The Rookie Trainwreck

This is a shorter piece as the verdict isn’t very difficult to prove. This draft class is abysmal…

Perhaps I was overzealous. Maybe I was blinded by my unconditional love for the the NBA Draft. Or just maybe I had too much faith in the Cody Zellers and the Kentavious Caldwell-Popes of the world. Nevertheless, the 2013 rookies have been more out of tune than this 11-year-old singing the national anthem.

Well, maybe not THAT out of tune…Jesus.

Look No Further Than PER and VA to Rate These Rookies

For reference, Player Efficiency Ratio (PER) is a well-respected advanced statistic where the average is ratio is 15.0. Generally, the best players in the NBA finish with the highest ratings; for example, the top-3 in PER last season were LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. As of today, just four rookies are above the NBA average PER: Tim Hardaway Jr. (15.37), Trey Burke (15.42), Mason Plumlee (15.71) and Carter-Williams (19.3).

Just as unremarkable, 13 of the 25 rookies that qualify for Hollinger’s Advanced Statistics, players who average 6.09 minutes per game or more, contribute negative value to their teams according to Value Added Rating (VA).

These rookies have been bad. Historically bad.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any pleasant surprises. Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke are fun to watch. Victor Oladipo shows signs of becoming a future All-Star. Tim Hardaway Jr. has a lot of upside potential on the offense end. Mason Plumlee, Kelly Olynyk and Steven Adams look like future contributors in the paint. Giannis Antetokounmpo, dubbed ‘The Greek Freak’ by Bill Simmons, has massive hands and shows promise. Lastly, we’ve yet to see the former consensus number 1 pick, Nerlens Noel.

Alas, this is where my enthusiasm for the 2013 rookie class comes to a screeching halt.

More Supporting Evidence & Anthony Bennett 

There are 13 rookies with a negative Value Added rating, but none that detracts more value from his team than the 2013 number 1 pick, Anthony Bennett. To put Bennett’s -31.1 VA rating in perspective, LeBron James leads the league with a 309.7 VA.

Quite the juxtaposition! 

Bennett is also dead last in rookie rankings for AST (Assist Ratio: the number of that player’s possessions that end up in an assist), last in PER with a 2.21 rating, last in estimated wins added with -1.0, and second-to-last in true shooting percentage (a stat that incorporates free throw and 3-point percentage).

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ESPN’s Chad Ford recently said about Bennett, “It’s very early, but right now, he’s looking like the worst [No. 1 pick] in the past 20 years.” Remember, the Cavaliers signed Bennett to a multi-year deal worth $22.8 million – all guaranteed money.

Cleveland sports teams just can’t catch a break.

Bennett spoke with the Akron Beacon Journal recently, and when asked about the NBA’s steep learning curve he replied, “I’m still clueless about the whole thing.”

It think Bennett’s quote is representative of this entire draft class.

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For Anthony Bennett, there’s only one song to sing, and one place left to blame…

Bull’s rookie, Tony Snell…or Addams Family veteran, Beetlejuice?

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Any questions, disagreements, or comments communicate with me via Twitter @gregMschwartz

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The 2013 Orlando Summer League Awards

Just as the OSL comes to a close, the Las Vegas Summer League begins – what a treat! The Thunder won the Orlando SL “Championship” today, but I don’t think that should have much of a correlation to the regular season… Or could it?

At any rate, here are the OSL awards from this week presented to you by The Corner Triple. To be considered, players must’ve played in at least 4 out of their team’s 5 games. Also, accolades are dually based on their statistical performance as well as how their intangibles (athleticism, vision, composure etc.) will translate to an actual NBA game.

All Orlando Summer League First-Team

C – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond

Thanks to commenter Jake C, who reminded me that Drummond did play in 4/5 of his team’s games, I’ve added him to the All OSL First-Team over Mason Plumlee. Andre averaged 15.5 points and 14.8 rebounds, and shot 51.9% from the field. If he didn’t miss so many layups he would’ve been near 60%, and if he didn’t shot 33% from the line he would’ve had many more points. Taking it all into consideration, Drummond looks ready to take off.

PF/C – Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics

K.O.

K.O.

I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Dirk Nowitzki, but I do think he has a very unique skill set that resembles aspects of Dirk’s game. He’s not as smooth or quite as good of a shooter, but Kelly has proven that he can play. He averaged 18 points and 7.8 rebounds, and should have a great rookie campaign for the Celtics.

SF/PF – Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones is now ready to produce in the NBA. On the week, Jones averaged 15.8 points on 42.2% from the field, and 7 rebounds per game. If he decides to be as assertive for the Rockets in the regular season as he did this week, he will be one of the most important Rockets off the bench in 2013-14.

