2013 Draft Preview: Shooting Guards

Victor Oladipo is the top shooting guard in the 2013 NBA draft - USA TODAY Sports

Shooting Guards:

One of the first things that I noticed when I started playing around predicting NBA performance from collegiate performance was that not all skills translate equally. The following plots show the correlation between NCAA stats and NBA stats (at age 23):

Jsjlbt1_medium

One of these things is not like the other. Players who block shots, create shots for others, rebound misses, or pick-off ball-handlers effectively in college tend to do so in the pros as well. All of the numbers are expected to drop a bit, but the relative ranking among peers stays pretty constant between leagues. Scoring is different. Collegiate scoring helps predict pro scoring, but it doesn't explain nearly as much of the variation as other collegiate stats do (r of 0.25 compared to r > 0.80 for rebs, asts and blks). The reasons for this are twofold, 1) shooting (especially from 3) is really noisy. Across careers better shooters will always make more shots, but over the short run anything can happen. The short term includes college seasons. Shooting efficiency from one year to another within a collegiate career is often inconsistent (see Derrick Williams for example), so we shouldn't expect it to hold any better between leagues. 2) It seems clear that what gets you buckets in college isn't necessarily what works in the NBA. I have tried to tease apart this error but with only limited success. Shot location statistics are just starting to make their way public. These hint that getting to the rim and not relying on unassisted jumpers are common traits in players who successfully make the jump, but the dataset is too small to usefully include in my analysis.

Why do I discuss this here? Shooting guards are often scoring specialists. If scoring is noisy, we should also expect shooting guards to be noisy. This appears to be the case. For example: Corey Benjamin's 29.5 per 40 on 58.3 efg turned into 15 on 42.5% efg in the NBA, making him a completely useless player. Bo Kimble put up 43 points per 40 on 59% efg his senior year at Loyola. In the NBA he shot under 41% efg and washed out in a couple of years. I do not doubt that we can explain these failures and at least these cases appear to have been predicted by NBA scouts, but I still have not found how to catch them statistically.

This pessimism doesn't mean the models completely miss shooting guards, but it does mean that I feel obliged to inject more humility than I do for their more pass-oriented backcourt mates. It also means that we should bias preferences towards those shooting guards who aren't just scorers, and thus may be useful even if the scoring ability doesn't translate.

2013 Shooting Guard Ratings:

VICTOR OLADIPO

6'5" 210 lbs , 21 years old

Expected Wins: 7.6

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

3%

45%

41%

11%

Comparisons:

Josh Howard, Stacey Augmon, Tony Allen, Chris Mills, Laron Profit, Charles O'Bannon, Jeff Trepagnier, Eddie Basden, Andre Iguodala, Danny Green

Noteworthy stats:

3.1 steals per 40; 67 TS%; 8 rim attempts per 40.

Comments:

The comparison model spits out some pretty attractive potentialities for Oladipo. Not only that, but he actually scores better than any of them on the wins model (Augmon comes the closest at 8.8). Taking a closer look at the Howard comparison we can see why:


2PA

2P%

3PA

3P%

FTA

FT%

ORB

DRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

Howard

11.5

56%

3.5

34%

4.4

67%

4.7

6.0

2.9

2.2

1.3

3.0

4.0

19.2

Oladipo

9.1

64%

2.6

43%

4.9

73%

3.6

5.2

2.9

3.1

1.1

3.2

3.5

18.8

These players had strikingly similar junior seasons, but Oladipo greatly outpaced Howard in shooting efficiency both from two and three and stole the ball at a higher rate. Considering Howard's early career impact, it is easy to get excited about Oladipo's prospects.

Furthermore, the way Oladipo scores makes him a particularly exciting prospect. He gets to the rim 8 times every forty minutes. Tony Wroten is the only guard with a higher rate in the past three years. He isn't dependent on others to get there either as he is only assisted on 38% of his makes.

