Kamar Baldwin and the Patrick Beverley All-Stars
In Part One, we introduced you to Kamar Baldwin. In Part Two of the series, we looked at Patrick Beverley’s impact on the Rockets and what it means towards winning. In Part Three, we’ll introduce you to to some college players that have the potential to follow in his footsteps. The Patrick Beverley All-Stars. Players who can provide pressure at the Point-of-Attack on offense who perhaps lack the pure PG skills to be a primary initiator.
Though I’ll also go beyond just those players, looking at any number of players who might be better being moved off the ball on offense, even if they have to play PG on defense. Again, I’m of the opinion that converted college Point Guards make for potentially excellent NBA Wings on offense, especially if they can shoot the basketball. The reason being that they almost always see the floor and dribble better than their college Wing counterparts. (An example of this type of player is Ian Clark.)
Patrick Beverley, or early-career George Hill are good NBA examples. But in college you can see the same effect on Kansas, with Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham able to exchange primary handling responsibilities, since both can can shots and beat their man off the dribble. It’s that arrangement which makes Kansas dynamic on offense. A 116.8 Offensive Rating. Good for 13th in the country.
Now consider the number of tall players in the NBA with initiation skills. Lebron, Butler, Durant, Giannis, Simmons, Draymond, Kawhi, among them. Then there’s the players you’d rather stash on less dangerous offensive players, such as Steph Curry or James Harden. Perhaps soon to be Lonzo Ball, though I think Ball, something like a taller version of Curry, can actually provide a decent amount of impact in such a role.
(Curry might be the worst individual defender on the Warriors, but he creates steals and plays minutes on a defense that regularly features among the league leaders. He’s a better than advertised defender.)
Given that players with these skills are becoming more useful to a greater number of teams, its perhaps fortunate there’s a number of prospective players with these skills in the coming drafts.
A Look at Recent Drafts To Find Some Recent Examples of This Kind of Player
To get a sense of the different skills a player can lack, perhaps we should look at a few such players from recent drafts. In 2015, we had Delon Wright, who lacked both suddenness with his dribble and the consistency to shoot off-the-dribble with range. But also figured to shoot from distance if he got more reps and more opportunities off the catch. (He shot 36% from Three in his one NBADL season.)
Of course, he has a chance to play PG. However, quite a lot about Wright’s profile now and coming out of college suggests he’d be of better benefit playing off-the-ball on offense.
Jerian Grant, who didn’t possess the same defensive profile, had some similar markers in his profile. Namely that he lacked the quickness with the ball to consistently beat good defenders, but could really shoot off-the-catch.
Andrew Harrison was a third. He clearly lacked PG decision making and passing skills. But he played excellent defense, could shoot from three and knew how to draw contact on dribble drives. At PG, he wasn’t much of a prospect. However, allowed to play off-ball, his passing compared to many of his peers would actually be a benefit. And we’ve seen this story largely play out this year for the Memphis Grizzlies. Though Harrison hasn’t yet shot for shit from anywhere. (I’m guessing that’s eventually going to change from Three, if he can stay in the league long enough. But not necessarily from Two.)
We could tell similar stories in 2016. Kris Dunn, Gary Payton II, Wade Baldwin, Patrick McCaw, Malcolm Brogdon and even DeAndre’ Bembry might all to some extent fit this mold. Players with a good chance to guard at the point-of-attack, but perhaps lacking something on offense. Whether that be shooting-off-the-dribble, Point Guard decision-making, Point Guard passing ability, an ability to handle the ball cleanly at speed (Wade Baldwin), an ability to get easily around top-level defenders.
This Year’s Patrick Beverley and Ian Clark All-Stars
When trying to flesh out if a player will have the chance to play on-the-ball at the next level, off-the-dribble shooting is a pretty good test. Another is speed. (Early John Wall or early Rondo being examples.) And lastly, craftiness with the ball. (Andre Miller. He’s The Professor for a reason.) Players have been able to succeed at PG without one or two of these qualities. No one has been able to succeed without all three.
Below are the players who perhaps lack one or the other right now, arranged roughly by shooting.
Players Who Can Shoot From Distance Right Now, perhaps even Off-The-Dribble:
Kamar Baldwin, Ky Baldwin, Aaron Holiday, Frank Mason, Devonte Graham, Joel Berry, Nigel Williams-Goss, Giddy Potts, JeQuan Lewis.
Off-The-Catch Shooters With Perhaps A Chance For More:
Andrew Jones, Shake Milton, Khyri Thomas, Sterling Brown, Dazon Ingram, Kadeem Allen.
Questionable Jump Shot, But Noticeable Signs of Potential:
De’Anthony Melton, Bruce Brown, PJ Dozier, Kobi Simmons, Jajuan Johnson, Daishon Smith, Tarik Phillip, Kenny Williams, Donovan Mitchell, Jevon Carter.
Highly Questionable Jumpshots:
Tahjere McCall, Isaiah Briscoe, Trent Forrest, Kerwin Roach, Jr., Doug Brooks, Edmond Sumner.
Two Quick Notes On These Categories
1) The categories are somewhat fluid. If you wanted to argue players like Donovan Mitchell or Jevon Carter belonged a category up because of positive Free-Throw Shooting numbers, or players like Andrew Jones or Kadeem Allen belonged a category down, that’s fine. These players are all on a continuum of shooting success and categories are a blunt tool which allow us to simplify the world, so that we can more easily process information.
However, that simplification has both drawbacks and advantages, which is perhaps why algorithms are so in demand. They too simplify the world for us, but they have the appearance of doing so without arbitrary borders. And yet, might it not also be the case that, at least occasionally, these arbitrary borders we create are the result of sub-conscious processing and understanding of the information before us? That what seems arbitrary is not always the case.
Though in this case, that line of reasoning would be applied more to the categories themselves and less to the players within them.
2) If I was considering internationals, Frank Ntilikina would fall into this group of players. And if I believed in his defense and jumper, I’d be apt to grade him incredibly highly. 6’6″ players of this type with real shot making ability are very rare.
As we’ll see when we go over this college list, it’s very difficult to find a tall-ish player who is convincing both in terms of their shot making ability and their potential to guard PG at the Point-of-Attack at the next level. Just look at how valuable Andre Iguodola has been the last three years, even shooting 35% from distance. Now imagine Tony Allen, who can easily play up in height, due to strength, awareness and reaction ability, with a 40% jump-shot.
