Following up on the forgotten man

In our last post on Wayne Ellington we talked about his general game (excellent spot-up shooter, solid perimeter defense, can't create on his own, doesn't get to the line).  In this one we will compare him to the other shooting guards and wings because the Wolves had a shot at every non-Evans/Harden wing/2 in the draft with the 6th pick.  Did they get value with Ellington at 28?  Was there a better option with the 6th pick?  Can we have a big enough break from the Rubio circus? Let's dig into these questions below the fold.

First of all, let's talk about what we believe the Wolves should be looking for in a shooting guard.  Here are some generic traits we look for with shooting guards:
  1. Scoring- Not having a scoring shooting guard is like having a first baseman who can't hit for power.  What we're looking for here is someone who has the potential to score above 15 ppg or, short of that, who can score as efficiently as possible. 
  2. Size- We are firm believers in the belief that longer = better along the perimeter.  If we had to pick the two positions where we would want to have superior size over the opponent, it would be at the 2 and 3. 
  3. Ability to defend on an average level; ideally, across the 2 and 3- Pretty self-explanatory.

Here are some Wolves-specific traits:

  1. Catch-and-shoot: On a team with Ricky Rubio, Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and hopefully a solid wing to be named later, a Wolves two guard will likely need to be the type of player who can make the most of the opportunities created for him in the 1/2 court and transition. 
  2. Ability to move without the ball in the 1/2 court- See above.
  3. Efficient with low turnover rate- Again, if you are going to have a player out there who will be the 3rd or 4th option at the 2 guard, you need to have him be opportunistic and efficient.  You can't have someone who misses a lot of shots and turns it over at a high rate when they will be expected to produce in limited opportunities.

Let's take a look at a few important stats from Ellington's peers.  We chose TS% because it encompasses free throw shooting, pts/40 pace adjusted because it is the best way to compare points at the college level, possessions per game to show workload, pts/poss to show how efficiently a player scores, turnovers per possessions to show how well a player takes care of the ball, ppr to show how well a player can facilitate, ft/fga to show how well a player gets to the line and 3pa/fga to show how dependent they are on the long ball. 

TS% pts/40 (pace) poss/game pts/poss to/poss ppr ft/fga 3pa/fga
Terrence Williams .52 14.1 12.2 1.02 0.19 2.85 0.30 0.38
Jermaine Taylor .59 32.2 21.4 1.22 0.13 -4.93 0.28 0.40
Chase Budinger .60 19.6 15.2 1.18 0.16 -0.54 0.34 0.37
Stephen Curry .60 31.6 23.6 1.21 0.16 -0.11 0.37 0.49
Gerald Henderson .54 21.3 14.8 1.11 0.15 -1.82 0.40 0.26
Wayne Ellington .60 18.3 12.6 1.25 0.13 0.40 0.25 0.46
Marcus Thornton .58 25.9 17.1 1.24 0.11 -1.30 0.37 0.37
Demar DeRozan .56 17.0 12.7 1.09 0.16 -3.37 0.40 0.10

Ranking the stats that can be put on a scale of good-to-bad (TS%, pts/40, pts/poss., to/poss and ppr ranked 1-8), and then adding together the individual rankings, here is a composite score for each player.

  1. Ellington (12)
  2. Curry (14)
  3. Thornton (16)
  4. Taylor (18)
  5. Budinger (19)
  6. Henderson (26)
  7. DeRozan (31)
  8. Williams (33)

Of course, this is a massively incomplete way of looking at a player's value.  What it is is a starting point for determining fit and value.  Let's take a peak at the stats that couldn't be put on a scale of good-to-bad. 

In terms of possessions/game, Curry and Taylor are ball-dominant players, requiring large amounts of possessions to do their deeds.  These players are go-to guys on their teams.  Thornton, Budinger, and Henderson are major contributors (Thornton borders on being a go-to guy).  Williams, Ellington and DeRozan are significant contributors. 

Henderson, Thornton, Curry and Budinger all did a fairly decent job getting to the line, although none of these players did so at a rate that would make them seem like a danger in the lane. 

Curry and Ellington were the most three-point oriented scorers with DeRozan showing almost no ability to score from beyond the arc.  Budinger and Thornton are the most balanced scorers between free throws and three pointers.

Before we start piecing all of this together, let's take a look the measurements from each player (in inches).

