Situational Statistics: the 2011 Wing Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2011 Wing Crop
Jun 22, 2011, 09:33 am
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Box-scores don't always tell us everything we need to know about what happened in an actual game, and seasonal stats can be misleading at times in attempting to project what type of NBA player a NCAA or international prospect will become.

That's why it makes sense to branch out and explore other alternatives that are available to us, including those offered to us by Synergy Sports Technology, who've logged virtually every individual possession of every game this year's NBA draft class has taken part of.

These possessions are manually categorized by the type of play they resulted in, and then once again, evaluating what actually occurred in that sequence.

How good of a finisher is a prospect around the basket in non-post-up situations? How many of his shots were jumpers, and of those how many came in catch and shoot situations or pulling up off the dribble? How many were floaters? How often does he drive left or right in the half-court? How likely is he to generate an assist in the half-court, be it off pick and rolls, iso's or post-up plays?

Furthermore, they shed light on what actually happened in each time a prospect encountered such a situation—how often he got fouled, turned the ball over, converted with an And-1, and whether he was assisted by a teammate.

There is a treasure trove of information at our disposal, beyond just scouting games, which is for many NBA people, Synergy's primary value.

With that in mind, we've taken the top-100 prospects in this draft class, and sorted them into four groups, by position—guards, wings, forwards and big men. We've then looked at how each group of players stacks up in various categories, with the biggest emphasis being on the specific skills they'll need at their position.

Prospect Breakdowns

The top ranked wing on our Big Board, Kawhi Leonard's stock is based primarily on his physical attributes, defensive abilities, and upside, so it's not a huge surprise that he doesn't fare very well from a purely statistical standpoint. His profile strongly indicates that he's destined to play a complimentary role in the NBA, at least in his first few seasons.

Leonard's 0.889 points per possession overall ranks third worst of the 17 wings we evaluated, and his adjusted field goal percentage of 46.3% ranks dead last, a strong illustration of his scoring woes. On the positive side, Leonard's overall turnover percentage of 11.8% ranks third best in the class, and he could actually even stand to improve at the next level when he's projected to have even less shot creation responsibility initially.

Another interesting note looking at Leonard's possessions is that only 13% of his possessions came in transition, which ranks him 13th overall in the group. Leonard played on one of the slowest-paced teams in college basketball, likely due to his team's mediocre guard play. For a player with his physical tools, this is less than ideal, and he could certainly see a spike in that regard at the next level, which should help his overall efficiency.

In the half-court, Leonard ranks seventh of all wings in the percentage of his possessions coming from isolations, at 15%. His .721 PPP on these possessions ranks 15th, indicating that he struggled to create shots effectively for himself last season. He was unable to get to the free throw line consistently (11.3%, 12th) for many of these same reasons, and did not finish around the basket at a high rate, where his 1.069 PPS ranked 13th.

If Leonard ever does develop into a more reliable isolation threat, improving his left hand should be among his top priorities, as despite seeing a near equal breakdown of drives in both directions (37 possessions going right, 35 going left), Leonard's efficiency going right (0.865 PPP) more than doubled his efficiency going left (0.429 PPP).

Leonard is not only an average ball-handler, but he also struggles to make shots consistently from beyond the arc. His 0.743 points per shots on jumpers ranks 16th of 17 in the class, where he shot an abysmal 31% from the field. His struggles extend both to his catch and shoot jumpers (32%) and pull-ups (28%).

While these numbers point out some glaring weaknesses, it's important to remember the different role Leonard is projected to play in the pros, and how most of the strengths in his scouting report (such as defense and rebounding) come in areas largely unquantifiable by statistics of this nature (at least reliably).

Alec Burks unsurprisingly fares much better from a statistical standpoint, where his 0.987 PPP ranks sixth overall, and he uses 19.3 possessions per game, fourth most of all wings. Burks' aFG% of 48.7% actually ranks third worst in the class, but he sports an above average TO% and his 18.8% free throw rate is easily best in the class.

Burks' ability to quickly create shots is evident in his transition numbers, as 21.8% of his possessions come on the break, the highest in the class. Burks is a talented shot creator in the halfcourt as well, with 16.1% of his possessions coming on pick-and-rolls (1st overall) and 19.0% coming on isolations (fourth overall). Burks' 0.897 PPP on isolations ranks dead in the middle of the class at ninth, but given the defensive attention he drew, it's still impressive.