SG – Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb

Unrelated to his play, I’m pretty sure Lamb added some orange highlights to his hair (see above). This week, Lamb averaged a productive 18.8 points 4 rebounds, and shot 39.1% from the field. He had a dominant 32-point performance against the Sixers (seems like everyones best game was against Philly), and looked like a guy that will continue to improve throughout camp, and become offensive weapon for the Thunder.

PG – Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic

Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo

The Magic played Oladipo at point guard, and although it isn’t his natural position, he played it better than anyone else. Oladpio finished the week by averaging 19 points 5 assists and 3 steals per game. Against the Sixers – his best game – he dominated his matchup against Michael Carter-Williams by turning him over eight times, then hitting a game-winning step-back jumper with 4.4 seconds left to win by 1. Great week for Victor.

Honorable Mention

PF/C – Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets

Mason Plumlee

Mason Plumlee

Mason edged out a few others for honorable mention by finishing with averages of 13.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest. Under the tutelage of the veteran Nets front court, Mason will surely improve and be a productive NBA player. I don’t see him getting many minutes this season because the Nets are so stacked up front, but he’ll get in there when they’re trying to rest guys like Garnett.


Most Interesting Player

C – Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert and his 9'7'' Standing Reach

Rudy Gobert and his 9’7” Standing Reach

I almost picked him over Mason Plumlee for no reason other than likability, but without further ado I present to you, Frenchman, Rudy Gobert. Rudy Gobert was probably my favorite non-Celtic player of the week. Usually, foreigners with absurd wingspans and huge hands come to the NBA as long-term projects, but not Rudy. Gobert averaged 5.4 points on 52.6% from the field, with 6.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, and should be an effective rim-protector by the middle of the season for the Jazz.

Most Surprising Player

SG/SF – Solomon Hill, Indiana Pacers

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill

Solomon Hill was a guy who has flown under the radar until this week. One of the most efficient shooters in the OSL, Hill averaged 12 points 5.6 rebounds, shot 48.9% from the field, and 55.6% from three. That’s a pretty great week for an underdog looking for his first contract.

Most Disappointing Player

PG – Trey Burke, Utah Jazz

Trey Burke

Trey Burke

After a brutal week where he averaged just 8.8 points on 24.1% from the field, Trey Burke was very candid in his interview by saying, “It’s a matter of getting my feet under my shot… I’ve been flat. It’s not a matter of not losing confidence in my shot… I just need to get used to the speed of the game. I’m gonna continue to work.” Burke seems to have maintained his sanity, but has an uphill mental battle ahead of him.

Summer League Day 5 – “Orlando’s Penultimate Day”

The Las Vegas Summer League tips off today, and I couldn’t be more ready to watch new players. I have an active streak of watching at least 1 half of every game, and let me tell ya, I think I’ve … Continue reading

Summer League Day 4 – ‘The Olynyk Clinic Continues’

Jazz 98 (2-1) Nets (0-3) 69 – “Burke Sits, Kidd Loses Again”

Trey Burke

Trey Burke

Trey Burke didn’t play in today’s game, and midway through the second quarter he was shown sitting next to the Jazz coaching staff with a calamitous look on his face. In his place was Brazilian National, Raul Neto, who showed an elite-level handle and composure against ball-pressure (7 points and 3 assists 4 rebounds in 19 minutes). Neto hasn’t been allowed to practice with the Jazz at all because of FIBA rules, making his encouraging debut that much more impressive. Veterans, Jeremy Evans and Alec Burks paced the scoring for the Jazz by adding 15 and 14 points respectively.

Chris Wright led the way for the Nets with 20 points on 8-13 from the field, while Mason Plumlee put in a weak effort with 4 points 2 rebounds and a game-worst -27 +/-. It seemed that Mason was bothered by the size of Jazz center, Rudy Gobert, as he only took 4 shots in 25 minutes. Another struggling Net was second year guard, Tyshawn Taylor, who had 10 points on 5-13 shooting with 3 assists and 6 turnovers – not the kind of numbers Kidd is looking for from his potential backup point guard. For now, it appears as though C.J. Watson’s minutes are safe.

I’m not sure who I feel worse for at this point between Trey Burke and Jason Kidd.

Highlights

Thunder (4-0) 74 76ers (0-3) 62 – “Lamb, Licking His Chops”

Jeremy Lamb

Jeremy Lamb

Just when I thought Michael Carter-Williams was “figuring it out,” ironically, it appears as though opposing teams have figured him out. The Thunder defense give him space, and let him shoot himself into the ground as he went 3-16 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc. He’s now shooting just 15-59 (25.4%) from the field this week. MCW must improve his shot or teams will continue to give him space and protect against his ability to penetrate into the lane. On the bright side for Philly, former Minnesota guard, Rodney Williams, showed off his athletic ability and finished the day with 12 points on 4-7 from the field.

