Category 7: Two-Way Secondary Handlers

Category 7 Wings: Two-Way Secondary Handlers

(Skills: Off Ball Spot Up Shooting and Cutting, On Ball Secondary Creation in Big Spaces, Plus Defense & Versatility to Guard Lead Guards + 2-3 Positions)

  1. Avery Bradley (Freshman) #19
  2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Sophomore) #8
  3. Victor Oladipo (Junior) #2
  4. Kent Bazemore (Senior) Undrafted
  5. Norman Powell (Senior) #46
  6. Gary Harris (Sophomore) #19

I. What Sets Them Apart

Not efficient enough to be high usage on-ball playmakers, this archetype is comprised of secondary handlers who need to operate handling the ball in big spaces and who add value defensively with switching versatility and being capable of defending opposing lead guards.  Not quite to the level of category 3 playmakers both in positional size and creation for others, these players need to be fitted next to more ball dominant primary initiators so they don’t have to pick up significant playmaking slack.  These are in essence category 6 players with ball skills who can actually dribble and run pick and rolls more fluidly, while filling that same defensive role.  They can’t get around defenders consistently due to limited handle, and also don’t go through or over defenders in the post, delineating this archetype from other wings.

Two-way perimeter players have incredible value in today’s game of course, and if you play defense in plus fashion with positional versatility and can space the floor that package alone is worth a great deal.  No one channels that sentiment more than Avery Bradley, who might be the best current embodiment of that two-way skill.  Bradley is the most adept shooter off-ball, making him an ideal fit next to any on-ball scoring wing.  He can defend the point of attack in elite fashion staying attached to guys like Curry with his incredible speed, agility and plus athleticism.  Bradley has improved as a playmaker enough to put the ball on the floor and shoot 1 or 2 dribble pullups and make basic reads, breaking him out of that 3&D role.

KCP has a defined role defending opposing lead guards to take the defensive energy burden off of Reggie Jackson.  His combination of size and athleticism renders him tops in the league at that task.  Offensively, KCP can run a secondary pick and roll and is proficient enough as a 1-2 dribble attacker to provide some playmaking value, which he has improved at over his course in the league.  He’s not the off-ball shooter Bradley is yet, shooting just well enough to be serviceable from 3, and if he adds that element to his game he could quickly ascend here.

Oladipo is one of the most vexing players in the league, as he’s not good enough on-ball to be a primary scorer, and doesn’t shoot well enough off-ball to be an imposing threat there.  His offensive usage has probably been higher than his ideal amount in Orlando, and it will be interesting to see how his role in OKC perhaps unleashes his defensive prowess.  He’s not a truly impact defender yet, but certainly has the size, frame, athleticism and toughness to hound opposing lead guards if he exerts maximum energy there.

Bazemore is the oldest and most established player of the group, showing incredible ball-skill improvement as one of the latest benefactors of Coach Bud’s system.  He’s not a lockdown defender but he has the size and length to guard 3 positions most of the time, and the ball doesn’t die when he gets it offensively beyond the arc.

Powell and Harris round out the group as less-established entities. Powell is incredibly strong, tough and has the frame enabling him to guard most 3s.  His handling ability was underrated last year, as he possesses decent burst in PNR, but the sample is still small.  Harris’ defense looks legit, especially off-ball, but he plays next to a very capable point of attack/on-ball defender in Mudiay and I want to see more of Harris in that role, which might be sparing.  He has a legit skill and shooting floor offensively.

Overall, these players fill the archetypal role of secondary handler on offense who are “big space” players in needing room to operate, usually with a screen when the defense is already bent.  They are capable enough off-ball shooters to be passable there, while not be adept creating for others in a primary role. They round out two-way contributions by providing above average defense with switching versatility and point of attack defensive ability.

