Category 3: Two-Way Swiss Army Knife Playmakers

Category 3 Wings: Two-Way Swiss Army Knife Playmakers

(Skills: Secondary Scoring Profile, On/Off Ball Capable, Playmaking Via Handling & Passing, Defense)

  1. Nicolas Batum (International) #25
  2. Khris Middleton (Junior) #39
  3. Andre Iguodala (Sophomore) #9
  4. *Justise Winslow (Freshman) #10

Update: Relocated Hayward into Category 2.

I. What Sets Them Apart

The distinctions between categories 2, 3 and 4 are admittedly murky.  The league has grown far more versatile and positionless, rendering categorizing the most versatile position far more difficult with so many cross-over skill-sets.  This therefore requires some subjectivity in assessment.

The foundational pillar for this archetype is across the board versatility contributing on both sides of the ball with offensive playmaking for others paramount.  Hayward is the best scorer, and is right on the category 2 line.  While he can create offense consistently, he’s not especially great at any one thing on that side outside of drawing fouls, nor is he a defensive stopper.  He cedes crunch time ball-handling/creation usage to Rodney Hood, and projects best in the 20-24 usage % role optimally, rather than carrying a 25+% load.  He’s still probably overqualified for this category as it’s best overall player/creator, but he’s more in line with this group than the category 2 players (he could easily make that leap this year).

Batum and Middleton are both optimally used as low 2nd/high 3rd options, and both are 3rd options on a championship caliber team. Neither are lockdown defensive stoppers but both have the positional size and length to provide versatility there.  Middleton is far more skilled overall than given credit for, as his overall self creation and creation for others exceeds that of a 3&D player (he’s also the only player here adept in the post).  Batum personifies the playmaking designation in his role for both himself and for others despite rarely driving/drawing fouls.

Iguodala might seem like an odd fit here considering his lack of scoring prowess and superior defense, but you have to consider role.  Iggy has been vastly overqualified as the 4th best player on the Warriors’machine, and now he’s the 5th option.  He was underqualified to be the #1 option in Philadelphia because he has never been a go-to scorer.  His entire career has basically been extremes on both ends of the spectrum, when in reality his ace two-way playmaking for others and defense combination was always best utilized as a #3 option on a title team.  At his peak and given his optimal role he belongs in this category, and is more than just a defensive stopper.

Lastly, Winslow is a ceiling outcome projection.  It’s virtually impossible to take anything away from Winslow’s offensive creation game his rookie year playing next to two ball dominant high usage guards in Wade and Dragic.  He simply did not have the usage to display his skill-level.  The one takeaway on that side was he can’t shoot yet, but I’m betting he gets to at least league average.  Harden comparisons by some coming out of college were misplaced, but I’m confident in Winslow’s overall creation game on a secondary level, and his defense was elite for a rookie wing.

Overall, the name of the game here is swiss army knife versatility on both sides, without elite proficiency in either sans Iggy’s defense (and probably Winslow’s).

A.Usage & Efficiency

2015/16 Regular Season Usage & Efficiency

GH14.png

  • Hayward and Middleton are both tops in the league for qualified ESPN “Small Forwards” in usage, which is not surprising given the eye test for Hayward but probably a little surprising from Middleton.  The corresponding efficiency levels are plus caliber but not elite.
  • Batum’s usage is again near optimal level, with above average efficiency.  Both Iguodala and Winslow in their 2015/16 states (and Iguodala really on the Warriors overall) suffered from a lack of enough balls to go around.

B.Creation For Others

2015/16 Regular Season ASS/USG Ratio

GH10.png

  • This chart was sorted (outside of Iggy) based on usage level at 20 or above, which is a plus but not an elite amount.  Hayward has the highest usage with a very respectable ASS/USG ratio, while Middleton has slightly lesser usage with a sub-elite ratio.  Middleton is not especially deft passing on the move (though he’s getting there), but has plus vision from a stand-still and moves the ball unselfishly.  Batum and Iguodala are two of the best wing passers in the league as evidenced by their outlier high ratios, but Batum in his role doesn’t carry primary creator status (obviously Iggy doesn’t either).
  • *I didn’t include a separate foul-drawing chart in self creation but notice Hayward’s elite 39.7 FTr, which is largely how he separates himself from this grouping as a scorer.

C.Self-Creation; Shooting/Finishing

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype

GH6.png

  • Middleton is an efficient shot creator for himself off the dribble now, using long strides and an above average handle to navigate around the court with decent COD to finish over smaller players.  Hayward’s herky-jerky Manu-Lite handle and body control on running push shots especially can create space and foul line attempts
  • Batum doesn’t have much shake in 1 on 1 scenarios, and most of his creation comes via the advantage given in the pick and roll, but he can still shoot over smaller defenders/handle.