I don’t know if it’s true, since I don’t have much experience with Ntilikina, but when I hear people talk about him, that’s the kind of player I envision. If he’s got Tony Allen like defensive ability, he can shoot, and he can dribble and pass for his role on the team, we aren’t talking about an ordinary role player anymore. We’re talking about one of those rare players that adds lots of value without using lots of offensive possessions.
If you’ll look back in history, every championship team in the history of basketball has at least one, if not two or three or four players that qualify for this distinction. Especially if you consider players like Lebron James, who use tons of possessions, but add value over and above that usage, because of play-making and defense.
The thing about these players is that they are usually Big Men who add value on the defensive end. Tim Duncan or Draymond Green. Finding a Small who can fulfill a similar role is very, very rare. Going back through historical RPM, it’s very hard to find +2 defenders at PG, SG, SF, who not only provide positive offensive value, but can shoot threes.
We’re talking about stars like Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George. And in rare cases, off-ball players like Danny Green, Wes Matthews and Khris Middleton in 2014-2105, the year of the off-ball Wing. The thing you’ll notice about off-ball Wings in that season, none of them added very much with their passing. That’s the aspect of Ntilikina’s game that could make him truly unique, even as an off-ball guy, if his defense and three-point shooting are real.
Now Let’s Arrange These Players Speculatively By Defense
In terms of players who might perform in similar ways to Patrick Beverley, we’re talking about players who provide real defensive utility. Still, I’ve included a number of players who I think would be much more useful to an offense as a Two in the NBA, but don’t necessarily project to provide much defensive value. Thus, we should separate the players by defensive potential as well
Clear Defensive Potential: Kamar Baldwin, De’Anthony Melton, Donovan Mitchell, Jevon Carter, Shake Milton, Andrew Jones, Bruce Brown, Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons, Trent Forrest, Kerwin Roach Jr., Tahjere McCall, Doug Brooks, Tarik Phillip.
Good Enough College Defense or Athleticism, But Questionable Frame, Athleticism or College Results (in terms of guarding the One): Nigel Williams-Goss, Joel Berry, Devonte’ Graham, JeQuan Lewis, Khyri Thomas, Dazon Ingram, PJ Dozier, JaJuan Johnson, Sterling Brown, Isaiah Briscoe, Kenny Williams, Daishon Smith, Giddy Potts, Edmond Sumner.
No Chance Defenders, Because of Frame, Athleticism or Ability: Frank Mason (too small), Aaron Holiday and Ky Bowman (neither is at all good defensively).
You’d expect the better bets to be Patrick Beverley type players to be guys who come from the first or second category on defense and one of the shooting categories on offense. That basically removes Forrest, Roach Jr., McCall, Brooks, Mason, Holiday, Bowman and Sumner from real consideration as a Patrick Beverley type. Yet these players should still be talked about as they have some real strengths that might translate to the NBA level. At least at some point.
Others like Jajuan Johnson or Sterling Brown are more true Wing prospects. But they have more combo-guard skills than your typical Wing prospect and are each sometimes asked at size to initiate offense.
There are of course other ways to categorize these players, but in terms of players somewhere on the Patrick Beverley continuum (Point of Attack defense, Potential to be a Secondary Playmaker on Offense, Deep Shooting), Baldwin, Melton, Mitchell, Carter, Milton, Jones, Brown, Allen, Simmons and perhaps Dozier are the best bets. I also really like Giddy Potts and Nigel Williams-Goss, but they lack the impact athleticism or size of some of these prospects. Though both are smart and more than capable college defenders.
One Name To Remember
London Perrantes is absolutely a name I should have included here. Check out this excellent write-up by Mark Titus. He’s short (6’2″), by no means what we consider an NBA athlete and not a spectacular bet to penetrate the paint or to be able to endlessly keep his dribble ala T.J. McConnell. It could be possible, but it’s not the role I’d put him in.
The thing is, for Perrantes, it doesn’t need to be. Like McConnell, he’s a scrappy defender who tries hard and has played on a number of excellent college defenses. Unlike McConnell, who was always a better bet to succeed than he’s been made out to be, Perrantes has obvious off-ball skills, shooting 49% and 43% from distance the last two years, with well over 100 makes. And he’s got legitimate NBA range.
You add in dribbling, passing, decision making, and there’s no reason he couldn’t resemble a version of McConnell that plays off-ball on offense. He probably doesn’t have all the same skills, definitely not as a defensive rebounder and probably not as a play-maker for others. However, for a guy that’s likely to go undrafted, given a shot by an organization that realizes his strengths and weaknesses, it’s possible there’s an NBA future at some point. It’s also possible there’s more play-making skill than we’ve been led to believe. After all, we’ve seen a similar scenario play out with Malcolm Brogdon.
Now Let’s Look at the Numbers
First, I’m going to give you a comparison between these 31 college players, Patrick Beverley, and other current NBA guys that have held a similar role to Patrick Beverley, either now or at some point in their career. We’re talking guys like Kyle Lowry, Chauncey Billups and George Hill. Guys like Avery Bradley. Guys like Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell and Patrick McCaw.
If you’ll notice, at least in respect to Lowry, Billups and Hill, one of the most exciting things about this kind of player is that they sometimes have real star potential. A real chance to be one of the driving forces of the league’s best teams, given enough time to develop. That’s a hidden, but potentially a very real benefit of selecting this kind of guy. Even if it’s often another team that reaps the rewards of such protracted development.
Though before I get to the tables, I have to say that one problem of listing so many players now and past with so many statistics is that they can be difficult to read and make comparisons. From that end, I’ve highlighted most of the past player seasons, and we’ll be sorting these tables by categories. That should allow you to spot where our contemporary college players are similar and different. Not just to themselves, but to past players.
I’ve also highlighted the aforementioned Patrick Beverley in a deeper color (Red) than many of the other players, who mostly appear in pastels.
Lastly, I’ve also included some players who are anything but Patrick Beverley All-Stars. Guys like Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks, Tony Wroten. The first two because I think they might be better comparisons for a guy like Ky Bowman, who I’ve been asked to included. Tony Wroten, because he’s a good example of the downside for this kind of player if they both can’t shoot and turn the ball over a lot. (As a kind of basement for Josh Jackson’s offensive stock, imagine Tony Wroten with less dribble-drive ability but greater passing acumen.)
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Two-Point Percentage
1) It’s interesting to note Two-Point Percentage. Especially when considering Patrick Beverley, as his low Two-Point percentage, moreso than even his low assist totals is perhaps the best indicator that being a Primary Perimeter Initiator was not a likely career path. The reason being that players generally suffer low Two-Point Percentages indicate a flaw in the players game.
