NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/13/08-- Part One

NCAA Weekly Performers, 2/13/08-- Part One
Feb 13, 2008, 02:54 am
Roy Hibbert, 7’2, Center, Senior, Georgetown
13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 2.1 blocks, 60% FG, 63% FT

Joseph Treutlein

After a very encouraging junior season at Georgetown, Roy Hibbert hasn’t performed as well as many expected he would as a senior, with his efficiency falling off considerably, though his 60% field-goal percentage is still hardly anything to sneer at. Also, despite improving on his repertoire of moves and know-how in the post over the past three years, Hibbert’s minutes, points, and rebounds per game have mostly remained stagnant during that time period, which can be seen as concerning.

Looking at his game this season, one thing Hibbert clearly consistently does well with is his scoring in the painted area, where he has a nice repertoire of moves at his disposal. His bread-and-butter would have to be his hook shot, as he’s nearly automatic with his right hand, and solid with his left as well. He can convert his hook shots in a variety of ways, either from a standstill, rolling across the lane, or coming off a spin move. With his height and length, these shots are virtually unblockable, and these are shots he likely won’t have trouble getting off even at the next level due to his size. Hibbert clearly favors using these hook shots, but he will show off nice dropstep or turnaround jumper moves on occasion, and generally shows good footwork and transitioning between fakes and moves in the post, though he can be prone to traveling when he tries to do too much. His quickness in getting off moves, while not a problem at this level, may become an issue at the next level, where he’ll face bigger, more athletic defenders and have peskier weakside help to deal with.

In terms of finishing at the rim, Hibbert has excellent touch around the basket for the most part, though he struggles to finish through contact, not possessing a great amount of fluidity or explosiveness. It’s also worth noting that he will rarely attempt to dunk the ball except when wide open, and when he does, he isn’t always able to finish over opponents while making contact. This may be due to confidence and aggressiveness more than ability, as he’s looked better in this regard in seasons past, looking for the dunk more often.

Without the ball, Hibbert is constantly working for position and calling for the ball in the post, and when he isn’t, he’s out on the perimeter setting screens for teammates. He shows a nice propensity for cutting and finishing off the ball as well, which is a large part of the Princeton offense Georgetown employs. Hibbert also shows nice ability as a passer, either kicking out of the post or hitting cutters through the lane. As for rebounding the ball, Hibbert’s 6.8 boards per game is slightly misleading due to his team’s slow pace and his only playing 26 minutes per game, but he still is not a dominant rebounder, especially for his size.

Hibbert has shown a developing jump shot over the past few seasons, and while he’s had some success with it this year (he’s 2-for-2 on three-pointers, including one game-winning shot over UConn), he hasn’t been consistently effective with it, even from 12-15 feet. Also concerning, while his mechanics have improved over the past three seasons, his free-throw shooting has dropped from 72% to 69% to 63%.

On the defensive end, Hibbert uses his length and size very well, especially in defending the post in man-to-man situations. Here he shows outstanding patience and isn’t often beat, as very few players at this level can go over or through him, and he moves well enough laterally on the block to handle players at this level when they try to go around him, and if they do get around him, he has the length and timing on his shot-blocking to recover. Hibbert is suspect on the perimeter, though, as his lateral quickness is lacking there, and at times, he chooses to stay home in the paint rather than drifting out to contest jumpers against more perimeter-oriented opponents he’s matched up with.

Hibbert is a senior, so he’ll automatically be eligible for the draft this season, where he should be firmly in lottery discussions. While he’s been a very productive college player, there are many question marks surrounding his game and how it will translate to the next level. For one, while his conditioning on the court doesn’t appear to be an issue from watching him, he’s never averaged more than 26 minutes per game in his four years at Georgetown. Also, his below-average athleticism leaves doubts about how some of his offense will translate, while he already has issues defending perimeter players. While these are noteworthy concerns, his high work ethic, intelligence as a basketball player, improvement in his four years at college, and his lack of basketball experience prior to college are things in his favor, which GM’s will have to strongly consider in evaluating his game in June. It should also be mentioned that he is extremely young for his class, having only turned 21 two months ago.

Ty Lawson, 5-11, Sophomore, Point Guard, North Carolina
13.6 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 2.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 54% FG, 36% 3P, 82% FT, 26 minutes

Jonathan Givony

There’s probably no better time to evaluate Ty Lawson’s contribution to North Carolina than right now, after sitting out the last four games with a high ankle sprain and giving us a chance to see just what he means to his team. North Carolina has struggled in every game he’s missed so far, losing one to Duke, needing overtime to defeat Clemson at home, and then struggling to defeat some of the worst teams in the ACC on the road against Florida State and Virginia. It’s pretty clear by now that they miss Lawson, and any talk of him just being a product of their system has been proven to be incorrect. From what we can tell—he is actually the key to the way they play. Look no further than the fact that they score 92.1 points per game with Lawson in their lineup, and “only” 83.4 points without him.

