Situational Statistics: the 2013 Point Guard Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2013 Point Guard Crop
Jun 18, 2013, 12:55 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.

-Just By the Numbers: the 2013 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 18 Point Guards

-Trey Burke is widely considered the top point guard available in the 2013 draft and nothing we found in studying his situational stats would lead us to believe otherwise. He does not stand out in a major way on paper, but ranks well across the board and excels in a few key areas that should aid him in his transition to the next level.

Looking at the bigger picture, Burke's 18.5 possessions per-game, 0.999 overall points per-possessions (PPP), and 11.5% turnover rate all place him in the top-six of those respective categories. Erick Green, C.J. McCollum, and Nate Wolters all rank similarly well by those standards, and maybe even a little better, but Burke's standing in both usage and efficiency are especially impressive considering the quality of defense he faced on a nightly basis in the Big Ten and the pressure associated with being the top threat on a National Championship caliber team.

Burke did his best work as a scorer in the half court, where he once again hovers around the top-five in usage and efficiency. More a facilitator in transition, Burke sports a terrific 4.3-to-1 assist to turnover ratio on the fast break. His biggest weakness relative to his peer group may be his average scoring efficiency in transition, which is mostly due to the fact he got to the line on a sample worse 12.3% of his transition possessions.

Perhaps more so than any position in the NBA, point guards are defined by their ability to excel in one particular situation: the pick and roll. While Trey Burke ranks well in both the number of possessions he used dribble off of ball screens and the rate at which he turned them into points, what is truly remarkable about his numbers in the two-man game is the degree to which he valued the ball. Turning it over on just 8.2% of his pick and roll possessions, Burke's command of the ball makes him the only player with a single-digit turnover percentage.

Aside from the pick and roll, Burke ranks average to above average as a spot-up shooter, isolation scorer, and off screen threat. A 44.7% jump shooter off the catch and effective slasher with his left hand, Burke is a crafty shot creator with an array of weapons at his disposal to get the ball in the basket.

His biggest weapon as a scorer is his pull-up jump shot, which accounted for a sample leading 46.4% of his attempts in the half court last season. Yielding 1.01 points per-shot, Burke's pull-up is on par with Damian Lillard's coming out of Weber State (1 PPP) and was almost more effective for him than a finishing opportunity, where his 1.052 points per-shot ranks below average. It will be worth tracking how Burke fares when he attacks the rim at the next level, as his shooting at the basket and ability to create easy opportunities for himself at the line could be the key to his ability to take the next step as a pro.

-Every year there's a player who puts up outrageous numbers in a season shortened by any number of factors. That player this season is C.J. McCollum, who ranked third in overall usage at 20.8 possessions per-game and first in scoring efficiency at a tremendous 1.104 points per-possession.

Ranking second in both transition scoring efficiency at 1.26 PPP and half court scoring efficiency at 1.065 PPP, it was McCollum's prolific jump shooting prior to injuring his foot that helps him here. Connecting on more than 50% of his jump shots overall, with splits of 49% off the dribble and 61% off the catch, McCollum leads this group in field goal percentage on the pick and roll and in spot-up situations and ranks second one-on-one thanks to his hot perimeter shooting as a senior. Knocking down 36.6% of his jump shots in 35 games as a junior, McCollum clearly benefits from some sample size bias, but has a proven track record of being able to put pressure on opposing defenses with his ability to score from all over the court.

A slightly above average finisher and foul drawer, if McCollum has a true weakness on paper in this limited sample of games, it is that his profile reinforces that the role he filled was more aligned with playing off the ball than those of his peers. He did less creating for his teammates on the pick and roll than any player other than Lorenzo Brown at 2.6 pass outs to possessions per-game, well below the average of 6.1, and used screens without the ball to get open for 12% of his possessions, almost double the next closest player in this group.

Doing what he needed to as a scorer to lead Lehigh to wins, McCollum has acknowledged in interviews that he's prepared to make whatever adjustments he's asked to make as a lead guard at the next level to fit in stylistically.

-This study is not kind to Michael Carter-Williams who ranks as the least efficient scorer in this group at 0.746 points per-possession. His 22.1% overall turnover rate is the second worst among his peers, as is his 0.683 PPP in the half court. Those two stats are representative of the two key areas his scouting report notes he need to make strides in to reach his potential as a pro: his decision-making and perimeter shooting.

Turning the ball over on 28% of his pick and roll possessions, the highest among his peers, ball security was an area of concern for Carter-Williams in the half court last season. Sporting a 3.6 assist to turnover ratio in transition, he's more efficient as a playmaker in the open floor at this point in his career.

Carter-Williams' well documented issues as a shooter cost him here as well, as his 26.2% shooting on pull-up jumpers and 28% shooting off the catch are a major limiting factor on his scoring ability in the half court, resulting in his ranks as the second worst spot-up and 5th worst pick and roll shooter in this group.

Often lauded for his ability to score at the rim, a bit of fishing shows that Carter-Williams shoots a slightly below average 48.8% as a finisher in the half court, though he compensates by shooting nearly 60% at the basket as the ball-handler in transition.

While Carter-Williams doesn't look great here, this doesn't reveal anything teams don't already know about him. Whoever drafts him will be excited about his size, solid one-on-one ability, athleticism in the open floor, and the player he has the opportunity to become as he begins to work on his two very much improvable weaknesses.

