TrueHoop: NBA Draft

Board games

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
1:13
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
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Chad Ford drops by to discuss the latest updates to his NBA draft Big Board, including Joel Embiid's rise into the top three, a top-10 freshman at UCLA and, of course, Andrew Wiggins.

McLemore tops 2013 draft class

June, 26, 2013
6/26/13
1:55
PM ET
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN.com
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Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesBen McLemore's jump shot has drawn comparisons to Ray Allen.
Although opinions vary, advanced analytical data say the best prospect in this year’s NBA draft may be former Kansas Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore.

McLemore is efficient on both ends of the court and was extremely valuable to the Jayhawks last season. He led Division I freshmen in win shares -- a metric that estimates the number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense and defense.

Playmaking on offense

On offense, McLemore ranked seventh in points per play among the 220 players with at least 500 plays last season. Seth Curry was the only player invited to the 2013 draft combine who ranked higher.

Perhaps more impressive, McLemore’s 1.09 points per play was the highest average by a freshman with at least 500 plays since Michael Beasley and Kevin Love in 2007-08.

McLemore scored in a variety of ways at Kansas. He shot 48 percent on spot-up plays, 57 percent in transition and 60 percent in isolation.

His jump shot is perhaps his best attribute and one reason he's been compared to Ray Allen. McLemore shot 40 percent on jump shots last season, including 43 percent on catch-and-shoot jumpers. Both stats ranked in the top 15 percentile last season.

Clutch-time performer

What about performing in clutch time? In the final five minutes of the second half and overtime with the score within five points, McLemore averaged 1.45 points per play, the most among all draft prospects with more than 10 plays, and shot 67 percent from the floor.

He most notably showed off his clutch shot-making ability in a game against Iowa State, when he made a game-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and carried his team to a victory with 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-for-6 on 3-point attempts.

Defense

Everyone knows about McLemore’s potential as a scoring guard, but there isn’t nearly as much talk about his defense.

Data from Synergy Sports Technology show that McLemore’s on-ball defense may have played a large part in Kansas leading the country in defensive field goal percentage last season.

Victor Oladipo is another shooting guard thought to be near the top of NBA draft boards, and although he is known as a ferocious defender, McLemore was the better on-ball defender last season, according to Synergy.

McLemore held opponents to 25 percent shooting as an on-ball defender, the lowest field goal percentage allowed among players who defended at least 250 plays last season. McLemore allowed 0.63 points per play compared with Oladipo’s 0.85.

McLemore also allowed fewer points per play on pick-and-rolls and defended jump shots better than Oladipo last season.

And finally, McLemore defended well in clutch time, holding opponents to 25 percent shooting, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers.

So when looking at McLemore, remember that he's more than just a jump shooter. He displayed the entire package in his lone season in college.

NBA Draft: Which 'big' is best?

June, 25, 2013
6/25/13
10:48
AM ET
By Ryan Feldman
ESPN.com
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Getty ImagesAlex Len, Nerlens Noel and Anthony Bennett are three notable big men in this year's NBA draft.
Who’s the best big man in this year’s NBA Draft? The answer may surprise you.

Using advanced analytical data, let’s compare the top big man prospects that played college basketball last season: Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Anthony Bennett, Steven Adams, Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, Jeff Withey and Tony Mitchell.

Jump shots

The best stretch big man appears to be Bennett, who led the top big men in jump shots made and effective field goal percentage (min. 15 attempts) –- a shooting percentage statistic that gives more value to three-pointers.

Bennett's 52.8 effective field goal percentage on jumpers was slightly better than Trey Burke and Allen Crabbe.

Dieng, who shot 50 percent on jumpers, is the darkhorse candidate for a stretch big man. Despite rumblings about his potential to knock down perimeter jumpers at the next level, Zeller was just 9-of-24 on jump shots last season (37.5%).

Len and Mitchell were at the bottom of the barrel, both shooting 28 percent. Noel attempted only three jump shots, although he did make two of them.

