The forgotten man

Hey, remember this guy?  In all likelihood, he's the Wolves' starting 2 guard in 09/10.  What do we know about his game?  Let's take a break from the Rubio circus and run through what Ellington has to offer below the fold.

Wayne Ellington comes to the Wolves with an overall resume very similar to the one brought here by Corey Brewer: MVP in the NCAA tourney, decent sized cog on an older team that challenged for the title several years in a row, not the main guy...you get the picture. 

Resumes aside, Ellington is an amazingly different player than Brewer and he may even be good enough where we can point at his game and start to wonder if he was the reason why Demar DeRozan was not taken with the 6th selection in the draft, or why the Wolves did not trade down to grab the new Raptor after they took Ricky Rubio

Ellington is an interesting player.  He is capable of scoring in bunches (see his 34 points against Maryland) and he really came on late in the year against superior competition, averaging 18 ppg in conference play and the tourney.  Playing at UNC also placed him in a setting where he would chalk up usage rates and team possession percentages on a similar scale to what he will likely be asked to do with the Wolves.  Ellington was a second, third, or even fourth fiddle on his college team and that's what he'll be in the NBA.  How did Ellington score the ball and how does he relate to his college peers?  Let's start with DX's run down of some of his situational stats:

Amongst the top-10 college shooting guards we looked at, only Terrence Williams had fewer possessions to work with. The difference was as much as 50% compared to some prospects, who obviously had to shoulder much bigger offensive loads on far less talented teams. With that in mind, Ellington indeed ended up being one of the most efficient shooting guards in this draft, ranking first in field goal percentage (48%) and third in points per possession (1.04).

Because of how well Ellington was able to pick and choose his spots, he ends up looking excellent in a host of different categories. He for example ranks 3rd in his ability to finish around the basket, behind James Harden and Jermaine Taylor, 3rd in catch and shoot jumpers, behind K.C. Rivers and Jack McClinton, third in pull-up jumpers, behind Jack McClinton and Jodie Meeks and first in points per possession in transition opportunities.

Ellington's short-comings lie in his inability to create offense for himself, as he ranks third worst in isolation possessions generated behind two very poor ball-handlers in Paul Harris and K.C. Rivers, and his very related inability to draw fouls--which he did on just 9% of his used possessions. Ellington is obviously a finesse player who needs plays run for him in the half-court in order to be most effective, which means he'll definitely need to find the right situation in the NBA. Teams should not discount the skill-level he brings to the table as a pure scorer, though, as its clear that he wasn't such a highly regarded player coming out of high school for nothing.

For a team that just drafted Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn, a guy who needs plays run for him in the half-court may have found a home.  One of the most impressive things about Ellington that is reflected in his pull-up and catch and shoot numbers is his amazingly quick release.  Take a look at his highlight package from the national championship game against Michigan State:

 

The man can flat out shoot the ball in catch and shoot and pull-up situations.  Ellington led all shooting guard prospects with a fantastic 61% true shooting percentage.  He took 0.46 three pointers for every fga and he hardly turned the ball over, averaging only 1.9 to/40 minutes pace adjusted. 

What Ellington didn't do was get to the line, create off the dribble, and generate a lot of blocks or steals.  I wish we had some more situational numbers to plug in here.  For instance, I would like to know what his shooting percentages are for isolation plays, catch and shoots, and pull up jumpers.  I want to know what percentage of his total shots these situations account for.  I'd also like to know how well he is able to shoot off a cut.  Cuts, catch-and-shoot, pull-ups, and screens.  These are the shots the Wolves will need from Ellington in an offense with Flynn and/or Rubio. 

Let me go back to Ellington's improvement during the course of the year.  It really was nice to see just how much he was able to take his game up to another level.  Take a look at this chart from HoopsAnalyst:

Wayne Ellington

2 pt pct

3 pt pct

P40

A/TO

RSB40

Nov-Dec

.507

.356

17.7

2.4

7.9

January

.511

.391

19.5

1.3

6.9

February

.563

.395

19.6

1.3

8.8

March-April

.575

.518

20.2

1.7

5.9

 

The guy really put the pedal to the metal late in the year and he did so in a situation very similar to what he will be asked to do with the Wolves.  You'd be pretty hard-pressed to find a better fit at the off guard for the Wolves with the 28th pick.  That being said, the Wolves did have the 6th pick in the draft and they had a crack at every non-Harden and non-Evans shooting guard/small forward in the draft.  Did they use their selections wisely? Could any pick have provided better value for the shooting guard position at #6?

In our next post we'll take a look at Ellington's competition: Stephen Curry, Terrence Williams, Jermaine Taylor, Chase Budinger, Gerald Henderson, Marcus Thornton, and Demar DeRozan.

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