A Word (Or Three) On Potential Targets

Okay, its a lot of words (and some numbers) on potential draft targets at the #9 spot... with a ton of help from insight via DraftExpress. (No worries, I did include my own thoughts too... just in case you wanted to read them for some odd reason.)

DraftExpress has sat down, thrown together spreadsheets, analyzed the players and released their findings. They've done it by positions (centers here, the rest are linked to at the top of that page). There obviously issues with the system (as they mention, smaller school guys will have fewer possessions, and it doesn't look at level of competition or level of talent around him). And its offensively focused... if you're looking for defensive stuff, this isn't your thing. That said, its still an interesting read.

Of interest (to me, at least) is what they conclude about the guys the Jazz could consider at #9 (and Greg Monroe). Now this definitely isn't going to tell you what you're getting (or what you're not getting), but DraftExpress did this well and its worth a read. Some "quick" hits about our targets (you might know that when I say quick, it's not really very quick)...

Cole Aldrich

Cole Aldrich resembles, in some ways, the solid role-playing he center projects to be at the next level from a situational perspective.

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Aldrich’s low usage didn’t afford him the opportunity to put up huge scoring numbers, but he looked solid in a role that very well could be similar to the one he’ll play next season, and could benefit from getting more of his touches as a finisher instead of being forced to create in the post.

Aldrich did most of his work from the post, getting fouled at an above-average clip and not committing too many turnovers. Of course, he was able to overpower opponents in college... it'll probably be a bit harder to do that in the NBA. With the Jazz... if Boozer is back, Aldrich won't have to create much in the post I don't think. Booze will draw the double-teams, leading to some easy baskets for Aldrich down low. On the other hand, if its a Aldrich/Millsap duo, then there might be more need for Aldrich to create down low. Plus, I don't know if either Aldrich or Millsap is the guy you want replacing Boozer's jump-shooting off the pick-and-roll.

Greg Monroe

Monroe took the third most jump shots of any player in our sample (1.5 Shots/G), but made just less than 25% of them. A simply below average finisher (1.26 PPS) due to his lack of explosiveness, Monroe’s value proposition doesn’t reside solely in his ability to put the ball in the basket or dominate in one situation.

Monroe’s savvy offensive game gives him the ability to create for his teammates and generate some easy looks for himself. Monroe was one of the top finishers in our sample in basket cut situations, scoring 1.41 PPP despite not possessing great athleticism. Obviously, Monroe does a good job of moving into the open area at the right time and making some smart plays on the offensive end.

Monroe was the go-to guy at Georgetown, much unlike Aldrich. He did have a high turnover mark; this most likely has to do with him having the ball in his hands so often. He wasn't very efficient in post-up situations, though he wasn't too bad with his turnovers in such possessions either. What worries me is his jump-shooting. If he's going to take jumpers, you'd like him to make them. Otherwise you'll have the next coming of Kris Humphries. Yet he's not very efficient in the post either. He can find his teammates, and is good at cutting to the basket. With the Jazz... if Boozer is back, he'd be in the new position of not being the go-to-guy. He'd get opportunities to cut to the basket though, which could work out. With Millsap, you have to wonder if Monroe becomes the guy they run the pick-and-roll with, allowing Millsap to focus on attacking the hoop and what-not. Or do you run the pick-and-roll with Millsap and let Monroe sit down low and try to create easy opportunities for teammates.

Hassan Whiteside

Showing impressive versatility, 26% of Whiteside’s shot were jumpers, the top mark in our sample. Making 40% of those shots and finishing at a highly respective 64.1% clip, Whiteside is one of the most unique talents in this draft. His ability to score from the outside at his height is incredible, he was one of the most impressive shot blockers in the NCAA last season, and shows the potential to score in multiple situations.

I know that Whiteside is on his way down do to interviews and all. But if you were to just look at the numbers, he's a really intriguing prospect. He scored on almost 60% of his possessions, and kept the turnovers down. Of interest though... he didn't do much in the post. While he was scoring (and getting fouled) at good rates when he did have the ball down low, he just wasn't there very often. He got a couple of shots/game from offensive rebounds, and made a high percentage of his jumpers... and shot a lot of them. With the Jazz... if Boozer is back, then you have the same thing as now, where both guys might actually prefer being out around the FT line. That'll leave the middle open for cutters (while, defensively, it's an upgrade because Whiteside will be a presence in the middle). Meanwhile, if Boozer leaves, then you've got Millsap, who I would much rather see in the post, which would allow Whiteside to potentially take on the Boozer-role offensively.