A.On-Ball Creation-Capable

2015/16 Regular Season Usage and Efficiency (ESPN Qualified “Shooting Guards”)

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  • Oladipo is easily the most on-ball oriented player here, garnering the most usage.  The questions revolve around efficiency and optimal level of usage that still permits him to have maximum defensive energy.
  • The main takeaway here is all of these players outside of Dipo are outside the top 20 for shooting guards in usage, indicating secondary handling roles, and have a below average corresponding PER.  PER obviously isn’t the end all be all one number stat, and clearly doesn’t account for defense, but it sheds light on lower ceiling creation potential here.

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype

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  • Dipo has the most juice with the ball as a handler with plus burst if he has enough spacing, and posted a very respectable PPP for a secondary handler here (he was essentially a psuedo-primary handler last year).
  • The overall frequency and possession numbers are much lower here than category 2 or 3 players, delineating primary and secondary handling roles.  No on really has the handle and fluidity to get around their defensive counterparts without a screen consistently.

2015/16 Regular Season PNR BH Playtype

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  • This is the playtype that really separates this category from 3&D players in category 6.  Everyone here is at least capable of attacking in a secondary pick and roll setting when the defense has already been bent.
  • KCP’s frequency and efficiency  last season were surprising to me as his on-ball role last year was more expansive than I thought via the eye test.  I always considered him a 1-2 dribble pullup guy like a JR Smith, but his role has exceeded that.  He’s probably already operating at maximum usage  where you’d want to scale back his handling instead of enhancing it.

2015/16 Regular Season Drives Per Game

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  • Oladipo and Bazemore have solid secondary handler drive totals, with Harris and KCP right on the precipice.
  • This stat mostly illustrates just how much Bradley is a 1-2 dribble pullup guy who thrives mostly on perimeter shooting and cutting, not straight attacks getting to the rim.

2015/16 Regular Season Pull Up Jumpers

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  • Dipo’s shooting efficiency off the bounce on high usage is impressive, as he was more of a pseudo-primary handler in Orlando and thus attempted more shots in this capacity as a result.
  • I expected Bradley’s efficiency to be a bit higher in this respect as he looks the part of the best shooter off of 1 or 2 dribbles of the lot.
  • Bazemore’s lack of shooting ability off the nounce might render him more of a straight 3&D guy for some people, but his playmaking via handling and passing far exceeds that of a Danny Green type.
  • Harris’s proficiency in this manner is something I definitely want to monitor this upcoming season.

B.Off-Ball Shooting Threat

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Playtype

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  • Bradley is the best off-ball shooter of the group, rendering him the ideal two-way player to fit next to a category 1, 2 or 3 player.
  • Everyone here is above average shooting in spot-up situations outside of KCP, and above average shooting coupled with plus defense almost always trumps superior one way shooters (outside of extreme cases like Redick and Korver).

2015/16 Regular Season Off Screen Playtype

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  • Bradley rounds out his superior off-ball profile with high usage shooting off screens.  He doesn’t shoot a staggering percentage, but he possesses gravitational impact on defenses off-ball, enhancing his value because defenses have to track him.
  • Bazemore’s proficiency, albeit limited finishing possession usage here, is definitely worthwhile to point out, and is an important component in Atlanta’s motion scheme.
  • Harris and Oladipo also have respectable usage and efficiency in this manner.  There is upside for both to improve here playing with ball dominant lead guards.

C.Perimeter/Point of Attack Defense

2015/16 Regular Season DBPM

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2015/16 Regular Season DRPM

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  • My non-metric test for how well players guard opposing lead guards is who can stick with Steph Curry through the myriad of screens and point of attack pick and rolls the best.  Last year those two players were clearly Bradley and KCP, both of whom possesses outlier speed and tracking athleticism to guard Curry types (no one of course is locking Curry down).  The metrics don’t like Bradley’s D as much, but the eye test speaks for itself.
  • All of these players as explained above have the fluid athleticism to defend lead guards and the ability to switch most of the time 1-3 being driving defensive value boosters.
  • Harris’ defense looks far better on film than the numbers suggest, as he’s especially adept off ball as a team defender, but my grasp on his defensive game at this point is less solid than the other players.

