will surely have at his size to score inside the paint against bigger, longer and more athletic NBA big men, this is not a positive development for his NBA draft stock.

This new, more perimeter oriented approach has brought Harangody's rebounding numbers down to earth in a major way, as his production in that category has fallen off by about 20%. He seems to be forcing the issue a bit more now, as seen by his assist to turnover ratio, which has taken a significant hit. He's still a remarkably mistake free player relative to the huge offensive load he's forced to shoulder, though, turning the ball over on just 10% of his possessions.

Around the basket, Harangody has benefitted to a small degree from his improved physique, moving better on his post moves and running the floor better in transition, he's been more efficient both in the post and as a finisher at the rim. While Harangody's lack of vertical explosiveness is still a limiting factor when projecting his interior game to the next level, there is no questioning his work-horse mentality. Averaging a double-double, getting to the rim at a high rate, and having his best shooting season aside from his sophomore year, Harangody leaves everything on the floor each time out.

Defensively, Harangody remains a step slow, but still plays a brand of active, position-based defense that allows him to be effective on the college level. He struggles to deny dribble penetration in close quarters, but leaves a cushion to give himself a chance to contain his man. Lacking the size or wingspan he'd need to compensate for his lack of explosiveness, his effort level won't afford him much success in the NBA, though it certainly won't be for a lack of trying.

A hard worker, physical scorer, and prolific rebounder, Harangody has a clear set of limitations that NBA decision-makers have become familiar with over his four seasons in South Bend. His intangibles are clearly a plus, and he'll work tirelessly in workout settings. As it stands, Harangody could be one of the top candidates for the Portsmouth Invitational, and could impress similarly to what Jon Brockman showed last season. A strong candidate to hear his name called come draft day, Harangody is a known commodity at this point with some very obvious strengths and weaknesses.

Armon Johnson, 6'3, Point Guard, Junior, Nevada
15.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 turnovers, 50% FG, 21% 3PT, 65% FT

Joseph Treutlein

Coming off a very strong sophomore season, Armon Johnson has made some strides with his game as a junior, but also has taken a step back in some areas. While his assist numbers have steadily climbed his three years in college, he's shooting the worst numbers for his career from the three-point and free-throw lines this season, certainly not something you want to see from a player whose biggest question mark coming into the season was his shooting ability.

Looking at his offensive game, it's quite clear that Johnson has an abundance of talent and skills, but his problem continues to be consistently putting them to good use. As a shooter, the interesting thing about Johnson is he actually appears to have pretty good natural shooting ability, as he is very effective when he's shooting in rhythm, with his shoulders aligned to the basket, and not moving from side to side, but too often he settles for incredibly ill-advised shots with his body contorted, his momentum going away from the basket, a hand in his face, etc.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, of the plays they've logged for Johnson this season, he's attempted just 13 catch and shoot jumpers as opposed to 54 jumpers off the dribble, an incredible ratio even for a point guard. What Johnson needs to do more than anything is get into a gym with a shooting coach and get all the bad tendencies out of his system, putting a focus on keeping his mechanics consistent and understanding the difference between good and bad shots. Johnson's decision-making in general is a cause for concern, as he will frequently not only take the aforementioned ill-advised jumpers, but he'll do it 5 or 10 seconds into the shot clock, settling for a very low percentage shot for no reason.

In terms of attacking the basket, Johnson has a very good first step along with excellent ability to elevate above the rim and draw contact with his very well-built frame, but his FTA/FGA is down from 0.33 to 0.24 this season, which can be seen in watching him play, as he seems more inclined to pull up for a spinning jumper with a hand in his face from 10-15 feet out than go all the way to the basket and throw his body around. To his credit, at the rim he finishes quite well, but he's just not maximizing his abilities.

As a point guard, Johnson shows excellent court vision in transition and very good court vision in the halfcourt when he wants to, being capable of making the full repertoire of passes. In transition he has a very natural feel for the game, finding a good balance between his own shot and creating for others, constantly keeping his head up with the ball. In the halfcourt he still seems to be growing into the role, however, as oftentimes he can get tunnel vision with his own shot, specifically when pulling up from mid-range.

On the defensive end, Johnson has had major problems this season, being beat off the dribble constantly in isolation situations, usually on his man's first step. He lets out of his defensive stance way too easily and doesn't appear to have the greatest reflexes in recognizing changes of direction. Also, for all his length and physical attributes, he doesn't do much damage in the passing lanes, making just 0.8 steals in 33.5 minutes per game.

Looking forward, Johnson clearly has excellent physical attributes to go along with very good skills for the point guard position, but he has quite a few bad habits with his game and has a lot of things he will need to work on to be an effective pro player. The encouraging thing is he shows flashes of brilliance in pretty much all areas of the game at times, and his shooting problems appear to be fixable if he puts in the work, but it will also require a mentality change in better understanding the difference between good and bad shots. It's hard to say anything definitive about Johnson's pro prospects at this point, as he could be all over the map depending on how he improves certain areas of his game, but it appears pretty clear that he needs another year in school to continue his development before coming out.

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