Center Statistics Against Top-100 RPI Teams

Today's position is center, which could be of interest to the Wolves if they amnesty (or otherwise part with) Darko Milicic. (Other positions reviewed: PGs here, SGs here, and SFs here.) There are some interesting prospects who may be on the board at 18, plus some good looking smaller school prospects who could be available a bit later. I'll look at how they compare after the jump.

The table below shows the MDSD scores (explained here) and WS48 values for each prospect, calculated across all of their games. Many of these scores look promising. Shot blocking is a large component of the MDSD scores for Drummond, Ezeli, Melo, O'Quinn, and James in particular. I have included some players (e.g., Nicholson, O'Quinn) who are cross-listed as power forwards but appear to be plausible candidates to serve as a backup big for the Wolves.

Player Class Team MDSD WS48
Drummond Fr Connecticut 2.54 0.189
Zeller Sr North Carolina 4.15 0.399
Leonard So Illinois 3.37 0.273
Ezeli Sr Vanderbilt 0.83 0.247
Melo So Syracuse 2.99 0.296
Moultrie Jr Mississippi State 1.89 0.237
Plumlee Sr Duke 2.76 0.241
Nicholson Sr St. Bonaventure 4.96 0.359
O'Quinn Sr Norfolk State 5.64 0.329
Green Sr Alabama 3.62 0.328
James Sr Florida State 3.25 0.275
Sims Sr Georgetown 3.88 0.233

Ed Weiland's criteria for evaluating centers (from here) are not as clear-cut as they are for some other positions:

1. Two-point FG% of at least 0.600, with younger players getting some slack (2PT%);

2. At least 10 rebounds per 40 minutes (R40);

3. At least 3 blocks per 40 minutes (BLK40); and

4. An outside shot and/or passing skills are "nice things to have".

The table below shows statistics against top-100 RPI teams that relate to these criteria, plus some other statistics. "MIN" is the number of minutes played against top-100 teams; "Avg Rank" is the average RPI rank of the player's top-100 opponents; and "# Criteria" is the number of Weiland's first three criteria that the player meets. (I think scouting reports are needed to address the fourth.)

Player MIN Avg Rank TS% P40 2PT% R40 BLK40 A/TO # Criteria
Drummond 609 41.5 0.501 13.1 0.511 10.1 3.88 0.22 2
Zeller 606 30.6 0.619 20.5 0.553 12.9 1.85 0.43 1
Leonard 646 38.7 0.587 15.5 0.568 10.1 1.73 0.52 1
Ezeli 431 43.8 0.574 18.7 0.531 11.0 3.43 0.11 2
Melo 471 44.7 0.573 11.1 0.559 9.3 4.33 0.52 1
Moultrie 560 51.5 0.595 17.6 0.550 11.5 0.86 0.31 1
Plumlee 397 37.5 0.657 14.2 0.625 11.2 2.02 0.55 2
Nicholson 511 61.8 0.639 25.8 0.568 10.3 3.05 0.28 2
O'Quinn 189 43.4 0.568 16.7 0.500 12.9 3.81 0.74 2
Green 465 44.8 0.572 18.6 0.552 10.3 1.98 0.69 1
James 583 39.6 0.576 15.1 0.561 10.6 3.43 0.26 2
Sims 568 38.8 0.490 15.8 0.422 8.5 1.55 1.06 0

No one hits all three criteria, with a low 2PT% being a consistent problem. Drummond excels at shot blocking, but barely makes the cut as a rebounder and doesn't score efficiently. Did I mention that he's a 29.5 percent free throw shooter? Too bad we don't have a top pick this year to get us some of that, huh? Zeller looks pretty good in some ways, but he's not much of a shot blocker and he'll be gone by 18 anyway. Meyers Leonard has attracted some interest on Canis Hoopus, but he's a little disappointing here. His numbers against bad teams (over 100 RPI) hit the benchmarks (0.639 2PT%, 10.4 R40, 3.1 BLK40), but his 2PT% and BLK40 fell off quite a bit against the better competition. He might still be a decent project big, but he doesn't excite me too much.

In addition to having a great name, Festus Ezeli shows some signs of being a good fit for the Wolves. His 2PT% is low, but he does well on blocks and OK on rebounds. I like that his performance held up against better teams. (His R40 is 11.0 against top-100 but 8.4 against over 100 teams.) Fab Melo has the best shot blocking stats of anyone on the list. His 2PT% is below the benchmark, but good by the standards of this list. His rebounding numbers are pretty bad, though. This could be due to Syracuse's zone defense taking him out of rebounding position, but I don't have any evidence to support that (e.g., from past Syracuse players and how their rebounding translated to the pros).

Moultrie is not a shot blocker, which may be a problem in terms of his fit for the Wolves. From what I've read, he may be the most diverse offensive player on the list, so he could do well in the pros anyway. Miles Plumlee leads the pack in scoring efficiency and has good rebounding numbers. However, his blocks rate is mediocre.

Nicholson and O'Quinn are the small school guys with great overall numbers. Nicholson can hit three pointers and still does reasonably well on rebounds and blocks. O'Quinn, though not all that tall, has a great wingspan and very good block numbers to match. His 2PT% really suffered against his good competition (0.629 against over 100, 0.500 against top 100), but his block rate was better against the good teams and his rebounding held up well. As with some of these small school guys, it's a pretty small sample of top-100 teams for him, though (two games against Marquette, and one each against Missouri, Florida, Drexel, and Long Island).

Bernard James has some decent numbers (particularly blocks), but he's 27 years old. I probably shouldn't have bothered to add JaMychal Green or Henry Sims to the list.

Incidentally, Jeff Withey of Kansas should have turned pro. He blocked 5.27 per 40 minutes against top-100 teams, which would top this list by far. Oh well.

To be honest, I usually dislike the "big guy project" picks, though I recognize that they can be the right thing to do. The Wolves have some options from this list. They can look at Leonard and Melo at 18, or Ezeli, Nicholson, and O'Quinn if they move back a bit. I still like O'Quinn as a trade-down (or up from 58) option to supply some length and shot blocking behind Pekovic and Love, but there are other viable players as well, as long as you're happy with a player who is likely to be a career backup or a long-term project (or both).