2015/16 Regular Season PNR BH Playtype

GH7.png

  • All three of these players can easily run a primary or secondary pick and roll, and are adept both finishing and passing in those situations (the latter not conveyed here).  Hayward again makes his money getting to the foul line.

2015/16 Regular Season Pull Up Jumpers (>6’7″ Inclusive: Filtered by Attempts)

GH15.png

  • Middleton’s off the dribble game is aided by his height advantage over conventional “SGs” and his high, quick release without dipping the ball.  Hayward and Batum are both more adept shooting off the dribble in off balance situations.  All three can also shoot threes off the dribble, which adds a schematic element defenses must adjust to especially as the handler in pick and rolls.

2015/16 Regular Season Drives Per Game (>6’7″ Non Inclusive Filtered by Attempts)

GH16.png

  • Hayward is one of the highest usage wing dribble drivers in the league, where he uses his change of direction and size to get off unbalanced shots and draw fouls.
  • This is one of the primary reasons why Batum has never been a primary scorer: he doesn’t break defenses down off the dribble and get to either the rim or the line.

Hayward 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

GH.png

  • Hayward is a three level capable scorer who thrives getting to the rim and to the foul line.  He wasn’t a plus finisher at the rim last year, but the frequency and foul drawing compensated.

Batum 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

NB.png

  • Batum was a plus shooter on long twos with respectable 3pt shooting, but was really a two-level scorer as he didn’t get to the rim often (though he was a plus finisher).

Middleton 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

KM.png

  • Middleton has evolved into an efficient 3 level scorer who can beat you in a myriad of ways.

Iguodala 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

AI.png

  • Iguodala is mostly a corner 3pt shooter and opportunistic finisher off cuts/working off ball given his place in the pecking order on offense.

Winslow 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

JW.png

  • Winslow attempted a healthy amount of shots at the rim (mostly on off ball cuts and in transition) but didn’t finish especially well.  His overall shooting was clearly a minus.

D.Off-Ball Threat

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Playtype

GH8.png

  • A huge component of wing versatility is being a threat both on and off ball.  If you need the ball you better be damn good with it, otherwise it makes for a tumultuous roster fit.
  • Outside of Winslow, every one of these players is at least a threat from a standstill extending out beyond the 3pt line, and they must be respected (Iggy would be more if the tradeoff wasn’t two of the best shooters of all time getting a respctable look).  Winslow’s shooting has a long way to go, but I’m banking on him with that MKG like work ethic to get there (there are only a handful of guys I personally grant a shooter exception to, and these are the two figureheads).
  • An undervalued aspect of off-ball play is ball-skills/the ability to eat up space off the bounce.  Players that don’t always command the gravity of the defense like Iggy have the handling and passing ability to attack defenses playing off and hurt those schemes in that space given.  Winslow started doing that in the playoffs last year for example.

2015/16 Regular Season Off Screen Playtype

GH9.png

  • It’s a plus when players can shoot running off screens effectively, which adds a schematic and gravitational element to on court presence (it’s a necessity for one skill shooters).  Batum was hyper elite last year working off ball, rendering him a plus fit next to Kemba’s more on-ball dominant game.  Middleton and Hayward are both workable in this role, again paramount to fit next to on ball types like Giannis and Hood (Hood can similarly play both on and off ball).  Iguodala doesn’t get a lot of attempts here but is at least a low usage threat there in Golden State’s motion scheme.

E.Defense

2015/16 Regular Season DBPM

GH11.png

2015/16 Regular Season DRPM

Gh12.png

  • It’s rare to see a rookie wing so high in advanced defensive metrics, but Winslow’s stats align with the eye test.  His off ball D making rotations and rarely ever blowing assignments was truly rare for his age.  His frame and plus lateral quicks on ball allowed him to guard multiple positions in plus fashion and basically switch 1-5.
  • Iguodala’s advanced stats don’t do his savvy denial defense and unbelievable technique guarding bigger wings like Durant and LeBron justice. He’s an all-time defender, and is the second best defensive wing in the league in my opinion behind Kawhi.
  • Middleton, Hayward and Batum all didn’t have plus metrics defensively last season, but the former two have rated out far better in past seasons.  Batum is probably the worst defender here, but all have the positional size and athleticism floor to switch multiple positions and be above average defenders.

