July 10, 2012

One-And-Done and Starting

Filed under: Basketball,Players — Chas @ 8:33 am

For those of you who watched or can remember a couple weeks ago, UConn’s one-and-done Andre Drummond went Number 9 in the NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons.

Drummond was always expected to be a one-and-done player. A top-10 recruit who at the last minute chose to go to UConn instead of taking a year of prep school before going pro. Drummond’s season — like UConn’s — was mostly forgettable. He averaged 28.4 minutes. Pulled down 7.7 rebounds per game and scored 10.2 points per game. His motor was questioned. His offensive skill wasn’t anything outstanding. Despite his size and playing close to the basket, he could barely shoot above 51% (undersized and on a bad knee, Nasir Robinsion shot 55%). He couldn’t shoot free throws — .295. But you can’t teach 6-10 and the potential was too tantalizing.

I believe it was Chris Dokish who tweeted words to the effect: if Drummond went 9th after that season, there’s no way Adams will need to stay for more than one year.

That’s probably true. Unless Steven Adams decides he really likes the college experience, his incentives to stay past one year will likely be limited to non-economic reasons. The NBA rookie salary scale means the difference between being a top-4 pick and a top-14 pick are not really worth staying an extra year in hopes of moving up.

That’s why Adams was listed as one of the likely one-and-done players for 2013 (Insider subs).

At 6-10 and 235 pounds, Adams is a physical specimen with long arms, good mobility, soft touch, good instincts around the basket and great natural strength. When he posts up, he is difficult to move off the blocks because of his lower-body strength and his ability to get low while making and maintaining contact with his defender. Similarly, he is extremely hard to score against because he holds his ground and builds a wall to protect the basket.

His specialty at this time might be his rebounding, but he has no go-to move on offense. He could make a living setting screens and averaging double-figure rebounds. Adams is just scratching the surface of what he will become, and the New Zealand native doesn’t take himself too seriously yet, but the NBA might.

It would be nice to have Adams for more than a single year, but I don’t expect it. The issue when Adams is playing for Pitt will be his ability to score consistently.  No one questions his ability to defend, rebound and block. It’s his relatively limited offensive moves.

Now for some rough projections with stats.

Forty-eight of the hundred took part in the 2011 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, for which I’ve compiled advanced statistics. Worth knowing about those stats: The typical possession’s worth about 1.1 points, rather than the 1.0 we tend to see in college and the pros. Those are here next to the projections, then I’ll discuss what we should actually expect from each player.

Steven Adams, #6, 6’10 C, Notre Dame Prep (Wellington, New Zealand)

                         ORtg %Pos OR/DR% A% TO%  B/S% FC/40 FTR FT% 2P% 3P% 3PA%
Projection                97   20  12/17   6  20  9/1   5.1   52 51% 51% 10%   0%

James Robinson, #43, 6’3 PG, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, MD)

                   G/Min ORtg %Pos OR/DR% A% TO%  B/S% FC/40 FTR FT% 2P% 3P% 3PA%
Projection                98   21   2/9   22  22  1/2   3.7   39 70% 47% 30%  39%
Team Takeover     21/502 117   22   5/11  24  16  1/3   3.2   75 76% 52% 20%   6%

I doubt that either of these two starts next season. Adams will be a big rebounder off the bench, but may not be ready to score in the Big East. Robinson’s a stud — Woodall’s way too good to sit for a freshman, but I’d be sorely tempted to anyway. Robinson won’t turn the ball over 22 percent of the time, and he definitely won’t shoot that many three-pointers.

Projections are just that. An exercise in extrapolation. Just like we have to take limited value from what is happening in summer league games.

What’s interesting is that Robinson actually struggled with turnovers in the EYBL. Now that was a year ago, and his performance in the FIBA U18 Americas competition displayed a much more controlled Robinson. But also a player who, while running point, did not necessarily have the ball in his hand nearly as much. Only turning the ball over a couple times. It does give pause to wonder what Robinson’s turnover numbers will look like for Pitt when he will have the ball and direct more. Clearly there was a significant jump in his senior year, but are we expecting too much in terms of taking care of the ball this early?

Speaking of starting and point guards, Tra Woodall has been cleared by doctors to start non-contact workouts.

Woodall said Monday night that he wanted to begin contact work right away, but team trainer Tony Salesi is being extra cautious with the injury because it gave Woodall so many problems last season. Woodall expects to be cleared for contact by August and said he will be in the full swing of things when the team resumes fall workouts in September.

“I’m glad I got the surgery because I wouldn’t have been able to play my senior year the way I did last year,” Woodall said.