Another interesting note on Burks' isolations is the equal rate he drove left and right, having 53 possessions on the season going right and 54 going left. His PPP was equally impressive in both directions, at 0.849 going right and 0.963 going left.

The area Burks fared the poorest was certainly with jump shots, where his 0.734 PPS ranked dead last, hurt by his poor three-point shooting and reliance on long two-point jumpers. Burks takes more pull-up jumpers per game (4) than any wing player in this class, but converts just 27% of these attempts. He takes far less (1.5) catch and shoot jumpers, but makes these at a 39% clip, which leaves some room for optimism that he can at least develop into a decent set-shooter.

On the other hand, Burks ranked third in the class finishing around the basket at 1.242 PPS, and that doesn't take into account the ridiculous rate at which he gets to the free-throw line, where he gets a ton of easy points with his 82.5% shooting.

All things considered, Burks' virtues as a prospect is represented quite well in this sampling.

Jordan Hamilton's 0.978 PPP overall ranks right in the middle of the class at eighth overall, but he does it on a fifth-best 18.7 possessions per game. His overall efficiency is dragged down by Texas' deliberate style, as he saw just 10.1% of his possessions in transition, second lowest of all wings.

If we look just at half-court efficiency, Hamilton gets bumped up to sixth overall at 0.957 PPP, doing so in spite of ranking just 15th in free throw rate, only getting to the line on a paltry 8.0% of possessions.

Hamilton sees the majority of his possessions spotting up at 25.2% where he scores a fourth best 1.112 PPP. He also sees a large number of possessions coming off screens (14.5%), but his 0.847 PPP ranks only 11th there.

Hamilton's 8.2% of possessions coming on post ups is second highest among wings, while he scores a solid 1.073 PPP in those instances, giving him a unique facet to his game at his size.

Hamilton unsurprisingly gets 64.4% of his shots of the jump shot variety, fourth highest in the class, but his 1.016 PPS ranks just seventh overall. Hamilton's 1.19 PPS finishing around the basket similarly ranks just eighth in the class.

Hamilton was certainly a volume scorer, but his efficiency leaves something to be desired as indicated by these figures. Improving his ability to get all the way to the rim and draw fouls would make him a much more effective scorer.

Klay Thompson's 21.3 possessions per game is the second highest of any wing, but his 0.971 PPP ranks just ninth overall, though that's weighed down heavily by his low percentage of transition opportunities, as his 11.3% ranks 15th of 17.

Looking solely at halfcourt possessions, 0.978 PPP ranks an impressive fourth, while his 18.9 halfcourt possessions are the highest in the class.

A versatile offensive weapon who can score in a variety of ways within a team's offense, Thompson sees a good chunk of his possessions in various different ways, with 10.8% coming from pick-and-rolls, 22% from spot-ups, 23.5% from isolations, and 11.9% coming off screens.

Thompson's 1.103 PPP on pick-and-rolls easily ranks first in the class (no one else breaks the 1.0 threshold), while his 1.15 PPP on spot-ups and 1.0 PPP on screens are both above average. Thompson is less impressive in isolations, where his 0.788 PPP ranks just 13th overall, unsurprising given his athletic limitations.

Thompson's 1.094 PPS on jumpers ranks third in the class, but his 9.1 jumpers per game is the most of any player, and the two players ranking above him in efficiency both take far fewer attempts (Jon Diebler at 5.4 and David Lighty at 4.1).

On the other hand, Thompson's limitations show in his ability to finish around the basket, where his 1.116 PPS ranks 12th overall.

-Tyler Honeycutt ranks poorly from a statistical perspective, as his 0.822 PPP overall ranks dead last among wings. His 47.7% aFG% and his 20.2% TO% both rank second to last, and his 9.7% free throw rate ranks fourth from last.

-Travis Leslie's 0.964 PPP ranks in the middle of the pack at 10th overall, weighed down some by a fifth-worst aFG% of 49.6%, largely a result of a lack of three-pointers relative to the rest of the class.

Leslie sees 49.3% of his field-goal attempts finishing at the basket, tops in the class, while his 1.215 PPS in these instances ranks a strong 6th. His 0.828 PPS on jumpers, however, ranks 14th of 17th overall.

