Situational Statistics: the 2014 Small Forward Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2014 Small Forward Crop
Jun 20, 2014, 08:43 am
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 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 play-types, 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 Small Forwards

-Neither Andrew Wiggins nor Jabari Parker jump off the page in terms of efficiency, as this stacked small forward class is deep with tremendously productive and efficient college players. Looking at the bigger picture, Wiggins used marginally fewer possessions and was slightly less efficient then Parker, while Parker got to the line at a marginally lower rate than Wiggins. Those small differences don't overshadow the fact the highly touted duo put up fairly similar overall possessions-based offensive numbers overall last season.

Andrew Wiggins170.9740.4480.1310.199
Jabari Parker18.90.9990.4780.1170.185

The similarities between these two players end there. As they played significantly different roles for their respective teams a year ago. Wiggins was thrust into a role that had him creating from the perimeter more often than the average small forward, while Duke's lack of depth up front had Parker operating on the low-block more often than some centers.

Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins' profile reads more like what we're used to seeing from top players at this position than Parker's. He ranks slightly above average with 16.2% of his possessions coming in transition, 13.5% coming in isolation situations, and 12.7% coming on the pick and roll. Wiggins' 2.2 possessions per-game as the ball-handler in pick and rolls is the most among his peers and the only area where his usage truly deviates significantly from the norm. Wiggins's role was fairly cut and dry at Kansas, as he did a little bit of everything and got more opportunities to create his own shot one-on-one on the nights that he was feeling it.

In terms of efficiency, Wiggins ranks just slightly above average scoring in isolation and off screen possessions, but isn't overly impressive across the board. Perhaps his most unique skill among his peers a year ago was his ability to get to the line. Drawing free throws on 19.9% of his overall possessions, which ranks 2nd in this group, Wiggins drew contact consistently around the rim when he was aggressive going one-on-one.

As a scorer, Wiggins ranks slightly below average scoring 1.17 points per shot as a finisher and .72 points per pull-up jump shot. He ended the year making a slightly above average 1.1 points per catch and shoot jump shoot. What sets Wiggins apart in terms of shot selection is the % of his attempts that were pull-ups. 25.9% of Wiggins's shots were off the dribble jumpers, the 2nd highest percentage of any player in this group. He converted just 30% of these attempts. He was much better with his feet set, hitting 37% of his overall catch and shoot attempts, but took less of these types of shots than he did pull-ups.

Though Wiggins turned in a number of signature offensive performances, his body of work reveals that he was more solid than spectacular, as his athletic tools, defensive upside, and versatility are a key part of his current value proposition at the next level. The opportunities he received to handle the ball on the pick and roll and create one-on-one from the perimeter should prove useful, as his shot creating ability is a key aspect of his game he'll need to develop to reach his lofty potential.

Jabari Parker
Unlike Wiggins, Parker's profile is truly unique, both to his group and small forward prospects in recent memory. 11.1% of his possessions came on cuts, 10.3% came on put backs, and 17.9% came on post-ups, all of which rank well above the norm. Parker's post usage in particular is interesting, as his 3.4 possessions per-game on the block ranks 2nd in this group to only Doug McDermott. Acting as the screen setter in the two-man game more frequently than the ball-handler, Parker's skill level allowed him to fill in admirably in a role that had him playing outside of his comfort zone at times.

In terms of efficiency, Parker stands out in a few areas, but appears limited in others. He ranked 2nd in this group scoring an impressive 1.06 points per possession in the post, but ranked 3rd-to-last scoring just .82 points per possession in spot up situations, as he struggled to score after attacking close outs at times last season. Ranking fairly average across all other playtypes, Parker scored 1.17 points per finishing opportunity, the exact same mark posted by Wiggins, and .93 points per-jump shot, just .02 points per-shot above Wiggins. Though he struggled to score attacking close outs in spot-up situations, he was solid shooting the ball right off the catch and coming off of screens, as his 1.18 points per catch and shoot jump shot ranks 4th among this talented group.