II. College Indicators/Translations

1.Measurements

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  • All of these players fall outside the ideal 6’6″+ height for wings, putting more of a ceiling on defensive versatility than category 4 types like Crowder.  As the league continues to downsize however, these traditional two-position 1/2 defenders become more 3 position defenders who can guard all non-elite scoring taller wings.  Even Bradley, the smallest of the group, can defend a majority of traditional “3s” now with his aggressiveness and toughness.
  • Oladipo and Powell don’t have outlier long wingspans, but relative to their height the ratio is excellent. Their physique entering the league from a frame standpoint is also notable, and ditto for the no-step vert athleticism.  Only Harris really has a concerning combination of height and length, lacking the positional size qualifications for a wing.
  • The agility scores for Oladipo, KCP and Powell are also outstanding.  Bradley plays much quicker and faster than his testing suggests with heightened aggression, which is why athletic testing numbers should always be taken in context.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted

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  1. Bradley: Nothing in Bradley’s general stats profile jumps out.  He had respectable defensive numbers but non-elite figures.  His scoring, shooting %s on 2pt shots and FTs were outlier bad.  He wasn’t even a playmaker for others to the extent of most “combo-guards”.  His appeal was age, eye-test on-ball dogged defense at the point of attack coupled with plus floor-spacing.
  2. KCP: KCP produced outlier volume as a shooter and scorer, showing some creation upside in a featured role he was probably underqualified for at Georgia.  His 3pt attempts are some of the highest in DX’s database, and he threw in one outlier positive scoring season.  His steal numbers were outlier positive, and his above average rebounding showcased his athleticism relative to the position.  Overall though, his numbers were more volume positive than efficiency-based, and there were a myriad of negative shooting indicators.
  3. Oladipo: Oladipo’s third year efficiency was outlier elite all-time for any position in the last 2 decades.  His 2p% and 3pt% were staggering, as was his subelite rebounding.  His steal marks over 3 years were elite, and his junior year figure was hyper elite.  Outside of his 3rd year however, his profile was littered with negative indicators and contradicting figures.  Still, given his rawness, toughness and elite production his third year, the allure was obvious.
  4. Bazemore: Bazemore went undrafted falling victim to shooting ugliness which overshadowed his consistently elite passing and defensive acumen.  Bazemore’s profile featured 3 outlier poor FT% seasons, damning to his inconsistent range shooting.  But given his physical profile, length especially, and skill level he was worth a dice roll in the second round.  This is exactly the kind of profile I want to gamble on in round 2: plus passing and defensive numbers combined with some positives shooting.
  5. Powell: Powell’s 2pt%, indicating finishing acumen, were consistently elite, and his FT% improved enough to suggest he could shoot in the realm of league average.  He never showed proclivity from range, but ended up shooting 44% as a rookie from deep.  There were indicators to suggest Powell could shoot at least respectably, but he again fell victim to 3pt% on legit volume.  Powell got drafted because of his defensive toughness and frame, as he also had elite steal marks.  But there were more ball-skills here than a straight non-handler.
  6. Harris: Harris had probably the cleanest profile here across the board with plus shooting indicators.  Again we see plus passing indicators to pair with steals.

3.Efficiency

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  1. Bradley: AB’s efficiency profile sported one outlier indicator in A/TO, which is promising for an off-ball player.  Otherwise, his shooting and foul-drawing proficiency were negatives.
  2. KCP: KCP shot over 50% of his shots from 3 in his college career, which for the primary scorer on his college team is pretty unreal with that kind of usage.  He did enough efficiency wise his 2nd year on heavy usage to quiet some creation and shooting doubts.
  3. Oladipo: Outside of Oladipo’s Freshman year A/TO mark, his profile was elite for a wing in basically every way efficiency wise.
  4. Bazemore: Bazemore’s shooting efficiency again overshadowed consistently plus pass first instincts and decision-making.
  5. Powell: Powell had two outlier elite A/TO seasons and showcased a higher overall ball-skill floor than given credit for coming out.
  6. Harris: Harris’ shooting efficiency really stood out on a high % of 3pt attempts relative to all shots, but he quietly threw in some positive decision-making indicators.

