Situational Statistics: the 2014 Power Forward Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2014 Power Forward Crop
Jun 21, 2014, 01:28 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.

-Situational Statistics: the 2014 Small Forward Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2014 Shooting Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2014 Point Guard Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Center Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Power Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Small Forward Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Shooting Guard Crop
-Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Point Guard Crop

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.

Breaking Down the Top 19 Power Forwards

Noah Vonleh has a number of obvious qualities that make him such an attractive prospect including his height, length, build, excellent defensive rebounding, and burgeoning outside game. But his 11.5 possessions used per game is a relatively low number, showing how limited his role was within the Indiana offense and how much room he has to grow offensively. That being said, Vonleh was also one of the more efficient half-court power forwards in this draft. Among players likely to be drafted, only Cameron Bairstow, Adreian Payne, and Cory Jefferson used as many half-court possessions as he did and had a higher efficiency than his 0.97 points per possession.

With 29.3% of his offense coming on post-ups, only Johnny O'Bryant drew a significantly higher percentage of his of offense from the post among power forwards in this class, and the 0.93 points per possession that Vonleh averaged was a fairly high mark considering his usage. Combine that with his absurd 1.32 points per possession he scored, which was by far the most among power forwards likely to be drafted, and there's quite a fair amount of intrigue based around Vonleh's inside-outside potential.

Those numbers need to be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt, however. While Vonleh shows nice touch with hook shots over either shoulder, he could still stand to expand his post reportoire and build some diversity, not to mention improve his ability to recognize double teams and make correct decisions on pass outs. Vonleh turned the ball over on 14.9% of his post-up possessions, a fairly high amount for a player who generated very few assists from those situations. On the perimeter, for as great as his efficiency was, the overall sample size leaves something to be desired, as he attempted just 41 total jump shots on the year. While the form on his jump shot suggests that his jump shot should be a legitimate weapon going forward, whether or not he can maintain that incredible level of efficiency is something that may be difficult to pull off.

Vonleh's 1.17 points per possession finishing around the rim is a fairly inefficient mark, especially considering his terrific standing reach and leaping ability were among the top marks posted among big men at the combine. In game situations, Vonleh seems to take a little bit of time collecting himself and isn't as explosive in traffic as one might assume, and his efficiency scoring around the hoop, off of cuts, and off of offensive rebounds was not as high as many may have expected just by looking at his measurables.

Noah Vonleh measured out well in a number of situational statistics, but his overall low usage shows the growth he still needs to make to fully take advantage of his physical tools, as well as the confidence and assertiveness to really make his mark on a game offensively. Even with that substantial room for further improvement, the versatility he's shown on both ends of the court along with his tremendous physical tools gives him a pretty good shot to be a very productive professional, and at this point, likely the first among this group to hear his name called on draft day.

Julius Randle's situational statistics are probably a little bit different than most would expect. While 20.9% of his offense coming from post-ups is far from an insignificant amount, it ranks as only average in this group, as does the 0.79 points per possession he generated in these instances. While a little bit of improvement in Kentucky's floor spacing could have opened up the paint a little bit more for Randle and helped improve this number some, further refinement of his skills and becoming more comfortable using his right hand will be needed in the future as well. The 39.3% he shot on post-up opportunities was well below average among power forwards we looked at, although the overall efficiency was buoyed by his ability to draw contact and get to the line, as he drew shooting fouls on 26.2% of his post-up possessions, one of the better rates among this group.

Where Randle was most dominant was on the offensive glass. The 2.4 possessions per game Randle generated off of put back attempts was the second best in this group among players that we currently project to be drafted, only slightly behind Khem Birch's 2.7 possessions per game, and the 1.21 points per possession Randle scored off of these created opportunities was the third best in the group. Randle's high volume and efficiency in put back situations resulted in 114 points for the Wildcats last season, one of the top marks in the entire country among all players, prospect or not.