Patrick Patterson

Patrick Patterson’s projections vary depending on who you talk to, but a situational analysis supports him as an immediate contributor who could be worth taking in the lottery.

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His 0.894 PPP in jump shooting situations ranks above average, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Patterson continue to make progress in that part of the game. Around the rim he ranks above average at 1.368 PPP. Couple his ability to score from multiple areas, with his excellent intangibles, team-first mentality, and athleticism, and Patterson seems like a very safe pick for a team looking to compete next season.

Color me intrigued. His numbers fell this year for obvious reasons... Kentucky was loaded with high-impact freshmen. But he still played his game. He didn't get the ball in the post very often, but when he did, he scored with amazing efficiency (65% shooting). He also got plenty of opportunities both in transition and off of offensive rebounds. With the Jazz... if Boozer is back, Patterson seems like an "avoid" guy, given that you'd already have Boozer and Millsap. If Boozer (or Millsap, I guess) leaves though, Patterson would be a nice pick-up. He can score from anywhere, is solid in the post, and his "team-first" mentality definitely will go over with the Jazz brass. The question is... do the Jazz want to shoot for the moon? Or is taking the safe pick at #9 acceptable?

Ekpe Udoh

Some of Udoh’s overall inefficiency stems from the fact that he was often the one creating his own shots in Baylor’s offense and didn’t finish at a high rate. Nearly 54% of his offense came off post ups, isolations, or offensive rebounds, which is certainly impressive, but his 53.3% shooting in finishing situations is well below average. Udoh’s lack of physical strength, especially in his lower body, and average explosiveness, remain a concern moving forward. Udoh should benefit from having to shoulder less of a shot creating burden for himself in the future, but he still has a lot of room to add polish at age 23.

He's raw. While Patterson is a safe pick, Udoh is anything but. Playing in the NBA won't require him to create his own offense as much, which could be good. He seems to have the build of a small-forward, and his game seems to mirror that in some regards to. He would be a mismatch for many of the bigs out there... but likewise will suffer defensively against the same guys. He's a threat from anywhere on the floor (well, "threat" in the AK sense... he's willing to put it up from anywhere), and isn't afraid to put up a jumper. With the Jazz... the only way Udoh really seems to fit in is as an AK-clone (albeit cheaper)... something I don't think the Jazz need unless they're planning on losing AK in the very near future. And we've seen how the AK thing has worked... he's playing out of position (or so it can be argued), and is quite often over-confident in his jumper (at least in the views of the fans).

Ed Davis

Though Davis was able to be pretty effective on the whole, he’s a bit limited in what areas he can help a team at this time. Whatever team drafts him will do so with the hope that he’ll be able to round out the rest of his game while still taking advantage of what his teammates can create for him around the basket.

Offensively, he's raw. Very raw. He is effective... even being able to draw fouls at a nice rate. His mid-range game needs work, and he's best offensively when cutting to the basket and finishing possessions. His efficiency from the post is right around average, but his spot-up opportunities will probably bring back memories of Kris Humphries and the cringe-worthy AK. He doesn't take a lot of jumpers, which is probably a good thing. If you're drafting him with hopes that he'll round out his game, he's going to need a lot of playing time... probably in the NBDL if the Jazz draft him. And with the Jazz... if Boozer is back, again, a PF seems irrelevant. If one of them (Boozer, Millsap) goes though, then Davis might get a look from the Jazz. I'm just not sure its worth it... the Jazz don't exactly have time to sit and develop prospects. And he's in no way a potential replacement for Boozer at this point and time.

Al-Farouq Aminu

On the whole, Aminu’s situational resume is less than impressive, which reinforces perceptions of him as a player who may need some time to develop on the next level. Fortunately, his excellent athleticism, strong work ethic, and great frame give him limitless potential. The work Aminu is putting in right now will be integral to what he’s able to contribute as a rookie next season.

He might be the 2nd best SF in the class, but that seems to be solely based on potential. He's a sub-par jump shooter (24%), and doesn't finish well around the rim. He can get to the line, and his possessions per-game generated off put-backs is impressive. Sounds kinda like Ronnie Brewer, but worse at finishing. He'll be limited to post-up situations, it seems, unless he can really improve his offensive game. With the Jazz... I don't see how he fits. I know people are high on him, but I don't get it. He's definitely not our replacement for Korver (or Matthews, if he leaves). He's definitely not NBA ready offensively. Defensively, he will probably impress the Jazz brass. He's a willing & committed defender, which could get him some playing time. But then again, the 2nd team tends to struggle offensively, and adding another guy who can't score to that will just make it even worse.