Comparing the prospect we saw last year and the one in front of us today, we clearly see some progress made between his freshman and sophomore years. Lawson is scoring at a much better rate, but is also doing so while being significantly more efficient. He’s getting to the free throw line better, and has improved his percentages from the stripe dramatically, nearly 14%. His 3-point percentages, assists and turnovers have stayed virtually the same, and he’s currently #2 in the country in Pure Point Rating.

With that said, Lawson’s strengths and weaknesses still look to be about the same. There still isn’t anyone that can stay in front of him in transition, and his ability to push the ball up the floor and slice his way through traffic remains unparalleled at the collegiate level. His body control, ball-handling skills, and incredible speed in the open floor are what make him the terrific prospect he is, and are the main reason why North Carolina is the second highest scoring team in the country.

43% of Lawson’s offense comes in transition, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified player reports. That’s an incredibly high number—for comparison, Derrick Rose stands at 23.3%, DJ Augustin at 17.8%, Eric Gordon at 21.9%, O.J. Mayo at 18.3%, Jerryd Bayless at 16.8%, and Darren Collison is at 25.3%.

Lawson not only pushes the ball incredibly well after his team makes a stop, he also has an uncanny ability to get his team into transition after a made basket, which is extremely difficult. He does more than just get out into the open floor, though, he also finishes extremely well at the hoop (despite his lack of size), thanks to his terrific strength and toughness, and just how open he is by the time he gets there. Synergy’s quantified reports tell us that he converts on 72% of the shots he takes at the rim, which again is better than all the other point guards we have in our first round. Rose converts on 52.3%, Augustin 48%, Gordon 61%, Mayo 43%, Bayless 65%, and Collison 55%. More than just a scorer, though, Lawson also has outstanding court vision to find the open man, and is quite unselfish doing so.

In the half-court, Lawson is getting better, but still isn’t quite as good as you might hope. His 3-point shot is still not a consistent enough weapon, although he can hit shots from behind the arc with his feet set if he has time to get it off, due to his slow, low release point. He is pretty streaking doing so, though, and does not have much of a mid-range game to compensate for that either. If Lawson can’t get to the basket (as lethal a weapon as his right to left crossover is), his team’s offense tends to bog down--as he isn’t the most natural improviser you’ll find at the collegiate level. He’ll sometimes get out of control and take excessive chances with the ball, overpenetrating or dishing out risky passes. More than any other point guard in this draft possibly, Lawson is a guy that needs to be drafted into the right offensive system, with a coach that is fully committed to taking advantage of his strengths.

Defensively, we find mostly a mixed bag. On one hand, Lawson is very physical, strong, with superb lateral quickness, capable of staying in front of almost any point guard and being very pesky contesting shots. He also does an excellent job getting in the passing lanes, and will ignite some one-man fast breaks all by himself every game by picking up a couple of steals.

On the other hand, Lawson is not consistent at all in his effort on this end of the floor, lacking some focus, taking plays off from time to time, and not showing the greatest awareness on this end of the floor when he isn’t just pit-bulling his man into coughing up the ball. As much credit as he deserves for being the engine behind arguably the best offense in the NCAA, he also deserves his fair share of blame for the fact that North Carolina is nowhere near as good defensively, often because of his lack of effort and concentration on this end. NBA coaches are already often biased against smaller playmakers because of the way that bigger guards can just shoot over the top of them (as well as the fact that they limit their options defending the pick and roll), and Lawson isn’t doing them any favors at the moment.

It will be interesting to see whether Lawson picks things up as the season progresses and his team moves into NCAA tournament play, where his team will need him at his best on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to get healthy first, though.

Marcelus Kemp, 6-5, Senior, Shooting Guard, Nevada
19.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.7 turnovers, 45% FG, 39% 3P, 87% FT, 32 minutes

Despite putting up very impressive numbers each of the last two seasons, Marcelus Kemp was always stuck in the shadow of his better known teammate Nick Fazekas. With Fazekas in his first year at the professional level now though, Kemp has emerged not only as the leader of the Wolfpack, but as one of the top players in the WAC.

Physically, Kemp has strengths and weaknesses. At 6’5”, the senior has average size for the two-guard spot in the NBA, and does not show to versatility to suggest that he could play any other position. Kemp is built very solidly though, packing 218 pounds onto his frame. This helps him a lot when it comes to fighting through screens, rebounding inside and dealing with contact from defenders. Kemp is an average overall athlete; he has decent quickness, and shows great strength and body control. He is also lacking somewhat is his abilities as a leaper, not being particularly explosive finishing around the basket.

The majority of Kemp’s possessions on offense come in isolation situations. This isn’t surprising since he is the team’s top scoring weapon and since he is responsible for more than a quarter of the Wolfpack’s shot attempts per game. Kemp is at his most effective here when he puts the ball on the floor and slashes to the basket. He knows how to get into the paint and does a fairly good job of breaking down defenders thanks to his good basketball instincts. His decent quickness is offset however by his ball-handling skills which need to improve. Kemp is quick enough where he could get into the lane at the next level, but his somewhat average dribbling ability often leaves him a half step too slow.

