Category 5: Energy + Motor

Category 5  Fours: Energy + Motor

(Skills: Rebounding, Putbacks, Rim-Running, Finishing)

  1. Kenneth Faried (Senior) #22
  2. Thomas Robinson (Freshman) #5
  3. Kris Humphries (Freshman) #14
  4. Domantas Sabonis (Sophomore) #11

I. What Sets Them Apart

This is perhaps the most straight-forward archetype skill grouping here, mostly because there aren’t a lot of skills involved.  Faried, Robinson, and early career Humphries were pure energy bigs, carving out a role in the league with relentless rebounding, rim-running and putback attempts.  Each are plus athletes with the speed and bounciness to compensate to an extent for being undersized/possessing below average to average physical tools.  None are adept protecting the rim and both Robinson and Faried are absolute non-shooters/non shot takers, limiting their respective ranges, while Humphries has also been a poor shooter for a shot-taker.  Basically, these players are the antithesis of what you want modern NBA bigs to be skill wise in stretch + rim protectors.  They can’t initiate offense, and are pure clean up guys.

I included Humphries as he exhibited some stretch elements in college, demonstrating an example of how someone past his athletic prime can at least threaten from range.  Keep in mind, we’re still talking about a 26.9% career 3pt shooter, but there are some parallels spacing wise with Sabonis (Humphries was a much better athlete).

Speaking of Sabonis, he was the most difficult prospect for me to place in the draft, as it’s basically trying to fit a round peg into a square hole at any defined position.  He has alligator arms and poor defensive metrics which fits this mold.  He’s also an outstanding rebounder which fits right in.  Unlike Faried and Robinson he has displayed some promising spacing indicators however, and is far more skilled as a passer.  I see a comparison to modern Humphries post peak athleticism, but throw in more all around skill and the somewhat realistic outcome that his post game translates in the Kanter-lite mold. Basically, this is his absolute floor outcome as an energetic high motor rebounder off the bench.  Speaking of rebounding..

1.Elite Rebounding

2o15/16 Regular Season Offensive Rebounding Rate

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2o15/16 Regular Season Defensive Rebounding Rate

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2o15/16 Regular Season Rebounding Rate

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  • All of these charts are for qualified power forwards.  Robinson and Faried are incredibly fast crashing down and filling unoccupied space on the offensive glass. Similarly, they have incredibly high activity level attacking the defensive glass.  We’re talking about elite level rebounding here, which is more impressive for Faried playing greater minutes.

2.Putbacks

2015/16 Regular Season Putback Playtype

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  • The frequency of Faried and Robinson’s offense coming on putbacks is the main takeaway here, which is roughly 1/5 and 1/4 respectively.  Their main offensive skill outside of lob catching is being a garbage man.
  • Humphries is a totally different player now than he was at his peak.

3.Rim-Running/Finishing

2015/16 Regular Season Transition Playtype

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  • Faried really separates himself from Robinson as a finisher, as first evidenced in transition finishing. Both Faried and Robinsion have the raw speed to beat other bigs down the floor and garner transition gravity from other players as at least competent finishers.

Faried 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

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  • Faried is a non-threat outside of the restricted area, but at least finishes above league average there as a bouncy lob catcher and dunker on slashes.

Robinson 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

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  • This chart illustrates why no one has signed Robinson yet.  Not only is he a total non-threat outside of 3 feet, he’s never been even an above average finisher, and was way below average last season.  You have to be able to add some kind of value on offense.  Robinson’s only avenue to score is via finishing, and he’s always struggled there.

Humphries 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

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  • Humphries showed at least some signs he could space the floor some in college, but he’s really not an effective shooter and isn’t the same finisher that he used to be.

4.Lack of Rim Protection

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  • Faried’s rim protection marks were some of the worst in basketball last year.  Humphries is also notoriously poor there and while Robinson is the longest out of the 3, he is still undersized with a minus reach.

II. College Indicators/Translations

1.Measurements

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  • Robinson and Faried both had “NBA bodies” (Robinson more specifically) upon getting drafted but both were undersized height wise with a below average standing reach.  Each had the vertical athleticism to compensate some, which is reflected in their rebounding prowess.  Humphries is the biggest of the 3 but similarly suffers from a lack of length.
  • I didn’t include Sabonis’ numbers here as they were unofficial but he reportedly has a 6’10” wingspan, giving him basically an even height to wingspan ratio, which is a definitive red flag despite being bigger than the other 3.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted

