TheShould Draft Who I Tell Them To Draft (Part 2 - wings to take)
1. JAE CROWDER (SG/SF/PF, MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY, SENIOR)
As Jae Crowder is a very unique player, I’ll attempt to define his NBA horizon using a variety of comparisons to other college players.
Someone who I think Crowder resembles as a college player is Jared Dudley, which is convenient since I also think his role in the NBA will be similar. Here is a comparison of their senior seasons:
These are not identical players by any means, but I think they have a lot of similar patterns in their production and bear a resemblance to each other offensively. One could see them becoming comparable NBA players.
Defense is another issue though, and for that I’d like to compare Crowder to another squat, bulky defensive player: Chuck Hayes. Here is a comparison of their senior seasons, where we can see the similarity between their rebounding and defensive numbers (and I guess a bunch of other shit too):
In terms of body type though the closest comparison to Crowder’s 6’5’’ 240 lb frame among perimeter players is probably Ron Artest. Here is a comparison between Crowder’s junior season (Crowder was a JUCO player his first 2 years of college) and Artest’s sophomore season (stats are per40 but not pace adjusted):
Now I am not saying Jae Crowder is as good a prospect as Ron Artest was. Not at all. Aside from the fact that Artest was arguably better as a sophomore than Crowder was as a junior on the basis of these numbers alone, when you also consider that Artest averaged around 5 assists per40 as well it really isn’t a contest. My purpose is only to show that there is precedent for someone with Crowder’s unique frame to succeed on the perimeter in the NBA.
Finally, I'd like to compare Jae Crowder to rookie forward Kawhi Leonard because I believe Crowder's NBA game will most resemble what Leonard did this year: a lot of his shots will be 3s, he'll be able to defend positions 2-4, he will get above average off-ball numbers and he won't make many mistakes. Unfortunately, their college production wasn't very similar, which might undercut my argument. But I think one can take a broader view and simply see two physically strong, very well rounded players with good motors. Here's a comparison of Leonard's sophomore season with Crowder's junior season, his first at Marquette:
But is there precedent for a prospect like Jae Crowder busting in the NBA? Yes. If there is one name that should scare people away from investing a first round pick in Crowder, it's DeMarre Carrol. Here's a comparison of their senior numbers:
Hmmm. That doesn't look great. But what exactly has made DeMarre Carrol fail as an NBA player?
I'd like to throw out a new piece of terminology to describe basketball players, "toggler", which functions as a complimentary word to "tweener". I generally take "tweener" to be a derogatory term signifying a player who, usually because of a mismatch between his skills and his physical profile, has no position at the NBA level. "Toggler" is the good twin of "tweener", and denotes a player whose diverse skill set and special physical attributes allow him to effectively switch back and forth between two or more positions.
The problem is it is difficult to see which NCAA players will become tweeners in the NBA, and which will become togglers. But I think in DeMarre Carrol's case it is easy to see why he was likely to become a tweener. Lacking any size for the PF position (6'8'' 210 lbs), Carrol would have to be either a really good ball handler or a solid shooter to make it as a decent NBA SF... and he has yet to develop a passable shot. Which was not exactly unpredictable as this table will show:
I think Jae Crowder comes off a little better than this. Here's a similar table from Crowder's two years at Marquette:
This looks more like someone who can develop a solid NBA 3pt shot. It's not a sure thing of course, but given that Jae Crowder so thoroughly fits what the Bulls need and is likely to succeed in the NBA, I think he should be the 29th pick in the 2012 draft.
2. WILL BARTON (SG, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS, SOPHOMORE)
If Jae Crowder has been taken before the Bulls are able to make a pick I think their next target should be Memphis' sophomore shooting guard Will Barton.
Will Barton compares pretty favorably with a number of successful NBA shooting guards. Here's a comparison between Barton's sophomore numbers and Landry Fields' junior numbers:
And here's a comparison between Barton's second year and Fields' fourth year:
So we can locate Barton somewhere between Fields' junior and senior seasons in terms of development. One of my worries with this pick is that Barton will not be ready to contribute right away in any meaningfully positive capacity. Ideally he would go back to school one more year and become a big time scorer before coming to the NBA, much like Fields did.
It is even conceivable Barton could take 2-3 years before becoming a useful player much as did Joe Johnson, who I mention because his sophomore numbers look very similar to Barton's (numbers per40 not pace adjusted):
And one can produce a similar table to show how Barton's sophomore numbers compare favorably to Brandon Roy's junior numbers:
I see two red flags with Will Barton. One is his body. He's 6'6'' and has a 6'9.5'' wingspan, which is nice, but he also weighs something like 175 lbs. That's elfish. On the other hand, that kind of makes him a 6'6'' Paul George. Here's a comparison of their sophomore numbers:
Again, 8.8 rebounds. Weird. Anyway, Barton's frame still worries me and I wonder if he will have the strength to play with the freakish jurassics of the NBA.
The other red flag is that a lot of SG prospects of late have been pretty lousy. MarShon Brooks and Alec Burks didn't exactly light the world on fire as rookies. James Anderson, Gerald Henderson, Evan Turner, Wes Johnson, Dominique Jones, DeMar DeRozan, etc. These guys look like busts, or at least huge disappointments. Considering the Bulls now have a Plank scale margin of error, it would be a shame to waste resources on a guy who, two years from now, adds nothing of note to the team. I still think they should draft Barton if Crowder is gone though.
Will Barton Highlight Video (via MemphisTigersVideo)