Once in the lane, things get interesting for Kemp. Despite his great body control and his ability to get himself decent looks at the rim, he struggles to finish inside in traffic. Again, having a stronger vertical leap would allow him to elevate over defenders and finish with great ease, but often in contorting himself around opponents he loses the touch on his shot. Once positive note for Kemp, though, is his tenacity on the offensive glass. He averages nearly 1.5 offensive rebounds per game, the majority of which come from his own misses. He uses his strong frame well to gain position, and often simply just outworks other players to get the ball.

Kemp’s biggest strength however is his midrange game. His ability to pull up off the dribble and knock shots down consistently is very impressive for a player at the college level. He likes the step back and does a good job of creating space for himself to shoot on the move. Kemp has nice shooting form, but has a tendency to kick out his feet and fade away on a lot of shot attempts. He is a solid perimeter shooter as well, connecting on nearly 39% of his attempts this season. From beyond the arc, he is primarily a catch and shoot player, but one that can hurt opposing teams if he is left open.

Defensively, it has been hard to gauge Kemp this season due to Nevada playing a tremendous amount of zone. His lateral quickness is a concern and it seems like he would have some struggles guarding his position in the NBA. His 6’9” wingspan helps him challenge opponents’ shots better than he would be able to normally due to his average athleticism, though. Kemp seems to get lost sometimes in the zone. He plays down low in the 2-3 setup, but often appears to get confused as to who he should match up with when the ball is on his side of the floor. In the few times that we have seen Kemp in man-to-man situations, he has struggled at times to stay in front of his man.

All in all, it is probably going to be somewhat of an uphill battle for Kemp to be drafted into the NBA. He is a rarity in that he is a sixth year senior, having redshirted for one season and taken a medical redshirt after tearing his ACL several years ago. He is a big time scorer at the collegiate level, but appears to lack the physical tools necessary to make him a standout player at the next level. His strength and aggressiveness will definitely win him some points with scouts, as will his solid shooting ability. Big showings at events like Portsmouth and Orlando will be a necessity in order to wind up in an NBA uniform next year, though.

Robbie Hummel, 6-8, Freshman, SF/PF, Purdue
10.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 turnovers, 1.2 steals, .6 blocks, 50% FG, 46% 3P, 85% FT

Jonathan Givony

One of the more versatile freshmen in this class probably deserves a mention before the season is up, particularly considering how well both him and his team are playing as of late. Purdue knocked off #8 ranked Wisconsin on the road this past weekend, and then proceeded to beat #9 Michigan State on their home floor. That leaves them in first place in the Big 10, which is absolutely fantastic for a team that lost two incredibly productive seniors in David Teague and Carl Landry this summer, and is currently starting four freshmen. One of those freshmen is Robbie Hummel, and he stepped up his game in a huge way over the past few days in both of those games, coming up with 21 points and 4 rebounds at Wisconsin, and then 24 points and 11 rebounds against Michigan State.

The 6-8 combo forward is a big time mismatch threat on the collegiate level. He is a decent athlete who does a little bit of everything for Purdue, knocking down shots, setting screens, taking the ball to the basket, moving off the ball intelligently, grabbing offensive rebounds, blocking shots, getting steals, and more. He’s an extremely active player who plays the game with great passion and seems committed to winning, and is very unselfish with fantastic passing skills to boot, as his 2.7 assists (compared to just 1.4 turnovers) would attest. He can put the ball on the floor with either hand, but lacks a great first step and is not a strong enough ball-handler to consistently create his own shot at this point. When he does get to the basket (often with some very smart cuts), he might lack a bit of strength to finish, as his frame looks underdeveloped at the moment and will probably take a few years to fill out.

Hummel shows good promise as a shooter, as evidenced by the 46% he is hitting from behind the arc this season. He is solid with his feet set, showing a very quick release, but has extremely unorthodox mechanics, looking unbalanced in his footwork, jumping forward, and releasing the ball from a low (but consistent) vantage point. He only takes about two 3-pointers per game at this point (a very low amount), so we’ll have to see how he progresses in this area. Hummel can put the ball on the floor once and pull-up off the dribble, but this does not look like a great strength of his at this point, and he can probably still get more consistent in all areas of his shooting.

Defensively is where Hummel will have to improve the most to be considered a small forward prospect over the next few years. His lateral quickness is extremely poor, struggling to stay in front of virtually anyone when guarding the perimeter, as he lacks footwork, is too upright, and does not have the strength to fight through screens. Right now it looks like he’ll be fighting an uphill battle unless he improves significantly in this area.

Hummel looks like a great get for Purdue and should be around for a few more years in order for us to continue to evaluate. He’s the type of player who will endear himself to scouts only through producing and winning games, and not through his upside.

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