II. College Indicators/Translations

1.Measurements:

GH1.png

  • All 5 players are in that optimal wing 6’6″-6’8″ range and thus have the positional size to offer versatility on both sides.
  • Hayward’s lack of length with a minus height/wingspan ratio is notable, but the other 4 have above average to plus length for the position.  Hayward’s size allows him to compensate.
  • Winslow had a pro body entering the league, second to only Stanley Johnson in that draft for wings, which helped him to play heavy minutes early.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted

GH18.png

  • Hayward: Hayward didn’t profile as a top-shelf scorer, but there were positive indicators efficiency wise over two years in 2p%, 3p% and consistently FT%.  His steady foul line shooting was his most promising shooting indicator, as his percentages in 2p% and 3p% fluctuated (the latter is still a problem in the pros).  Hayward’s complimentary profile sported one elite steals and rebounding season with solid assists marks and without any negate outliers.
  • Batum: Batum’s profile was littered with negative outliers as a scorer, rebounder and shooter, but he compensated with a plus defensive profile in steals/blocks and two outlier assist numbers. (Again, I don’t have a system for translating stats from other leagues)
  • Middleton: Middleton’s injury and junior season drop in 3pt% put an unfair damper on an otherwise enticing profile that included two quietly plus assist marks (one outlier positive).  He was never an elite shooter but he scored above average for a wing his final two years with only that Junior year 3pt% as a negative outlier.  His defensive numbers were also solid.
  • Iguodala: Iguodala’s profile translated pretty cleanly to the pros.  He posted outlier positive assist numbers and one outlier steal number, shedding light on his defensive + playmaking for others chops. He also had sub-elite rebounding marks, showcasing his athleticism.  He never projected to be a primary scorer with outlier poor point totals and was a mixed bag efficiency wise.
  • Winslow: Winslow had a solid profile across the board with two conflicting outliers on his shooting.  I far one ascribed too much emphasis to his 3pt% at the expense of hs poor foul shooting when projecting him as an above average shooter.  He did exhibit solid feel for the game eye test wise with an above average defensive profile, both supported by the numbers.

3.Efficiency

GH3.png

  • Hayward: Hayward’s shooting was elite both years, while he also sported one elite season getting to the line and another in which he took an outlier number of threes.  His A/TO marks were both below and above average,.
  • Batum: A mixed bag as a shooter and foul drawer with negative outliers sprinkled in, Batum’s pass first and decision-making metrics in 2007/08 really separated him as a creator for others.
  • Middleton: Middleton’s junior season was again damning from a shooting, foul drawing and drop-off in threes shots from his Freshman year.  Delving below the surface level in his final year, Middleton was quietly a better passer and decision-maker than given credit for.
  • Iguodala: Iggy looked to have an elite combination of athleticism + pass first + plus decision-maker profile, with outlier elite marks in the latter two over his career.  His shooting minuses his Freshman year were concerning, but he did enough across the board efficiency wise in his Sophomore year to project quasi-secondary creator status.
  • Winslow: Winslow’s efficiency profile was clean with a spread floor at Duke playing the 4.

4.Usage

GH4.png

  • Middleton and Hayward (2x) both had near outlier positive usage rates in their college careers, but the usage wasn’t to the level of elite primary scorers found in category 2.  Iguodala, Winslow and Batum from a usage perspective projected more as secondary offensive players.

5.Hoop-Math

GH5.png

  • Another negative on Winslow’s shooting profile (again we don’t know what constitutes a 2pt jumper here distance wise) that was beneath the surface.

6.Skill Translations:

  • Hayward:
    • Scoring/Shooting Efficiency With Plus But Non-Elite Usage
    • Foul Drawing
    • Inconsistent Range
    • Above Average Playmaking for Others
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation, Starter Yr 4 
  • Batum:
    • Secondary Scorer Profile
    • Pass First Wing and Plus Decison-Maker
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • Range Capable
    • First Contract Translation: Mostly Starter
  • Middleton:
    • Secondary Scorer Profile
    • Above Average Playmaking for Others
    • Range Capable
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Mostly Starter
  • Iguodala:
    • Secondary Scorer Profile
    • Pass First Wing and Elite Decison-Maker
    • Range Capable
    • Elite Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Starter (AS Yr 8)
  • Winslow: (Too Early)
    • Plus Defense

III. Overall Takeaways

  1. Conducive To Modern NBA Winning Archetype: The goal in the modern game is to flood the floor with as many position versatile/switch capable two-way playmakers as possible.  While these players largely aren’t all-stars (both Hayward and Middleton are on the precipice), their fit in the modern game is hand in glove.
  2. Winslow Ceiling: Winslow’s range of outcomes are wide, with the floor being a versatile defensive player and the ceiling here (I’d be hardpressed to think he can eclipse this status as a scorer).  We don’t really know yet given his rookie year usage and role.  I’m bullish on his upside and tend to favor defensive players who have a plus feel for the game, but the shooting is an obvious concern

Next Up: Category 4 Wings: 3&D + Post Up Creation

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