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  1. Faried: Faried was one of the best college rebounders of all time, with consistently elite metrics.  His defensive and scoring numbers were also solid, but how much of that was just the huge athleticism gap playing against inferior competition at Moorehead State?  You’d like to see Faried’s finishing numbers be a bit higher given the competition but they were still above average to fantastic.  Two blatant red flags stand out: lack of assists and the consistently poor free throw %.  Also, Faried didn’t take threes.
  2. Robinson: Robinson didn’t have quite the same rebounding numbers as Faried, but playing against superior competition at Kansas it doesn’t get much better than what he did on the glass.  Robinson’s defensive stats, especially blocks, were red flag worthy, as was his low 2pt%.  His assist numbers and FT% weren’t outlier bad, but neither was overly encouraging.  Similar to Faried Robinson didn’t take threes.
  3. Humphries: Humphries sported plus rebounding ability at Minnesota but not to an outlier positive level.  His defensive metrics were also poor, and his 2p% was an all-time negative outlier for a big.  Weirdly he did put up positive indicators from the foul line and shooting threes.
  4. Sabonis: Sabonis posted elite rebounding numbers to pair with outlier good finishing via 2pt%.  He didn’t take a lot of threes, but his Sophomore year FT% was his most encouraging stretch indicator outside of 2pt jumper % listed below.  I think he was a better passer at a standstill than the numbers indicate.  His defensive numbers were incredibly poor, and it’s very reasonable to believe that outside of some versatility defending in space Sabonis will be a minus defender.

3.Efficiency

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  1. Faried: Faried showed the ability to get to the line against inferior competition but posted outlier bad A/TO ratios consistently and non-elite TS% to pair with no range.
  2. Robinson: Robinson didn’t do anything especially well here with no negative outliers outside of 3pt attempts.
  3. Humphries: Humphries shooting was a huge red flag, and he also threw in an incredibly poor A/TO ratio.
  4. Sabonis: Sabonis was an ultra efficient scorer and thrived getting to the line, but didn’t take a lot of threes and his decision-making metrics were below average.

4.Usage

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  • Humphries, Robinson and Faried all posted outlier positive usage marks, with Humphries registering one of the highest marks of all time for a big.
  • Being a small school guy Faried at least put in two seasons of elite usage without an efficiency curb-off.
  • Sabonis stepped into his own as a starter in his Sophomore season due to injuries in the frontcourt, amassing a very respectable usage figure.

5.Rebounding

Rebounding Rate (Since Inception)

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  • More evidence to support just how elite these three players were in college on the glass.

6.Hoop-Math: 

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  • Sabonis took a healthy amount of 2pt jumpers his Sophomore year, making 38 unassisted and shooting a consistently great percentage both years (again, hoop-math doesn’t give us a strict definition of “2pt jumper” so these could all be 5 foot jump hooks).  Sabonis was also a fantastic finisher at the rim despite a severe lack of vertical athleticism.
  • Robinson took a high amount of 2pt jumpers, shooting a respectable percentage for a big with about an even distribution between assisted and unassisted makes.

7.Skill Translation

  1. Faried
    • Elite Rebounding
    • Plus Finishing
    • Minus Passing/Creation
    • Minus Shooting/Spacing
    • First Contract Translation: Starter Yrs 1-4
  2. Robinson
    • Elite Rebounding
    • Minus Finishing
    • Minus Passing/Creation
    • Minus Shooting/Spacing
    • Minus Defense
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation Yrs 1-4 (Rookie Option Declined)
  3. Humphries
    • Plus Rebounding
    • Minus Finishing
    • Minus Passing/Creation
    • Minus Shooting/Spacing
    • Minus Defense
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation Yrs 1-4

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Rebounding Translates: Rebounding along with steals are the two traditional statistical categories that translate.  Robinson and Faried were both outlier good rebounders in college, as has been the case in the pros.
  2. Importance of Finishing for Non-Stretch Types: If you’re confined to the restricted area as a garbage man you better be proficient at finishing.  Finishing is why Faried is making 7 figures while Robinson is currently out of a job even though they are the same archetype of player.  Being a one skill rebounder isn’t enough to be anything more than a fringe rotation player.
  3. Rotation Value, Not A Starting Archetype: These energy bigs are ideally 12-15 MPG pace changers off the bench who will bust ass and get the hard hat baskets in a confined amount of time.  There is value to being just a relentless high activity body on the court, but it’s nowhere near starting value.
  4. Sabonis’ Absolute Floor:  Just to reiterate, this is an absolute floor projection for Sabonis who I think is a much more skilled player than these other three players.  There is a chance he will be able to initiate offense at times in the post, which automatically vaults him to another level than this.  I’m just not sure exactly how he’s going to translate as far as degree, especially as a finisher in the post against NBA size, length and athleticism.  Is the shooting real?  Is the perimeter defense sliding in space at least respectable?  The only thing I’m pretty sure is going to translate is the motor and rebounding, as well as the negative defense.  Ergo he ends here.

Next Up: Category 1 Fives: Two-Way Playmakers

*I was going to include offensive only stretch bigs without playmaking, but that is a dying breed in the game today being supplanted by combo-forwards, and I don’t think it holds much value.

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