NBA Draft 2012: Jae Crowder and Ken Horton

I thought I’d start the SF analyses by looking at a couple of players I feel are being undervalued by the experts. These are a couple of small forwards who stand out statistically in what is really a pretty deep group. Neither has gotten much in the way of attention. Crowder was the Big East POY, but has only been able to get himself into the middle of round 2 in the mocks. Horton is a 5th-year senior at a small college who has gotten no attention and seems likely to be undrafted. Both merit more of a look because of their production and versatility.

Small forward is the most difficult position to analyze and predict, because so many different types of players have been successful. The two things that seem the most important are that the player has proven he can score both often and efficiently and that he has displayed a skill other than scoring. This skill could be rebounding, defense or passing. This has traditionally been a big deal for SFs. Scoring is always important, but having a wide variety of skills has also been a good thing. Crowder and Horton both come in with a variety of skills and merit attention because of it. Here are past major college players who have put up numbers similar to Crowder and Horton. I looked for players who scored at a similar frequency, posted a high number of steals and blocks and didn’t have a problem turning the ball over.

Player 2-pt. 3-pt. P40 R40 SB40 A/TO
Grant Hill 0.592 0.286 22.8 8.1 4.9 1.1
Danny Granger 0.563 0.433 25.1 11.8 5.5 1.0
Shawn Marion 0.573 0.299 22.8 11.3 5.3 0.9
Danny Manning 0.600 0.000 20.8 7.8 4.0 1.0
Stacey Augmon 0.619 0.469 21.8 9.6 4.0 2.0
Derrick McKey 0.608 0.396 20.5 8.2 4.0 0.7
Ryan Bowen 0.607 0.533 21.0 12.7 5.6 1.1
Stanley Brundy 0.658 0.000 19.2 11.4 4.3 0.8
Terrence Morris 0.604 0.355 20.9 9.7 5.1 0.8
Jae Crowder 0.602 0.345 20.5 9.8 4.1 1.7
Ken Horton 0.598 0.313 21.8 10.2 4.1 0.9

This group ranges from great, to the very good, to the versatile, to the not-so-good. It is a nice group to be bunched in with. Brundy was an undersized PF from DePaul who lasted only a year in the NBA before a long career in overseas. Morris peaked in this, his college sophomore year at Maryland, and faded after that. Those two NBA busts aside, the fact is players who have done what Crowder and Horton did this past season statistically have a pretty solid history of NBA success.

Jae Crowder, Marquette: The problem for Crowder are his dimensions. Crowder measured just under 6’5” without shoes and weighed in at 240 lbs. Those are good size numbers for a NFL tight end, but not good for a NBA small forward. There hasn’t been a successful NBA SF who measured less than 6’5” in the past decade. This and the 240 lbs raise legitimate questions about his quickness and ability to guard taller players. There have been successful forwards who were only slightly taller than Crowder. They include Andre Iguodala, Caron Butler, Nick Young and Demar Derozan.

I don’t see that fact that he played PF in college a huge deal. This happens often in college ball, where a general shortage of capable big men forces players out of their natural positions. If  anything it should be considered a positive that Crowder took on the challenge and helped the team. It is worth a look to see if the move affected his numbers:

Jae Crowder







Sophomore (JC)





















The soph numbers posted at Howard JC are per game numbers which were the only ones I could find. I would figure the per 40 minute numbers to be about 20% higher. As a senior Crowder improved his inside scoring and his blocks and steals fairly dramatically. I’m more concerned that it took until his senior season to emerge as a star than I am with any positional effect on his numbers. The best prospects are usually top prospect immediately. I might be able to chalk this up to the system at Marquette that seems to let the seniors be the star.

In Crowder we have a player who is too short, too heavy and was slow to emerge as a prospect. We also have his stellar statistics which put him in with some pretty fast company. I can tell you that players with Crowder’s dimensions rarely make the league, but no player with Crowder’s dimensions has ever put up numbers this good before. So I can’t tell you that he’s bound to fail either.

Personally I like Jae Crowder as a prospect. He’s tough, he has a great nose for the ball defensively and he scored efficiently from inside and out at the major college level. I get that the size issues are a problem. If he were a sinewy 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan and these same numbers, me and everyone else would have him as a solid #2 pick behind Anthony Davis. I know he’s a risk, but I still feel he shouldn’t stay on the board much past the lottery picks. I’d much rather take a chance on a productive player than one who isn’t.

Ken Horton, Central Connecticut State: Horton has a couple of strikes against him in that he played at a small college and is a 5th-year senior. I can dismiss the 5th-year senior thing, because he started early and is the same age as most 4th-year seniors. The small college thing is an issue. There haven’t been a lot of SFs to make the jump from a small college to the NBA. Here are the 4 most recent:








Dan Majerle







Wally Szczerbiak







Reggie Lewis







Reggie Williams







Ken Horton







Horton does match up well with this group, except when it comes to scoring frequency. All had high 2-point percentages, were good rebounders and posted decent defensive numbers. None was a great 3-point shooter in college. All scored at a higher volume than Horton. Also worth noting is that Horton’s career 3-point percentage is a more impressive .351, so his outside shot really isn’t a problem.

As far as Horton’s place in the 2012 draft, I think he fits somewhere in round 2. He has shown some solid ability, but comes up just a tad short when compared to successful players from a similar background. I will say that any team thinking of drafting Harrison Barnes in the top 10, should pass, go for a big guy and snap Horton up in round two instead.

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