NCAA Weekly Performers, 3/13/10
|by: Jonathan Givony - President, Matt Kamalsky - Director of Operations, Kyle Nelson - College Basketball Scout, Joseph Treutlein - Director of Scouting/Analytics
|March 13, 2010
|Patrick Patterson, 6-9, Junior, Power Forward, Kentucky
14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, .9 assists, 1.1 turnovers, .7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 58% FG, 66% FT, 42% 3P
A likely first round pick last year, Patrick Patterson returned to Kentucky to finish his degree and try to finally make an NCAA tournament appearance, something that had escaped him under Billy Gillespieís reign. The clear-cut go-to guy of his team leading into this year, heís been forced to take a backseat to super freshmen DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall upon his return to Kentucky, now being led by a new coach in John Calipari. After two very disappointing seasons in Lexington, Patterson has responded extremely well to his new role on arguably the top team in college basketball, emerging as their steady veteran leader and all-around super-efficient glue-guy, which suits both his personality and style of play.
Continuing where we left off with the last of the 10 scouting report entries written on Patterson on this site since his days as a high school standout, the most notable development to point out clearly revolves around his jump-shot. Attempting only 19 mid or long-range jump-shots last season according to Synergy Sports Technology, Patterson has more than tripled that figure already (with plenty more games to go), and is even more impressively knocking down an excellent 47% of his attempts.
Patterson has become a very legitimate perimeter shooting option as his 41% 3-point conversion rate would indicate, which is a very significant development considering the role most power forwards are asked to play in todayís NBA. Patterson sports smooth, consistent mechanics with his flat-footed shooting stroke, even if heís almost strictly a wide-open, catch and shoot type with his feet set, as heís yet to hit a single off the dribble jumper on the season according to SST. Oddly enough, Pattersonís free throw percentage dropped from an outstanding 77% last year to just 65% this season.
Never one to shy away from using his outstanding body in the paint, Patterson continues to rank as one of the most efficient players in college basketball in both post-up situations and finishing looks created for him around the basket, as evidenced by the 62% he shoots from 2-point range. Slightly undersized, and not freakishly explosive, Patterson regardless has an excellent frame and a very nice wingspan (somewhere in the 7-2 range), which allows him to finish very well around the rim when taking his terrific hands and touch into consideration. He has a couple of very nice moves he can utilize with his back to the basket, most notably a good-looking jump-hook he goes to frequently over his left shoulder and can knock down with range out to 8-10 feet.
While not the most fluid or dynamic power forward youíll find in this draft, Patterson has the smarts, fundamentals and aggressive mentality needed to take advantage of his excellent tools, something he may not always be able to show as much as he should due to the amount of weapons on this extremely talented Kentucky roster. He almost never turns the ball over (committing about one per game) and rarely takes a bad shot, understanding his role in Kentuckyís offense and executing it extremely well, even though heís gradually been forced to defer more and more to ultra-talented freshman center DeMarcus Cousins, something youíll never see him complain about.
Where Patterson needs to improve is with his ball-handling skills, as you rarely see him facing up from the perimeter, creating his own shot and taking his man off the dribble, being mostly relegated to straight-line drives with his right hand, looking somewhat of out control even on these simple and infrequent attempts.
Moving from the 5 to the 4 has had an effect on Patterson not just offensively, but also on the defensive end. Forced to spend more time guarding undersized forwards on the perimeter now, and asked to cover quite a bit of space in Calipariís wide-ranging scheme, Pattersonís limitations in this area look a bit more glaring, although the experience he is garnering here will likely pay off down the road. Patterson seems to put a solid effort in on the perimeter, but his lateral quickness, average awareness and occasional hesitation to aggressively body up his matchup makes him a bit less effective than he should be.
In the post, Patterson suffers from some of the same issues, not always showing the best awareness and lacking a degree of physicality, but ultimately being fairly effective. His length, strength and athleticism are major assets at this level, and allow him to do a good job contesting his opponentsí shots, especially when heís really dialed into the task.
One area where Patterson is bafflingly poor is on the defensive glass, ranking amongst the worst at his position in that category amongst likely draft prospects, which is disappointing to say the least. Patterson was quite a bit more effective in this area last season without DeMarcus Cousins (an absolute monster rebounder on both ends), while not forced to spend as much time out on the perimeter playing the center position.
Patterson was still very poor in this area as a freshman as well, so NBA teams may wonder about how good of a defensive rebounder he projects as at the next level. He doesnít always play as tough as his chiseled body indicates he should, not boxing out that well and rarely going out of his area to come up with extra possessions. As an offensive rebounder heís quite a bit more effective.