Woodall missed 11 of 12 games in the middle of the season, and played with a great deal of pain after coming back for the final few weeks of the season. He was injected with pain killing medication before almost every game.

Woodall said the problem is now fixed and does not expect any more issues.

Despite not being allowed to play, Woodall has been going to Greentree to watch the team play. And despite being Dante Taylor’s roommate, the way he spoke of what he expects Steven Adams to do suggests he sees Adams starting at center.

It is apparent that fans are not the only ones that have high expectations for Adams. Woodall said he thinks Adams will get 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game this season. He said he’s that good of a rebounder and is big and strong enough in the post to make some plays.

On Robinson, the point guard of the future, Woodall said he “loves” his game.

It is hard to picture Adams not starting next year. His defense alone seems to suggest that he will get the nod as a starter. Or at least starter minutes.

Let’s finish with some of the Greentree notes. The same blog post has Ray Fittipaldo — for good and bad —  comparing freshman Chris Jones to Lamar Patterson (“He reminds me a bit of Lamar Patterson with his body. It looks like he can get into better shape, but he has a nice all-around game.”)  and Durand Johnson to J.J. Moore (“You can see the potential oozing out of him, but you just wonder when he can put it all together.”). Zanna looks noticeably stronger in the upper-body but still has the issues of finishing on offense.

Greentree would have been a good place to be last night as Levance Fields was there, and played. Teaming with Gil Brown, Keith Benjamin and John DeGroat. All the Pitt coaches were watching last night, since it was a recruiting dead time. Starting Wednesday the next evaluation period hits.

Dante Taylor had a very good night (18 points, 18 boards). Zanna pulled double duty as another team was short-handed. The team with Adams, Robinson, Patterson and Zeigler rolled once more.

I still say Adams will stay for 2 yrs.

Very confident in that.

Comment by H.LandPitt 07.10.12 @ 9:02 am

another draft oddity for a BE player — Cleveland Cavaliers picked Syracuse’s Dion Waiters with the 4th pick in the draft (1st round.) Waiters didn’t even start at the Cuse … not 1 game.

Comment by wbb 07.10.12 @ 9:15 am

If Adams is going to be one and done, he better start. The reason I say this is that Gilbert needs to get ample PT as his backup to prep him for next year …. and if Adams starts, then Jamie is more likely to use Zanna/Taylor combo at the 4.

Comment by wbb 07.10.12 @ 9:42 am

Yeah, I could be missing something but that Wiaters pick may have been the worst pick of this years draft. At least Drummand has undeniable physique. Dion Waiters has nothing special about him size-wise and never proved himself to be a lottery pick during his limited minutes a Cuse. REally confusing pick, Cleveland.

Comment by PantherP 07.10.12 @ 9:53 am

Waiters may have been a 6th man but he was Syracuse’s best player

Comment by Jamie H 07.10.12 @ 11:10 am

For what it’s worth, I definitely think it will be Adams/Zanna starting. Steven and Talib were going at it last night and I personally think Steven isn’t lacking on offense quite as much as people say (though he’s not amazing either, obviously).

Also, Chris Jones DOES look like Lamar in his build.

I don’t know about the Durand and JJ Moore comparison but Durand definitely got the shaft with his team and is playing pretty well despite that.

Comment by Alli 07.10.12 @ 11:15 am

Jaime H… right on… he may not have started but he played starters minutes… he actually played more minutes than Triche did starting in front of him.

Comment by Big Bill 07.10.12 @ 11:37 am

he averaged 24 minutes a game …. the 4th best player in the draft?

Comment by wbb 07.10.12 @ 12:26 pm

I agree with Woodall that Adams offensive game is being overlooked because he seems to be focusing on rebounding and his defense.

A good video to watch to get a glimpse of his offensive potential is go to the video of Adams v. Noles. Watch Adams put the ball on the floor, pull up make short jumpers, and hooks while Nolens is limted to dunks.

Adams 23 pts. Noels 12. Adams outrebounded him.
Also when Adams played against Twarski at the Addidas one scout said that Twarski was not plaaying that bad but Adams is just on another level.

True he needs to is polish his game because of his limited playing time but I am wondering if the other top centers going to college or playing now wished they were that unpolished.

Comment by drw 07.10.12 @ 12:47 pm

@drw, where can you look at the video?? I went to you tube, can’t find it.

Comment by Dan 07.10.12 @ 2:53 pm

Nevermind, I’m good, I was spelling the guys name Noles. Found it.

Comment by Dan 07.10.12 @ 2:54 pm

Adams looks absolutely fluid. I don’t want to get overly excited, he is a freshman, but from this video and others I’ve seen, this isn’t some 7’0″ stiff coming in.

