NBA Draft 2013: Early Look at the Incoming Freshmen

This could be an exercise in futility here, but I’m going to attempt to analyze the 2013 incoming freshmen based on stats compiled in the all-star games. This process will probably play out somewhat like trying to predict the rookie of the year from summer league play. That’s always been kind of a joke. The reason is the games played in the summer league are played for a different reason than the games played for real. The same is true with the high school all-star games. They’re a talent showcase as opposed to a competition. Rather than playing a set rotation, players are shuffled in and out. Minutes are handed equally to all players. The stats I use were put up in low minutes, so we’re working with a small sample size. The percentages are likely on the low side of what to expect in college from each player. The per 40 minute numbers are way higher than what to expect. This just isn’t the optimal place to evaluate players. That said there might be some things we can glean from the stats and that’s what I’ll attempt to do here.

Some will succeed and others will bust, but college freshmen are the most important group for draft-watchers. College freshmen have made up 40% of the top 10 picks in the draft and were the first overall pick 5 of 6 years since the top prospects were forced to spend a year in college starting with the 2007 draft.

At first glance I like this class and I’m optimistic that this class is going to be pretty strong. The reason is the number of big men ranked in the top 40. There hasn’t been a class in recent memory with a top of the class that’s so heavy in big men.

Rather than ranking the players, I’ll go by the ESPN top 20 players in order, plus one outside the top 20 who was particularly impressive, and comment on their all-star game numbers and what they might mean. If nothing else this should give us a good start as far as what to look for from this bunch. It also should be interesting to look back at this list at the end of the season to see if these numbers had any sort of predictive value at all.

Nerlens Noel C, Kentucky: 62 minutes, .538 2PP, 9.7 P40, 9.7 R40, 5.2 S40, 6.5 B40: He’s generally considered the top freshman out there. I do see a lot to like. The high steals and blocks number suggest he’s a very active and effective defender. The game I saw him play he looked extremely quick for a player his size. Something like a young Kevin Garnett. His offense is non-existent. He didn’t look to score and wasn’t effective when he did shoot. The biggest issue though is his rebounding numbers were soft. As with everything else I mention in this piece, I’m going to say this is a situation to watch rather than a problem. It’s possible that Noel roamed the perimeter on defense in these games, because he’s quick enough to guard smaller players. With some coaching he’ll settle in under the basket and rebound like his skills and size suggest he should.

Shabazz Muhammad SF-SG, UCLA: 81 minutes, .549 2PP, .250 3PP, 37.5 P40, 9.4 R40, 2.5 ASB40, 0.2 A/TO: Muhammad’s eligibility is under review as I write this, so he may never suit up for UCLA. If he does, Muhammad has the look of a big time scorer. He scored often and efficiently. He was only 2-8 on 3-pointers, but that’s not something to get concerned about. Muhammad can score and that’s the single most important skill for any perimeter prospect. Now for the concerns: He looks more like a SF than a SG, but is only 6’6”. He wasn’t a willing passer or defender and that will have to change if he is to live up to his hype.

Isaiah Austin C, Baylor: 36 minutes, .526 2PP, 22.2 P40, 17.8 R40, 5.6 B40, 3.3 A40: Everything about Austin’s numbers look solid. He rebounded and blocked shots extremely well, which are the two big numbers for centers. I also like that he handed out 3 assists in his limited play. Another interesting stat from Austin is that he attempted, and missed, three 3-point shots in his 36 minutes.

Caleb Tarczewski C, Arizona: 43 minutes, .667 2PP, 20.5 P40, 14.9 R40, 0 B40: Zero blocks in 43 minutes is not a good sign. Tarczewski was completely ineffective in the 8 minutes he played in the Nike Hoops Summit, which was the only all-star game against international competition. He did show promise as a scorer and rebounder though.

Kyle Anderson G-F, UCLA: 78 minutes, .444 2PP, .250 3PP, 20.0 P40, 13.9 R40, 7.2 A40, 3.6 S40, 1.0 B40, 1.6 A/TO: Based solely on the all-star game stats Anderson is my favorite prospect going in. I don’t want to shout that too loudly, because going from the HS all-star games probably isn’t the best way to rank and evaluate prospects. The reason I like Anderson is he showed a wide variety of skills. I also like that what we could be seeing in Anderson is a 6’8” PG. That makes him a potential dominator. At this point I have no idea if he’s going to play PG or SF, but considering the diverse skills he flashed in the all-star games and the height advantage he would possess at PG Kyle Anderson looks like a scary good prospect.

Steven Adams C, Pittsburgh: 17 Minutes, .550 2PP, 9.4 P40, 21.2 R40, 2.4 B40 7.0 TO40: Very much a mixed bag here and for only 17 minutes of court time. Suffice to say he can board and that’s a good thing. Biggest concern is the high TOs. Because this is for only 17 minutes of PT, there’s no reason for Pitt fans to think Adams will be another Khem Birch just yet.

Anthony Bennett PF, UNLV: 54 minutes, .462 2PP, .182 3PP, 17.0 P40, 17.0 R40, 2.2 SB40: Good rebounder, all else looks shaky. He launched 11 treys, without much success. This probably will change once he gets some coaching. It does show he has confidence in his outside shot. I’d rather be raving about his ability to defend and score inside than his confidence in heaving up treys.