The biggest question mark with Oladipo is his shooting. It seems weird to worry about the shooting of a guy who just posted 43% from three, but as I noted above, shooting can be very noisy and Dipo has two previous years of miserable shooting casting their shadow on his 2013 success. Across his freshman and sophomore seasons, Oladipo shot 24% from three and 24% on mid-range jumpers. The narrative is that he worked hard to improve his shot during the offseason and the diligence paid off... but that is always the narrative. Oladipo deserves early lottery consideration regardless of how real his recent sniping is, but if scouts can say he really has figured out how to shoot he should be a lock for the top 3.

KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE

6'6" 185 lbs , 20 years old

Expected Wins: 6.6

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

2%

43%

47%

8%

Comparisons:

Lucious Harris, D.J. Kennedy, MarShon Brooks, Gabe Pruitt, Jerome Dyson, Rodney Carney, Kareem Rush, Lawrence Moten, Klay Thompson, Richard Hamilton

Noteworthy stats:

2.5 steals per 40; 8.7 rebs per 40; 8.6 3pnt attempts per 40; 29.2% Usage

Comments:

Unlike the case with Oladipo, the comparison model pumps out a group of largely uninteresting comps for KCP. This really should not be too concerning though as I think it says more about how weird his college line is. 8.7 rebounds and 8.6 3PA per 40 is getting into Troy Murphy or Kevin Love territory... but KCP is doing it from the two spot. It isn't like he is just floating around under the hoop on defense either given his impressive 2.5 steals per 40 rate.

I like KCP a lot but his shot distribution makes me a little uncomfortable. He fails to get to the rim and settles for jumpers far too often. In this sense he is the opposite prospect of Oladipo and not in a flattering way. KCP can still be useful without being a major threat to attack the paint, but I think it puts a cap on his potential and may make him more dependent on pairing with a complimentary point guard.

The biggest issue that stands out to me with KCP is how weird his lack of media hype is. He is a high usage guard who averaged 18.5 points per game as a sophomore and was similarly prolific (though in fewer minutes) through the first half of his freshman season. His numbers and highlights tell the story of a physically dominant athlete who slams home dunks and makes impressive plays. In short... he is the type of player ESPN et al. usually drool over. What did the poor guy do to miss out on all of the media attention? I started asking this question earlier last season when KCP was performing better than the much more popular freshman shooting guards Rivers, Beal and Waiters but he started missing shots and I shut up. This season KCP held strong throughout the entire season and still got minimal love. That may be changing as I see him slide up the mock drafts weekly, but I am still left baffled by his omission from the spotlight.

BEN MCLEMORE

6'4" 195 lbs , 20 years old

Expected Wins: 6.2

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

4%

60%

31%

4%

Comparisons:

James Anderson, Jeremy Lamb, DerMarr Johnson, Austin Rivers, E'Twaun Moore , Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, Wayne Ellington, MarShon Brooks, Chase Budinger

Noteworthy stats:

42% from three and 63 TS%; 1.2 steals per 40

Comments:

McLemore's projected wins rate him as a definite top 10 pick. I do not really see any argument for him as the #1 or #2 pick as most mocks have him, but I wouldn't be surprised if McLemore makes some team happy wherever he goes. He hit threes as a freshman and the fact that he also knocked down free throws at an 87% clip lends further credibility to his shooting ability. He doesn't get to the rim as often as I would like, but he takes more rim attempts than mid-range jumpers and that keeps him out of red-flag territory in my opinion. McLemore does little to excite me as a prospect, but the only real knock I can find is his pedestrian steal rate. For whatever reason steals seem to go a long way towards predicting future success and McLemore is at a concerning level, however the relationship between college steals and NBA wins is captured in the model and McLemore still does well so clearly he is making up for it elsewhere.

