Situational Statistics: This Year’s Shooting Guard Crop

Situational Statistics: This Year’s Shooting Guard Crop
Jun 10, 2010, 05:25 pm
Situational Statistics: This Year’s Point Guard Crop

Evan Turner may have a stranglehold on the top shooting guard spot, but this group is full or diverse prospect and will have a huge impact in how the draft shakes out from picks 20-45. We investigate the situational strength and weaknesses of 19 of the top shooting guards declared for the 2010 draft.

Thanks to our friends over at Synergy Sports Technology, we have access to the most thorough situational statistics available today. Synergy keeps track of all the possession that takes place in nearly every college basketball game, accumulating an incredible wealth of extremely informative data.

Many of these statistics offer excellent insight into the players we evaluate, so we’ve taken the time to compile and sort through them in an effort to distinguish which players are, for instance, the most productive back to the basket threats, the most effective finishers around the basket, the most likely to draw fouls on a given possession, and the most efficient jump shooters. With 19 of the top shooting guards tabulated on our spreadsheet, we’ve created a short list of the most interesting things we’ve learned about this year’s crop of prospects.

Before you look at our findings, it is important to realize that there are some limitations to our analysis. For example, prospects on lower level teams will have some possessions missing each year because not all of their games were logged.

The exact breakdown of specific possession types can be highly subjective and thus somewhat inconsistent at times as well, which means that this data always needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We’ve tried to steer away from utilizing data that wouldn’t be considered statistically significant, but considering how short the college season is, that’s not always easy.

Our data obviously does not account for neither the strength of a player’s teammates, or his level of competition, and features just one international player, Pietro Aradori of Angelico Biella.

What We Learned Last Season

2009 Shooting Guard article

• Some of the players we evaluated have continued to get touches in similar situations, but haven’t translated certain aspects of their game.

James Harden continued to run the pick and roll for the Thunder this season, much like he did at Arizona State, and translated some of his isolation touches into spot up opportunities, but finished at the rim at a severely reduced rate.

• Certain prospects remain limited because of their inability to post efficient numbers in certain situations.

Both Gerald Henderson and Terrence Williams showed questionable jump shooting ability on the college level, and that has held both players back in the NBA. Though both players are very solid athletes, getting to the rim becomes a whole lot easier when defenders are forced to guard out to the three point arc.

• Some players have been forced to alter their games entirely or have flourished in radically different roles than they played in college.

Jeff Teague got 14% of his offense in pick and roll situations during his last season at Wake, a far-cry from the near 40% he posted this season. Jermaine Taylor has undergone a similar transformation from the dominant spot-up role he played at UCF. Antonio Anderson was one of the top scorers in the NBADL this season despite being merely an inefficient complementary player on the offensive end at Memphis.


Evan Turner’s situational statistics support him as the second best prospect in this draft.

The third highest usage player in our sample at 21.4 possessions per-game (behind Dominique Jones and Aubrey Coleman), Turner’s limitations as a shooter are apparent on first glance. Despite scoring an average .929 points per-possession, he ranks first in overall field goal percentage at 51.2%. Clearly, Turner’s limitations from the perimeter hurt his productivity, but he was savvy enough to stick to what he was good at on the college level, excelling in a number of areas.

Turner ranks as the most efficient transition player in our rankings at 1.27 points per-possession, a testament to his ability to use his size and ball handling to make a major impact in the open floor, even though he only draws fouls on a slightly below average 9.6% of his fast break shots and a questionable 4.8% of his half court shots. His field goal percentage of 47.2% is the second best mark in non-transition sets, but he could definitely stand to get to the line at a higher rate to help his efficiency on the next level.

A limited spot up player because of a lack of touches (2 Pos/G) working off the ball as Ohio State’s primary ball-handler, Turner’s 0.7 PPP in isolation situations is below average as well. He compensates with impressive numbers on the pick and roll. With over 25.8% of his offense running coming from the two-man game, Turner scores a very impressive 1.029 PPP coming off of ball-screens. Clearly Turner is a player who will need the ball in his hands in the NBA to be successful.

Turner’s excellent shooting efficiency in half court settings is the result of his ability to get to the rim. His 5 shots at the rim per-game is good for third amongst his peers, and his 55.8% shooting is well above average. The majority of his 7.2 jump shots per-game come off of pull up shots, of which he hits a second ranking 42.3%. This part of his game is already tailor made to the NBA—which will help his transition significantly.