Name/Height w/shoes Standing Reach Wingspan No-Step Vert height
Hoopus Size
Terrence Williams (78.3)
104 81 134 99.325
Jermaine Taylor (76.8)
101 80.8 135 98.4
Gerald Henderson (77)
103 82.3 134 99.075
Stephen Curry (75.8)
97 75.5 127 93.825
Chase Budinger (79)
101 79 131 97.5
Wayne Ellington (77.3)
100 78.5 132 96.95
Marcus Thornton (75.8)
99 77 130 95.45
Demar DeRozan (78.5)
103 81 132 98.625

OK, this is kind of a generic attempt at true height/size, but what I did here for the Hoopus Size is take standing reach, wingspan, and no-step vert height, converted them to inches and...wait for it...divided by 4.  I know this is kind of a lame stat and it could be fleshed out in much greater detail, but I wanted to put down a reach/jumping component to a player's size. Players with long arms and solid hops should have that taken into account with their size.  Here's how things break down with Hoopus size:

  1. Williams: 99.325
  2. Henderson: 99.075
  3. DeRozan: 98.625
  4. Taylor: 98.4
  5. Budinger: 97.5
  6. Ellington: 96.95
  7. Thornton: 95.45
  8. Curry: 93.825

If you measured with height in shoes, this is how things break down and how they vary from the Hoopus size in terms of ranking:

  1. Budinger: 79 (-4)
  2. DeRozan: 78.5 (-1)
  3. Williams: 78.3 (+2)
  4. Ellington: 77.3 (-2)
  5. Henderson (+3)
  6. Taylor (+2)
  7. Thornton (even)
  8. Curry (even)

In other words, Henderson is the guy who does the most with his athleticism and arm length to compliment his height in shoes.  Budinger is the guy who loses the most. 

Overall, what we are looking for at this position is a size above 6'5" with decent length and a solid standing vert.  One of the most problematic things Curry has going for him is that his size is completely sub-par at the 2 guard.  It's not even close.  Thornton makes up a little with his athleticism and length but no matter how we slice it, Curry is 2-3 inches below the next smallest member of this group.  He is 6-7 inches below the largest players.  This, along with his high usage rate and solid facilitation numbers in college, is probably the number one reason why Curry was pitched as a point guard.  If you line this guy up at the two, you will need a large point to make it work. 

There are no players here with length or athleticism that makes you stand up and say "wow".  While displaying breathtaking in-game hops, DeRozan isn't exactly a workout marvel and he's not as long as we first suspected.  If we had to place these players in physical tiers, Williams, DeRozan, Henderson and Taylor end up in Tier One; Budinger and Ellington are in Tier Two; and Curry and Thornton bring up the rear.  Overall, if I were drafting on just height alone, I place the cut-off at Ellington, who has decent length and height.  Curry and Thornton would require the correct backcourt pairing to work at the 2.

OK, let's start putting some of this together player by player.  The first thing we need to make perfectly clear is that there are no players in this group that jump off the page as an off-guard.  We are huge Curry fans but his appeal was as a ball-dominant point who could run the pick-and-roll with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson.  He's a point every bit as much as Rubio or Flynn.  As an off-guard, he's a mini-Rip Hamilton and, quite frankly, that presents about as many problems as Randy Foye once did.  Curry is amazingly creative with the ball in his hands; he can create space with a fantastic cache of hesitation moves.  Without the ball, I suspect he'll be a good catch-and-shoot player but I'm not sure there is enough there to separate him, on the whole, from, specifically, Wayne Ellington.  Again, in an offense centered around, presumably, Rubio, Jefferson and Love, a 2 guard is going to have to have a lower usage rate while being asked to produce in set-up 1/2 court situations or in transition.  Let's take a look at how Curry and Ellington fared in relevant situations in each of their college seasons:

Freshman:

2p% 3p% 3pa/fga pts/poss fta/fga
Curry .536 .408 0.57 1.24 0.28
Ellington .488 .371 0.47 1.17 0.16

Sophomore:

2p% 3p% 3pa/fga pts/poss fta/fga
Curry .540 .439 0.56 1.32 0.23
Ellington .510 .400 0.38 1.21 0.23

Junior:

2p% 3p% 3pa/fga pts/poss fta/fga
Curry .519 .387 0.49 1.21 0.37
Ellington .539 .417 0.46 1.25 0.25

 

A few things.  First of all, Curry ostensibly played shooting guard during his first 2 years at Davidson.  What is important to remember is that while he shared time with a point, he still had the ball in his hands a massive, massive amount of time, ranking 76th, 15th and 1st in terms of % of team possessions in his 3 years.  Ellington never cracked the top 500.  Second, Ellington's role at UNC will be more similar to what it will be with the Wolves than what Curry would have been with Davidson and Minny.  Third, Ellington showed across-the-board improvement across the board within a fairly set role...a role he could very likely fill in his first year with the Wolves.  

I am in no way, shape or form saying that Ellington is a better player than Curry.  He's not.  What I am saying is that Ellington at 28 probably makes more sense at the Wolves off guard spot than does Curry at 6.  If you factor in likely role, size, role-related stats and defensive potential, Ellington at 28 makes a lot of sense vis-a-vis Curry at 6. 

This post is running a tad long so we'll cut it off here.  In the next post, we'll compare Ellington to his most direct (and closest) competition: DeRozan, Henderson and Williams.  Could DeRozan, Henderson or Williams at 6 have provided more value to the Wolves than Ellington at 28?

Until later.

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