Situational Statistics: the 2013 Center Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2013 Center Crop
Jun 24, 2013, 01:25 pm
Box-scores don't always tell us everything we need to know about what happened in an actual game, and season averages 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 by Synergy Sports Technology, whose detail-heavy archives include a staggering number of data-points representing the play of prospects all over the world.

With that in mind, we've taken the top-100 prospects in this draft class, and sorted them into five groups by position. We've then looked at how each group of players stacks up in Synergy's various playtypes, with the biggest emphasis being on the specific skills they'll need to succeed at their position at the NBA level.
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Center Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Center Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Power Forward Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Power Forward Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Small Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Small Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Shooting Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Shooting Guard Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 Point Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2013 Point Guard Crop

Breaking Down the Top 20 Centers

-Nerlens Noel very well could be the first prospect to hear his name called on draft night, but the defensive stalwart does not stand out among his peers on paper. Part of that is because of his still developing offensive skill level, but the number of low-usage-high-efficiency players in this group plays against him as well.

Looking at the bigger picture, Noel's 10.3 possessions per-game, 0.96 overall points per-possessions (PPP), and 16.5% turnover rate all rank below average. To be fair, Noel is one of a handful of NCAA players who doesn't stand out in this exercise, stacking up fairly well against the likes of Steven Adams and Gorgui Dieng, but coming up just short of Alex Len and well behind the top European prospects and mid-major stars. His 53% shooting from the line is notable as well, as it doesn't allow him to capitalize on the fact that he gets to the line on an impressive 23% of his possessions.

For all the room Noel still has to grow on the offensive end, his athleticism and length already afford him success in some areas. He shot a ridiculous 92.3% in transition, albeit on 0.8 possessions per-game, and scored an above average 1.19 PPP as the roll man on the pick and roll, showing just how impactful a near 7-footer with his speed and explosiveness can be.

Apart from that, Noel does not distinguish himself in many other areas. His usage on each play-type is nearly identical to the sample average across the board. In terms of efficiency, his 0.77 PPP in the post ranks fourth-worst, while his 1.33 PPP as a finisher ranks just slightly below average, even if it passes the look test ignoring the sample average. Though he flashed a promising hook shot from time to time, Noel struggled mightily to score from the block, showed no semblance of midrange scoring ability and will need to begin evolving as an offensive weapon when he returns from injury to complement the tremendous value he brings to the table defensively.

-While it is entirely unsurprising that Noel's offensive profile looks fairly raw on paper, Alex Len, who is considered one of the most skilled players at the center position in this draft, struggles in some of the same areas.

Ranking just ahead of Noel as the fifth-least efficient scorer in this group, Len's 0.99 PPP doesn't jump off the page relative to his peers. He finishes just behind Noel in transition scoring efficiency at 1.65 PPP on a tiny sample of 0.4 possessions per-game, and posted a slightly below average 0.96 PPP in the half court.

Len's play-type usage revolves heavily around his ability to score in the post, where his 4.8 possessions per-game ranks fourth and is well above average. Scoring just 0.82 PPP, Len does a good job drawing fouls with his back to the basket, getting to the line at a near 20% rate, but still ranks below average in scoring efficiency. As a jump shooter, Len attempts 0.8 shots per-game, but converts at a poor 28.1% rate.

On the plus side, Len does rank second in put back possessions per-game, showing the ability to use his length on the glass, and scored a second ranked 1.39 PPP on basket cuts, showcasing his good hands and touch.

Much like Nerlens Noel, Len doesn't impress here, but the numbers don't read into the flashes of talent he displayed, or the unique situation he was in at Maryland, and the team drafting him will be hoping his natural skill level helps him develop into a multi-faceted, highly efficient offensive weapon in the coming years.

-Steven Adams ranks as the fourth lowest usage player and third least efficient scorer in this group, reminding us how small his offensive role was at Pitt and how much room he has for growth in the coming years. Adams scored just 1.14 PPP around the rim, the lowest mark in this group. He actually fared better in the post, where his 0.83 PPP ranks significantly closer to the sample mean. As imposing a physical specimen as there is in this draft, if the 19 year old Adams can settle in on the offensive end and show improved hands, he's certainly capable of being more efficient early in his career as the rest of his raw offensive arsenal rounds into form.

-Duke center Mason Plumlee ranked slightly above average in scoring efficiency at 1.05 PPP, despite being the highest usage player from a high-major conference in this group at 15.8 possessions per-game. Plumlee leads this group with 1.1 possession used per-game in transition where he shot an impressive 84.4%. He was just average in the half court being held back to some degree by his 17.7% turnover rate, the third highest in this group.