The unique role Parker played as an inside-outside threat may lead some to believe he's best suited to play the power forward spot at the next level, but it seems equally as likely that Parker will make a smooth transition to playing a traditional wing role thanks to his catch and shoot ability. The role he's asked to play will likely be determined as much by the personnel situation he steps into as his actual skill set.

Doug McDermott had one of the best statistical seasons as a scorer in NCAA history. He ranks 2nd to only T.J. Warren using 22 possessions per-game and leads all players in this draft class regardless of position scoring a tremendous 1.18 points per possessions. His 8.1% turnover rate is the lowest in this group despite his onerous role, while his 52.2% overall shooting from the field in the half court (1st) evidences how difficult he was to contain all year long.

McDermott scored from all over the floor in virtually every situation imaginable. He ranks 1st in this group using 24.7% of his possessions in the post, but also ranks above average in the proportion of his possessions coming on cuts and off screens, as his father drew up plays to get him open by any means necessary. He ranks below average in spot-up and isolation usage, but ranks in the middle of the pack in the overall number of possessions he used in nearly every playtype.

McDermott's efficiency was also extremely well-rounded. He ranks as the most efficient off-screen and isolation scorer, while ranking in the top-3 scoring off put backs, post ups, and cuts. His multi-dimensional scoring ability is thanks to his tremendously high skill level. Ranking 1st or 2nd among small forward prospects scoring 1.37 points per shot around the rim, 1.15 points per pull up jump shot, and 1.31 points per catch and shoot jump shot, McDermott is a plug a play type offensively at the next level. His lack of athleticism may limit him to some degree around the rim (and we haven't discussed his defense), but his feel for thegame and high level shot making ability should help him make an impact for a team offensively sooner rather than later.

North Carolina State's T.J. Warren ranks as the highest usage player in this draft class averaging 23.5 possessions per-game. Ranking 2nd shooting 51.8% from the field but only scoring a slightly above average 1.02 points per possession, Warren is one of the most unique players in this class. He leads this group seeing 2.9 possessions per-game on cuts and 2.5 possessions per-game on put backs, but ranks below average in spot up and post up usage.

As much as Warren's proclivity towards catch and finish opportunities around the rim makes him unique, his shot distribution is what really stands out on paper. The talented forward made a below average 32.2% of his jump shots, but finished at a group-leading 70% clip around the rim, despite lacking elite athleticism.

Warren's finishing ability is the byproduct of his truly outstanding instincts and touch on short range shots. Those two things are also reflected in his knack for scoring with his floater. Scoring more points than any player in the country on runners shooting an impressive 49%, Warren makes up for his lack of jump shooting ability by making short range shots at an elite-level. Warren will be one of the truly interesting cases to keep track of in this class, as it's been some times since we've seen a small forward with his unique offensive skill set.

Jerami Grant's raw skill set shows here, but so does his ability to put his terrific athleticism to good use. Using a sample low 11.9 possessions per-game, Grant didn't play a prominent role in Syracuse's offense. He saw 30.6% of his offense on a combination of cuts and possessions as the roll man in pick and rolls, easily the most of any player in this group. He ranked average using 15.4% of his possessions in isolation situations, well below average with 7.3% of his touches coming in the post and 16% coming in spot-up situations.

Functioning as more of a hybrid power forward, Grant ranks as both the least prolific and efficient jump shooter in this group, scoring just .58 points per jump shot on 1.8 attempts per-game. Seeing more of his possessions around the rim than any other player, 62.4% of Grant's attempts come around the basket in the half court. Due to his interior-oriented role, athleticism, and aggressiveness attacking the basket, Grant draws free throws on 25.9% of his possessions overall, easily the top mark among small forwards. His 68.2% shooting in transition provides another example of how his physical tools translate to the offensive end at this stage in his career. Though the room Grant has to grow as a perimeter scorer is on display here, his athleticism shows as well. Whether or not that's enough to earn him minutes early in his career largely depends on where he lands on draft day and the role he's expected to play.