JAMAAL FRANKLIN

6'5" 205 lbs , 21 years old

Expected Wins: 3.9

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

7%

69%

24%

1%

Comparisons:

Matt Harpring, Dominique Jones, Keith Booth, James Posey, Fred Jones, Wally Szczerbiak, Anthony Peeler, Bob Sura, Anthony Parker, Felipe Lopez

Noteworthy stats:

11.3 rebounds per 40; 4 assists per 40; 40.4 FG%

Comments:

The argument in favor of Jamaal Franklin is based around my above discussion of stats that correlate well between NCAA and NBA and those that don't. Franklin's combination of 11.3 rebounds and 4 assists per 40 is freakish, while his field goal percentage is embarrassing. Thankfully for Jamaal, the rebounding and passing will almost certainly follow him into the pros, but the poor shooting may not. Add to this that Franklin has hit 80% of his free throws the past two seasons and thus his shot isn't necessarily broken, and you have a really intriguing late-lottery prospect.

ARCHIE GOODWIN

6'5" 195 lbs , 18 years old

Expected Wins: 2.9

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

14%

72%

13%

1%

Comparisons:

Richard Jefferson, Chris Mullin, Dahntay Jones, Steve Smith, Alec Burks, Michael Finley, Greg Graham, Bob Sura, Sean Elliott, Quincy Pondexter

ALLEN CRABBE

6'6" 205 lbs , 21 years old

Expected Wins: 2.5

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

11%

74%

15%

0%

Comparisons:

Chase Budinger, Antoine Wright , Malik Hairston, Doug West, Rodney Carney, Shannon Brown, Michael Finley, Reggie Jackson, MarShon Brooks, Maurice Ager

ERICK GREEN

6'3" 185 lbs , 22 years old

Expected Wins: 2.3

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

8%

78%

13%

0%

Comparisons:

Lucious Harris, Litterial Green, Keith McLeod, Charles Jenkins, Cory Higgins, Dedric Willoughby, Chris Smith, Troy Bell, Jimmer Fredette, Donald Sloan

SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD

6'6" 223 lbs , 20 years old

Expected Wins: 0.6

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

21%

74%

5%

0%

Comparisons:

Harrison Barnes, Dave Johnson, Adam Morrison, Michael Redd, Malik Hairston, Harold Miner, Jarvis Hayes, Jared Dudley, Kelenna Azubuike, Nick Young

Noteworthy stats:

23.2 pnts per 40; 1.1 asts per 40; 0.9 stls per 40; 2.2 jump shots for every rim attempt

Comments:

Shabazz is an old freshman who achieved moderate collegiate success chucking unassisted jumpers after failing to get penetration or create offense for others. He also failed to collect any defensive statistics and notoriously pouted after his teammate nailed a buzzer-beater. Shabazz is a walking red-flag but high-school hype has kept him in the conversation.

VANDER BLUE

6'4" 200 lbs , 20 years old

Expected Wins: 0.5

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

27%

69%

4%

0%

Comparisons:

Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews, Mitchell Butler, Malcolm Lee, Jordan Crawford, Brian Oliver, Michael Dickerson, Vern Fleming, E'Twaun Moore, Shannon Brown

TIM HARDAWAY JR.

6'5" 185 lbs , 21 years old

Expected Wins: 0.5

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

16%

76%

8%

0%

Comparisons:

Joe Crawford, Doug West, A.J. Guyton, Wayne Ellington, Gerald Fitch, Maurice Ager, Jimmy Oliver, Tarence Kinsey, Vinny Del Negro, Arron Afflalo

BRANDON PAUL

6'4" 195 lbs , 22 years old

Expected Wins: 0.5

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

15%

77%

8%

0%

Comparisons:

Matt Walsh, Allan Houston, Bracey Wright, Roger Mason, Sean Singletary, John Morton, Dedric Willoughby, Chris Smith, Voshon Lenard, Michael Finley

MICHAEL SNAER

6'4" 185 lbs , 22 years old

Expected Wins: 0

Success Probabilities:

BUST

BNCH

STRT

STAR

24%

74%

2%

0%

Comparisons:

Cuttino Mobley, Alvin Williams, Raja Bell, Lawrence Moten, Wesley Person, Andre Owens, Bobby Jackson, Dwayne Morton, Maurice Ager, Jerry Smith

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