For the Thunder, today was Jeremy Lamb’s breakout party as he poured in 32 points on 10-14 from the field. Despite his 8 turnovers, Lamb looked like a guy who could carry some of the scoring load in the regular season for the Thunder. After Reggie Jackson’s 35 point outburst, and Lamb’s 32 today, the Thunder should feel slightly better about letting Kevin Martin go to Minnesota.

Highlights

Rockets (3-0) 85 Celtics (2-2) 78 – “The Olynyk Clinic Continues”

Terrence_Jones

Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones had 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds as the Rockets continued their winning ways against the Olynyk Clinic, and the Celtics. Despite going 3-12 from the field, Jones was 10-14 from the line, and showed his ability to handle the ball and get into the lane. After trading both Royce White and Thomas Robinson this week, the Rockets must feel confident enough for Jones and Donatas Montiejunas to serve as suitable backups for the 3/4 positions.

Unsurprisingly or surprising – whichever you like – Kelly Olynyk once again dominated offensively, by adding 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. He’s now 31/54 (57.4%) from the field this week. Tony Mitchell had his first stinker of the week going 1-9 from the field and missing all four of his three-point attempts in 19 minutes of action, but I still feel good about his chances to be a Celtic come November. I also like Phil Pressy’s  (6 points 10 assists) chances to make the C’s roster, as he clearly has the offensive instincts to be an NBA point guard.

Lastly, Celtics second-round pick Colton Iverson, pulled down 8 rebounds in 18 minutes of action, but continued to be absent on offense. He has a chance to make the team based solely on his rebounding ability, and he doesn’t show much upside anywhere else. I still can’t figure out why the Celtics traded up to get him…

Highlights

Summer league Day 2 – Wrap-up

Thunder 79 Magic 78

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Andrew Nicholson

In the battle of the unrelated Lambs, Doron finished with an efficient 16 points for the Magic on 4-9 (FGM-A) and 2-4 (3PM-A), while Jeremy shot an inefficient 4-16 (FGM-A) and a cold 1-9 (3PM-A) to finish with 11 for the Thunder. Doron 1 / Jeremy 0.

Andrew Nicholson, the sleepiest looking player in the NBA since T-Mac, starred for Orlando in this game with some Hakeem Olajuwon shimmy shakes, and drop steps, leading to a game-high 19 points. Olapido was bothered by the quicker and smaller defender, Reggie Jackson (he also had a big time flush on Mo Harkless), but got to the line and finished with 12. For the Thunder, Daniel Orton looks trimmer and moved really well yesterday, finishing with 9 points and 7 rebounds in just 16 minutes. Lastly, Grant Jerrett continued to prove his hot shooting touch from the outside, going 4-8 from beyond the arc, putting up 14 points.

Pacers 96 76ers 75

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Miles Plumlee

Philly’s roster is pretty weak, but it’s allowing the Sixers staff to get a really good look at MCW, and Khalif Wyatt. MCW was attacking, but probably too much as he shot just 4-20 from the field and finished with 13 points. MCW cannot shot, and bricked several shots off the dribble. However, he took care of the ball much better yesterday, and didn’t turn the ball over once. Khalif Wyatt is making a strong push to make this Sixers team after pouring in a game-high 25 points.

For the Pacers, Solomon Hill who had 22 points on 4-5 from 3-point land, opened some eyes for the first time yesterday. He lost about 15 pounds since his days at Arizona, and looked fleet-a-foot. Miles Plumlee is an awkward athlete, but an effective body that can finish down low, and can block shots. Plumlee finished with 16 points on 7-13 from the field, and 4 blocks.

Celtics 93 Pistons 63

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Olynyk Clinic

The announcers continue to butcher Kelly Olynyk‘s name, often calling him Kyle, but it never really phased him. He only played 21 minutes, but finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds in a game that was never close. He continues to be the most dynamic player in this Summer League, however, I wish Andre Drummond played to see how Kelly would fare against a serious big-bodied big man.

For the Pistons, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope airballed 2 three-pointers, and just hasn’t found his rhythm yet. Slava Kravtsov had 9 points 8 rebounds and 2 memorable stuffs – they were both on Fab Melo at the rim. Other notable performances were Darius Johnson-Odom with 22 points, and Phil Pressy with 12 points and 4 assists.

Heat 93 Nets 86

Smooching the rim

D.J. Stephens

D.J. Stephens, phonetically pronounced ‘STEF-fans,’ the man with the 46-inch vert who can kiss the rim made his debut for the Heat, and that’s all I really cared to watch in this game. DJ finished with 1 point. Tough debut. Scotty Hopson, the guard out of Tennessee, played really well both inside and out, finishing with a team high 22 point effort for the Heat.

Mason Plumlee starred for the Nets with a perfect 8-8 from the field, and 23 points. He was very active, had a few nice slams, and looks like a solid pickup for the Nets who can use a guy like him coming off the bench.

On to day three…