Plumlee's usage on basket cuts stands out, as his 3.2 possessions per-game easily paces this group and is a reflection of Dukes tremendous court spacing. The third highest usage post scorer, Plumlee used 6.2 possessions per-game with his back to the basket, scoring a slightly above average 0.90 PPP. Ranking as an average finisher, Plumlee doesn't stand out in his scoring efficiency, but fits in well in a talented group considering the demanding role he played for the Blue Devils.

-Gorgui Dieng ranks as the second least efficient scorer in this group at 0.93 PPP. His numbers are limited by the third ranked 1.3 jump shots per-game he attempted and his sample worst 0.57 PPP in the post. Dieng is an average finisher, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in this group, and provides most of his value as a complementary player with his passing, which doesn't really help him here.

-Lucas Nogueira and Rudy Gobert are the first and third most efficient players in this group, scoring 1.17 and 1.14 PPP overall respectively. They also rank last and third last in usage at 4.7 and 6.9 possessions per-game. Playing similar roles for their respective teams, the extremely long pair of international centers did their best work at the rim, where Gobert finished at a second ranked 73.2% clip and Nogueira converted a fourth ranked 69.1% this season. Seldom asked to create their own offense, Gobert has the upper hand in the post, where he shot an absurd 76.9% over a meager 0.8 possession per-game.

Among the most ridiculous efficiency marks this duo set are Gobert's 1.27 PPP as a roll man and Nogueira's 1.41 PPP on put backs. While neither player possessions much in the way of perimeter skills or post-moves, their sheer size and length made them a constant target for lobs and dump passes in the paint where both players showed the ability to effortlessly finish above the rim. Which player is able to become a more well-rounded offensive threat will likely dictate which emerges as the more viable center down the road.

-Jeff Withey fares pretty well here, as his 1.07 overall PPP ranks fifth among the centers in this draft. Withey did his best work cutting to the rim where he was the second highest usage player on 2.8 possessions per-game and the top scorer by a wide margin at 1.57 PPP. On the whole, Withey ranks as the best finisher among centers in this draft shooting an outstanding 79.2% around the rim last season.

Like Mason Plumlee, Withey worked regularly with his back to the basket using 5.9 possessions per-game, but scored an average 0.84 PPP. Withey's most positive attribute on the block was his 10% turnover rate, the second lowest in this group.

-Mike Muscala is the highest usage player in this group at 17.6 possessions per-game overall and 6.6 per-game in the post. He scored an average 1.04 PPP despite shooting the second worst field goal percentage in this group, compensating by getting to the line at an above average 20.6% rate and turning the ball over a sample low 9.4% of the time. Scoring a fifth-ranked 0.97 PPP on the block, the Bucknell product was one of the NCAA's most prolific post scorers.

In addition to his perimeter game, Muscala is the only player in this group other than Bojan Dubljevic who attempted more than 2 jump shots per-game, and the only player to use over 1.5 possessions per-game in isolation situations. While he doesn't stand out in scoring efficiency, the fact that he's in the thick of things despite his extremely high and diverse usage is a testament to his intriguing skill level.

-Colton Iverson ranks average or above average across the board. His big body was especially effective in the post, where he used a second ranked 6.5 possessions per-game while scoring a third ranked 1.01 PPP. As dominant as Muscala was on the block in the Patriot League, Iverson's rugged style of player and 24.1% free throw rate made him an even more effective post up scorer in the Mountain West, albeit by a small margin.

-Bojan Dubljevic is not a great athlete, but his usage and efficiency rank above average, he's one of the only centers this group who is a threat to spread the floor as a spot up shooter (1.23 PPP), and he scored a slight above average 0.89 PPP in the post, all while playing against some of the best competition outside of the NBA in the EuroCup and ACB. His skill level will certainly intrigue teams picking in the second round.

-Akron's Zeke Marshall was the second most efficient scorer in this group at 1.165 PPP. Why? He got to the line on an absurd 30.3% of his possessions used, made 71% of his finishing opportunities, and scored a top ranked 1.13 PPP as a dominant figure in the Mid-American conference.

-DeWayne Dedmon ranked last in this group at 0.84 PPP due in large part to his 19.1% turnover rate. His physical tools and potential as a shot blocker are the basis for his upside at this stage.

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