Situational Statistics: This Year’s Power Forward Crop

Situational Statistics: This Year’s Power Forward Crop
Jun 14, 2010, 03:31 am
Situational Statistics: This Year’s Small Forward Crop
Situational Statistics: This Year’s Shooting Guard Crop
Situational Statistics: This Year’s Point Guard Crop

Continuing our series of analyses, we take a look at one of the more balanced positions in this year’s draft. With a number of high-level and second-round-caliber prospects, the growing diversity of the power forward position has made this the deepest crop we’ve seen in quite some time, something that NBA teams are surely taking note of as they prepare to make their draft picks in 10 days.

Thanks to our friends over at Synergy Sports Technology, we have access to the most thorough situational statistics available today. Synergy keeps track of all the possession that takes place in nearly every college basketball game, accumulating an incredible wealth of extremely informative data.

Many of these statistics offer excellent insight into the players we evaluate, so we’ve taken the time to compile and sort through them in an effort to distinguish which players are, for instance, the most productive back to the basket threats, the most effective finishers around the basket, the most likely to draw fouls on a given possession, and the most efficient jump shooters.

With 24 of the top power forwards tabulated on our spreadsheet, we’ve created a short list of the most interesting things we’ve learned about this year’s crop of prospects.

Before you look at our findings, it is important to realize that there are some limitations to our analysis. For example, prospects on lower level teams will have some possessions missing each year because not all of their games were logged.

The exact breakdown of specific possession types can be highly subjective and thus somewhat inconsistent at times, which means that this data always needs to be taken with a grain of salt. We’ve tried to steer away from utilizing data that wouldn’t be considered statistically significant, but considering how short the college season is, that’s not always easy.

Our data obviously does not account for neither the strength of a player’s teammates, or his level of competition. Our sample of power forwards features two international players, Pablo Aguilar and Ludovic Vaty, and one D-League player, Latavious Williams.

What We Learned Last Season
2009 Article

• A few of the more efficient power forwards on our list carved out niches similar to the one’s that they played on the college level, just on a smaller scale.

Amongst the 24 power forwards on rankings last season, seven of whom opted to return to school, the three most efficient players included Jeff Pendergraph, DeJuan Blair, and Blake Griffin. Both Pendergraph and Blair wound up having highly efficient and productive seasons for their respective teams, especially when you consider where they were drafted. Both players saw their touches in post-up situations evaporate, allowing them to focus on what they did well at the college level, play tough and score easy baskets at the rim. Griffin wasn’t able to show how his situational stats may have translated for obvious reasons.

• The project vs. prospect debate made last year’s class very interesting, and gives us some perspective on our analysis for this season.

Jordan Hill and Earl Clark were two of the highest ranked power forwards on team boards last season, but neither managed to make a major splash with their respective NBA squads, and weren’t as productive in their rookie seasons as some of the players selected after them. Neither player looked particularly impressive statistically a year ago either as you can read in the article above.

Looking at the 2010 power forward class from top to bottom, aside from Patrick Patterson who was actually in last year’s sample as well, there are few players that could be described as finished products. The growing diversity of the power forward position requires players to be extremely good at playing at least one role, something that some of these players may not be capable of doing for some time. For that reason, it is important to note that players like Larry Sanders and Ed Davis may need a few seasons to develop before we can scrutinize their situational statistics with in a constructive manner.

Next season, we’ll certainly revisit both the 2010 and 2009 class to check back in Blake Griffin’s first year, and the second seasons of both Clark and Hill.


Derrick Favors didn’t get a ton of possessions to work with at Georgia Tech last year, but he has some impressive and concerning statistics on his situational resume.

At 12.1 possessions per-game, Favors ranks right around the average in terms of usage in our rankings. He actually falls behind Patrick Patterson, who notably sacrificed some of his touches to Kentucky’s freshman class. Favors didn’t benefit from playing next to a host of combo guards and no true playmaker with the mentality to get him the ball as often as possible around the rim. In limited touches, Favors shot an impressive 61.3% from the field (1st) and scored 1.0 PPP (5th).

Receiving some 92% of his touches in half court sets, Favors shot an incredible 84.2% in one fast break touch per-game, but still managed to connect on 59.5% of his other shots. He received roughly 35% of his possessions in post up situations, scoring a point on 43% of those touches. His 0.844 PPP is just average, and his turnover percentage of 21.5% ranks pretty high. Ranking as the fourth most turnover prone player in this sample at 20.9% overall, Favors clearly has to improve his ability to hold onto the ball and likely could have been the most efficient scorer in our sample if he hadn’t given away such a large portion of his possessions.