Maybe the player struggles to finish around the rim in traffic. Maybe the player can’t get to the rim and has to settle for lots of mid-range jumpers. Maybe the player has to work on decision making. Problems like those.
2) Considering current players Shake Milton might be a good example to note in this case. Watch this DraftExpress video, which showcases Milton’s strengths and weaknesses over a couple of recent games. It tells us a lot of what we need to know, though it’s probably a bit too harsh in regards to Milton’s defense.
He does show somewhat inconsistent effort, technique and results, but SMU is the 28th best defensive team in the country. That’s despite not playing a single player over 6’8″. The Mustangs also have a reasonable strength of schedule (around 80th best) and Milton plays 35 minutes a game. Which is to say, if he sucked on defense, it would show in the team’s results.
Beyond that, it’s evident, that much of SMU’s success on defense begins with the pressure its three guards are able to exert on the ball. And with the fact that the team plays as a unit. He does lack upper end quickness and speed, and it’s questionable if he’ll be able to perform against the smallest, quickest players at the next level. But with his size (6’6″) and wingspan (7’0″) it’s also a possibility. And there’s likely going to be some defensive utility even if he’s limited to player’s his own size.
Defensive ability aside, note the highlights where Milton gets stuck in the lane and has to settle for a terrible mid-range jumper or where he makes a seemingly impossible pass that doesn’t connect. Those kinds of plays are why he’s unlikely to be a Point Guard. The first of these bad traits, the mid-range jump shots, they show up in Miltons 42% Field Goal Percentage from Two-Point range.
Milton has no-go areas and he finds himself dribbling into them far too often. It’s not just an inability to make the shot. It’s evidence of poor decision making. But as a two, he’s got some talent making 3-Pt shots off the catch, with a natural leg kick that should draw fouls at the next level. And for that position, his dribbling, passing and defense all have a chance to play as plus features of his game.
3) Donovan Mitchell and the much older Kadeem Allen are others.
Mitchell’s raise his shooting percentages in recent weeks. To an acceptable 35% from three. To a still putrescent 44% from two. The first thought there is always, “Do we really want this player on the ball on offense?”
4) If you didn’t guess after reading that last paragraph, I’m using slightly old numbers for some of these players. It took some time to compile this table. While the numbers are mostly similar, I’ll note it if there’s a big discrepancy.
The most important thing to remember is that we’re still in the middle of the season. The numbers are in flux for all prospects. The samples are small. Let’s not get overly bogged down by what the player is showing right now. It might improve. It might get worse. Even if in most cases, it’ll stay relatively the same.
5) Of course, we could just as easily point to Chauncey Billups as an exception. But there is also a reason why Billups’ development took three teams and five or six years. Same thing with Kyle Lowry. Even when these players work out at Point and become legitimate Top 10 players, they are often far away.
Though, it’s important to note, a lot of very good NBA guards shoot less than 50% from Two in college. Especially early.
6) On the other side of the equation, we have George Hill and Mike Conley. I’m mostly ignoring Norman Powell, because that percentage is in large part due to playing with Kyle Anderson. And because he had highly varying results in college. Mixed messages are important to note in this. They suggest to us areas where we should perhaps not be drawing too-definite conclusions.
Now back to Conley and Hill. Shooting high two-point percentages, especially when the player has the ball in his hands a lot can be a very good sign.
7) This is surprisingly where we find Jevon Carter (58.9%), who probably won’t leave school. And this mark is a pretty big green flag that screams, “I might not be as bad a jump shooter as I seem.” Now, I’m not making any predictions for the future and we’re still talking about small sample sizes (18 makes), but shooting 48.6% from the mid-range is good. Then there’s also the fact that he’s now raised his 3-Pt Percentage to over 33% on the year after going 7-12 in his last two games.
Now take Carter’s tenacity and defense. He might be the single best perimeter defender in college basketball. Kevin Johnson, a Cincinnati guard listed anywhere between 6’3″ and 6’7″, and almost certainly closer to the former than the latter, is another whose perhaps on this list. (Look past individual defensive statistics. They only tell a scant part of the story.)
The difference between Carter and Johnson are Carter’s ball skills. Legitimately tasked to run a team, he’s a player who can dribble and pass. He also rarely ever makes a mistake. Now that doesn’t make him a great Prospect at One on offense. In the NBA, you have to do a lot more than not make mistakes. But as secondary initiator on offense, it makes the player very interesting. Valuing possessions. Not turning the ball over while also being able to create opportunities for oneself and others. We’re talking about ways to increase offensive efficiency.Right now, Carter looks like a legitimate 1st Rounder to me. At least if we’re not giving mere lip service to defense and ball-skills being legitimate ways an player can bring value in the NBA.
8) The other most interesting numbers at the top are Kamar Baldwin and Andrew Jones. Most interesting not just because they are good (around 55%), but because I find these the two most interesting players of the bunch. Since each, for very different reasons, has legitimate two-way PG upside. Baldwin we already discussed, somewhat extensively. Whereas Jones is a different sort of player. Less Basketball IQ. Less understanding of the game. But ridiculous explosiveness with the ball.
I like his intensity on the defensive end as well. My major concern, besides the decision making and half-court offensive awareness, is Jones’ touch. Which is perhaps what makes his current 55.4% from Two-Point Range so impressive. He’s so athletic that he can shoot 70% at the rim despite sometimes flailing the ball at the rim or hard off the backboard when he gets there.
9) We have to talk about Kyran Bowman, since his scoring numbers are ridiculous for any player. Let alone a 19 year old. Not just these percentages, but how he gets it. Ability at all levels of the offense. Gets to the rim at a ridiculous rate for how much he shoots. Better than one in five shots ends up with a make at the rim. Which is basically at the upper end of elite. Just awesome from that perspective.
The problem is everything else. If Andrew Jones has poor decision making and passing ability, I don’t know how to describe Ky Bowman. Some of the decisions he makes in the half court make Kris Dunn’s questionable passes look like child’s play. Beyond that, he has poor awareness, dribbling into traffic, getting stripped from behind. Things like that.
And then there’s the defense. Just watch this video, which might just as well be called Ky Bowman defensive lowlights.
I’m not going to go in depth play-by-play, but it’s clear Bowman has great difficulty with most off-ball defensive responsibilities, besides perhaps shooting passing lanes. He’s been okay when asked to guard straight up at the beginning of possessions. Not notably bad there in games I’ve seen. But these kinds of tendencies off-ball often get exaggerated at the NBA level if the player has scoring success. And you’re not drafting Bowman unless you think he’s going to have a shitload of scoring success.
