Bucks Diary

Friday, March 28, 2008

The second coming of Westley Sissel Unseld?

If you watch Kevin Love of UCLA, and try to "eyeball" project him to the NBA, he kind of scares you. Let's just say he's "athletically deficient". In fact, you know how they say guys play "above the rim"? At times, Love appears to play "below the net". Thus, everyone is calling him the new "Big Country Reeves", a player who would qualify as a certifiable NBA bust. But is that really Love? I say don't buy it.

He is nothing at all like Bryant Big Country Reeves. That's a racial comparison, not a basketball comparison. Lets compare their collegiate production numbers.

Big Country Reeves was a four year collegiate player at Oklahoma State. (It would be unfair to Reeves to simply compare freshman seasons... Love's blows Reeves out of the water). Reeves Win Score per 40 average for those four seasons was 11.91. That projected to a below average NBA Win Score per 48 (for a center) of 9.00. And indeed, his career Win Score per 48 in the NBA was a bit worse... 8.24.

Love, by comparison, has a FRESHMAN year Win Score per 40 of an astounding 18.74. Thus, even if Love were a major disappointment for a big man (and there are no signs that he would be) and he produced at only half his collegiate level, he still would project as an above average power forward with a Win Score per 48 average of 11.24. And, to project him as a bust on the level of "Big Country" Reeves, you would have to project him to produce at a level equivalent to only 36.5% of his collegiate production numbers. While this kind of drop-off can and does sometimes happen to perimeter players... particularly skinny perimeter players (Adam Morrison, Kevin Durant), I have found no example of this happening to any interior player.

So its unlikely to happen to Kevin Love. And if you assume it won't, and assume that Love will project in the same manner that most collegiate big men project (63% of their college average), then you can expect him to have an NBA Win Score per 48 average of about 14.11. That would make him an All-Star.

Thus, I believe that a much more accurate basketball comparison to Kevin Love is the great Wes Unseld. In almost every way, the two are doppelgangers. In fact, NBAtv had a "Hardwood Classic" replay of the 1978 NBA Finals on the other day featuring Unseld's Bullets. Watching that replay, I was astonished to see how much Unseld's game looked exactly like Love's (or I guess, the other way around).

Of course, I may be overstating things a bit. After all, I estimate (the necessary statistics weren't kept by the NBA that would let me say for sure) Unseld's rookie year Win Score was a stratospheric 22.73. I can't see Love coming close to those numbers. Plus, Unseld led his Bullets teams of the 70s to four NBA Finals appearances. All in all, that's a heavy order for Love.

But I think his pro career numbers will come much closer to the career numbers of Unseld than they will the career numbers of one Bryant Reeves.


At March 28, 2008 at 6:51 PM, Anonymous Frank said...

I have definitely been a skeptic, but his productivity is difficult to deny. Night in and night out he always brings it, and he's so skilled that it's hard to imagine him being a complete bust.

He might never be an all-star but especially with the way he's produced during the tournament he's helping his stock a lot. The biggest number to me: 15 blocks in three games.

At March 30, 2008 at 2:52 AM, Blogger TCW said...

I must link to that Bogut video on your site. It had me laughing so hard, I almost whet myself.

At March 30, 2008 at 9:45 PM, Anonymous frank said...

Bogut's high five thing has probably been the highlight of 2008...sadly.


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