Favors’ role at GT is clear in the percentage of possessions he had to create for himself by crashing the glass. While his athleticism certainly played a role, Favors got nearly 20% of his touches by pulling down his teammate’s missed shots, something that his future coach probably won’t mind in the least bit. His interior oriented role is very evident in the 0.4 spot-up possessions per-game Favors used.

Favors may have get just 0.62 PPP on his 0.9 jumpers per-game, showing that he’ll need time to develop as a midrange, but his 72.1% shooting on finishing opportunities is outstanding. It seems clear that when Favors got the ball in position to score last season, he excelled, and that will help him early in his career, but the development of his post and midrange arsenal will be a key to his learn-term success as a player.

Patrick Patterson’s projections vary depending on who you talk to, but a situational analysis supports him as an immediate contributor who could be worth taking in the lottery.

Ranking right around average with a usage of 12.3 possessions per-game, Patterson ranks first amongst all power forward prospects at 1.139 PPP overall. The only player with a higher overall PPP in our 2010 draft rankings is Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku. On top of his excellent efficiency, Patterson turned the ball over on just 8.3% of his possessions, the second lowest mark in our rankings.

From a situation specific perspective, Patterson was one of the more versatile forwards on the list. He received some 18% of his total offense in spot-up situations (3rd), 16% in transition (2nd), and 15.4% from offensive rebounds (8th). The impact of Kentucky’s freshman on Patterson’s role is clear in the decline we see in his opportunities to create his own shot. After receiving 35.8% of his possessions in the post last season, he got to go one-on-one on the block just 18% of the time this year. Despite that drop in usage, he led our sample with 65% shooting in the post.

Patterson is capable of contributing on the next level in a number of ways, as his tools give him the ability to score in all sorts of set plays. His 0.894 PPP in jump shooting situations ranks above average, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Patterson continue to make progress in that part of the game. Around the rim he ranks above average at 1.368 PPP. Couple his ability to score from multiple areas, with his excellent intangibles, team-first mentality, and athleticism, and Patterson seems like a very safe pick for a team looking to compete next season.

Ekpe Udoh has developed into a highly versatile prospect in the past few seasons, but his situational efficiency still makes him look raw on paper.

Udoh’s 15.3 possessions per-game rank him above average in terms of usage, but his 0.885 PPP ranks him as the third least efficient player in our sample overall. Aside from his lack of efficiency, Udoh is a unique player in terms of where his shots come from. He’s able to step out to the midrange and make an impact while also displaying the length and fluidity to get to the rim.

Udoh ranks 5th in our sample in both jump shots per-game (3.4) and spot-up PPP at 1.08. He also used an impressive 14.1% of his offensive possessions in isolation situations, which would have ranked him right around average amongst small forwards. Udoh’s 0.831 points-per possession in isolation situations would have ranked him 8th amongst small forwards, and is a prime example of what he can bring to the table at the next level as a mismatch threat.

Some of Udoh’s overall inefficiency stems from the fact that he was often the one creating his own shots in Baylor’s offense and didn’t finish at a high rate. Nearly 54% of his offense came off post ups, isolations, or offensive rebounds, which is certainly impressive, but his 53.3% shooting in finishing situations is well below average. Udoh’s lack of physical strength, especially in his lower body, and average explosiveness, remain a concern moving forward. Udoh should benefit from having to shoulder less of a shot creating burden for himself in the future, but he still has a lot of room to add polish at age 23.

Ed Davis missed quite a bit of time down the stretch, but he accomplished quite a bit early in the year and looks better from a situational perspective than some more polished players.

Davis’ 12.5 possessions per-game rank him just above Patterson in terms of usage and still right around the average for our sample of power forwards. His 1.0 overall PPP is good for 6th, and shows that despite being a raw offensive player, he still gets the job done efficiently. He certainly helped his cause last season by getting fouled on 12.3% of his shots (3rd).

Though Davis was pretty productive overall relative to his touches, he ranked right around the average in post up situations in terms of efficiency (0.84 PPP) and usage (4 Pos/G). He benefitted from the play of his teammates, finishing his possessions from basket cuts at an excellent 77.8% clip. In contrast, he shot just 28.6% in a meager sample of spot-up opportunities (0.4 Pos/G). Clearly, Davis still needs to improve his midrange game to become a more capable threat from the elbows and a more versatile scorer.