Comment by Dan 07.10.12 @ 3:02 pm

Speaking of Waiters…..Guess who was rated just ahead of him according to the rivals 150 in 2010? Yup, none other than TZeig.

He has been extremely impressive in Greentree so far this summer.

He is lightning fast and a quick/explosive leaper. He rebounds the ball well, he’s a good playmaker/passer and has a good handle (both right and left hand). He is a good defender both on and off the ball.

His only “holes” appear to be free throw shooting and three point shooting. He looks like he has a good stroke (unlike Cam Wright) but he misses free throws and doesn’t take/make many threes. He is going to need to be at least a threat from 3 to open up his drive to the hoop game.

Most importantly, he seems to have that Brad Wannamaker, alpha dog, leadership quality. Pitt lacked that kind of a leader with a killer instinct lack year.

Comment by boubacar aw 07.10.12 @ 3:11 pm

Your right Dan I have not seen a big man with his offensive potential coming out of high school since David Robinson. Big men today only have a dunk and a baby hook, Adams has much more.

I also agree with boubacar his quickness to the hop should make Adams a terror when big men have to collapse, I cannot see anyone blocking Adams shot on a feed. Zygler size should finally give Pitt a lock down guard.

Comment by drw 07.10.12 @ 4:28 pm

Another could Adams video if you haven’t seen it put in query Steve Adams Pitt 2012-2013 basketball recruit videos – Bing Videos

Comment by drw 07.10.12 @ 4:40 pm

drw — I’m also excited about Adams, but let’s relax the hyperbole a bit. It’s been nearly twenty-five years since David Robinson graduated and there have been plenty of great centers in that span. I will be ecstatic if Adams is as good offensively as Cody Zeller was last season. I think twenty to twenty five minutes per game and 12 pts/game-10 rbs/game would be exceptional for a freshmen in the Big East.

There are plenty of college basketball pundits that viewed Waiters as the second best talent in the draft. He compares favorably to James Harden. It says a lot about the kid that he was willing to come off the bench.

Comment by Denny 07.10.12 @ 6:56 pm

Waiters may be the most naturally talented player in the draft .. but with keeping with the theme of Chas’ post, it is indeed an oddity that the 4th pick of the entire draft never started a game in 2 years at college

Comment by wbb 07.11.12 @ 7:18 am

Denny I compared Robinson to Adams because of two things, my age, and my importantly was both players at 7′ who are able to put the ball on the floor and shot facing the basket. I was not concerned with statistics.

There was one video of Adams stealing the ball at half-court starting his dribble with his right hand crossing over to his left hand (because he was approaching the hoop from the left side) without hesitation and without any difficulty finishing the break awaya with a slam with his
left hand. Granted no one contended because he was quick enough to beat defenders up the court.

That is not hyperbole that is athleticism that cannot be coached at his age and height. He can be coached about the nuiances of his position;spacing, blocking out, body position, etc. Could Cody Zeller do what I just described I doubt it and I doubt if Cody Zeller could match up any better than Twarski did against Adams.

Comment by drw 07.11.12 @ 10:04 am

Denny your right that Zeller is an outstanding player I did not mean to dimminsh your statement.
It is just that what I’ve seen of Adams offensive moves at 7′ are moves that I have not seen for years, including Zeller who is restricted to scoring around the basket. Being 60 years old I miss the dominant big man. All I have seen is Thisbetts from Uconn. And, I hate to say this about Zeller he reminds me more of the big Kansas centers then of a center who can get his own points;Robinson, Lanier, Walton, etc.

I would be shocked if Adams did not outrebound Zeller by the end of the first quarter (Zeller 6.8 rbs. per game) and blocks 1.26 (Zeller) but I would take the 15.5 points per game which I think Adams can equal on offensive rebounds.

Both are outstanding players but in my opinion if Adams handles the physical aspect of the game (although he is a gentle kid he appears to take nothing from anyone on the court) and the continues to grow in his understanding of the game he will be a major NBA player.

Comment by drw 07.11.12 @ 10:34 am

Be careful of putting too much stock in YouTube highlight videos. After watching a bunch of videos on Isiah Epps, I was convinced he was the second coming of Kenny Anderson (without the crazy ex-wife).

Comment by Boubacar Aw 07.11.12 @ 4:21 pm

At this time in David Robinson’s career, he was a scrawny 6’5″ kid from Manassas who spent most of his freshman year on Paul Evans’ bench at Navy. No one knew he was going to grow seven inches at that time. Horrible analogy.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 07.11.12 @ 7:48 pm

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