-By the Numbers: The 2012 Forward Crop
-By the Numbers: The 2012 Wing Crop
-By the Numbers: The 2012 Guard Crop
While the 2011 draft class featured a wealth of high-level international big men such as Bismack Biyombo, Jonas Valanciunas, and Donatas Motiejunas, but a relative dearth of elite domestic big men, the opposite is true in the class of 2012.
A look at our most recent Mock Draft reveals that as many as six domestic big men are projected to go in the lottery, while only one international prospect is projected in the first round.
Leading the pack is likely first overall pick Anthony Davis, with Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard, Perry Jones and Arnett Moultrie also likely to be selected in the top 20 picks of the first round.
This is one of the deeper classes in recent memory, however, and there are plenty of legitimate NBA prospects outside of the top-20 including Fab Melo, Andrew Nicholson, and Festus Ezeli, all of whom are currently projected as first round picks.
With a deeper than average domestic frontcourt draft class, we aim to analyze how the top big men prospects compare and rank according to a variety of statistical measures. To gain a better understanding of the statistics used, visit the glossary by Noah Libby-Haines.
Interested in making your own statistical comparisons? You can do so here.
Points Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||24.7|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||22.8|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||21.1|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||21|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||19.5|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||19.2|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||18.2|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||17.8|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||17.1|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||14.9|
This statistic simply shows how productive these big men are as scorers, adjusting for minutes played and pace, which levels the playing field as best we can without taking competition level, individual team roles, and teammates into consideration.
At first glance, what seems important is that consensus top pick Anthony Davis ranks just 12th out of the big men in our Top-100.
Davis was integral in propelling Kentucky to the Final Four, but his most significant contributions did not always come on the offensive end. The freshman was an efficient scorer who improved as the season continued and had an impressive NCAA campaign on the offensive end of the floor for the National Champion Kentucky Wildcats. He also had an incredible supporting cast, many of whom will hear their names called on draft night.
The top scorer by a large margin, however, is St. Bonaventure big man Andrew Nicholson. Nicholson not only steadily improved throughout his four years, but he was also his team's top and often only option from nearly the first day he stepped onto campus. Sporting a legitimate inside-outside game, including the ability to knock down college three pointers, Nicholson was both productive and extremely efficient, two reasons why he has a very good chance of getting drafted in the first round.
Behind Nicholson is burly Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger, confirming much of what we already knew: he was an unbelievable low post scorer in the college ranks with a diverse skill set. Yet, despite his proven scoring prowess, Sullinger's stock is nowhere near secure as rumors surrounding a chronic back injury and questions about whether he is athletic enough to guard power forwards or big enough to play center at the next level.
Thomas Robinson ranks third, going from coming off of the bench as a sophomore to being arguably the best player in college basketball as a junior, showcasing a versatile inside-outside game to go along with elite athleticism and a killer instinct.
Cameron Moore, Herb Pope, and Kyle O'Quinn operated as go-to guys of lower profile programs, seeing between 20%-25% of their team's possessions, a big reason they rank so high here. Joining them in the top five is Tyler Zeller, whose contributions as a finisher and post-threat make him a very attractive option to NBA teams as an offensively gifted 7-footer.
Perhaps the two best stories out of this bunch are Ricardo Ratliffe and Garrett Stutz, both players who entered their senior years with very little fanfare, but whom emerged as some of the most productive big men prospects in our Top-100. Like Davis, Ratliffe produced at a high rate as a role player on a deep Missouri team, while Stutz played exceptionally well down the stretch exploiting his size and skill level for Wichita State.
The two least productive players on this list are Miles Plumlee, a freakish athlete without much of an offensive skill-set on a guard-heavy team, and Fab Melo, a similarly limited shot-blocking specialist. Both prospects saw few possessions on incredibly deep teams, but it is worth pointing out that Plumlee saw the fewest possessions in our database and nonetheless was more productive than Melo, a likely first round pick.
Finally, likely top-5 pick Andre Drummond similarly surfaces as one of the least productive big men offensively, despite seeing the same number of touches as Robert Sacre and Festus Ezeli. If anything, Drummond's placement on this list validates much of what we already knew: he is an extremely raw offensive player who will likely take some time to develop at the NBA-level.
True Shooting Percentage
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||65%|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||63%|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||63%|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||62%|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||61%|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||61%|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||60%|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||59%|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||52%|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||51%|
True shooting percentage (TS%) is a shooting measure that combines FG%, FT%, and 3FG% to calculate a more nuanced statistic gauging a prospect's shooting. Typically benefitting wings with deep range, a number of draft eligible big men stand out in this metric.