Clemson's K.J. McDaniels doesn't stand out on the whole scoring an average 1.00 points per possession, and his usage doesn't stand out in any particular playtype, but he nonetheless excels in a few key areas. McDaniels ranks as the top transition scorer in this group, scoring 1.49 points per fast break possession. He also ranks as the 3rd best finisher in the half court, scoring 1.36 points per possessions round the rim. McDaniels ranks as a below average perimeter scorer, putting up .83 points per-shot, but if he can develop his shooting efficiency enough to complement his athleticism, he could provide value as a roleplayer at the next level.

Wichita State's Cleanthony Early ranks 2nd in this group scoring 1.11 points per possession due in large part to the fact that he was effective from all over the floor. He scored a group leading 1.13 points per possession in the post, 3rd ranked 1.11 points per jump shot, and an above average 1.28 points per shot around the rim. If there's a downside to Early's profile, it's that he used fewer possessions than almost any player on this list creating his own shot in isolation and pick and roll situations, as Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker handled essentially all of the shot creating duties away from the rim. There's little doubt Early's numbers are inflated to some degree by the quality of competition he faced in the Missouri Valley Conference, but his overall skill level and performance against quality teams leaves plenty of room for optimism that his numbers are an accurate reflection of his talent and that he can help spread the floor and exploit mismatches at the next level in time.

UCLA's Kyle Anderson is as unique as you'd expect him to be on paper. Ranking below average in scoring efficiency relative to this group due primarily to his group leading 18.7% turnover rate and group worst .87 points per possession in transition, Anderson's status as his team's primary ball-handler has an obvious impact on his numbers. Using only 1.4 spot up, .7 cut, .8 off screen, and 1.1 post up possessions per-game, all of which rank well below average, almost a third of Anderson's possessions were isolations, easily the most of any player in this group, as he was charged with creating for himself and others as a sophomore. Finishing at an average 1.18 point per-shot rate inside, but showing massive improvement as a jump shooter, scoring 1.01 points per pull-up and 1.41 points per catch and shoot attempt, Anderson is yet another extremely unique small forward prospect who will be fascinating to keep track of in the coming years.

Rodney Hood ranks as the highest usage and most efficient pick and roll ball handler in this group. His 1.26 points per possessions on 2.2 possessions per-game are the result of his very good overall shooting numbers. He scored a 2nd ranked 1.11 points per-pull-up jump shot and above average 1.29 points per shot around the rim. While Hood is not a tremendous athlete, and got to the rim on a well below average 23.3% of his shots in the half court last season, his ability to score efficiently from the outside should give him a chance to make an impact early in his career in some capacity.

-DeAndre Daniels scored an average .99 points per possession on a below average 13.1 possessions per-game overall. His jump shooting is an asset, as his 1.11 points per jump shot ranks 3rd in this group, but he finished at a poor 52.7% clip around the rim.

If we look at the NCAA Tournament alone, Daniels scoring 1.06 points per possessions over 15.2 possessions per-game, which would make him the 3rd most efficient scorer in this group and around average in terms of usage. He finished at a tremendous 71.4% clip around the basket and shot just as well exploiting mismatches in the post during the postseason. Like Shabazz Napier, looking at Daniels's profile makes it easy to see why Connecticut was so successful this postseason.

Melvin Ejim warrants mention here as he ranks above average in both usage and efficiency scoring a 4th ranked 1.04 points per possession overall 17 possessions per-game. Ejim shot a group leading 71% in transition while scoring 1.08 points per jump shot. His 1.23 points per shot around the rim is just average, but Ejim showed massive improvement as a shooter over his career at Iowa State and coupled that with his high motor and strength to put together a tremendous senior year that perhaps ended prematurely after Georges Niang got hurt.

-James Young isn't particularly impressive here. He led the nation in spot-up possessions used, but his .93 points per possession overall ranks below average, while his 14.8 possessions per-game sits right around the sample mean. Young relied more heavily on jump shots than any player in this group, scoring a slightly above average 1.01 point per jump shot. Though Young had some impressive moments finishing around the rim this season, he scored a 4th-to-last 1.13 points per shot at the basket in the half court. Looking ahead, Young's impressive skill and extreme youth should help him continue to grow into a capable perimeter scorer, but he'll need to shore up his shot selection to improve his efficiency and may experience some growing pains if he isn't able to make some adjustments early on.

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