Though Turner had little trouble putting the ball in the basket last season, his lack of catch and shoot attempts (1.7 per-game) remains a concern. Though he won’t force many looks, Turner’s floor game won’t fully open up on the NBA level until he becomes a more capable shooter from range working off the ball. The degree to which he improves his shot will dictate how often he has to dominate the ball to put points on the board.

Regardless, any team looking for a dynamic shot-creator to give their half-court offense a huge shot in the arm would benefit greatly from Turner’s presence. This study does not even take into account his passing, rebounding or defensive skills, three of his best attributes, and which make him arguably the most versatile prospect in this draft.

Elliot Williams does a number of things exceptionally well, and has the potential to be an efficient scorer if he improves some of his scoring tools.

Ranking right around average in terms of usage at 17.4 possessions per-game and slightly above average at 0.961 PPP overall, Williams’ best asset in comparison to his peers is his ability to use his quickness to get to the line. He was fouled on an impressive 14.2% of his overall shots, leading our sample of prospects by more than 3%.

Despite ranking right around average in terms of half court field goal percentage (42.2%), Williams scores on a higher percentage (45.4%) of his non-fast break possessions than any other player. Clearly, his first step plays a major role in his ability to create contact at the rim. His role for Memphis certainly helped as well.

Although he spent nearly twice as many of his possessions playing off the ball in spot up situations than Evan Turner (17.2% vs. 9.5%), Williams got some 43% of his offense operating one-on-one or working off a pick. A capable jump shooter when left open (42.9%), but limited when defended (27.3%), the Duke transfer has the resume of a guard capable of sliding over to handle the ball next to a shooting point guard or remaining off the ball and slashing to the rim.

Williams only shot 1.9 pull up jumpers per-game last season, preferring to drive all the way to the rim where he shot an average 51.3%. Given his lack of physical strength, Williams will need to continue to hone his shooting ability in the mid-range area to become a more complete offensive threat at the shooting guard position.

One of the biggest risers of this year’s draft season, Dominique Jones’ explosive scoring ability ranks him highly in certain metrics, though he doesn’t excel in any one given situation.

The most impressive aspect of Jones’ resume is his 46.5% scoring ratio, indicating that he scores at least a point on nearly half of his extremely high 21.6 possessions per-game. The level of efficiency ranks first in this group, and his .976 PPP and 11% shots fouled are well above average as well. Jones is both a high usage and high efficiency scorer, which is a rare combination to find.

With nearly 20% of his touches coming in transition, Jones gets to the line better than any of his peers on the break, drawing a trip to the line on 21.6% of those possessions. The USF product doesn’t excel in any one particular offensive situation, though he is a solid isolation player. Much of his success comes from his ability to finish at the rim. His 1.22 points per-possession as a finisher place him third amongst this group. That quality should lend itself well to the NBA.

The reason Jones doesn’t excel in any one particular area is because he isn’t a terribly efficient jump shooter. An average shooter when left open off the catch (39%), and a below average pull up shooter (32.4%), Jones’s dynamic ability to get to the rim, create contact, and finish make him an intriguing guard with potential at both positions, but to become a more serviceably player in a smaller role, he’ll need to hone his long-range jumper. If he does, watch out.

Avery Bradley is considered one of the best defenders in this group, and his situational strengths characterize him as a potential high-level role-player.

One of the lower usage players in this group at just 12.6 possessions per-game, Bradley scored on a slightly below average 40.8% of his touches. With 24% of his possessions coming in transition, the freshman shot 53.3% on the fast break, and scored on a below average 38.2% of his half court possessions.

While he’s certainly not the most dynamic offensive threat at this point, Bradley was very solid in spot up situations. With a sizeable 30.5% of his touches coming from such opportunities, he shot a second ranked adjusted field goal percentage of 60.9%. The least prolific player running the pick and roll (.57 PPP) and a mediocre isolation player, Bradley was heavily reliant on his jump shot to score points.

Nearly 75.7% of his half court shots were jumpers, and he led all players with a 43.1% shooting percentage on such attempts. Despite being a prolific shooter, Bradley is the worst finisher in this group, averaging 0.754 points per-shot. One of the top unguarded and guarded catch and shoot players in this group (1.347 PPP and 1.149 PPP), he proved capable from the perimeter during his time at Texas, but struggled at the rim. His frail frame certainly won’t help in that area on the next level either, but his ability to defend and ability to hit shots from the perimeter tailor him to a smaller role than he played last season.

