Situational Statistics: the 2012 Guard Crop

Situational Statistics: the 2012 Guard Crop
Jun 27, 2012, 10:22 am
Box-scores don't always tell us everything we need to know about what happened in an actual game, and seasonal stats can be misleading at times in attempting to project what type of NBA player a NCAA or international prospect will become.

That's why it makes sense to branch out and explore other alternatives that are available, including those provided by Synergy Sports Technology, who track virtually every individual possession of every game this year's NBA draft class has taken part of.

These possessions are manually categorized by the type of play they resulted in, and then once again, evaluating what actually occurred in that sequence.

How good of a finisher is a prospect around the basket in non-post-up situations? How many of his shots were jumpers, and of those how many came in catch and shoot situations or pulling up off the dribble? How many were floaters? How often does he drive left or right in the half-court? How likely is he to generate an assist in the half-court, be it off pick and rolls, iso's or post-up plays?

Furthermore, they shed light on what actually happened in each time a prospect encountered such a situation—how often he got fouled, turned the ball over, converted with an And-1, and whether he was assisted by a teammate.

There is a treasure chest of information at our disposal, beyond just scouting games, which is for many NBA people, Synergy's primary value.

With that in mind, we've taken the top-100 prospects in this draft class, and sorted them into four groups, by position—guards, wings, forwards and big men. We've then looked at how each group of players stacks up in various categories, with the biggest emphasis being on the specific skills they'll need at their position.

-Situational Statistics: the 2012 Wing Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2012 Forwards Crop
-Situational Statistics: the 2012 Big Men Crop

How do the Top Guard Prospects Stack Up?

Bradley Beal is the top prospect in this group, and seemingly bound for a top-4 selection on draft day. Despite his lofty projection, Beal did not have an astounding year on paper relative to the other prospects in this group.

Looking at Beal's numbers, the first thing the stands out is his usage relative to the other top prospects. Using 14.6 possessions per-game, Beal ranks 15th of the 21 players in this group. Surrounded by upperclassmen like Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, Beal was not always a focal point for the Gators offensively.

Often touted as an excellent jump shooter, Beal ranked 5th worst among the 21 players in this group in shooting efficiency pulling up off the dribble (0.615 Points Per-Possession) and below average off the catch (1.074 PPP vs. 1.12 PPP). Struggling to find his range for stretches, Beal's excellent shooting mechanics and footwork began to pay dividends for him down the stretch, as his catch and shoot efficiency over the last 12 games of the season would have placed him third in this group at 1.372 PPP. Beal's numbers for the whole year do not give much credence to comparisons to Ray Allen, but his play late in the year gave teams an eyeful of his prolific spot-up scoring ability.

This study reveals a number of areas where Beal has room for improvement as well. Scoring an above average 0.93 PPP in isolation situations, Beal showed the ability to create his own shot, but struggled to show the same acumen on the pick and roll. Ranking 5th last in scoring efficient in the two man game at 0.697 PPP because he turned the ball over on 21.2% of his possessions, Beal will need to improve his decision-making in the increasingly pick-and-roll heavy offenses deployed by NBA teams.

-Dion Waiters doesn't jump off the page for largely the same reasons Beal doesn't either. Playing a role on a veteran laden Syracuse team, Waiters averaged nearly 3 possessions fewer than the average prospect in our rankings (15.8). He does however, rank first in transition scoring efficiency at a tremendous 1.43 PPP and does not rank particularly below average in any particular playtype.

Damian Lillard, on the other hand, looks extremely good in this analysis and ranks exceptionally across the board, finishing second in overall efficiency (1.142 PPP) despite using 21.1 possessions per-game (1st). Getting to the line on 18.7% of his possessions (4th) and scoring 1.176 point per-jump shot (1.176), it makes sense that Big Sky product is given the benefit of the doubt as he looks to make the giant leap in competition to the NBA level.

The most efficient guard in pick and roll (1.039 PP), spot-up (1.388), and isolation off screen situations (1.324), Lillard dominates most categories in this study. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Lillard's showing on paper is the paltry 9.8% turnover rate he posted despite teams game planning to stop him on a nightly basis.

Just an average finisher (1.127 PPP), making plays at the rim in traffic may be Lillard's biggest challenge at the next level, but his ability to score in a variety of ways from the perimeter should be him a valuable asset to whichever team drafts him.

-Kendall Marshall, unsurprisingly, looks very poor here. Making 34% of his jump shots, and turning the ball over on 26.7% of his total possessions, no study in scoring is going to paint Marshall's well-known weaknesses in a positive light. However, Marshall's 1.552 Points Per-Possession+Assist was the highest in the NCAA last season, and provides a statistical insight into the value of his passing ability.

-Austin Rivers does not impress in our analysis either. His best work came on the pick and roll last season, which is a promising sign as he makes the jump to the NBA. Scoring 0.951 PPP(5th) and 6 possessions per-game (3rd), Rivers excelled in the two man game as he settled into a rhythm late in the season. On the other hand, Rivers ranked 3rd to last in spot-up efficiency (0.761 PPP) and his ability to become a consistent (and particularly a more disciplined) set shooter will dictate just how prolific he can be offensively early in his career.

-Doron Lamb's excellent roleplaying potential is just as clear on paper as it was during the NCAA postseason. 3rd in scoring efficiency at 1.129 PPP, Lamb ranked 2nd in scoring efficiency on the pick and roll, in spot-up situations, and shot 46.5% in catch and shoot situations (3rd). With more than half (52.7%) of his shots coming off the catch from the perimeter, Lamb ranks next to last in pick and roll usage (7.6% of possessions) and saw the fewest shots at the rim per-game in this group (1.2 per game), but his ability to spread the floor could help him see the floor early in his NBA career.

-Tony Wroten's strengths and weaknesses are on full display in our analysis. His 19.5 possessions per-game (4th) and 18.8% free throw-drawing rate (3rd) are certainly impressive and indicative of his ability to get to the rim off the dribble. On the whole, 65.9% of Wroten's shots (1st) came at the basket last season. However, his 0.797 overall PPP (3rd last), and 17.9% FG% on jump shots are certainly areas for concern as the Washington product looks to make the jump to the NBA.

-Marquis Teague also looks fairly poor here, ranking last in overall scoring efficient (0.79 PPP) among NCAA prospects, thanks in large part to his 20.5% turnover rate. Not standing out in any area, Teague's 0.689 PPP in isolation situations (last) and 0.747 PPP in spot-up situations (2nd last) seem to indicate his need to develop as both a shot creator, shooter, and floor general.

-Tu Holloway ranks as the top finisher in this group, shooting 64.9% at the rim in half court situations (1st), which is interesting considering his diminutive size, which is clearly the biggest thing holding back his draft stock. He also got to the free throw line as well as any guard outside of Lillard and Wroten.

-Marcus Denmon ranks as the most efficient scorer in this analysis, scoring 1.163 points per-possession. Ranking first in catch and shoot jump shots per-game (42.4%), 4th in jump shooting efficiency (1.156 PPP), and posting the second lowest turnover rate among all players in our top-100 (7.7%), Denmon shows well here, even if his low usage in isolation and pick and roll situations raise paint him as strictly as role-player at the next level.

-Jared Cunningham stands out with his 1.336 PPP in transition (2nd), but he ranks last in shooting efficiency on pull-up jumpers (0.527). Cunningham's athleticism is certainly impressive, but he'll need to become a more viable perimeter shooter to make the most of it in the half court.

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