So right now, he’s a pass for me. Though I’d be very interested in how he develops if he goes back to school. Since he’s athletic enough, and he’s got enough tools as a scorer to possibly be a high level NBA player.
10) The thing that separates stars from scorers like Ky Bowman is that they find ways to add value to the team besides just by finishing possessions. It’s why we spend so much time talking about primary perimeter initiators. Since creating shots for other players is one of the key ways a player can accomplish this neat little trick. Defense is another. Rebounding too, which can alternately be thought of as possession creation. And then of course, there’s gravity, or floor stretch. Which mostly refers to outside shooters, but could equally be used to talk about players who shift the space of the court by demanding double teams.
Which is to finish the equation I began earlier in this piece. The players most likely to provide value without using possessions are Big Men. Since defensive value and rebounding are, more often than not, Big Man traits.
11) That’s not to say there are no perimeter players who pull off this trick. But unfortunately, very few of them play defense and/or rebound and provide offensive impact. And most of the ones that do double as primary perimeter initiators. Chris Paul, Lebron, Kawhi, Durant, Lowry, Westbrook, Butler. All the usual suspects. We tend to think of Two-Way Off-Ball Players as a lesser type of player than your standard Primary Perimeter Initiator. And far less unique.
However I’m not sure that’s absolutely true. There’s aforementioned the Two-Way Initiators. Those guys are awesome. And there’s the guys like Harden or Curry who have some defensive utility, such as rebounding or creating steals, and are just so good at offense, it might not matter either way. After them, that’s where we find guys like Isaiah Thomas and Damian Lillard.
12) If this year is demonstrative of nothing else, it should be that these types of One-Way Offensive players are difficult to build teams around. Even when they are Primary Perimeter Initiators. Offensive goodness is probably not enough. And even offensive greatness, which is unquestionably what we’re getting from Thomas, doesn’t get your team to the promised land if you take so much off the table on the defensive end.
Just a thought to keep in mind when we consider the actual likely upside of prospects like mini-Tyreke or Ky Bowman or even perhaps a guy like Jayson Tatum.
13) Dennis Smith, Jr. is mini-Tyreke, for those who didn’t figure out the reference. Yes, he’s quicker than Tyreke, but he’s also going to have to beat smaller, quicker athletes, and that’s something Smith, Jr. has had problems with so far. The bigger differences between the two are that Smith Jr. can shoot from distance and that he, unlike Tyreke Evans, mostly doesn’t play defense.
There’s a wide-range of outcomes for such a player. Almost all of them speak to a guy who’ll have a long NBA career. A good outcome would be a guy like Reggie Jackson, with slightly better defense. An outstanding outcome would be a guy like Damian Lillard. And then there’s always Isaiah Thomas to consider. No one would have predicted an offensive season like this from Thomas. And while Thomas is quicker than Smith, Jr., notably so, DSJ. is not only much further along at the same age and stage, but also has any number of other physical advantages in terms of size.
Which is to say, human beings are unpredictable. As such, basketball players and the ways in which they will improve are somewhat unpredictable as well. Smith, Jr. might be my least favorite of the consensus top prospects right now, but he has legitimate arguments to be as high as 3. And with improved consistency and play, perhaps beyond that. Of course, there are a number of arguments against him as well. Most notably that he really struggles vs. good teams and legitimate athelticism.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Three-Point Percentage
1) Mostly self-explanatory. Shooting from distance is obviously part of being a Patrick Beverley all-star. If you’re not going to go deep into mid-range numbers, the safest guys are those for whom Two-Point, Three-Point and Free-Throw percentages all agree. You know like Kamar Baldwin, Nigel Williams-Goss, Giddy Potts, Joel Berry.
2) Without Maurice Watson, Khyri Thomas’s numbers have kind of fallen off a cliff. Down to 34%. In fact, it goes back even before Watson’s injury. He’s 2 for his last 16 from distance, going back four games, but he’s actually 4 for his last 32, going back ten. And it probably would behoove him to go back to school. Work on his handling. Work on his shooting. Become as consistent as he should be on defense, given his athleticism.
Though, today’s game vs. DePaul might be evidence that he is turning a corner. Not the best competition, but he shot 50% from the field on 14 shots, with 6 assists against 0 turnovers.
3) Giddy Potts is one of the reasons why MTSU probably upsets another team in the NCAA tournament this year. Michigan State losing really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. And that’s before Izzo got outcoached, trying to put square peg through a round hole.
You can see this by the fact that he played his Bigs a combined 63 minutes in the game. Meaning he was playing at least two Big Men together for over half the game. Matt Costello had a great game, scoring 22 points on 10 shots. But so then did Reggie Upshaw, who scored 21 with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and a block. The key is that Reggie Upshaw, at 6’8″ was far more mobile than the Michigan State players he was matched up against, often Deyonta Davis. And thus had huge advantages on the perimeter. But Upshaw also plays hard, is tough, has NBA athleticism (for a Wing) and excellent timing, which allowed him to also have positive on the defensive end.
That match-up was where the game was won and lost.
4) Of course, there’s also the question of Giddy Potts, who scored 19 points on an 81% True Shooting Percentage, while also nabbing 5 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals and a block. Beyond that, being a key reason why Michigan State’s guards were dog-shit from the field. We’re talking about an NBA player like Denzel Valentine, a potential NBA guy (if things go well in the NBADL) like Bryn Forbes, a drop dead shooter like Eron Harris. Harris made all three shots, but was only able to get 3 FGA in 24 minutes.
Then there’s Forbes, Valentine and McQuaid. Forbes was 4-12. Valentine was 5-13. Matt McQuaid was 1-3. And if we watch Potts, we do see he has qualities to his defense a lot of other players lack. For one, he tries hard and is generally aware. For two, he feels screens really well, and doesn’t have much trouble navigating them. Perhaps because he’s physically strong.
A 21-year old junior that should have been recruited by any number of major colleges. He probably won’t be in this draft, but don’t be surprised if he has an NBA career. There’s a reason he led NCAA basketball in three-point shooting as a sophomore. He’s actually not that all that dissimilar in his projection than London Perrantes. Potts is stronger, more athletic, a better rebounder. Perrantes the better playmaker. Both are very cerebral, almost always in the right place, try hard, play very good defense and can shoot the fuck out of the ball. And yes, both can shoot off of movement.
5) The concern with such a player is always how much he beats up on lesser competition. How does he do versus real athletes? Though if we look, we that’s not a concern for Potts.