After finishing near the top of our list as a scorer, Ricardo Ratliffe, an extremely undersized and raw senior big man, leads the pack, which is no surprise considering his reputation as an incredibly efficient scorer. Ratliffe finished at an outstanding rate and hit his free throws at a solid rate, two keys to good true shooting numbers.
Anthony Davis ranks appropriately, tied for second place with one of just two European big men on this list, Leon Radosevic. Already the top prospect in this draft, the fact that Davis improved his skill set during his freshman season while shooting an outstanding percentage throughout is impressive. The fact that he's a capable foul shooter at 70.9% suggests that he is just scratching the surface of his potential with his burgeoning face-up game. Radosevic in contrast played an extremely limited role for Milan, but made the most of his opportunities as a rotation big man.
Rounding out the top five are Kyle O'Quinn, Tyler Zeller, Miles Plumlee, and Meyers Leonard. Plumlee and O'Quinn are especially interesting additions here considering Plumlee's low usage and O'Quinn's unorthodox offensive game.
Andre Drummond is already one of the least productive scorers in this group, due to his incredibly raw skill set and questionable feel for the game, but it is odd to see him at the bottom of this list too, posting an unimpressive 0.51 TS%. The 29.5% he shot from the foul line undoubtedly influenced his basement ranking, but his 54.1% FG% is also a factor, especially taking into consideration how many of his shots came in the immediate vicinity of the rim.
Joining Drummond in the bottom five are Henry Sims, Herb Pope and Cameron Moore, who among the players on this list, saw relatively more of their touches come in the midrange.
Free Throw Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||8|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||7.6|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||7.6|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||6.9|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||6|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||5.9|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||5.5|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||5.1|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||4.8|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||4.6|
Free throws attempted per-40 minutes is a good statistic to measure the aggressiveness and physicality with which these big men play around the rim. It is also an indirect measure of their post and perimeter usages, since players seeing the ball down low one-on-one will get to the line more frequently than the centers roaming the perimeter.
Festus Ezeli and Robert Sacre lead the pack, by a wide margin, both getting to the line over nine times per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Ezeli, while a more highly touted prospect, only makes 60% of his attempts as opposed to Sacre's 76%. While it remains to be seen whether either prospect will be able to score consistently at the next level, they both showed toughness establishing position on the block and did a great job of getting to the line at the collegiate level.
Jared Sullinger sits atop the second tier of players in this metric, alongside Henry Sims, Tyler Zeller, Kyle O'Quinn and Thomas Robinson.
Anthony Davis sits in the middle of the pack here, his lack of usage in post-up situations playing against him relative to the rest of this group.
Once again, Drummond and Melo round out the bottom with just 3.7 and 3.2 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted, validating questions marks about whether either will be able to contribute offensively at the next level in the near future. Weighing in at 279 pounds, Drummond has the tools to be a presence around the basket, but time will tell if he develop his footwork and post game to get to the line at a better rate.
Offensive Rebounds Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||5|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||4.3|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||4.2|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||4.1|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||4.1|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||4|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||3.9|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||3.5|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||3.2|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||3|
Considering there are players who have built decade long careers just by virtue of their ability to rebound the ball, the value of this metric is obvious. Offensive rebounding is particularly relevant to big men.
That Miles Plumlee sits atop this list reaffirming what we wrote just a few weeks back, about his status as one of the best offensive rebounders in college basketball, and supporting his somewhat rapid rise from obscurity to possibly having a shot at hearing his name called late in the first round.
Also promising is the presence of Andre Drummond near the top of a list, as the 6'11 big man grabbed a respectable 4.8 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. Synergy tells us that Drummond saw around 23% of his offensive possessions off of put backs and while he was underwhelming as a finisher, his productivity on the offensive boards represents one area in which he can contribute immediately at the next level.
7-footer Tyler Zeller and comparatively undersized, but extremely active Missouri center Ricardo Ratliffe, along with Turkish big Furkan Aldemir round out the top five.
Aldemir won't rank terribly impressively in many other categories, but his presence on this particular list confirms the very valuable skill he brings to the table for NBA teams.
Near the bottom of our list we find Meyers Leonard, Garrett Stutz, and Henry Sims. One of the most impressive physical specimen's in this class, Leonard seems to have the potential to contribute far more in this area than he did in college. Stutz and Sims are comparatively below-average athletes with less potential to develop in this area.
