What to make of Joe Alexander
The winds seem to be whispering Joe Alexander (like the mixed Jimi Hendrix reference?). On the two top draft sites (draftexpress and nbadraft.net) Joe Alexander is now considered the choice for your Milwaukee Bucks. (although on NBA.com, the consensus pick is Kevin Love!!)
A couple of weeks ago I wrote how much I admired the guy, and how I would be satisfied if he were in fact the choice. But I'm a little hedgy right now. Let me explain.
The Case for Alexander
My endorsement of Alexander was based on a few factors. For one, his collegiate Win Score production was pretty good, especially last year. Two, his "standing reach" of 8'10'' was outstanding for a small forward prospect. Three, he's known as a hustler with a great attitude. Four, his strength and speed were off the charts, each being tops among all prospects, as I recall.
That is the case for Alexander.
Now for the warning signs that Alexander may not be a player after all.
The Case against Alexander
1. Win Score Mirage
My optimistic Win Score analysis was based on the generic collegiate productivity information then available to me. Subsequently I read Erich Doerr's outstanding predraft post, which broke each prospect down according to competition. The breakdown was not flattering to Alexander. Basically, Alexander played his best against the worst competition. He was just average when the competition stepped up.
2. Uneven collegiate record
Another warning sign is his uneven college productivity. He was not very productive at all his sophomore season. Unless it somehow can be explained by injury or what have you, that is not a good sign. Beware of the one year wonder they always say.
3. Shooting Woes?
As a perimeter player, we need to be concerned with Alexander's shooting range and accuracy on the jumpshot. There might be reason to worry. One marker I like to use for judging "pure" shooting ability is a player's free throw percentage. It turns out to be a pretty good benchmark. This season Alexander's free throw percentage was an excellent 81.2%, but, strangely enough, he was in the low 60s the prior two seasons. How do you explain that? And his abysmal percentages from the collegiate 3 line don't bode well either. His three year average from behind the very makeable arc was a paltry 26.8%. Partly as a result, his effective shooting percentage last season was an awful 47.7%. I don't like that.
4. Naturally Super Human?
I'm only going to suggest this gently, because I don't like dealing in innuendo, but I also don't like be blind to the obvious... so accept this for what it is -- sheer speculation. Something fishy is going on with this guy. He goes from a guy who was completely off the map to a guy who is now a lottery pick. He shows major improvement between his sophomore and junior years, in between which time he put on 20 pounds of muscle. Friends, I know you hear about such muscle growth all the time, but it doesn't happen without assistance. You simply don't put on 20 pounds through regular weight training, especially if you are mixing in regular basketball training as I have to assume he was. Its just a pure physical impossibility. Then a couple of weeks ago down in Orlando he displayed ungodly strength (his bench reps calculated to a one press max of nearly 560 pounds) and shocking world class speed. Maybe I'm way out of bounds here, and if I am I'll certainly withdraw the comment in a heartbeat, but the signs are hard to ignore.
Win Contribution Analysis of JA's college games
I did the analysis below after I wrote what was above. I tried to pick West Virginia's toughest opponents from last season. Alexander didn't actually do poorly overall. It seems he ran either cold or super hot against the best competition. He sure finished his career out nicely. Overall, his WC translates roughly into that of an average NBA contributor. That is actually better than I expected for sure. For those who don't know Win Contribution, here's my best primer yet on the subject. Negative Win Contributions are in red (because its hard to see the "-" and "+" signs).
4. Notre Dame...+0.183
Win Contribution Average: +0.132
speculative NBA translation: +0.088
(AVERAGE WIN CONTRIBUTION)
Update on Erich Doerr
I was in contact with Erich Doerr about becoming Bucks Diary draft guru. Unfortunately he has already signed an exclusive deal with Draftexpress.com. All you can do is try, Antlerheads... but it surprises me he would sign with Draftexpress. Their "athleticism" uber alles philosophy is almost diametrically opposed to his analytical, evidentiary approach. As I told him, I hope he doesn't "go native". We have enough "He's a freakish athlete" draft profiles on the web already. His statistical approach is unique and I think quite valuable.