Here, thanks to Sports-Reference, we have Potts career splits. How he’s done against each conference. Against the ACC, 50% from three. Against the Big 10, a game we’ve already discussed, 19 points on ten shots with good ancillary production. Against the Big East, five points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 22 minutes. 50% shooting. Against the SEC, in 109 minutes, 61% from the field on 36 field goal attempts. Nearly 50% from three. 4 rebounds per game. 1 FTA for every 2PA. 4 steals and 2 blocks. And against the whole spectrum, very low turnovers. We’re talking about a player whose major strength, his shooting ability, is real.
6) Of the other players, I mentioned I like Williams-Goss better than Joel Berry. Though both have better chances to be impact offensive players off-the-ball or as combo-players than as full-time PG. This year, they have both been knock down shooters with high-three point percentages. Both have defender more than capably.
What separates Williams-Goss from Berry are these factors. Firstly, size. Williams-Goss is 6-4 with a 6’6″ wingspan. Berry is 6’0″ with a 6’3″ wingspan. Basically Chris Paul size, though Berry is not Chris Paul.
Second, Point Guard skills. Williams-Goss has legitimate Point Guard skills for a college player, whereas Berry is already more of a Combo-Player. There’s no statistics that bare this out concretely. As both players have essentially the same profile. Excellent shooting success. Decent volume. Around 6 assists per 40, against minimal turnovers. Excellent team success on both sides of the ball. (Gonzaga is 2nd in ORtg and 5th in DRtg. UNC is 5th in ORtg and 35th in Drtg.)
This is just based on what I’ve seen, now and over the players careers. Perhaps the single-best statistical evidence is unassisted makes at the Rim. Nigel-Williams Goss has 34, not including putbacks, in 237 attempts. (Around 1 in 7.) Berry has 23 in 202 attempts. (Around 1 in 9.) So who does Williams-Goss compare to? Perhaps a little bit to Matthew Dellavedova, but imagine if Dellavedova was much more capable at driving for scores.
7) We’re still a long way from the end of the year and three-point shooting is a very high-variance activity, so I don’t want to dive too deeply into these numbers. Better just to have them here and take a look for yourself. I will say Andrew Jones is now up to 37%. Which if it holds makes him much more attractive as a prospect. For me, likely a legitimate lottery guy.
Of course, Dion Waiters was very athletic and showed some passing and slashing ability as well. There’s no guarantee with any prospect, especially not one that doesn’t always seem the most intuitive on the court. Yet, Jones has factors in his favor: He tries hard on defense and doesn’t only look to get buckets. Those two factors might make him a different sort of prospect than Dion Waiters. Also the fact, that Jones isn’t nearly as talented or natural a scorer.
I know what you’re saying, how can that be a good thing? Because it’s perhaps it’s this difference that has turned Jones into a guy who tries to make plays for his team, whereas Waiters only tries to make plays for himself. Since he can’t rely on his natural scoring ability to bail him out.
Now, add in that Jones is the far more electric athlete (FTA : 2PA says it all. Jones is one of the few players with a better than 1:1 ratio. Waiters was close to .5:1.) And it’s likely they aren’t comparable prospects. I just wanted to bring up a prospect that suggests that there’s a lot more to being successful than being athletic, and Waiters is certainly one of them.
8) Then to whom should we compare a guy like Andrew Jones? Before, I mentioned a Combo-Guard version of Justise Winslow, save Jones’ shooting numbers are now substantially better across the board. Way more unassisted makes from three (8 to 3) despite less attempts, much more success in the mid-range. (9 unassisted in 27 attempts, whereas Winslow had 22 unassisted makes in 93 total attempts. Pro-rated, Jones would have 31 unassisted makes in the same attempts.)
These differences don’t seem like a lot. We’re dealing with small samples, but when you add in Free Throw success (74% to 64%) all of these small advantages add up. Jones shoots more difficult shots than Winslow did at Duke. He also makes them at substantially better rates.
Winslow’s shot-making ability would be a downside to picking a guy like Jones. But in some ways, I’m starting to see Jones as 6’4″ Combo-Guard Paul George. That’s Paul George after his Freshman seasons, when he had much bigger questions about his future. Read what Jonathan Givony wrote about Paul George after his Freshman season.
We get phrases like these. “Seems to be a good teammate.” “Length and athleticism to make plays around the rim.” “Is not afraid to attack the basket.” “He gets to the free throw line . . . at a solid rate, even if he did not convert quite as well as you might hope.” “George is rather raw offensively at this point in time.” “George is fairly limited trying to create shots for himself from the perimeter.” “Fairly turnover prone.”
We’re talking about Freshman year Paul George. But we could easily be talking about Andrew Jones. Of course, there’s a lot of different directions this type of prospect can go. They might not get better. They might get better at reasonable rates that make them a solid role player but not much more. They might take off, due to a combination of athleticism and shooting potential that few players have. You add almost certain contributions on the defensive side-of-the-ball and Jones is a really exciting player.
I’d start him as an Off-Ball guy, but in time, like Kyle Lowry or George Hill, he could certainly become something more. A lot more. And that’s why I rate him highly. Though even as an Off-Ball Guy, he could be a somewhat unique player.
9) I should talk about Donovan Mitchell again. Since he’s raised his Three-Point shooting numbers to 35%. To go along with shooting 80% from the Free-Throw line, that makes him an exciting prospect. I think his natural passing ability means he’s somewhat more stuck as an Off-Guard as he progresses. Also because he’s got elite explosiveness, but is not as shifty as a guy like Jones. But he’s also got some real advantages on Patrick Beverley at the same age. Namely, how powerful his body is.
Mitchell is thick. Beverley on the other hand, is relatively slender. Now, being slender hasn’t much hurt Beverley. That doesn’t mean that Mitchell’s thickness, his power, his explosiveness won’t help him considerably as he progresses. Just something to keep in mind.
10) If you’re starting to get the sense I like these players a lot, I do. Right now, I’d fill out a decent amount of my Top 30 or 35 college prospects from this list of guys. They are good, and somewhat excitingly, they are good in different ways.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Free-Throw Shooting
1) We’ve talked about Free-Throw Percentage a lot in these posts. It’s a good marker when judging the reliability of a player’s other numbers. What you are looking for are statistics that tell the same story, or do not. But please remember, even that indicator might lie. Look no further than Bruce Bowen’s career as evidence. He once shot 46% from the NBA Three and 44% from the Free-Throw line in the same season. He finished his career a 39% Three-Point shooter and a 58% Free-Throw Shooter.
Now that might be an exceptional case, but it’s a good one to keep in mind.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: True Shooting
1) True Shooting is in many ways a summation of all the stats we’ve looked at to this point. So what we find here is in many ways a case of the usual suspects. Baldwin, Potts, Bowman, Mason, Berry near the top. Doug Brooks and Donovan Mitchell, whose improved some since this table was made, near the bottom.