Despite the nitpicking, Patterson is the type of player NBA teams can comfortably project into a fairly significantly role as a productive, high character, role-playing power forward. Only turning 21 in a few days, there is still reason to believe that he can continue to improve on his weaknesses down the road, as he appears to be an intelligent and highly coachable player who is scheduled to graduate after just three years, which is quite a feat. Players like Patterson seem to do quite well in todayís NBA, and the fact that he comes in ready to produce and has terrific intangibles is only an added bonus.
Solomon Alabi, 7-1, Redshirt Sophomore, Center, Florida State
11.8 Points, 6.1 Rebounds, 2.0 Turnovers, 2.4 Blocks, 55% FG, 80% FT
After taking a big step forward as a redshirt freshman, Solomon Alabi has slowly but surely continued to gradually improve during his third season at Florida State, showing the type of long-term potential that has placed him firmly on the draft radar this season.
It is impossible to discuss Alabi as a prospect without mentioning his physical tools, since theyíve driven the majority of his success on the college level and account for much of his NBA intrigue. Enjoying ideal height and a big wingspan for a center at the next level, Alabi has continued to add weight to his frame, something heíll need to continue to do in order to maximize his already impressive athletic profile. Couple his continued development both as a player and athlete with his already solid leaping ability and mobility, and Alabi has all the tools to be a high-level defensive player in the League.
Many of the tools that make Alabi a highly effective defensive player have also helped him on the offensive end, and while his production last season was predicated on his ability to turn and score over his man in the post thanks to his size, he has made some small strides on the offensive end despite facing some new challenges.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Alabi has received roughly 50% of his possessions in the post this season. Though he remains very raw in regards to his ability to score from the block, and is unlikely to ever emerge as a huge scoring presence, he continues to show flashes of potential. Alabi is slowly learning how to use his size to his advantage, but hasnít been quite as efficient from the block as he was last season, still has lapses, and looks extremely mechanical with certain moves. He needs to continue to improve his footwork, expand the range of his moves, try to develop a softer touch, become quicker and more assertive on the block, and develop a wider base and better lower body strength to establish deeper post position.
The most noticeable change in Alabiís post game can be seen in his ability to score over his right shoulder. He still favors making moves to his left shoulder, but the fluidity and efficiency of his turnaround jumper have clearly improved, correcting an imbalance that was apparent last season. Across the board, Alabi has done a better job not getting in a rush when sees an opening, doing a better job recognizing opportunities to make a move to the rim and getting to the line at a higher rate because of it.
Though Alabi has looked better operating one-on-one, he still lacks a large degree of polish, looking hurried and uncoordinated when he sees an opportunity to take a quick face-up jumper. A considerably bigger threat when heís able to take a dribble, Alabi has faced double teams regularly this season as savvy coaches identify the opportunity to get his out of rhythm by throwing an addition defender into the mix. Making a fantastic move on one play and then failing to anticipate or dribbling into traffic and turning the ball over on the next, the team that drafts Alabi will need to be extremely patient with his post repertoire. He remains inconsistent, but the flashes that he shows continue to become more and more impressive as he develops. Whether he can turn such plays into consistent weapons at the NBA level will be the biggest question mark for his development moving forward.
When he isnít receiving the ball in the post, Alabi does a nice job operating from block to block, providing a big target for teammates looking to dump the ball into the past after driving into the lane. His length makes him a solid offensive rebounder, and he shows a knack for gaining position and attacking the ball at its highest point. A capable finisher at the college level, Alabi needs to improve his left hand and develop better touch on his short range shots, since his size wonít be as advantageous on the next level.
To some extent, the same can be said about the touch on his midrange jump shots. Alabi has proven capable of knocking down catch and shoot jumpers from the elbow on occasion. Looking comfortable when he has time and space, Alabi can be a factor from the midrange when heís in rhythm Ėsomething that translates into his very solid free throw shooting ability. Though heís certainly not an inside-outside threat at this point, his development in this area is intriguing, as it seems to speak to the potential of his turnaround jumper.
Defensively, Alabi is extremely effective in the paint thanks to his tremendous wingspan, playing a large part in Florida State being the top-ranked defensive team in the NCAA (according to KenPom.com) for the second straight year. Able to block shots when defending the ball one-on-one and when heís able to make a crisp rotations, he offers an intimidating defensive presence.
Though his sheer size is definitely an asset, he does have a number of bad habits. Alabi tends to gamble on occasion, trying to steal entry passes and yielding easy baskets when he canít come up with a steal. His propensity to lunge at the ball makes it hard for him to recover to his man as well.
Alabi will surely struggle against perimeter oriented big men who can take him outside and attack him off the dribble, as he lacks the agility and lateral quickness to move his feet very effectively outside the paint, looking very upright in his stance. Having Alabi camp out in the paint in a zone is one way his team can overcome this issue, but unfortunately the defensive three second rule does not allow this tactic in the NBA.
