Category 5 Wings: 3&D Versatile

Category 5 Wings: 3&D Versatile

(Skills: Off Ball Spot Up Shooting and Cutting, Sub Elite/Elite Defense & Versatility to Guard Bigger Wings + Swing to the 4 Spot)

  1. Jae Crowder (Senior) #34
  2. DeMarre Carroll (Senior) #27
  3. Trevor Ariza (Freshman) #43
  4. Robert Covington (Senior) Undrafted

Not included: Luol Deng (more of a 4 now with wear/athleticism decrease, and was > than this in his prime), PJ Tucker (same rationale as former part of Deng’s).  Prime Artest could also be placed here but he could also post up.

I. What Sets Them Apart

The more traditional iteration of 3&D deviating from Category 4’s more enhanced ball-skills, this archetype separates itself by having the size to defend bigger wings and swing to the 4 spot.  The two most valuable perimeter position defenders are “1/2” defenders that can guard opposing lead guards at the point of attack (we’ll see this in category 6) plus switch to non-elite scoring wings and what I call 3&D versatile defenders who can guard big wing types like Durant in conjunction with most other perimeter players and can also add value swinging to the 4 spot in smaller lineups, bringing near maximum defensive versatility.

These players are off-ball players without creation acumen either in isolation or pick and roll ball-handler situations or even in the post.  They’re in essence spot up 3pt shooters (usually parked in the corners) and cutters in the half court who you hope can shoot well enough in the former scenario and are the primary defensive wing cogs on the other side of the ball who do the dirty work and are both hard to get around or through.

Crowder is the prototype here with his dogged defense due to an advanced frame and incredible physical toughness.  He’s a smart cutter in Stevens’ system, adding off ball value.  He’s not quite at league average yet from 3, which last year was about 35.4%, but he could get there in time.

Carroll has an injury plagued year in Toronto, but in 2014/15 he really embodied everything reflective of this category and added some playmaking via passing in a pinch (Coach Bud is notorious for extracting passing acumen in his motion scheme from wings: see also Kent Bazemore).

Ariza’s defense fell off a cliff last year as his athleticism begins to slip.  He doesn’t have the same physical toughness and girth as Crowder or Carroll, but at his peak he was a plus defender with the best athleticism of the group.  We’ll see if he can right the ship somewhat this year, albeit he likely wont get all the way back to his old ways.

Covington is flying under the radar as potentially deserving of his spot here.  He’s not a plus athlete, but has good size, outstanding tools and a nose for the ball on steals.  Some advanced stats love his defense game, and while he’s not a lockdown defender yet, he’s a decent bet to potentially reach fringe stopper status.

Overall, this archetype is generally more valuable that category 6 players unless category 6 players can really shoot the hell out of the ball due to higher demand to stop category 1 or 2 high profile scoring wings and greater scarcity.

A.Off Ball Offense

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Shooting Playtype


  • The frequency and possession totals as spot up shooters are at 1/3 or over for these players, indicative of their limited offensive on-ball usage.
  • These aren’t knockdown shooters by any means.  The hope is that they can get over the league average mark on spot up 3s, which again last year was around 35.4%, so that they’re respectable enough on offense to enable their plus defense.

2015/16 Regular Season Off Screen Playtype


  • The ability to shoot off screens for any off ball player adds tremendous scheme value, but none of these players really have the gravitational impact to garner a defenses attention.  Nor are any high frequency off screen shooters, though all sans Carroll last year were capable in a pinch.

2015/16 Regular Season Cutting Playtype


  • These are simply finishing possessions that don’t reflect how often the player actually cuts without actually finishing the possession.
  • The frequency totals are fairly solid across the board, with Crowder showing outlier positive finishing ability, some of which can be attributed to Stevens’ inverted offensive schemes.

B.Shot Locations/Finishing

Crowder 15/16 Regular Season Shot Chart


  • Crowder took about 10% of shots on corner 3s, and is below average by a considerable margin there.  He finished incredibly well at the rim last year, and shows a proclivity for midrange shots.

Carroll 15/16 Regular Season Shot Chart


  • Carroll was a total negative inside the arc last year, but shot above league average from the wings beyond the arc.

Ariza 15/16 Regular Season Shot Chart


  • Ariza is the classic park him in the corner 3pt shooter, taking almost 25% of his shots from there.  Ge shoots a very respctable numer as well, and is around average at other spots behind the arc.  His finishing last year wasn’t disatrous either.

Covington 15/16 Regular Season Shot Chart


  • Similar to Carroll, RC was a non-threat inside the arc last year. Covington takes around 10% of his shots from corner threes, shooting below average there.  Surprisingly over 50% of his shots come on above the break threes.  His finishing was brutal in 15/16.

C.Lack of Creation

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype


  • I’m going to breeze through these because they don’t require much explanation.  None of these players really have much off the bounce creating for themselves, especially with Ariza’s deteriorating athleticism (he was miscast in his stint with New Orleans in a primary role).  Carroll and Crowder show flashes but it’s definitely in a very secondary setting.

2015/16 Regular Season Pick and Roll Ball-Handler Playtype


  • Crowder has a little bit of juice off the bounce and can make pull-up shots occassionally, but it’s in limited fashion.  You’re usually not running even a secondary pick and roll for these players




  • Crowder is the best defensive player here, rating out positively in both metrics which matches the eye test of his quick feet and sturdy frame.  He’s hard to get through or around.
  • Ariza’s defense again fell off a cliff last year, as he was far more solid in years past.
  • Carroll never got his legs under him last year and still rated out relatively well.  Covington benefits some because of his defensive rebounding prowess in advance stats but he’s a plus defensive player with fantastic length.
  • All four players have the size and frame to defend multiple positions, enabling switching capable schemes.