Just be sure to look at previous seasons of information as well. Just look at Patrick Beverley. A player’s last season might not tell the whole story. Khris Middleton who carried 49% True Shooting as a Junior and 56% as a sophomore is another example. These player’s stories are more than the sum of their most recent season.
Age and athleticism tell us about potential room for growth. But so too does a player’s previous success and failure. Mitchell might eventually end up an example of the former. Sterling Brown of the latter. Only time will tell.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: FTr (My version at least. Free Throw Attempts as compared to Two-Point FGA)
1) I talked about it before, but this is the “Holy Shit” Andrew Jones table. Just a rare combination of athletic gifts which he’s actually able to utilize at times in game situations.
2) Dazon Ingram, whose really young for spending his second year in college (just 19), is another guy to keep an eye out for. He’s still learning how to exert himself upon the game, but he’s another player to look for in the future. It seems it would be best for him to stay in college and get more seasoning, but there’s size (6’5″), athleticism, defensive ability, shooting ability, dribbling to go along with some decision-making and passing skill.
I need to watch more Alabama games to know for sure, but I’d probably have him in a Top 30 of most interesting college prospects right now. But I’m not a big fan of drafting NCAA Centers that weren’t highly regarded either going into college or during the college year. In terms of grading, it’s a position at which NBA scouts excel. Joel Embiid, Karl Anthony-Towns, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis as examples. Myles Turner and DeAndre Jordan, who were both highly regarded going into school, as others.
Now the NBA isn’t as good as identifying good European players at the position, for whatever reason. Jokic, Gobert, the younger Gasol, and even Kristaps Porzingis as examples. But when it comes to college guys, I can’t remember a True Center that wasn’t pegged properly either before or during their first college year. Which means I’m somewhat lower on most NCAA centers and Bigs than most, with Lauri Markannen being a possible exception to the rule.
Just look at the Mavericks since Dirk Nowitzki went to Center full time. 108 ORtg in the month and a half Bogut was out. Essentially a top-10 offense, while they had been at just 98 before that, good for 29th in the league. A 10-Point improvement for a marginally talented offensive team. That’s good. Though I should point out, they still were barely positive in terms of Net Rating, which is the draw back, and why I might ultimately punt on Markannen as well. Haven’t made up my mind. He’s a very good positional defender for a young player.
3) That’s not to say, I don’t like the Bigs. I think a huge number of Bigs from this year will have solid NBA careers. Markannen, Leaf, Rabb among them. I just think most of them will end up changing teams either before or after their first contract, because most of them won’t push their teams greatly in terms of wins. However, if a team is on the upper end of the Win Curve, the math changes.
Domantas Sabonis, for example, was an astute pick for an OKC team that could have kept Kevin Durant in Free Agency. Siakam and Poeltl had better chances than most of the wings available to provide useful minutes to a contending Toronto team that looked like it might lack depth up front. Even if Malcolm Brogdon now seems like he might have been a better pick, it’s quite likely he would have been buried on the bench in Toronto behind Lowry, DeRozan, Joseph, Ross, Poweell and Carroll.
4) Now back to the players at hand, JeQuan Lewis. Don’t sleep on JeQuan Lewis. Remember when I wrote about Malcolm Brogdon and Josh Hart and was talking about players with no weaknesses. Well, JeQuan Lewis is one of them. He shoots, he dribbles, he passes, he plays decent defense. He also is able to get his shot off. His 9 attempts per 40 dwarfs the number of anyone else in the table. When you add 41% shooting, 82% from the free throw line with dribbling, passing and defense, shouldn’t we ask, why aren’t we talking about JeQuan Lewis?
Is it simply because he’s played four years on very good, but not great, VCU teams? Is it because he’s not listed by DraftExpress or that nbadraft.net as a player to watch? Is it because we lack the imagination to identify how he might fit in an NBA context?
There are reasons why Lewis isn’t as exciting as prospect as the guys at the top of the draft. There are zero reasons for a site like DraftExpress to not consider him one of the Top 70 players in his class. I have no problems going down the list of supposed Top 25 seniors and finding players that are simply not as good as JeQuan Lewis. He’s a guy that teams with Big Point Guards should at least take a look at.
For all the talk of positionless basketball, why have our ranking systems not adjusted? If we’re no longer talking about positions on offense, we’re instead talking about skills and roles. And a 6’1″ guy can just as easily fill an off-ball role as a 6’4″ guy, provided that team has a bigger primary initiator. In a great many cases the 6’1″ player may even have more skills.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Rebounding
1) This table is led by players that don’t necessarily fit in this category, Bruce Brown, chief among them. Bruce Brown is good. And not just at rebounding. 6-5, 200 lbs, 6′ 8.5″ Wingspan. Dribbling ability. Good decision making. He’s canning threes. I made this table around a week ago, but it should be said, Bruce Brown just destroyed UNC today. 30 points on 11 shots, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks. And he’s more and more learning to let the game come to him.
So why are we not talking about Bruce Brown? Shooting over 50% from two, 42% from three, 69% from the free throw line, 9 rebounds and 4 assists per 40. Plus he’s athletic and plays defense.
His only flaw is the same flaw as Justise Winslow, a lack of scoring success in the mid-range. He’s a 25% guy right now, which resembles that of Justise Winslow. Meaning you shouldn’t wholly buy into the shooting numbers. But with the other things he does, Brown seems like a clear 1st rounder.
2) De’Anthony Melton is the next guy on the list we need to talk about. For my money, Melton’s sense of the game is the second best in the class after Lonzo Ball. He’s always in the right place at the right time. He never forces anything. Which shows up especially in Melton’s defense, both if you watch and in the defensive statistics.
His weaknesses right now are that he has a very average jump shot and very average dribbling ability. But he’s good to excellent everywhere else. Needles to say, I like Melton a lot too.
3) You’ll notice the better defenders do tend to be better rebounders, but it’s by no means what we find in every case. Mike Conley and Avery Bradley on this list would say differently. Chris Paul, one of the best defenders of the PG in history, as well.
Still, rebounding is a way that a player can add value. It’s certainly a way Patrick Beverley adds value. For Houston this season, he’s up to almost 6 rebounds per game.
4) P.J. Dozier. He’s an excellent perimeter defender. I think it’s hard to argue that, but he’s also not especially explosive. We’ve already seen this issue start to take a toll on his offensive numbers. Thanks to Sports-Reference we can get a look at Dozier’s Conference Splits, and see that the step up in competition hasn’t gone well.