Finishing at the rim

Withey shot 79 percent around the basket on non-post-up plays, the highest percentage in the country (min. 100 attempts). Olynyk wasn’t too far behind at 70 percent.

Mitchell and Adams were the only two of the top big man prospects to shoot below 60 percent around the basket, as both were just over 56 percent.

Post-up plays

Olynyk was the most efficient post-up scorer last season, scoring 1.07 points per post-up while shooting 58 percent on those plays.

The only player other than Olynyk to shoot better than 50 percent in the post was Plumlee, who has improved in terms of points per play and field goal percentage on post-up plays in each college season.

Dieng was by far the least-efficient post-up scorer of the group. He shot 26.5 percent and scored 0.57 points per post-up play.

Post defense

Adams, Noel, Withey and Zeller all measured as outstanding post defenders last season. Each of them held opponents to 30 percent shooting or lower and fewer than 0.60 points per post-up play. Adams was the best of the group –- his opponents shot 25 percent and scored 0.46 points per play in the post.

Olynyk didn’t fare as well as the other big men defending the post. His opponents shot 48 percent and scored 0.92 points per post-up play –- twice as many points per play as Adams allowed.

Rebounds and blocks

Dieng measured as the best rebounding big man of the top prospects. He and Adams both grabbed more than 17 percent of available boards. The worst rebounder of the group was Mitchell (15%).

Withey and Noel both blocked more than 13 percent of their opponents’ field-goal attempts while they were on the court. Adams was the only other player above 10 percent. Bennett, Zeller and Plumlee were the only big men of the group below 5 percent.

Conclusion

Of the 10 big men evaluated using these metrics, Withey is the only one who didn’t rank in the bottom four of any of the six categories. Noel is the only one to rank in the top two of three different categories.

Perhaps surprisingly, the worst of the group were Len and Zeller. Len didn’t rank in the top four of any of the six categories, while Zeller ranked in the bottom three in four of the six categories.

Worst record offers no lottery guarantees

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
9:23
PM ET
By ESPN Stats & Information
ESPN.com
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Here's a snapshot look at three statistical storylines for Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery, the results of which will be shown on ESPN beginning at 7:30 pm ET.

No. 1 usually doesn't go to worst record
The Orlando Magic have a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery, the best chance among the 14 teams.

Since the Draft Lottery began in 1985, the Magic have held the No. 1 overall pick three times (Shaquille O’Neal in 1992; Chris Webber in 1993; Dwight Howard in 2004).

Since the lottery moved to its present format in 1994, the team with (or tied for) the best odds has won three of the 19 lotteries.

Those were the Philadelphia 76ers in 1996 (selected Allen Iverson); the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 (selected LeBron James); and the Magic in 2004 (picked Dwight Howard).

The teams with the third and fifth-best odds have won four times.

Cavaliers, Trail Blazers could tie a record with a lottery win
Since the lottery began in 1985, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando Magic have made the first overall pick three times, most among all teams.

Of the 14 teams in the lottery, the Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers have made the most No. 1 overall picks during the Common Draft Era (since 1966), with four each. On the other end, the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz have never held the top pick.

If the Cavaliers or Trail Blazers end up with the top pick, they will tie the Houston Rockets for the most No. 1 overall picks in the Common Draft Era (since 1966).

One other item of note involving a team playing after the lottery concludes:

The draft lottery began in 1985. Since that time, every team in the NBA has had at least one lottery pick. The San Antonio Spurs have had the longest drought among all teams, having not selected in the lottery since taking Tim Duncan No. 1 overall in 1997.

No. 1 team may celebrate, but many No. 1 picks haven't recently won titles
Since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, five No. 1 overall draft selections have gone on to win the NBA Championship with the team that drafted them. Those who have won have won big: Magic Johnson (Lakers, 1979), James Worthy (Lakers, 1982), Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, 1984), David Robinson (Spurs, 1987), and Tim Duncan (1997).

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