Category 9 Wings: Defensive Versatile

Category 9 Wings: Defensive Versatile

(Skills: Elite Defense + Switching Versatility, Ability to Swing to the 4, Rebounding, Transition, Off-Ball Cutting, Finishing)

Category 9A: Added Handling Ability

  1. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Freshman) #2
  2. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Sophomore) #23

Category 9B: Non-Dribblers

  1. Tony Allen (Sophomore) #25
  2. Al Farouq-Aminu (Sophomore) #8
  3. Andre Roberson (Junior) #26

Others Players in this Category: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Potentially Justin Anderson 

I. What Sets Them Apart

The opposite end of the seesaw as category 8 offensive oriented players, this archetype tips the scales by providing elite defense in the form of plus versatility switching, the ability to guard premiere scoring wings and also swing to the 4 spot.  Offensively, these players are optimized by playing uptempo, getting them in transition to generate easier scoring attempts as none currently have a half-court avenue to score efficiently.

MKG is the prototype here, as he provides a modicum of offensive skill in the ability to handle relatively well in large spaces as well as post up mismatches, placing him in a different tier than non-handlers.  He’s not an uber athlete but he’s a good one and competes defensively like few do.  This is a floor ranking for him, as his jumper looks vastly improved to the point he could provide two-way value if he ever stops sustaining freak injuries.

RHJ is a top-shelf athlete armed with the size, speed and strength to check almost any player type in the league.  He has some handling skill and can play in PNR in a pinch, so I’m tentatively placing him in MKG’s handling tier, but his shot similar to early career MKG is damning at this juncture, lacking any range.

Tony Allen is probably the best non-Kawhi perimeter defender of his generation, where despite his 6’4″ size his tenacity and athleticism allows him to guard down multiple positions.  He’s probably the closest thing you’re going to get to a defensive stopper.  Unfortunately, giving someone the “Tony Allen Treatment” offensively is a thing because of his inability to dribble and pass.

Aminu is probably not quite the same caliber of on-ball defender as these other guys, but he still rates out positively by virtually every metric, possessing the size, length and athleticism to wreak havoc on that end.  He experienced an outlier positive shooter season last year from 3, and I don’t feel comfortable enough yet putting this career 32.2% 3pt shooter in Category 5 without a greater sample.

Lastly, Roberson is a plus athlete who meets the athleticism and length thresholds that Presti desires in prospects.  He’s a good defender who can switch and rebound.  Offensively, he started flashing skill against the Warriors in serving as the roll man when left unguarded and showing some passing skill, but he’s largely a minus at this point.

Overall, this grouping really provides value on the defensive end, both on-ball checking premiere scoring wings and switching assignments, while also off-ball making rotations and covering ground with their speed/length to close out.  Their ability to rebound playing down a position allows them to swing to the 4  which lessens the blow of their lack of skill.

A.Elite Defense

2013/14 Regular Season DRPM


2014/15 Regular Season DRPM


2015/16 Regular Season DRPM


2015/16 Regular Season DBPM


  • Instead of just tracking defensive metrics last season, a multi-year look affords more of an accurate representation of these players’ exploits here.  Notice elite numbers basically across the board outside of MKG’s minus numbers in limited minutes last season.  He’s typically an elite eye test and stats defender (on-off etc).
  • Also notice only 1 player here in 3 years has a positive offensive one number stat: Aminu last year with his shooting spike.

B.Plus Rebounding/Lack of Passing & Usage


  • Rebounding: RHJ was the best wing rebounder in the league last year as a rookie.  MKG, Aminu, and Allen also grade out positively here, due to solid defensive rebounding numbers but also outlier positive ORR.
  • Assists: RHJ flashed a promising assist rate, but these players largely aren’t adept passers, separating them from category 3 players.  MKG specifically doesn’t have great feel as a passer, usually driving to score.
  • Usage: All these players have below average usage rates, with Roberson rating out as especially poor.


2015/16 Regular Season Transition Playtype


  • As discussed in the intro, one way to mitigate a lack of half court avenues to score is pushing the pace more and generating transition opportunities.  These players are all plus athletes who can run the floor with the best of them.  MKG is the best dribbler, so he benefits from plus marks here on a limited sample as his transition attacking is a foundation of Clifford’s offense.