In addition to making some subtle changes to his approach on the defensive end, Alabi needs to continue to get stronger to help his ability to protect the rim and crash the glass at the next level. He is a very poor defensive rebounder at the moment, ranking amongst the worst at his position amongst likely draft prospects, something that is a bit disappointing considering his terrific physical tools.
Alabi still lacks a large degree of coordination and awareness, being unable to track down loose balls in the air and go out of his area to secure extra possessions for his team, and its perhaps here (as well as with his poor passing ability) that these weaknesses show up the most.
Considering how far Alabi has come in recent seasons, it wouldnít be surprising to see him improve considerably over the next few years. The fact that he's consistently described as a fantastic teammate, worker and overall person is clearly a major plus when projecting his development. Whether the next jump comes in preparation of another season at Florida State or his rookie year in the NBA remains to be seen. Regardless of when he declares, heíll factor into the conversation to be one of the top centers selected thanks to his outstanding size and learning curve. Whoever picks him will have to be committed to developing him and willing to be patient as he experiences a steep learning curve in his first few seasons in the NBA.
Greivis Vasquez, 6-5, Senior, Point Guard, Maryland
19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 3.3 turnovers, 1.5 steals, 43% FG, 38% 3FG, 85% FT
Maryland had a rough start to their 2009-2010 campaign, but finished the season strong with seven straight wins and a first place finish in the ACC. The Terrapinsí unlikely finish would be impossible, however, without the efforts of senior point guard Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez returned to school after receiving marginal interest from NBA teams in the 2009 NBA Draft, and has responded with a career season, in a last attempt to convince scouts that he has the potential to play a role at the next level.
Though he has a below-average wingspan (6-7) and he could still work to add muscle to his 197-pound frame, Vasquez has outstanding size for a point guard at the next level, measuring a legitimate 6í6 with shoes at the NBA combine in Chicago last June. His lateral quickness and explosiveness are both lacking, however, and considering how he already struggles athletically at the NCAA level, there is no doubt he will have even more issues in the NBA.
Though his average athleticism is a significant obstacle, his unique style of play allows him to succeed at the collegiate level. As we have mentioned before, Vasquez is a point guard with outstanding vision and scoring mentality who has improved considerably throughout his time at Maryland. He is a very high usage player, responsible for over 25% of Marylandís possessions. This season, he is averaging an outstanding 7.2 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted alongside a career high 1.9 assist/turnover ratio.
On film, Vasquez is largely the same point guard, adept at running the pick and roll, but perhaps lacking the first step needed to be a great drive-and-dish threat against NBA-level defenders. He is still turning the ball over at a high rate, as well, and his 3.8 turnovers per 40 minutes pace adjusted ranks twelfth among point guard prospects in our database. His vision and passing ability are both outstanding however, as heís able to find his teammates all over the floor in half-court sets and in transition with the utmost creativity. He has terrific timing on his drives and plays the game at a very unique pace, which helps compensate for his average athleticism.
While he has honed a score-first mentality at the collegiate level and has the green light to dominate the ball and make his fair share of mistakes, he must continue to convince scouts that he can develop into a more efficient distributor at the next level.
Vasquez is much improved as a scorer, however, in his time at Maryland, particularly as a jump shooter, as he is shooting a career high 38% from beyond the arc. While he still has an unorthodox release that loses consistency when he has a hand in his face, he is a perimeter threat because of his quick release, terrific scoring instincts and ability to hit shots both with his feet set and off of the dribble. His shooting motion has improved significantly during his time at Maryland and if he can continue to shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, then he will ease doubts about his ability to produce at the next level. To do so, he must improve his shot-selection, as he settles for far too many low-percentage contested jumpers, still not quite knowing his limitations.
When Vasquez puts the ball on the floor, however, the results are less positive, as he often lacks the first step, strength, and explosiveness to finish effectively around the basket. He is unlikely to develop into a prolific slashing threat at the NBA level, but can learn how to better utilize his size and skill-level, not to mention improving his explosiveness and strength, in order to get to the basket and finish more effectively around the rim.
For such a dominant offensive player, he is surprisingly limited from mid-range. He doesnít elevate particularly well on his pull-up jumper and converts these type of attempts at a fairly mediocre rate of 31%. He tends to struggle against long and athletic defenders, who take away his angles and expose his lack of quickness and explosiveness. While he will not be expected to carry such a dominant scoring load at the next level, scouts will be looking for Vasquez to prove himself against elite defenders in the post-season and in pre-draft workouts.
On the defensive end, Vasquez lacks the lateral quickness to stay in front of quicker NCAA point guards and will have significant issues guarding point guards at the next level, possibly relegating him to the off-guard position. Considering his lack of defensive potential at the next level due to his below-average physical tools, effort will always be the key for a player like Vasquez, so it is essential that he works hard to disprove the notion that he projects as a liability on this end of the floor in the NBA.