Jereme Richmond doesn't fare very well statistically, with his 0.863 PPP overall ranking 16th of 17. He definitely has the most unconventional possession distribution in the class, as his 9.6% of possessions in transition and 10.7% of possessions on spot ups both ranks dead last, while his 19.3% on cuts and 16.3% on post ups both rank first. It's clear that he played more like a forward than a wing player in college.

Richmond's 1.432 PPS finishing around the basket ranks first overall, while his 0.75 PPS on jumpers ranks third from last, which alone is a solid microcosm of his offensive strengths and weaknesses as a player.

One of two international players in our group of wings, Bojan Bogdanovic has some interesting numbers, with his 19.6 possessions per game being third highest in the class, though his 0.962 PPP ranks just 11th.

Bogdanovic runs the second most pick-and-rolls of any wing at 15% of all possessions, but his 0.638 PPP on those possessions ranks a disappointing 12th. Bogdanovic's 30% isolation rate similarly ranks tops in the entire class, where he posts an impressive 0.986 PPP, third best of all wings

If he were able to make more than 34% of the 6.6 jumpers he took per game, he'd surely be drawing more draft buzz. The fact that he's shown little to no interest in playing in the NBA based on his actions hasn't helped his cause either.

E'Twaun Moore grades out well statistically, as his 1.0 PPP overall ranks fourth of all wings, and he's doing it on an impressive 17.6 possessions per game. Moore is the most sure-handed of all wings, as his 9.2% TO% is easily best in the class, especially for someone using that many possessions.

Moore is excellent in the pick-and-roll, where his 0.97 PPP ranks second overall. Moore's 7.7 jump shots per game are third most in the class, though his 1.0 PPS on them ranks just eighth. He makes a solid 40% of his 3.8 catch and shoot jumpers per game (4th), and 38% of his pull-ups (4th).

There's a case to be made that Moore is one of the most underrated players in this draft class, and his showing in this sampling does nothing to discourage that notion.

-David Lighty ranks out well as a jump shooter, as his 1.113 PPS is second overall. His 0.986 PPP overall also ranks a solid seventh. He shows some nice versatility, scoring efficiently on post-ups (4th), isolations (2nd) and in transition (4th).

Marshon Brooks unsurprisingly leads the pack with 22.9 possessions per game, but actually also posts the third best efficiency overall at 1.01 PPP. This is padded some by having a third-highest 20% of his possessions in transition, as his 0.956 PPP in the half-court ranks just seventh.

Brooks' 29.5% of possessions coming on isolations ranks second highest in the class (and tops among NCAA players), yet he scores a below average 0.847 PPP in these instances.

Brooks' 0.949 PPS on jumpers ranks just 12th overall, but it's brought down by his low number of catch-and-shoot opportunities, as just 13.1% of his field-goal attempts are of that variety, third lowest in the class. Brooks ranks in the top seven in PPS on pull-up jumpers and catch-and-shoot jumpers individually, but his distribution between them is incredibly far from ideal, a strong illustration of the role adjustment he'll likely need to make at the next level.

-Gilbert Brown's 1.022 PPP ranked second overall, as did his 55.7% aFG%. Brown's role helped pad his stats a little, as he had some of the lowest isolation and pick-and-roll percentages in the class, while he took the fifth highest percentage of spot-ups. Brown was excellent in spot-up situations, where his 1.167 PPP ranked second overall.

Jon Diebler is in some ways the most impressive player statistically in this class, but he played a very limited role that seriously skews his overall numbers.

Posting easily the highest overall PPP in the class at 1.296, Diebler used the second fewest possessions per game at 9.1 and saw the highest percentage of his shots on spot-up opportunities at 41.4%. Diebler attempted 5.4 jump shots per game compared to 0.5 field-goal attempts around the basket, easily the highest disparity in the class.

A team looking for a shooter doesn't need to look far, as Diebler's 1.445 PPS on jumpers dwarves everyone else in the class by a massive margin, and he similarly leads the pack in both pull-up and catch-and-shoot jumpers, though he attempted just 0.8 pull-ups per game compared to 4.5 catch-and-shoots, another indication of his very limited role.

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