Defensive Rebounds Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||10.4|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||9.6|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||9.2|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||8.9|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||8.8|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||7.9|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||7.8|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||7.5|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||7.4|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||6.9|
Thomas Robinson proves his reputation as an aggressive rebounder by topping the list with a remarkable 11.1 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes pace adjusted. His prowess on the boards represents one of many reasons why the Kansas big man will likely be the second player off of Thursday's draft board.
New Mexico forward Drew Gordon ranks a fairly close second, showing that despite the red flags that have followed him since his transfer from UCLA, he remains a legitimate big man prospect and one likely to hear his name called in the second round.
After placing fairly low in our offensive rebounding rankings, Garrett Stutz rises to the third spot on this list. Stutz may not be overly explosive off the floor, but he boxes out, shows good effort, and rebounds his area with a solid motor.
Anthony Davis takes the second spot here, and there's no question that his length and leaping ability stood out on a Kentucky roster littered with extremely impressive athletes. The fact that he was able to both protect the rim at a superb rate and still clean the glass effectively is a testament to his instincts and effort level on this end of the floor.
Miles Plumlee drops a bit here, joining Jared Sullinger and Meyers Leonard in the middle of the pack. Leonard may not have been a major presence on the offensive glass, but his size and developing frame made him a very solid defensive rebounder. Sullinger's anticipation, physical strength, and strong hands help him here.
After placing well as a rebounder on the other end of the floor, Andre Drummond once again drops to the bottom-5. He's joined by Fab Melo and Festus Ezeli among potential first rounders. Melo's numbers were limited by his role in Syracuse's zone defense, while Ezeli battled injuries for parts of the season. Regardless, all three players will be well served to pursue the ball more aggressively off the rim at the next level.
Blocks Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||3.6|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||3.3|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||3.2|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||2.6|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||2.2|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||2|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||1.6|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||1.4|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||1.3|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||0.8|
Blocked shots are a solid indicator of a big man's size, length, athleticism and defensive instincts.
Anthony Davis, once again ranks highly, blocking nearly six shots per 40 minutes pace adjusted, solidifying his reputation as a fearsome defensive presence around the basket. While already impressive, it is worth pointing out that Davis had one of the better shot blocking seasons in the past 10 years.
Fab Melo and Andre Drummond also have good showings, with 4.7 and 3.9 blocks per 40 minutes pace adjusted respectively, showing that while both of these players are far from finished products on the offensive end, they are well equipped to defend the rim at the next level.
Festus Ezeli and John Henson round out the top-5 in what is generally a solid class of shot blockers. Henson was primarily a defensive specialist while at North Carolina, but it is his potential, both in terms of his skill set and his physical profile, that make him a surefire lottery pick.
Jared Sullinger lands near the bottom of the pack, which should come as little surprise considering his lack of explosiveness. Arnett Moultrie and Thomas Robinson, however, have the size and athleticism to be solid shot blockers, but did not make that much of an impact in this area of the game.
Steals Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||1.5|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||1.4|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||1.4|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||1.2|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||1|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||0.9|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||0.9|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||0.9|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||0.7|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||0.6|
What Radosevic and Sullinger lack in shot blocking ability, they make up for in awareness on the defensive end. Sullinger's hands and strength certainly served him well, and despite concerns about his back arising late in the draft process, his feel for the game and instincts on both ends are impossible to ignore.
Anthony Davis and Seton Hall journeyman Herb Pope both find themselves in the top-5 here as well. Davis has unique quickness to the ball for a player his size.
Meyers Leonard, Robert Sacre, and Garrett Stutz take the bottom three spots here, but only find themselves 1.3 steals per-40 minutes pace adjusted below the top spot.
Assists Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||1.8|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||1.7|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||1.7|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||1.6|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||1.6|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||1.6|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||1.4|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||1.3|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||1.2|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||0.6|
This metric tells us which big men in this draft are most capable of moving the ball out of the post.
There is really only one notable player in this group, Georgetown senior Henry Sims. Sims was a facilitator for Georgetown out of the high post and showed remarkable versatility for a big man as a passer.
While he also leads the group in turnovers, Sims has a chance at getting drafted thanks to the size, length and inside-outside versatility that he can bring to an NBA roster.
Thomas Robinson is the only other player to average over two assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted, but his poor 0.69 A/TO ratio is hardly commendable.
Turnovers Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||3.3|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||3.3|
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||3.3|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||3.2|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||3|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||2.9|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||2.7|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||2.5|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||2.5|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||1.6|
Sims also takes the top spot as the most turnover prone player in this group. He's followed by Leon Radosevic and Festus Ezeli, neither of whom compensated for their turnovers with any sort of value as passers last season.