Cameron Ridley C, Texas: 38 minutes, .480 2PP, 29.5 P40, 13.7 R40. 4.2 B40: Nothing really jumps out, but there’s also nothing that scares me here. He looks like a willing scorer and a decent rebounder and defender.

Grant Jerrett PF, Arizona: 37 minutes, .500 2PP, 15.1 P40, 4.3 R40, 2.2 SB40: Grant Jerrett was completely overmatched on the boards in his 2 games. That’s scary. That and the fact that he didn’t take many shots suggest he’s on the passive side.

Marcus Smart SG, Oklahoma State: 20 minutes, .000 2PP, 2.0 P40, 12.0 R40, 10.0 A40: In 20 minutes of play, Smart missed all 4 of his shots. I don’t see that as a big deal, as it’s just one game. I do like the fact that he accumulated a lot of rebounds and assists in that time. The rebounds show athleticism, the assists show he might be able to play the point. Both skills are great things for a guard prospect to bring to college ball.

Gary Harris SG, Michigan State: 40 minutes, .429 2PP, .000 3PP, 10.0 P40, 13.0 RSB40: The fact that he played exactly 40 minutes made the per 40 calculations much easier. Like several players here, there’s nothing here that stands out, but also nothing that’s a particular concern.

Rasheed Suliamon SG, Duke: 58 minutes, .250 2PP, .421 3PP, 23.5 P40, 10.3 RSB40: Suliamon has the look of a gunner, at least from this small sample. Of his 31 FG attempts, 19 came from behind the arc. He was also much more effective from behind the arc, which doesn’t bode particularly well for his eventual pro prospects.

Alex Poythress SF, Kentucky: 39 minutes, .824 2PP, .333 3PP, 35.9 P40, 6.2 R40, 5.1 ASB40: Poythress showed more potential as a scorer than any player in this class. He was basically unstoppable, hitting over 80% of his attempts while shooting frequently. He’s similar to Muhammad in that his passing/defense numbers are low enough to be a concern.

DaJuan Coleman C, Syracuse: 37 minutes, .385 2PP, 14.1 P40, 26.0 R40, 1.1 B40: Coleman was the best per minute rebounder in the all-star games. That’s a great start for any big guy. The rest of his game looked pretty weak. Another negative about Coleman is he’s listed as a center, but is just 6’9”.

Archie Goodwin SG, Kentucky: 59 minutes, .481 2PP, .200 3PP, 23.7 P40, 10.2 RSB40: The numbers are fairly ordinary by all-star game standards. I do like Goodwin though. He’s the quickest player I saw in the games. While I’m no scout, I was impressed with how easily he got to the rim. I’ll add that Kentucky has been a good one-year stopping place for the top recruits under Calipari. Not all of his recruits have lived up to their promise, but Kentucky freshmen have made up 33% of the top 5 picks in the past 3 years. That’s a pretty impressive record of player development and suggests Noel, Poythress and Goodwin are all in good hands and players to watch leading up to the 2013 draft.

Brandon Ashley PF, Arizona: 36 minutes, .267 2PP, 8.9 P40, 16.7 R40, 1.1 SB40: It is good to see Arizona and UCLA recruiting well and in the process hopefully getting the PAC-12 back to the major conference level they’ve always been at before the last couple of seasons. But I’m not at all impressed with the performances of the Wildcat’s 3 big recruits. To repeat, this is just for low minutes in meaningless all-star games that have little resemblance to real college games, but the 3 Arizona recruits were not impressive at all.

Sam Dekker SF, Wisconsin: 16 minutes, .750 2PP, .333 3PP, 30.0 P40, 12.5 R40, 7.5 ASB40: A very impressive 16 minutes. Throw in the fact that he had no turnovers and Sam Dekker is definitely a player to watch.

Glenn Robinson SF, Michigan: 16 minutes, .857 2PP, 40.0 P40, 7.5 R40, 7.5 ASB40: Scores a ton of points, but the rest of his game is shaky. Yup, that’s the Glenn Robinson we all know. Seriously, he’s like Dekker in that put up these eye-popping scoring numbers in only 16 minutes with no turnovers. Both should be great additions to what should be a very competitive Big Ten.

Daniel House SG-SF, Houston: 21 minutes, .667 2PP, .500 3PP, 13.3 P40, 5.7 RSB40: He’s listed as a SF, but at 6’6” 185 feels more like a SG. Time will tell on that. His all-star game performance wasn’t very impressive. If this was just a bad day and House is worthy of his top 20 ranking, he makes an already solid young Houston team a sleeper to have a very good season.

Rodney Purvis SG, North Carolina State: 43 minutes, .667 2PP, .333 3PP, 34.4 P40, 6.5 RSB40: A very impressive scoring display, but the rest of his game was weak.

Adam Woodbury C, Iowa: 19 minutes, .833 2PP, 23.2 P40, 23.2 R40, 4.2 A40, 6.3 S40, 2.1 B40, 0 TO: He’s actually #39 on the list, but I thought I’d mention him because he was so impressive in the one game he played. He scored, rebounded and defended well with no turnovers. That’s impressive. Because he’s a center I would like him better if the blocks and steals numbers were reversed, but it’s an impressive performance nonetheless. With so many highly-touted freshmen centers coming in, it’s possible for one to get lost a little in the shuffle and be under rated going in. That could be the case with Woodbury.

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