Vasquez is a prospect at a crossroads. Despite the strides that he has made throughout his collegiate career, he must soon begin the transition to being a role player at the next level. His current style of play is not likely suited to a backup role, but his improved ability to knock down three point jump shots combined with his court vision, talent-level and overall production at the ACC level suggest that such a transition is possible. The game comes very naturally to him, and itís possible that with better players around him he would not have to take as many risks with his shot-selection and decision making as he currently does. Improving his overall effort on the defensive end is a major key, however.
With his senior season winding down, Vasquez must now begin to work towards the future and convince decision makers that he has what it takes to play a role at the next level.
Andy Rautins, 6í4, Shooting Guard, Senior, Syracuse
11.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 2.7 turnovers, 43% FG, 81% FT, 39% 3PT
Steadily improving in each of his four seasons at Syracuse, Andy Rautins is now a key contributor on one of the best teams in the nation, leading Syracuse in assists and three-point shooting.
From a physical standpoint, Rautins is underwhelming for an NBA shooting guard, and doesnít have any notable strength, length, or athleticism to make up for his average size. He has strongly defined strengths and weaknesses as a player, and he plays a style very well suited for his lack of physical prowess.
On the offensive end, Rautinsí game completely revolves around his three-point shot, which he hits with very high accuracy (41%) and is capable of doing in a variety of ways. 81% of his field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, a number that has remained consistent throughout his career at Syracuse. His shot has outstanding mechanics, including a quick and high release point, excellent elevation, and a consistent shooting motion. He does an excellent job squaring his shoulders and maintaining body control when shooting on the move, either catching and shooting or pulling up off the dribble. This also makes him an excellent shooter in transition, where he can stop on a dime and still maintain good form.
In space, Rautins is outstanding, especially when he has time to jump into his shot. Coming off screens and/or shooting with a hand in his face, Rautins is still good, though definitely not on the same level as he is in space, and there are question marks about how these areas of his game will project to the next level, where heíd be facing bigger, longer, and quicker opponents on a nightly basis. On the plus side, Rautins does an excellent job using pump fakes and quick power dribbles to create separation, being able to pull up and square his body whenever he gets the smallest glimpse of daylight. This luxury can also cause problems for him, however, as heís prone to pulling up for high difficult shots early in the shot clock, either with a hand in his face, from well beyond NBA range, or both.
Aside from his jump shot, Rautins does most of his offensive damage by making strong passes in the flow of the offense, getting the vast majority of his assists through pass penetration, staying on the perimeter and finding cutters in the lane. Heís capable of coming off screens and going into the lane for a drive-and-dish when he already has a step on his man, but is not the type of player thatís going to break a guy down in isolation and draw in the defense.
In terms of attacking the basket, there really isnít much to say, as Rautins rarely does so. 208 of Rautinsí 256 field goal attempts this season have come from beyond the three-point arc, and according to Synergy Sports Technology, heís had only 15 shots around the basket in the halfcourt this season. Even on the rare occasions he does get to the rim, he relies mostly on an inaccurate floater, doesnít show much ability to elevate around the rim, and struggles heavily finishing, whether dealing with a weakside defender or not. Heís a very turnover prone player relative to his usage rate, coughing up the ball on 25% of his possessions, which is an exceptionally high rate.
While Rautins does show good court vision and passing ability, itís hard to project him as a point guard at the next level due to his limited ball-handling and shot creation abilities, which is complicated further by his lack of overall quickness and athleticism. Heís certainly capable of bringing the ball up the floor, handling on the perimeter, and using craftiness to make one or two dribbles and get himself an open jumper, but he hasnít really shown any repertoire of advanced moves beyond that, nor has he shown the ability to penetrate and create for others from isolations.
Defensively, Rautins is extremely active and focused in Syracuseís zone, where he shows an excellent perimeter stance, keeps his hands up, and runs all over the floor to contest shots and crash passing lanes. That said, while it isnít a big deal in the zone, his lateral quickness projects to be below average at both the point guard and shooting guard positions in the NBA, while he doesnít have great strength for the shooting guard position either. Itís very easy to see NBA teams isolating him out on the perimeter and going to work, as he just doesnít appear to have the physical tools to stay in front of the athletes heíll be matched up against on a nightly basis.
Looking forward, Rautins has one clear NBA skill in terms of his three-point shooting, but itís tough to say whether that alone will find him a place in the league. Heíll have opportunities at Portsmouth and in Summer League to prove his worth, and teams could be attracted to his three-point shooting, basketball IQ, work ethic, and the learning curve heís shown at Syracuse. Still, given his physical tools and lack of NBA position, it will certainly be an uphill battle for the 23-year old to find a place in todayís NBA.
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