The Forgotten Man, pt. iii: Better value than DeRozan?

For those of you who haven't read the first two parts of our Wayne Ellington series, you can catch up on the action by clicking here and here.  In the first post we talked about what Ellington brings to the table.  In the second post we talked about his size and stats in relation to shooting guards and wings taken in the 1st round and early 2nd.  We also discussed his relative value at 28 compared to Stephen Curry at 6.  Our conclusion was that once the Wolves decided to go down Rubio Road, Curry at 6 wasn't as good of a value pick as Ellington at 28.  Considering size, expected role, defensive potential, and situational stats, Ellington is a pretty good fit for what the Wolves are looking for at shooting guard compared to Curry.  At the end of the day, Curry as a point guard is an intriguing prospect while Curry as a mini-Rip Hamilton is less so.

In this post we will take a look at the one player who went in the top 10 who could may have given the Wolves a greater value than both Flynn at 6 and Ellington at 28: Demar DeRozan.

Let's first take a look at some stats. 
2p% 3p% pts/poss fta/fga 3pa/fga a/to ppr to/poss %tm poss asb/40 orsb/40
Ellington 53.9 41.7 1.25 0.25 0.46 1.63 0.40 0.13 16.6 4.9 3.4
DeRozan 56.2 16.7 1.09 0.40 0.10 0.70 -3.37 0.16 19.4 3.3 4.4

There are a couple of things that really stand out here.  First, DeRozan's 3 ball was non-existent.  I've seen him play several times and his jumper looks normal but for some reason he wasn't able to convert at a reasonable level.   Second, neither player does anything especially well off the ball.  DeRozan has a nice OReb% but all-in-all he didn't really show a lot of activity that resulted in blocks, defensive rebounds and steals.  Of course, neither did Ellington.  Third, both players are fairly solid with the rock.  They aren't going to kill you with turnovers and risky play.  This means they're not especially aggressive and it shows in their free throw and steal numbers, but there could be worse things to see in young perimeter players. 

Picking out some things to focus on, DeRozan has a soid 2p% while not turning it over a ton with good size and decent rebounding numbers.  Looking deeper into his situational stats we see this:

Unlike every other player in our analysis, DeRozan doesn’t make a living in any one situation, though he is one of the most efficient players on our list. In our last piece we discussed the new %Score stat which indicates how frequently a player scored a point based on their logged possessions. DeRozan ranks first amongst the nineteen players on our list at 54.4%. However, he ranks only 16th in overall PPP. This disparity stems from the fact that he shoots nearly three less three-pointers per game than the average player on our list (4.3 vs. 1.3) and ranks last in terms of three-point percentage at just 16.7%. He doesn’t get to the free throw line at a great rate to compensate and only converts on a mediocre 65% of his attempts once there. He makes up for that by shooting 49% from the field on his isolation opportunities (4th), knocking down his catch and shoot jumpers at a 43% clip (6th), and hitting 41% of his pull ups as well (4th). Clearly DeRozan has a solid knack for operating in the mid-range area, which should serve him well in the more spacing-friendly NBA. He’s also a good offensive rebounder—a testament to his excellent physical tools.

We also know that he improved a great deal over the course of the season:

Demar Derozan

Adj. FG pct

3 pt pct

P40

R40

A/TO

ASB40

Nov-Dec

.487

.000

16.6

6.9

0.5

3.3

January

.563

.167

16.0

7.0

0.1

2.7

February

.486

.250

12.6

6.4

0.3

2.6

March

.599

.300

23.5

8.4

1.3

4.4

 

On the other hand, Ellington is an effective shooter who doesn't turn the ball over, get to the line or rack up any substantial amount of off-the-ball numbers.  He is clearly the better outside shooter and not only does he not turn the ball over, he appears to be able to facilitate at a modest level as well.  Size-wise, he's 2-3 inches smaller than DeRozan in everything from standing reach to wingspan to max vert height.  He also improved throughout the season:

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

He even had some nice situational stats of his own:

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.

I think the Wolves got a value pick at 28 with Ellington.  Of all the players available on the board at that point, he is the one guy that really fits in terms of seeing a continuity of his college role in the NBA.  He's never going to be a great 1-on-1 player or a dominant 2 guard, but what he can do is hit the open shot and give you a few high-scoring nights when his jumper is really going.  The real comparison here is whether or not DeRozan could have provided value at 6 in comparison to Flynn. 

I have often referred to DeRozan's upside as being something of an uber-Gomes; a player that will never live up to the spectacular athleticism his game seems to fit.  Instead, he has the potential to be a guy that excels doing things off the ball, in transition and from mid-range.  The one thing DeRozan doesn't have going for him in specific regard to the Wolves, is that he doesn't provide a hedge against if and when Ricky Rubio comes over to the NBA.  This is not something that is easily quantifiable, especially now that the team has traded away Bassy.  Positions aside, I think a solid case could be made that DeRozan should have been the pick at #6. 

First, he was able to produce with a usage rate that will be similar to what he sees in the pros.  Within this context he excelled in the mid-range game, hitting a solid percentage of spot-up jumpers and assisted jumpers.  When given the chance to perform in isolation opportunities, he was no slouch either.  Second, while not showing incredible off the ball numbers, DeRozan did have an ability to hit the offensive glass, a skill that could further be developed on what will likely be a poor shooting team with two other solid rebounders on the court (Jefferson and Love). 

Had the Wolves taken DeRozan, they would be even more hard-pressed to have Rubio on the team, as they would now have zero point guards on the roster.  This is the kicker with DeRozan.  Despite what the stat sheets may say, having Flynn at 6 is now looking like an appropriate hedge with picking Rubio at 5.  If the team had a guarantee from Rubio to come over, DeRozan at 6 and Ellington at 28 would have been a remarkable draft, providing the team with upgrades at the 3 positions they needed the most help at: the 1, 2 and 3.  Without a Rubio guarantee, while DeRozan would have been a solid pick nonetheless, the risk involved with his selection would have shot through the roof, especially when considering the Bassy trade. 

At the end of the day, any talk about DeRozan at 6 cannot be taken out of the context of selecting Rubio at 5.  One way or another, the Wolves absolutely needed to walk away from this draft with a top-flight point guard.  Had they not, the 4 picks would have been wasted.  Of course, there is an argument that they could have held on to 18 and taken Lawson but now we're talking about a scenario several steps removed from what actually happened...i.e. pure speculation.  In a perfect world, a Rubio, DeRozan, Lawson, Ellington draft might have made the most sense but it is becoming increasingly hard to fault the team for taking Flynn at 6 to cover their point guard bases.  Who knows whether or not Denver would have found another trading partner to get Lawson before the 18th pick?  There is also the question of whether or not DeRozan will end up being a better player than Flynn straight-up. 

My gut tells me that DeRozan would have been a solid value pick at 6 but this would involve the Wolves making a large bet on the idea that Rubio will indeed come over this season.  Had this been the case, the Wolves could have ran out a far more balanced roster than what they are looking at right now.   I firmly believe that DeRozan will end up being one of the better players in this draft; a guy who will be able to blend into a system while still putting up solid production.  He definitely would have provided value at 6.  However, the question surrounding his selection wasn't whether or not he could have provided value, it is whether or not the Wolves would have walked away from picks 5 and 6 with a starting point guard.  That is the ultimate test of this draft and it is probably a good thing that they erred on the side of caution with their selection of Flynn. 

What say you?

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