Another area where Randle showed potential was as an isolation threat, as the only collegiate prospect among this group who used more possessions per game in isolation situations than Randle was Dwight Powell. While his efficiency wasn't all that great at 0.76 points per possession -- hurt somewhat by turnovers, predictability due to an unrefined right hand, and by not being much of a threat shooting away from the basket -- should Randle improve in any or all of these areas, he will have a quickness advantage against most of his defenders at the next level, and could really expand this part of his game.

Jump shooting is another area of his game that stands out, as he shot only 17.3% on jump shots logged by Synergy, with the 0.40 points per possession he scored on those attempts being the lowest mark in this power forward class. He didn't attempt very many at only 1.3 shots per game, but him being a complete lack of a threat outside of the paint is something that is currently holding his game back. His free throw shooting (70.6% on 289 attempts) gives some optimism for the future, but that didn't translate in live ball situations last year at Kentucky.

As one of the best athletes in the draft, it's no real surprise that Aaron Gordon found more of his offense in transition than anybody else in this group of power forwards, as over 19% of his possessions came on the break. While his efficiency in transition opportunities was surprisingly low (59.4% shooting and 0.93 points per possession), his ability to beat other big men down the floor is something that he should be able to do early in his career while the rest of his offensive game catches up.

At 0.99 points per possession in the half-court, Gordon was one of the more efficient players among this group of power forwards, although a big part of that is because of how selective he was able to be on the deep Arizona team. Gordon used only 11 possessions per game in the half-court, less than all the prospects in this group except Clint Capela (7.8 possessions), Khem Birch (9.8), Nikola Jokic (10.2), and Noah Vonleh (11.7), as he was not forced to try to generate all that much offense for either himself or his teammates.

Gordon was able to get over 30% of his offense off of a combination of cuts and put-backs, both high percentage shots, and with his athleticism and nose for the ball, two things he should be able to continue to do, even if he'll be at a size disadvantage at the next level while his body physically matures. Projecting his ability to create his own shot isn't quite as simple, as even at the collegiate level he rarely created in isolation situations (1.2 possessions per game), on the pick and roll (0.6 possessions per game), or post-ups (1.1 possessions per game). Then there's also the questions about his jump shot, as his 29.3% shooting on jumpers throughout the season and dreadful 42.2% from the line leave plenty to be desired.

Despite being just 20 years old playing in the Adriatic League, Dario Saric used the highest number of possessions among players in this group at 18.2 possessions per game, showing the incredible role he played on his way to winning the MVP of the Adriatic League Final 4. His stat line of 23 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 blocks in the championship game showcases his unique versatility as a prospect.

That versatility is showcased in his situational stats as well. At 2.3 possessions per game, Saric the highest proportion of his possessions from isolations among players in this group and he's the only one to get any regular opportunities coming off of screens. He's also the most jump shot-heavy prospect in this group, with 45% of his offense coming from jump shots. His jumper is still a work in progress, as he hit on only 34.2% of them, good for 0.87 points per shot. That being said, his jumper has seen improvement over where it was a year ago, and could become a reliable weapon down the road.

If there's one price to be paid for Saric's versatility, it's that he turned the ball over on a higher percentage of his possessions than everybody else in this group, turning it over on 18.6% of his overall possessions and an astounding 36% of his post-up possessions. This needs to be put in a little bit of context, though, as he was used as a set-up man for Cibona far more than any other player in this group, and these numbers aren't so much of a reflection on his basketball IQ or skill level as they are on his role.

Considering his incredible physical gifts, it's not much of a surprise that Clint Capela got a huge portion of his offense on cuts to the basket (31.2% of his offense) and from put-backs (16.3%). This heavy utilization of extremely efficient opportunities (Capela shot an incredible 73.8% on cuts and 65.5% on put-backs) is one of the primary reasons that Capela was the most efficient player in this group at 1.12 points per possession overall.

Capela's length, explosiveness, and touch around the hoop make him a very good finisher around the hoop, where an incredible 84.9% of his opportunities came from, far and away the most out of anybody in this group.
The work he still needs to put in shows up when Capela stepped away from the hoop, as he only attempted 0.3 jump shots per game, connecting on only 21.4% of the very small amount of jump shots he attempted. Despite this, Capela shows some potential in the pick and roll game due to his fluidity and touch around the hoop, and should he ever develop a reliable jump shot he will be even tougher players to defend in this group crashing to the rim after setting ball screens.