  • Rebounding: Covington is an outlier positive rebounder with his size and length, allowing him to easily swing to the four spot, which is probably his best overall position given the lack of skill.  Crowder and Carroll are barely respectable on the glass, while Ariza gives up a lot in that respect when he swings to the 4 spot.
  • Assists: None of these guys are especially proficient passing the ball, with Crowder and Carroll showing the most passing ability on the move.
  • Foul-Drawing: Crowder and Covington get to the line at least to a respectable floor amount, giving them a small boost in offensive utility.
  • Usage: In conjunction with off-ball play emphasis, the usage rates are predictably mostly below average.

II. College Indicators/Translations



  • All of these players satisfy the ideal positional size for a wing 6’6″-6’8″ requirement. Crowder barely does so, and actually has below average length, but compensates with an incredibly strong frame.
  • Ariza really has ideal size and measurables for a wing, sporting a fantastic wingspan.  Covington falls under a similar category with outlier length for a wing.  Carroll looks like he’s heavier than his playing weight as he plays bigger than his size due to physicality.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted


  • Crowder: Crowder’s profile once transferring to Marquette was incredibly solid and well-rounded, sporting outlier positive 2pt%, rebounding, and one steals mark.  He scored around average and shot reasonably well from 3 on a healthy number of attempts.  His assist numbers were also promising.  He didn’t have the look of an elite prospect, but there was enough there to gain interest.
  • Carroll: Outside of consistently elite rebounding and average to plus steal marks, Carroll’s profile was laden with shooting inefficiency and lack of range issues.  It would be hard to label Carroll a “3&D” prospect coming out because given his FT%, 3pt% and damning lack of attempts, it didn’t look like he could shoot at all.
  • Ariza: Outside of an outlier positive steal mark and physical tools, Ariza didn’t shine in any one area in his single season at UCLA.  He’s a classic roll of the dice on youth, positional size, and athleticism.
  • Covington: Covington’s profile at a small school had multiple positive indicators mostly revolving around shooting efficiency on high attempts and defense.  Covington’s consistently above average FT% couple with two outlier 3pt shooting seasons on plus attempts gave off the indication he was a good bet to shoot it.  His defensive numbers bolstered his 3&D potential, with two outlier steal seasons (and two fringe outlier seasons) to pair with two outlier block seasons.  Covington, despite a lack of plus athleticism, had  a knack for generating defensive event plays, and his profile in conjunction with his positional size looked exactly like a traditional 3&D prospect with legitimate rebounding to boot.



  • Crowder: Crowder had a clean efficiency profile with several positive outliers in TS%, eFG% and two outstanding A/TO marks while not possessing any negative outliers, rendering him the only player here to accomplish that.
  • Carroll: Carroll didn’t take many threes, but outside of that his shooting got progressively better as his career progressed with his Senior year being his best as a shooter and decision-maker.
  • Ariza: Ariza’s efficiency profile painted him as a bad shooter and minus decision-maker.
  • Covington: Covington had outlier positive shooting seasons that were encouraging and off-set some of the concerns with not being able to facilitate or create for others basically at all.



  • As predominately off-ball players now it shouldn’t surprise that none of the above had an outlier elite usage rate in college, with Covington coming extremely close twice playing with and against inferior competition at a smaller school.

5.Sports-Reference OBPM All-Time 


  • Crowder did have a very strong indicator in OBPM his senior year.

6.Skill Translations:

  • Crowder:
    • Borderline Elite Defensive Profile
    • Rebounding
    • Range Capability
    • Lack of Plus Creation/Heavy Usage
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  • Carroll:
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • Rebounding
    • Lack of Plus Creation/Heavy Usage
    • First Contract Translation: Fringe (Starter Yr 5 at 27)
  • Ariza:
    • Steals
    • Lack of Plus Creation/Heavy Usage
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  • Covington:
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • Three Point Shooting Efficiency/Usage
    • First Contract Translation: Fringe

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Appealing Archetype But With Long-Term Developmental Curve: Wings without plus ball-skills have a long road ahead in terms of developing enough as a defender especially to warrant court time.  NBA defense is challenging, and few wings ever just walk on the court from the off like Justise Winslow and are plus defenders as rookies.  If you can’t playmake you better defend or shoot at an elite level.  It’s not a surprise that someone like Carroll only found a meaningful role at 27, his 5th year in the league.  Crowder had the most advanced ball skills likely of the group and even he didn’t gain traction until his second NBA team.
  2. Draft Strategy/D-League: If I were an NBA team I’d try to acquire as many 6’6″-6’8″ wings as I could and develop them in the D League.   You can get this archetype in round two and undrafted like a Covington, even in bulk, and stash them in the D League to develop both defense and ball-skills.  It’s admittedly difficult to invest high draft capital in this kind of player because the hit rate is so high variance.  Taurean Prince comes to mind in this current draft, who went #12 overall.  It’s hard to argue with Atlanta’s recent history of developing guys like that, but for guys who rely on BECOMING elite defenders on the wing and who aren’t already on the road to being that it’s a dicey investment to make.

Next Up: Category 6 Wings: 3&D Perimeter/Point of Attack

Stats provided by NBA.Com, ESPN.Com, Draftexpress.Com, Sports-Reference.Com, Hoop-Math.Com and Basketball-Reference.Com