Attempting the fewest jump shots on our list at just 0.4 shots per-game, Davis got a larger percentage of his shots in finishing situations than every player on our list aside from Latavious Williams. Though Davis was able to be pretty effective on the whole, he’s a bit limited in what areas he can help a team at this time. Whatever team drafts him will do so with the hope that he’ll be able to round out the rest of his game while still taking advantage of what his teammates can create for him around the basket.

Larry Sanders stacks up pretty well with Ed Davis at 1.03 PPP on 13 possessions per-game. He’s come a long way from his freshman year, and it shows in his situational statistics. His 55.3% shooting from the post (4th) is incredible considering how raw he was with his back to the basket when he got to VCU. He still has a ways to go, as his 0.421 PPP in jump shooting situations indicates his lack polish from the midrange, but couple his length and athleticism with his 1.421 PPP in finishing situations (3rd) and Sanders seems like a nice long-term option for a team with the time develop him.

• Charles Garcia may be maligned for his intangibles and the way he finished the year for Seattle, but he ranks second here in usage (21.2 Pos/G), and yielded a free throw on more possessions than anyone in our rankings (24.1%). His 0.909 PPP isn’t too impressive, but his size and ability to play multiple positions make him one of the most intriguing boom or bust prospects in the draft.

• Gani Lawal doesn’t really stand out in any one area, with a 0.913 overall PPP. His usage was actually higher than that of teammates Derrick Favors at 13.6 possessions per-game. With nearly 50% of his usage coming from post-ups and 16.5% from offensive rebounds, Lawal will benefit from playing with a true point guard at the next level and did manage to draw free throws on 21.1% of his possessions (3rd).

• Jarvis Varnado has made a lot of progress since he arrived at Mississippi State. His 1.03 PPP ranks well above average, and his 13.4% shots-fouled percentage ranks first in our entire sample. Varnado took less jump shots than any other player in our sample (0.4 Shots/G), but he made 51.6% of his shots from the post, where he spent the third largest percentage of his usage (46.3%).

• Craig Brackins took a step back from his 0.9 overall PPP ranking last in this year’s rankings, to 0.86 per-possessions this year. Much like Michael Washington, he didn’t do much to help himself with another season in school, but nearly 40% of Brackins’ shots were jumpers and ranked second in post up possessions per-game at 6.9 each contest. The diversity of his game is intriguing for a player his size, but his polish still leaves a lot to be desired.

• Pablo Aguilar has the second lowest PPP in our ranks (0.872) and shot just 36.5% from the field for CB Granada in the ACB this season. His 1.11 PPP in spot-up situations ranks third in our standings and reinforces the notion that Aguilar’s best asset is his ability to stretch the floor. His 38.5% shooting as a finisher is a good representation of how the European game impacts a player’s efficiency at the basket.

• Latavious Williams is unsurprisingly the second lowest player in our rankings in usage (7.8 possessions per-game), but he finished at a well above average 66.1% clip at the rim against NBADL competition. He’s limited in spot up situations, and got a meager 0.6 post up possessions per-game, showing that he still has a ton of room to grow. He’s a player to keep an eye on, as the viability of prep-to-D-League jumps will hinge on his selection and performance in coming seasons.

• Luke Harangody made a concerted effort to become more perimeter-oriented this season. His 5.3 jump shots per-game rank first on our list in a tie with Craig Brackins. Harangody’s overall PPP of 0.971 is just average because of his questionable shooting (38.1%) on those attempts.

• Dwayne Collins turns the ball over as often as anyone on our rankings, but also shoots 60.8% from the field and gets fouled on 21.7% of his shots. A highly aggressive and extremely strong big man, it should come as no surprise that Collins has performed well in workouts.

• Gavin Edwards ranks second in overall PPP (1.06), but is one of the lowest usage players in our rankings at 9.6 possessions per-game. His role as a complementary player at UConn afforded him some success on paper, but he turned the ball over at a high rate for a roleplayer (16.5%), even if he did manage to compensate by getting fouled on 11.3% of his shots (8th).

-Situational Statistics: This Year’s Point Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: This Year’s Shooting Guard Crop
-Situational Statistics: This Year’s Small Forward Crop

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