Saturday, May 31, 2008

RANKING THE SMALL FORWARDS

One of the most important attributes of a Nelliball player is versatility. And one of the most versatile positions in basketball is the Small Forward position where a top player is expected to do many things well, including shooting, rebounding, defending, and scoring. Nelson's perfect Small Forward also has to be able to create mismatches and that means play multiple positions while being able to switch freely on defense without being excessively over-matched. I've taken the liberty of applying the same ranking system I used on bigs to find out how the best small forwards in this year's draft class stack up against one another.

I've compared 10 players that have a chance to be available at #14 based on mock drafts I've seen. Two of the players, Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum play under International rules, so keep that in mind when evaluating the results. Also, although this group is comprised of players projected to be SF's in the NBA, some could easily slide into other positions, which is a huge plus for any Don Nelson coached basketball team. The players have been evaluated in the following categorize: Scoring, Rebounding, Blocks, Assists, Steals, Turnovers, True Shooting Percentage, Three Point Percentage, and Age. The top player in each category sets the benchmark for a 10 and the others get scores depending on how far they are from the best (5 will be the lowest possible score one can get). Unlike the previous scoring method used on the bigs, all categories are weighted equally with the exception of age.


These statistics are based on Per 40 Pace Adjusted.
Rank - Player - Statistic - Score

Points
01. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 24.1 - 10
02. Bill Walker - 21.9 - 9
03. Pat Calathes - 21.4 - 9
04. Joe Alexander - 21.3 - 9
05. Gary Forbes - 20.4 - 9
06. Chase Budinger - 19.9 - 9
07. Danilo Gallinari - 19.2 - 8
08. Donte Greene - 18.3 - 8
09. Brandon Rush - 17.6 - 7
10. Nicolas Batum - 12.9 - 6

Rebounds
01. Pat Calathes - 9.2 - 10
02. Bill Walker - 8.6 - 10
03. Joe Alexander - 8.1 - 9
04. Gary Forbes - 7.9 - 9
05. Donte Greene - 7.4 - 8
06. Brandon Rush - 6.8 - 8
07. Chase Budinger - 6.3 - 7
08. Chris Douglas Roberts - 5.5 - 6
09. Danilo Gallinari - 5.4 - 6
10. Nicolas Batum - 5.2 - 6

Blocks
01. Joe Alexander - 1.9 - 10
02. Donte Greene - 1.7 - 10
03. Pat Calathes - 1.5 - 9
04. Brandon Rush - 1.1 - 8
05. Gary Forbes - 0.7 - 7
05. Bill Walker - 0.7 - 7
05. Nicolas Batum - 0.7 - 7
08. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 0.6 - 7
09. Danilo Gallinari - 0.5 - 7
10. Chase Budinger - 0.2 - 5

True Shooting Percentage
01. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 62% - 10
02. Pat Calathes - 59% - 9
03. Brandon Rush - 56% - 8
03. Chase Budinger - 56% - 8
05. Bill Walker - 55% - 8
05. Danilo Gallinari - 55% - 8
07. Joe Alexander - 54% - 8
08. Donte Greene - 53% - 8
09. Nicolas Batum - 52% - 7
10. Gary Forbes - 51% - 7

Assists
01. Nicolas Batum - 4.0 - 10
02. Chase Budinger - 3.4 - 9
03. Pat Calathes - 3.3 - 9
04. Gary Forbes - 3.2 - 8
05. Joe Alexander - 3.1 - 8
06. Brandon Rush - 2.8 - 7
07. Bill Walker - 2.6 - 7
08. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 2.4 - 7
09. Danilo Gallinari - 2.2 - 6
10. Donte Greene - 2.1 - 6

Three Point Percentage
01. Brandon Rush - 41.9% - 10
02. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 41.3 - 10
03. Pat Calathes - 40.0 - 9
04. Chase Budinger - 38.0 - 8
05. Donte Greene - 34.5 - 7
06. Danilo Gallinari - 31.8 - 6
07. Bill Walker - 30.7 - 6
08. Gary Forbes - 29.2 - 6
09. Nicolas Batum - 29.0 - 6
10. Joe Alexander - 26.8 - 6