No news to anyone, but shooting sub 35% from Two-Point Range and sub 30% from Three-Point range are bad. They are the type of numbers that suggest that the player needs to return to college.
Unfortunately for Dozier, it’s possible the issue might crop up on defense as well. The problem for us being that South Carolina really hasn’t played that many teams with elite height/speed/quickness athletes. Or really any at all. I was hoping he was going to play Kentucky, so we would get to see him vs. Fox and Monk, but back spasms ruined that. And there’s not another game on the docket that would be such a good test. Hopefully we get to see it in the SEC tournament.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Assists
1) There’s a reason why I’m not talking about these guys as Point Guard prospects on offense. That’s just not their strength. You can see it illustrated pretty clearly here, where every player here lags far behind a guy like Mike Conley and even Chauncey Billups and Wade Baldwin, who were very good but not great passers in college, feature well above most of them.
2) Kyle Lowry is definitely an exception to the rule, and were we to expand our search farther, probably not the only one. Lowry wasn’t a great PG in college. He became one in the pros. But you can’t count on most players to break the mold. There are reasons why Andrew Jones, Kamar Baldwin or Aaron Holiday might, but as for most of the players, I really do an offensive transition is in their best interest.
(Jones, Baldwin, and Holiday would also be having a role transition, since they all play shooting guard a decent amount of the time right now, if not, in Baldwin’s case, almost all the time.)
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Stocks
1) Here we see some of my favorites at the top. Melton, Baldwin, Mitchell, Carter, Dozier, Brown.
2) We also see Tahjere McCall, who goes to Tennessee State and is an excellent athlete and solid defender. Indeed, if you’re wondering about the kind of athleticism MCall possesses, look at this play vs. Duke.
In games I’ve seen, he doesn’t feel screens nearly as well as a player like Potts. Though he has height (6’5″), speed and vertical ability to recover on mistakes. And you can see it if you watch TSU vs. North Carolina State.
Not one of McCall’s better offensive games. Still, let’s pencil him in as one of those athletic guys Dennis Smith Jr. had trouble with. Nor was it just McCall, as he got switched off Smith, Jr. for much of the second half due to foul trouble. On the surface, it looks like a decent game. 19 points on 19 shots, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 turnovers.
However, the problem comes when you restrict the game to pure half court situations, since Smith Jr. essentially had 4 fast-break or broken play lay-ups. Then we see in a pure half-court game, Smith Jr. only had 11 points on 15 shots, looked terrible from three, including an airball or two, which don’t even show up in the boxscore, since he was bailed out by cheap fouls. Nor do American box scores show that he was blocked at the rim a number of times. Once by McCall on-ball I think, though he didn’t get the credit.
3) That should raise the standing of McCall in your eyes. It should also bring questions about Dennis Smith, Jr. But this isn’t a Dennis Smith Jr. piece, it’s a piece about McCall. If Tahjere McCall has a chance, it’s going to be based on these four skills and traits: Athletic ability, defense, dribbling ability, plus passing ability for an off-ball player. What you may notice if you look closely at the offensive numbers is that McCall can’t shoot at all. Sub 30% from Three for multiple years. What’s worse, he’s 22 years old, which is kind of late for improvement.
4) There are several reasons to believe that there might be room for optimism, at least if we go back to McCall’s junior year. The first reason is that McCall plays on-the-ball. His scoring opportunities thus are difficult. (This is true for a great many of these players.) With TSU, it might be even more greatly exaggerated since McCall is the only player on their roster resembling a Point Guard.
He averages 5 assists per game. The next closest player is at 1 assist per game.
Having only seen a couple of games, I don’t watch enough TSU to know for sure, but I’d guess that McCall doesn’t play that much alongside Armani Cheney and A’Torey Everett, which is as close as TSU gets to a decent passer. (Each are sub 4 assists per 40.) It certainly didn’t happen much vs. NC State or Duke, and both players were ineffective in the minutes they did get.
5) This however was not the case in McCall’s junior year, in which he and Keron DeShields shared creation responsibility. What we see from McCall in this case is a much better offensive season, at least in terms of TS%. (57%.) That’s largely because McCall shot 43% from the mid-range and 76% from the free-throw line, numbers which have plummeted this year to 26% and 64%.
Since, McCall is the type of prospect you’re not likely to have much experience with, I’ve included the junior year highlights. It’s a pretty good tape of best moments showing vision, mid-range ability in terms of floaters and fifteen jumpers and of course the athleticism, but it is a highlight real. These are the best moments, and don’t indicate some of the weaknesses. If you do watch the NC St. game, you’ll notice at least one occasion where McCall just doesn’t bother to get back on defense, which gives Smith Jr. a free run to the basket.
Lack of effort can and should be worrying. Beyond that, McCall is far from a good bet to shoot as he progresses. You have to dig deep into the profile to find reasons he might turn it around. However, as they are there, it would be wrong to wholly ignore them. Also, to ignore his ability to get to the rim. So far this year, 46 unassisted makes there (not including putbacks) on 226 total attempts.
He probably ends up looking a lot like Julyan Stone, but you never know. He’s more interesting to me than a number of guys that are far better known.
6) One reason to draw back optimism is that, unlike Giddy Potts, McCall’s splits versus competition aren’t nearly as good. Some of that is likely because of the quality of McCall’s teammates, but how much is difficult to say.
7) JaJuan Johnson is a name that doesn’t get mentioned a lot. He’s probably not actually this kind of prospect, since he seems more of a true Wing to me. But he’s got size, athleticism and a diverse array of skills. Also, highly positive Free-Throw Percentage numbers that might bode well for better deep shooting in the future. We should be talking about him further down in the draft, so that’s why I included him.
8) Notice by Patrick Beverley’s relatively low standing on this list. Stocks aren’t everything when it comes to defense. Chauncey Billups, Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell, Andrew Harrison and Avery Bradley should be other good examples. Low stocks guy can and have become excellent NBA defenders. Significant plus guys.
One thing these guys have in common though, is that their defensive ability wasn’t hypothetical. These guys, for the most part, competed and played good defense for their age and stage in college. I had some issues with Powell as a senior, as I had issues with most of his UCLA team, but he had shown real defensive ability before.
9) This year, Shake Milton and Kobi Simmons are low Steals+Blocks guys to watch out for. I’ve already talked about Milton, his strengths and weaknesses. Though I should mention Simmons, who doesn’t get talked about enough because of inconsistency and underwhelming numbers. However, he plays for an Arizona team that is 22nd in the nation on defense (92.3 DRtg), and I can mostly guarantee you, it’s not because of their Bigs.