Xavier Henry

On the next level, Henry will likely find himself player a similar role to the one he played last season early in his career. A highly capable spot up shooter who has a chiseled physique and brings solid defensive intensity, he’s tailored to be a useful player right away for some teams and could blossom into a very effective offensive wing if he continues to develop.

Henry played on a talent-laden team, which did impact the role he played. He was mostly asked to fill the "spot-up" role, playing off the ball most of the time, and he did this fairly well. His numbers in the half-court game are solid, and he seems to fit the "drive-and-kick" offense as the recipient of such passes. He can hit such shots with or with-out a hand in his face. On the other hand, his pull-up jumpers aren't as solid... he'll probably never remind one of John Stockton on such shots (no, I'm not comparing the 2... just making reference to how great Stockton was with the pull-up jumpers in transition). Henry didn't have many "create-your-offense" opportunity, so those numbers are misleading. That's something that will be seen as he gets more time in the NBA. With the Jazz... see, this is what you look to when trying to replace Kyle Korver. Plus, he plays defense! He does seem a bit like Wes Matthews, I guess, but with more potential, if he's developed. With Okur gone for a while, the Jazz need another outside threat (even more so if Korver isn't back), and Henry could fit the bill.

Luke Babbitt

Interestingly, Babbitt only ranks as an average unguarded catch and shoot player at 1.16 PPP, but is the most prolific pull up shooter at 4.6 shots per-game (42%, 4th). Based on a situational analysis, it is clear that Babbitt will need to make some changes as he transitions into a spot-up shooting role as a stretch-four next season, but the fact that his craftiness allowed him to score in so many ways as a collegiate player certainly bodes well for him.

Babbitt was the offense last year... and wasn't very efficient. He's "dismal" in transition points-per-possession, but makes up for that by being solid in the half-court game (low turnover rate & high foul % included). He spent a lot of time going one-on-one, and was fairly effective in such situations. He can score from inside and out. And his catch-and-shoot/pull-up game make him the anti-Xavier Henry. With the Jazz... he could be a potential replacement for Korver. Supposedly, the Jazz have been high on him for a while. He does bring memories of Kyle Korver, and even, to an extent, Matt Harpring (minus the defensive pressure that used to get on the nerves of everyone). The Jazz could turn to him as a replacement for Korver, though his struggle with the "catch-and-shoot" offense makes it a bit hard for him to effectively fill that role.

Gordon Hayward/James Anderson

James Anderson was nothing short of spectacular last season, and it shows here. His 1.07 overall PPP ranks second amongst all players, as do his 20 possessions used per-game. He was above the PPP every in every situation except for guarded catch and shoot situations, and has more experience running the pick and roll (2.9 Pos/G) than any other player on our rankings. High usage/high-efficiency players are extremely difficult to come by, and NBA teams may want to ponder if they’re missing the boat on Anderson due to the fact that he has not been spectacular in workouts. The same thing happened last year with Marcus Thornton.

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Going against perceptions of his role on the next level, Gordon Hayward was a below average catch and shoot threat last season, but ranked amongst the second most efficient finishers in our sample at 1.316 PPP. It will be interesting to see if his shooting ability becomes more consistent as he transitions into a role that revolves around that aspect of his game on the next level.

Just saying. (I've been on the James Anderson bandwagon for a while, I must admit.)

Now this post might not influence what you think in any real way. But it is interesting to see the numbers on the guys; interesting to see what we could expect from the guys should the Jazz draft them. The top of my wish-list remains unchanged, with Xavier Henry and James Anderson (I just don't see the bigs fitting what the Jazz need; they might be better off chasing a free agent). I think I'm a bit more open to the team drafting Cole Aldrich or Patrick Patterson (before, it was a "Monroe-or-bust" attitude regarding big-men). I'm still not very impressed with Aminu, Hayward or Ed Davis. And I still don't see where Udoh (or Aminu, for that matter) fits.

As for a dark-horse (yeah, I know... James Anderson would be a dark-horse too)... Hassan Whiteside? I know there are issues (and concerns about where his head is), but he seems to be a good fit (basketball-skills wise) on the Jazz. Is that enough to help the Jazz overlook the other concerns?

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