Steals
01. Danlio Gallinari - 2.2 - 10
02. Nicolas Batum - 1.9 - 9
03. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 1.7 - 8
04. Pat Calathes - 1.5 - 8
05. Donte Greene - 1.3 - 7
05. Chase Budinger - 1.3 - 7
07. Gary Forbes - 1.2 - 7
07. Bill Walker - 1.2 - 7
09. Brandon Rush - 1.1 - 7
10. Joe Alexander - .9 - 6

Turnovers
01. Danlio Gallinari - 1.8 - 10
02. Brandon Rush - 2.4 - 9
03. Donte Greene - 2.7 - 8
03. Chase Budinger - 2.7 - 8
05. Joe Alexander - 2.8 - 8
05. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 2.8 - 8
05. Pat Calathes - 2.8 - 8
08. Nicolas Batum - 3.0 - 7
09. Gary Forbes - 3.3 - 6
10. Bill Walker - 3.6 - 6

Age (1.25 multiplier)
01. Nicolas Batum - 12/14/88 - 10
02. Danilo Gallinari - 08/08/88 - 10
03. Donte Greene - 02/21/88 - 9
04. Chase Budinger - 12/21/87 - 8
05. Bill Walker - 10/09/87 - 8
06. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 01/08/87 - 7
07. Joe Alexander - 12/26/86 - 7
08. Pat Calathes - 12/12/85 - 7
09. Brandon Rush - 07/08/85 - 6
10. Gary Forbes - 02/25/85 - 6

Overall Scores:
01. Pat Calathes - 79.75
02. Chris Douglas-Roberts - 74.75
03. Danlio Gallinari - 73.50
04. Donte Greene - 73.25
05. Joe Alexander - 72.75
06. Brandon Rush - 71.50
07. Chase Budinger - 71.00
08. Nicolas Batum - 70.50
09. Bill Walker - 70.00
10. Gary Forbes - 66.25

What a big surprise! A guy projected to be a second rounder in most mock drafts (undrafted in others) takes the top honors. Judging by the initial scores, Pat Calathes' name should be mentioned among the lottery pick candidates, but if you consider the level of competition, his stats would have to be put into perspective resulting in a ranking more line with that of a late first rounder. Regardless, the separation of scores from Calathes to the nearest players are still impressive. If you are looking for a small forward that could do most everything well and a few things at a very high level, Calathes is your man. There are questions as to whether or not his lack of athleticism will hurt him at the next level, so GM's are wary of taking him too soon.

Gallinari scored the third highest out of the group which is impressive considering he is the 2nd youngest player studied. His hype appears to be justified and with his versatile game and a high ceiling, Gallinari would be an excellent pick anywhere in the lottery.

After Calathes, the talent is relatively close with players like CDR, Gallinari, Alexander, and Greene being the best of the group. A team will have to chose which Small Forward is right for them based on the stregths of each of the candidates, i.e. rebounding, scoring, 3 point shooting, defense, etc. CDR is the clear cut scoring machine, Gallinari is a well-rounded SF with tremendous upside, Alexander is a SF with a Power Forward's mentality, and Greene is another well-rounded SF with a lot of potential. Greene's size makes him intriguing, but he needs to be able to play smarter and take better shots in order for him to star in the league.

Gary Forbes seems to be out of his league when his stats are compared to some of the top Small Forwards in this draft. He's dead last by a large margin, but Forbes is raising his stock in the Orlando Pre-draft camp versus decent competition and is looking like a lock for a early 2nd round selection. Is he having a hot week or is he for real? Only time will tell.

Of the Small Forwards studied, six seemed to have abilities suited to play the Shooting Guard position as well: CDR, Rush, Budinger, Batum, Walker, and Forbes. Calathes, Greene, and Alexander were the only ones that seemed to be able to comfortably transition into a secondary Power Forward role.

As I mentioned in the previous blog that ranked the bigs, more components will be added like athleticism, physical dimensions, etc. to get a better feel for those players in the study. There are many missing components such as Strength of Schedule, Potential, Leadership, Work Ethic, Intangibles, and Special Circumstances (injuries, system, coach, rotation) but as I mentioned before, the more you add the more subjective the study becomes. This is far from a perfect system so take it with a grain of salt.

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