At those positions they feature Dusan Ristic and Lauri Markkanen. Very good positional defenders, but neither will be mistaken anytime soon for Karl Anthony-Towns or even Gorgui Dieng. No, Arizona is an excellent defense because of their perimeter defenders. That includes Simmons, Rawle Alkins, Kadeem Allen and Jackson Parker-Cartwright.
There’s more to defense than stocks.
10) Simmons and Alkins have more overall potential than Kadeem Allen, but Kadeem Allen is a legitimate sleeper. He’s 24 years old, so he’s at times a man beating up on boys. That’s one thing to consider. However, he’s Arizona’s best defensive player, has decent height at 6’3″, and is a 40% career Three-Point shooter. He’s also basically ambidextrous. He doesn’t make enough happen from the Point position to be an NBA lead guard prospect. However, he could be an excellent off-guard if placed in the proper context, especially if his shooting is real.
11) Once again, this is a very strong group of players. Looking at them, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with this draft’s potential to be not only strong at the Top, but deep well into the 2nd round and even Free Agency. Who knows if we’re talking about stars at that point, but I’d bet at least one or two guys who end up with long NBA careers go undrafted. Since, it’s becoming more and more common for teams to pass on seniors, even in the 2nd round.
The only problem is that Sam Hinkie is out of the league, so there may be no one to rescue a guy like Robert Covington from Europe.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Turnovers
1) When looking at this list, keep in mind that Chauncey Billups was only a Freshman and that George Hill’s poor number happened in an injury shortened season. That being said, for a point-guard, bad turnover numbers are bad. You can find a number of examples of guys who were poor turnover guys in college who remained so in the Pros. Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten on this list are good examples.
2) One way to change this effect is to move the player off-the-ball. Most players do drop their turnover numbers substantially upon reaching the NBA, and that’s because most players are shifted from on-ball to off-ball roles. Hence, high turnover Point Guards perhaps become much better bets moving forward if we find a way to move them off the ball.
3) Wade Baldwin even show this effect in college, if you look at the difference between his Freshman and Sophomore year totals. His Freshman year he was an Off-Ball Player. His sophomore year he was Vanderbilt’s Point Guard.
4) The opposite effect can also sometimes be true for low turnover guys. A low turnover off-ball player like Kamar Baldwin or De’Anthony Melton might have some sneaky upside to take on more of an on-ball role as they get older. You can see an example of this in tracking Kyle Lowry as a Freshman, in which he was pretty clearly a fourth or fifth option to where he is today.
That’s not a guarantee of anything. It’s just to say, it’s too early to write obviously intelligent players off.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Assist to Turnover Ratio
1) Assist to Turnover rate is an important indicator of intelligence. However, with respect to Point Guards, it’s best to remember that Assists are a large part of Assist to Turnover ratio. Players who rack up assists should score well. So it’s perhaps best to note the outliers.
That being, Devonte’ Graham, with a truly outstanding ratio. And Kyran Bowman, with a very poor ratio for a Point Guard. There’s nothing about a 0.87 ratio that suggests Bowman is broken. Players do improve. Malcolm Brogdon is an example. Though please remember Brogdon was an off-ball player as a Freshman, making it more difficult to rack up assists, and Bowman is not.
2) We should also remember that fact when comparing Kamar Baldwin to Andrew Jones or the other players on the list. Andrew Jones plays some off-ball, but has a lot more Point-of-Attack responsibility. His 1:1 ratio is thus worse than that of Kamar Baldwin’s. Jones is put in situations where he should be racking up assists. Baldwin, not as much.
Patrick Beverley All-Stars: Defense by the Numbers
1) I’ve spent along time talking about these players, but before I leave, I wanted to include some other pertinent defensive information. None of these numbers tell us everything. Not even in combination, but Individual and Team Defensive Rating are important indicators. Good defenders almost always play on good defenses.
2) That being said, offensive ability does influence these numbers. For instance, look at Andrew Jones. Do his relatively poor ratings tell us more about him or the fact that his team can’t score for shit and turns the ball over a lot? Which is to say, events that make it much more difficult to play successful defense.
3) A player’s teammates also affect these ratings in other ways. Take De’Anthony Melton who passes just about every defensive test except for Team DRtg. Perhaps the Team DRtg is really telling us that Melton is playing next to a bunch of guys who really are mediocre on that side of the ball.
That’s what I’d suggest at least.
4) I’m sorry we’re not looking at Kevin Johnson’s numbers here. He really is one of the best defenders in college basketball. Doesn’t get stocks, but he plays on a team with a 91.1 DRtg for a reason. Or two. The first, that the team has excellent college athletes and plays as a unit. (Cronin is consistently one of the best defensive coaches in college basketball.) The second that Kevin Johnson and Gary Clark are two of the best defenders in college basketball. Bar none.
5) Jevon Carter and Kadeem Allen’s numbers are not a joke. I’m not going to include Sunday’s numbers in this piece, which it’s taken me nearly a week to write, but I will mention that Markelle Fultz has had a lot of difficulty with Allen. He can really defend. Anyone who watches West Virginia knows the same can be said of Carter. (And Phillip for that matter.)
6) I could run through the whole rigamarole again, as most of these players have more strengths than weaknesses on this side of the ball. There’s at least 5 guys I’d have as lock 1st round guys as of now in Donovan Mitchell, Bruce Brown, De’Anthony Melton, Andrew Jones and Kamar Baldwin. There’s a lot of time left in the year, but these players would have to tank the rest of the season for me to drop them.
7) There’s also a number of guys that might get there for me, given that I value defense, ball-handling and passing skills in combination. I’m liable to like many of these players more than most. Especially if they can find themselves in the proper team context.
These guys are: Jevon Carter, P.J. Dozier, Nigel Williams-Goss, Shake Milton, Dazon Ingram, Kadeem Allen, Sterling Brown, JeQuan Lewis, and perhaps even Giddy Potts (who almost certainly won’t leave college) and London Perrantes.
The reason being, we have far too set an opinion on what a first rounder should look like. Teams would have done very well to invest late picks in guys like Robert Covington, Matthew Dellavedova or T.J. McConnell. There’s liable to be one or even a couple of guys like that in this later group.
8) Goodbye. Good luck. I apologize if you’re exhausted. I’m tired too, and thus I apologize if I ran out of steam at the end. Too many prospects for a single piece, but they really are all worth noting.
- Stats thanks to Sports-Reference.com, Hoop-Math.com and DraftExpress.com