Jared Sullinger ranks right in the middle of this list despite spending more time operating one-on-one with his back to the basket than almost any other player in college basketball.
Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond are two of the least turnover players in this group, a reflection of what they were asked to do offensively. Davis actually posts an assist to turnover ratio of 1.22, sitting only a fraction behind Henry Sims. It will be interesting to see how Drummond and Davis respond to having to create their own shot in the post down the road.
It is worth pointing out that despite having making his share of head-scratching plays in college, that John Henson is actually the second least turnover player in this group, which, considering how turnover prone his fellow big men prospects are, is certainly a feather in the cap of his draft stock.
Player Efficiency Rating
|Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||NCAA||31.5|
|Jared Sullinger||Ohio State||NCAA||30.8|
|Tyler Zeller||North Carolina||NCAA||29.8|
|Kyle O'Quinn||Norfolk State||NCAA||28.6|
|Garrett Stutz||Wichita State||NCAA||26.6|
|Arnett Moultrie||Mississippi St.||NCAA||25.2|
|Drew Gordon||New Mexico||NCAA||24.9|
|John Henson||North Carolina||NCAA||24.7|
|Herb Pope||Seton Hall||NCAA||24.2|
|Bernard James||Florida State||NCAA||23.3|
Created by ESPN's John Hollinger, PER is a total measure of what a player does on the floor based on more than a dozen weighted calculations. It isn't wise to compare players across different leagues, though, since an average score of 15 (the median) would be a totally different figure in another league, with its own averages. The NCAA is especially tricky considering the varying levels of competition we find in the different conferences.
Anthony Davis leads this group by a wide margin, supporting the notion that he is easily the best big man prospect in a deep draft class. This confirms what we already know, that Davis is an extremely versatile and physically gifted big man who can impact the game in a variety of ways on both ends of the floor.
Andrew Nicholson ranks second, confirming once again that he is one of the top big man prospects outside of the lottery.
Jared Sullinger takes the third spot, and although he faced some significant hurdles this season and throughout the draft process, he was one of the most dominant figures in all of college basketball for the second straight year.
Ricardo Ratliffe, Tyler Zeller, Kyle O'Quinn, Thomas Robinson and Garrett Stutz round out the top-10. While nowhere near first round locks, Ratliffe, O'Quinn, and even Garrett Stutz's solid showings by the numbers and on film should get each prospect some looks in the second round.
An analysis of trends thus far reveals Davis, Robinson, Sullinger, and Zeller are statistically dominant big men at the collegiate level and, in line with past years, projecting favorably as producers at the next level. Nicholson, despite his lack of hype, ranks extremely well by most of these metrics and is a player who could definitely emerge as a draft night steal in hindsight depending on where he lands.
Sims and Plumlee are both players who project favorably as niche roleplayers, even if there are more than a few questions surrounding whether they have what it takes to contribute consistently at the next level.
As these comparative analyses reveal, however, projected lottery picks such as Andre Drummond and Meyers Leonard and likely first round prospects Fab Melo and Arnett Moultrie, for instance, have quite a few holes in their game and more than a couple of question marks that they will have to address throughout the pre-Draft process.
Jun 21, 2017, 02:52 pmIn a draft class lauded for its guards, three exceptionally talented, and wildly different, forward prospects sit in the top six of our mock draft, each taking a very different path to the top, and demonstrating wildly contrasting strengths and weaknesses. So who is the best prospect among the three?
Jun 21, 2017, 10:49 amVideo from the De'Aaron Fox Catalyst Sports Pro Day Workout in Los Angeles. Video produced by Matt McGann.
MagicBismack Biyombo PF/C
PelicansAnthony Davis PF
KhimkiThomas Robinson PF
PistonsAndre Drummond C
ShenzhenJared Sullinger C
BucksJohn Henson PF
BucksTyler Zeller C
TrailblazersMeyers Leonard C
IowaPerry Jones PF
AnkaraArnett Moultrie PF/C
BrasiliaFab Melo C
WarriorsFestus Ezeli C
JoventutGarrett Stutz C
Seton HallHerb Pope PF/C
ZenitDrew Gordon PF
LakersRobert Sacre C
CremonaHenry Sims PF/C
CharleroiJustin Hamilton PG/SG
DarussafakaFurkan Aldemir PF
BambergLeon Radosevic PF/C
LimogesBernard James C
HawksMiles Plumlee C