I’m starting my 2012 draft analysis with a look at the players who are considered potential 2nd overall picks. Today it’s Florida SG Bradley Beal. Using the 2nd overall pick on a SG has been very rare. We’d have to go back to the 70s when David Thompson (1st overall ’75), Otis Birdsong (2nd overall ’77) and Darrell Griffith (2nd overall ’80) went in the top 2. Since then #3 is as high as any SG has been drafted. While the group drafted at #3 includes the greatest player ever, Michael Jordan in ’84, there have been more reaches and outright busts taken at #3. This group includes Dennis Hopson ’87, Jerry Stackhouse ’95, Ben Gordon ’04, OJ Mayo ’08 and James Harden ’09. What this says is drafting a SG in the top 3 is a risky proposition.
Statistically, Beal measures up OK as a prospect. He has the high RSB40 (combined rebounds, steals and blocks per 40 minutes) and 2PP (2-point field goal percentage), but he didn’t score as frequently as good SG prospects should. The statistic that stands out as a red flag for Beal is his low, 17.4, P40 (points per 40 minutes). Historically it has been important for SG prospects to be at 20.0 and preferably higher. A scorer’s mentality is vital for any NBA SG and it isn’t clear whether or not Beal has this yet. What Beal has going for him is he’s still very young. Freshmen get some leeway on hitting all the benchmarks. In the case of Beal, he joined a college backcourt that already featured a couple of mad bombers in Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker. It is likely Beal found FG attempts difficult to come by as a freshman.
There have been freshmen who overcame low-scoring starts, upped their P40 in subsequent years and became solid NBA SGs. The tables below compare Beal with similar players. Those being SGs who scored less than 18.0 P40 as college freshmen, but also posted a high RSB40. The first group is players who were drafted and went on to have a successful NBA career. The second group is players who were drafted in the first or early 2nd round, but didn’t live up to expectations. In all cases these numbers are from the player’s freshman season.
Successes 2PP 3PP P40 S40 RSB40
D. Christie .600 .255 14.6 2.6 11.2
R. Harper .497* n/a 16.2 2.8 12.9
H. Hawkins .581* n/a 15.7 1.9 9.0
F. Hoiberg .641 .260 15.8 2.5 9.7
Ed. Jones .517 .351 17.4 3.0 10.2
A. McKie .521 .321 15.4 2.5 9.3
J. Richardson .546 .296 13.0 1.4 12.3
L. Sprewell .541 .339 17.4 1.6 10.6
B. Beal .541 .339 17.4 1.6 10.6
Just a quick note, Hoiberg might be a reach as a “success”. I included him, because he was a 2nd round draft pick who played close to 10,000 minutes in his career and was very productive when he played.
Busts 2PP 3PP P40 S40 RSB40
S. Burrell .415 .313 12.7 2.9 12.9
D. Boyce .462 .278 17.8 2.9 9.7
J. Grayer .529* n/a 14.4 1.2 9.3
D. Hopson .474* n/a 11.5 1.6 9.1
S. Jacobson .517 .321 16.2 1.4 11.7
R. Minor .526 .233 14.0 1.9 9.5
B. Rush .474 .472 17.0 1.1 9.4
J. Sasser .448 .262 18.0 1.8 12.3
J. Trepagnier .452 .200 15.3 2.4 12.2
B. Beal .541 .339 17.4 1.6 10.6
The 2PP numbers for Harper, Hawkins, Grayer and Hopson are simple FG pct. The breakdown of 2- and 3-point percentages weren’t available. What stands out here are two things. The successful group of players had a higher 2-point percentage and more steals as a group. The 2PP being well over .500 seems almost essential for successful prospects. Beal is there at .541. His steals are low, at 1.6, but not low enough that I would even call it a red flag.
The two players Beal most resembles in this group are Sprewell and Richardson. A similar career to either of these players would represent Beal’s best case scenario. Both players were considered among the 5-10 SGs in the league during their prime. Both were at best the #3 player on a contender. That’s not a bad thing and I feel this is probably the best guess at where Beal will be in 10 years.
Whether or not this is a player worthy of the #2 pick is another matter. The second overall pick comes with a high price tag. He’ll probably cost something in the neighborhood of $17 mil for the first 4 seasons. Considering there will be at least a couple of developmental years involved with Beal that seems like a high price to pay just to develop the next Latrell Sprewell.