Everything about Bradley’s profile from the numbers we have at our disposal indicates that he’s best suited playing off the ball at the moment. Considering he was only a freshman, he could obviously still develop his playmaking and shot-creating ability in the future.

Oklahoma’s struggles this season show in certain parts of Willie Warren’s situational statistics.

A player once projected to be selected near the top of the lottery, Willie Warren’s fall from grace shows in his numbers. He turned the ball over on 22.7% of his overall possessions, the highest amongst twos projected to be selected in the draft. Warren sits right at the average in overall scoring percentage at 42.5%, but is second lowest prospect in terms of transition scoring percentage at 45.1%, nearly 20% less than Evan Turner.

On the positive side, Warren shot 47.8% from the field in half court situations, the highest mark amongst all prospects. Much of his success against a set defense comes from his ability to score in isolation situations. His explosiveness played a key role in his 52.5% shooting in one-on-one scenarios –the highest percentage on our rankings. He also shot the highest adjusted field goal percentage in pick and roll situations at 60%. These are qualities that are in high demand in today’s NBA, and could make him an intriguing change of pace option in some team’s second unit, granted he’s able to hone the rest of his game.

Warren’s outstanding numbers in those sets are largely result of his ability to get to the rim and finish athletically. Warren ranks as the top finisher in our group at 1.31 PPP in a slightly below average 3 shots per-game at the rim. Similarly, he is the second best pull up jump shooter at 1.04 PPP in a meager 1.6 possessions in game. He ranks below average in both catch and shoot metrics, and it seems clear that Warren wasn’t always playing to his strengths last season.

Looking at those numbers alone, Warren seems like a high caliber offensive weapon who could win games for his team when his shot was falling, but there’s much more to the story. Despite his outstanding shooting in pick and roll situations and prolific one-on-one ability, he turned the ball over on nearly one-third of his possessions running the two-man game and on a quarter of his isolation touches. He was also the worst spot up player in terms of PPP (0.72). Warren clearly has some outstanding natural offensive tools, but his decision-making leaves a lot to be desired, that became much more apparent this season in the absence of Blake Griffin than it was last year.

Jordan Crawford is an interesting case to analyze, as he is efficient in virtually every situation, and shouldered a heavy load for Xavier, but his inability to get to the foul line prevents him from standing out as much as he probably could. The second most efficient player in our rankings overall (1.014 PPP), Crawford gets fouled on his 5.1% of his shots (3rd last). A highly ranked catch and shoot player with or without a hand in his face, Crawford’s inability to draw fouls renders him as a below average finisher at .993 PPP.

Jon Scheyer ranks as the most efficient overall scorer here at 1.054 PPP. As one could guess, his tremendous jump shooting ability when left open afforded him success in spot up situations (1.16 PPP), but he surprisingly ranks well above average in isolation (.938 PPP 3rd) and is the most effective pick and roll player on our list (1.16 PPP). Despite his limited quickness, Scheyer is one of the savviest prospects around. If he’s able to show that he can defend his position on a consistent basis, he should be able to carve out a niche for himself in the NBA.

Terrico White turned the ball over on an extremely low 9% of his possessions—hinting at his frustrating lack of aggressiveness, and didn’t stand out in too many other areas. His biggest weakness was his ability to hit shots with a hand in his face off a catch (0.65 PPP on 2.5/G), which manifested itself when he was playing shooting guard and working off of screens. For a player with such excellent physical tools, you would have liked to see him get to the rim or draw more fouls than he was able to at Ole Miss.

• Sylven Landesberg was fairly average due to his lack of great shooting ability, but he presents some mismatch problems thanks to his size and length, which Virginia exploited down low to the tune of 2.2 post up possessions per-game, twice as much as any other prospect, with Evan Turner coming in second.

• Aubrey Coleman is the highest usage player on our list (27.1 Pos/G) and his 10.4 possessions per-game in isolation situations tell us a lot about how thorough Houston’s reliance on him really was. His 0.934 PPP in one-on-one situations is really impressive when you consider that opponents often knew what was coming. Unfortunately, Coleman’s lack of size and 0.731 PPP on 11.4 jump shots per-game will force him to make some major adjustments on the next level.

• Andy Rautins’ unguarded catch and shoot PPP of 1.426 is very solid, with Cal’s Patrick Christopher finishing in second at 1.391 PPP, but Rautins is the second most turnover prone player behind Jeremy Lin despite playing a role that consisted almost entirely of deep jumpers.

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