2015/16 Regular Season Restricted Area Finishing (Sorted By FGA)


  • Another aspect of paramount importance to this archetype is finishing acumen.  If you can’t space the floor, create your own shot or create shots for others, opportunistic cutting and slashing to finish efficiently is crucial.
  • MKG hasn’t notoriously been THIS good as a finisher (again very limited sample), but his attempt total and FG% here match the general eye test.  Allen also gets to the rim off of cuts in Memphis’ horns sets cutting off Gasol well.

D.Off Ball Oriented

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Playtype


  • Aminu is the only player here who consistently took and made 3s last year, rendering his above average percentile finish not surprising.  For the most part these shots by all of the above come in wide open situations as defenses sag off them to muck up driving lanes.

2015/16 Regular Season Cut Playtype


  • Opportunistic cutting off-ball is something MKG is typically proficient at, and this sample really isn’t worth analyzing.
  • The main takeaway is for 3 of these guys, cutting comprises over 12% of their offense, a high number for a wing.

E.Lack of Creation/Shooting

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype


  • Not much explanation needed here.  No one is creating their own offense off the dribble and on any kind of respectable frequency.

2015/16 Regular Season PNR BH Playtype


  • The possession totals are again low across the board, but there are some positive indicators from MKG and RHJ especially moving forward.  MKG seemed to be more comfortable in this setting last year, and RHJ has enough of a handle to serve in this manner in a pinch.  All of these players need a screen to gain a space advantage with below average handles.

2015/16 Regular Season Drives Per Game


  • Drive totals indicate handling prowess, and  3 of these players teeter right on the lower range of secondary handler drives per game marks while the other two are sizable minuses.

II. College Indicators/Translations



  • Outside of Tony Allen’s outlier negative size, we again see the ideal 6’6″-6’8″ wing size across the board and plus wingspans to compliment.  The overall combination of positional size, plus athleticism and length are met here.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted


  • The commonalities are pretty consistent in this arcehtype, so I’ll just break this down in lump sum.
  • The defensive categories of rebounding, steals and blocks are all above average to elite, with a few legitimate outlier block numbers.
  • The scoring, 3pt attempts/%, and FT% are all below average, indicative of a lack of creation and scoring acumen. MKG had the most promising FT%, but that was with a noticeable hitch in his shot.



  • MKG and Allen didn’t have a negative indicator, with the former throwing in a plus FTA/FGA number.
  • The general free throw rates are higher here for non-creators who don’t take a lot of perimeter shots.
  • RHJ and Allen both looked like the best bets to be decent decision-makers at the next level, with Roberson and Aminu having glaring red flags there.



  • No outlier elite usage marks amongst these non-creators.

5.Hoop-Math Self Creation


  • MKG and RHJ had outstanding finishing marks to support solid unassisted at the rim makes.
  • MKG looked to have the best creation indicators with a decent amount of unassisted 2pt jumpers.
  • Overall, there weren’t any outlier self-creation stats here.

6.Sports-Reference Stats

DBPM All Time (Since Inception)


BPM All Time (Since Inception)


OREB% All Time (Since Inception)


DREB% All Time (Since Inception)


REB% All Time (Since Inception)


7.Skill Translations:

  1. MKG:
    • Elite Defense
    • Plus Rebounding
    • Above Average Finishing
    • Lack of Range/Scoring
    • Lack of Playmaking for Others
    • First Contract Translation: Starter
  2. RHJ: (Largely Too Early)
    • Plus Defense/Rebounding
    • Lack of Range/Scoring
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  3. Allen:
    • Elite Defense
    • Lack of Range/Scoring
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  4. Aminu:
    • Plus Defense
    • Plus Rebounding
    • Lack of Range/Scoring
    • Lack of Creation for Others
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  5. Roberson:
    • Plus Defense
    • Plus Rebounding
    • Lack of Range/Scoring
    • Lack of Creation for Others
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation/Starter

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Importance of Positional Size/Athleticism/Length Thresholds: Outside of Allen all of these players check the positional size, length and measurement boxes for modern wings, with the height being most important to afford them the ability to check premiere scoring category 2 wings for example.
  2. Tough Roster Fit: If you’re an off ball player who can’t shoot that automatically puts a ceiling on your team’s offensive ceiling.  These players can salvage some value there by swinging to the 4 spot and of course by defending in elite fashion, but this is one of the hardest roster fit archetypes to build around.

Next Up: Category 10 Wings: Skilled Offensive Combo-Forwards

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