4.Usage

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  • Bazemore, KCP and Powell all had elite usage seasons in their respective final college season while maintaining decent efficiency for that level of handling.  The eye test was obviously crucial in discerning likely secondary handling ability at the next level outside of the numbers.  All of these players harbored at least respectable usage at some point in college.

5.Hoop-Math Unassisted Offense

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  • As most of these players here are younger, we get more hoop-math creation indicators than what has typically been available for other archetype groups.
  • Oladipo and Powell both flashed the ability to get to the rim in elite fashion (putbacks are included here so proceed with some caution).  Oladipo’s finishing his Junior year was pretty incredible given the usage.
  • Bazemore made a lot of unassisted 2pt jumpers his SR year (again we can’t really contextualize shot location), and while his % wasn’t great it at least shed some light on shot creation acumen.  Powell also threw in a high unassisted made 2pt jumper mark relative to the group.
  • In terms of 2pt J%, Harris, KCP, Powell and Oladipo all had plus efficiency seasons.
  • Bazemore and KCP rounded out the self creation stats by making a high amount of unassisted threes, which was one of KCP’s best inputs coming into the league.

6.Sports Reference Stats

Steal% All Time (Since Inception)

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  • As the saying goes, steals translate to defensive success in the league, and all these players had consistently plus steal marks in college.  Bazemore had two outlier all-time numbers, while Oladopo threw in one elite season.

OBPM All Time (Since Inception)

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  • Most of these stats will bear out just how insane Oladipo’s Junior year was.  KCP enters the frame here with his insanely high usage second year with corresponding offensive production.

DBPM All Time (Since Inception)

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  • In a category dominated by bigs, Oladipo buttressed his two-way appeal by rating out in elite fashion in terms of defensive impact his Junior year.

BPM All Time (Since Inception)

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  • Just to contextualize the entire two-way impact of Oladipo’s Junior year..

7.Skill Translations

  1. Bradley
    • Range Shooting Efficiency
    • Secondary Scorer Profile
    • Above Average Defensive Output
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation/Starter 
  2. KCP
    • Range Shooting Volume
    • Secondary Creation Ability
    • Sub-Elite Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Mostly Starter 
  3. Oladipo
    • Range Shooting Potential
    • High Floor Secondary Creation Ability
    • On-Ball Efficiency Potential
    • Elite Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Mostly Starter 
  4. Bazemore
    • Elite Defensive Profile
    • Ball-Skill Floor: Passing and Decision-Making
    • Range Potential
    • First Contract Translation: Fringe
  5. Powell 
    • Range Potential
    • Underrated Ball-Skills
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation
  6. Harris
    • Range Shooting
    • Above Average Defensive Profile
    • First Contract Translation: Rotation/Starter

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Two-Way Profiles/Steals Translate: All of these players posted either elite or sub-elite steal marks in college, and the upperclassmen did so consistently.  Steals are the holy grail of defensive translations to the pros, and it’s no surprise these players are plus defenders in the pros given their profiles.
  2. Passing/Decision-Making Indicators Underrated for Upperclassmen Especially: Again we see Senior like Powell and Bazemore go in the 2nd round and undrafted respectively despite having elite passing and decision-making indicators in their profiles.  Both players didn’t project as consistent shooters but had volume range potential.  If you’re throwing darts in the second round, wings who can pass and defend and show at least range ability to me are the primary archetype I’m interested in, because if they even shoot around league average they carry more value and actually have a high impact floor outside of just shooting efficiency.
  3. Off-Ball Optimization: If you need the ball, you better be damn good with it.  If you can’t dribble the ball, you better be a damn good defender and/or shoot the hell out of it.  In the case of these players, if you’re not a primary handler, off-ball shooting becomes the optimizing offensve skill with corresponding plus defense, which is why a player like Bradley is currently the better player than Oladipo, the latter who isn’t the same caliber of shooter.

Up Next: Category 8 Offensive Secondary Handlers

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

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