-Adreian Payne's transformation into the focal point of Michigan State's offense over the years was something to watch, and despite only playing just over 28 minutes per game, partially due to a lung ailment that impacts his stamina -- Payne used 14.8 possessions per game, one of the higher marks among this group despite his relatively low playing time.

Payne's development shows in the diversity of his offensive role as he saw 27.7% of his offense on post ups, 20% from spot-up attempts, 10.5% in pick and roll spots, 7.8% from put-backs, and 7.2% off of cuts. He also managed to improve his jump shot considerably, which made up 41.8% of his offense and from which he scored 0.92 points per shot, making good progress in his ability to expand his range out to the collegiate three point line. This expanding of his offensive arsenal should help Payne adapt to the lesser role he'll play in the NBA.

Speaking of incredibly diverse offensive players, Cameron Bairstow was one of the most diverse offensive players in the country, and his 18.4 possessions used per game were tops in this group. With 28% of his offense coming from post-ups on 1.08 points per possession, as well as 29.4% of his offense coming from jump shots at an incredible 1.04 points per possession, few had the inside-outside game that Bairstow flashed. Bairstow has some defensive concerns, and it would be beneficial if he could extend his range out to three point territory, but the diversity of his skill set could get him a look.

Another player who has seen his offensive game expand is Baylor senior Cory Jefferson, although that expansion mainly happened during Jefferson's junior season, when he jumped from 10.7 minutes per game in a minor role to 28.1. Jefferson's senior season was a disappointment to some, as he (and Baylor as a whole) struggled to take the next step and replace the loss of Pierre Jackson.

Among players in this group, Jefferson saw the highest percentage of his offense come in the half-court, as over 96% of his offense was generated in a set offense. He was primarily used off the ball, with 17.2% of his offense coming off of cuts, 16% off of offensive rebounds, and 12.5% off of pick and rolls. He did make an effort to expand his post-up game, which increased from 23.8% of his offense during his junior season to 31.1% this past season, although he shot only 41.3% in these situations and scored only 0.841 points per possession, a marked drop from the 1.031 points per possession he scored on post-ups last season in a more limited role.

James McAdoo didn't show the progress most wanted to see during his 3 years at North Carolina. Still, the forward did make some progress this past year on his efficiency in the post. While his overall usage didn't increase all that much on the block, he did improve from 0.656 points per possession during his sophomore season to 0.857 during his junior year. That being said the vast majority of his offense still comes off the ball, with 16% coming in transition, 15.2% on cuts to the basket, 13.7% on spot-up attempts and 10% off of offensive rebounds. His efficiency in all of these areas leaves something to be desired, as his ability finishing around the rim (1.21 points per shot) is below average relative to the group average. Coupled with his 21.6% shooting on jump shots, and McAdoo has an uphill battle to find himself a role at the next level.

Dwight Powell's bread and butter remains as a potential face-up power forward, where he combines his incredible athleticism with potential as a jump shooter, although he connected on perimeter attempts at an inconsistent a rate that yield 0.74 points per possession. His athleticism helped him draw fouls on 20.5% of his possessions, a solid number which helped him maintain a solid level of efficiency. In order to fully utilize his athleticism, his jump shot will have to become more consistent.

-Besides Bairstow and Saric, Johnny O'Bryant out of LSU used up the most possessions per game at 17.5 possessions per night. His overall efficiency was not all that stellar, however, at only 49.3% shooting and 0.87 points per possession, a figure that was further pushed down by turning the ball over on 17.3% of his offensive possessions, the 4th highest rate among power forwards likely to be drafted. O'Bryant was used primarily as a post-up threat, where nearly 50% of his offense came from, the highest in this group, as he had a size and physicality mismatch on most nights. He also showed some potential on his jump shot, connecting on 47.5% of his attempts at 0.97 points per shot, albeit on only 1.7 attempts per game.

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