-Shane Larkin's value proposition at the next level is simple, he created more combined points on the pick and roll for himself and his teammates last season than any prospect in the country at 14.3 points per-game. Playing in a pick and roll heavy, pro-style offense, Larkin kept defenses honest with his jump shot, which ranks second most efficient in this group at 1.137 points per-shot, and showed excellent command of the ball, turning the ball over on just 11.3% of his possessions creating in the two-man game. While scouts will scrutinize his size, his efficiency as a scorer and prolific shot creating ability seem tailor made for the NBA game.

-Dennis Schroeder is a fascinating case. Over the past few years, international players have more often than no looked entirely out of place in these studies as the roles they fill and style they are asked to play don't line up well with their NCAA counterparts.

That is not the case with Schroeder, whose significance to Braunschweig on the offensive end places his usage and efficiency only slightly below average relative to the other top point guards in this draft.

His main weaknesses on paper are his efficiency in transition, where he sports the second lowest field goal percentage at 44% and third highest turnover rate at 27.3%, and his pull-up jump shot, which he made a below average 30.6% of the time.

His biggest strength on paper, which lines up with what we saw at the Nike Hoop Summit, is his prolific ability creating for others on the pick and roll, as he ranks second in pass outs resulting in possessions per-game. His catch and shoot jump shot also warrants noting, as he knocked it down at a phenomenal 52.6% clip, albeit on 1.6 attempts per-game.

The apple to the NCAA oranges in this group, the fact that Schroeder ranks well or near the mean in any category bucks the trend of sub-par showings from international prospects in these articles over the years. Playing a key role in the German league at just 19 years of age, it isn't difficult to see why Schroeder is perhaps the highest climbing international prospect in this draft relative to where he stood a year ago.

-Erick Green stacks up exceptionally well against the top prospects in this class on paper, further reinforcing why he won ACC Player of the Year honors after carrying Virginia Tech's offense on his own for long stretches last year. Leading this group in usage at 22.8 possessions per-game, Green still managed to rank second in overall efficiency at 1.068 PPP, thanks in large part to his incredible low 9.2% turnover rate, which ranks as the lowest in this group by an impressive margin.

Green's low-mistake style of play and third-ranked overall free throw rate of 19.2% are conducive to success in this study, as his scoring efficiency ranks third in one-on-one, fourth in pick and roll, and fourth in transition. An above average jump shooter and finisher, who spent plenty of time creating for his teammates on the pick and roll despite his team's reliance on his jump shot, Green stands out here in a major way relative to his draft stock.

-Nate Wolters shares a number of similarities with Green on paper, despite the disparity in the quality of competition they played during their teams' respective conference schedules. Ranking a few spots behind Green in usage at 20.5 possessions per-game, Wolters edges him in scoring efficiency by a fraction of a point scoring 1.074 PPP overall. Turning the ball over slightly more, but getting to the line just as often, Wolters holds an advantage over Green as a shooter, ranking as the samples third most efficient jump shooter and fourth-most efficient finisher.

-Despite his reputation as a scorer, Isaiah Canaan did plenty of shot creating on the pick and roll, ranking right around average in possessions created from his passes out of the pick and roll. His 9.7 jump shot attempts per-game is tops in this group, and his 1.103 points per-possession on those attempts is above average.

-Lorenzo Brown faces the same obstacles as Michael Carter-Williams in reaching his potential. Scoring a sample low 0.671 PPP in the half court due to his sample leading 23.4% turnover rate, Brown will need to improve on his decision-making and bottom ranked 27.6% jump shooting to make the most of his size and achieve his NBA upside.

-Ray McCallum's 1.317 PPP in transition is terrific, and he drew fouls on a sample leading 18.9% of his possession in the half court, as his athleticism and aggressiveness as a finisher manifest themselves well here. Ranking right around average as a pick and roll and spot-up scorer, McCallum is at his best attacking the rim one-on-one. A 60.6% shooter around the basket, the Detroit product is the second best finisher in this group. A below average jump shooter, having converted a bottom-three ranked 29.4% of his attempts, there's some things to like about McCollum already as he continues to refine his perimeter shot.

-Myck Kabongo got to the rim more often than any player in this sample, with 59.3% of his shot attempts coming in the paint. He finished just 41.2% of those attempts, though, and needs to improve on his 30% shooting from the perimeter, but his speed translates here, as he ranks as the third most efficient scorer in transition scoring 1.25 points per-possession on the break.

-UNLV guard Anthony Marshall is far from a lock to hear his name called on draft night, but he deserves mention here for his interior scoring ability. A 64.6% shooter around the rim, Marshall is a tough and incredibly strong finisher for a point guard. He's also the only player in this sample who was used with any real frequency in the post, where he scored a respectable 0.886 PPP on 1 possessions per-game. Despite those merits, Marshall's 11.7 possessions used per-game is the second lowest in our sample and his 23% turnover-rate is the highest.

-Nemanja Nedovic doesn't stand out, but like Dennis Schroeder, doesn't look entirely out of place either. Scoring 1.058 points per-jump shot, Nedovic showed improve perimeter scoring ability in some of the best leagues outside of the NBA to go along with his oft noted athleticism.

-Australian point guard Matthew Dellavedova doesn't stand out as a scorer, but his 10.4 possessions resulting from passes out of the pick and roll per-game lead this group by a wide margin and are a reflection of his tremendous feel for setting the table dribbling off ball screens.

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