Bucks Diary

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Please Bucks, not Randolph


I received some revolting news with this morning's breakfast. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is saying that the Bucks are considering using their 8th pick in tonight's draft on LSU PF/SF Anthony Randolph.

I know I get carried away a little with the statistical evaluations I do on this blog, and sometimes I'm not even sure if the conclusions I reach are all that valid. But Antlerheads, you must trust me on this one... if the Milwaukee Bucks select Randolph with their pick, they will have simply wasted the pick. And we will also have a strong clue who the genius was behind the Detroit Pistons' ridiculous selection of Darko Milicic with the second pick in the 2003 NBA Draft: John Hammond.

By productive measures, Randolph probably should not even be drafted in the first round. Even Draftexpress.com has turned against him (and they are usually infatuated by lanky "upside" players with no history of productive play). I've already gone over how poor his projected Win Contribution would be, and how poorly he produced against his best competition last year, so let's put that aside for a moment and just concentrate on his pure statistical per minute numbers.


The Randolph Positives

Here are the things he does fairly well. In college, Randolph rebounded at a decent rate (.25 rebounds per minute). But that's only slightly above the NBA average for power forwards, and he's so skinny and weak that you really have to expect a significant decline in his production when he joins the NBA (look at what happened to Kevin Durant -- he was about the same size as Randolph and his college rebounding rate dropped by almost 200%).

He also had an above average Basket Attack ratio (42.6%, versus the NBA average of 35.1% for PFs and 29.8% for SFs). But, he was a below average free throw shooter, so that somewhat mitigates the benefits of his aggression. Moreover, players who lack decent NBA frames tend to lose their aggression when they start to get bopped around a little by the big boys. So I would be skeptical whether he would continue to attack with such vigor at the next level.

Finally, his blocks per minute in college were much higher than the average among NBA power forwards. While blocks are a mixed bag in my book (they often represent bad fundamental defense and they often unnecessarily risk giving the opponent free throw attempts), the fact that he got them at such an impressive rate is an encouraging sign. It shows he takes defense seriously. And, combined with his Basket Attack ratio, his blocked shots per minute provide evidence of an aggressive approach to the game that I like. I am also impressed by his above average steals per minute, for the same basic reason: perceived defensive aggression (But that perceived aggression may be a facade. Apparently Randolph's college coaches are telling NBA personnel that Randolph has "motivational issues". If that is true, and if Randolph's coaches do not in some way have an "axe to grind" against the player, then that is a very disturbing bit of information.)

The Randolph Negatives

Randolph was not a good shooter at the college level, especially for a big man who took mostly "close" shots. Randolph averaged only 0.93 points per shot (the NBA average at PF was 0.98 and at SF was 0.482) and exhibited no range on his jump shot whatsoever. Indeed, he barely shot any jumpers (which I would normally love, but Randolph's skinniness almost demands that he have perimeter skills to be effective). Randolph averaged less than one college 3 point attempt per game, and connected on only 28.1% of those attempts. Those are just medium range shots in the NBA, so his perimeter shooting skills have to be questioned. That, combined with his below average free throw percentage, tells me he is not going to be able to rely on outside shooting at all in the NBA.

Randolph was also a very poor ballhandler. His 0.19 turnovers per possession is alarmingly high. And he rarely passed the ball. His 0.037 assists per minute represents half the average rate for the NBA's notoriously ball hoggish power forwards.

So he seems to be way to skinny and weak to play power forward and he seems to utterly lack the shooting and ball skills needed to play small forward. Which raises the question: where do you play him in the NBA?

If you read this blog, you know I'm usually in favor of longer small forwards (in fact I want the Bucks to try Yi there), but that is provided the longer player has the requisite skills the position demands, particularly shooting skills and rudimentary ballhandling skills. You can't just stick a tall guy at the 3 when he doesn't have perimeter skills -- you're asking for an onslaught of turnovers. That would defeat the entire strategy, and that's likely what would happen if you put Randolph at the 3. (And I haven't even discussed whether Randolph could guard the 3 spot on the other end).

So, for the foregoing reasons, I would be very disappointed if the Bucks selected Randolph. Which means, more than likely, they will select Randolph.

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