Category 8: Offensive/Scoring Secondary Handlers

Category 8 Wings: Offensive/Scoring Secondary Handlers

(Skills: High Usage On-Ball Handling/Self Shot Creation, Iso/PNR Secondary Creation, Off The Dribble Shooting, Off Ball 3pt Shooting)

  1. C.J. McCollum (Senior) #10
  2. Rodney Hood (Sophomore) #23
  3. DeMar DeRozan(Freshman) #9
  4. Bradley Beal (Freshman) #3
  5. Brandon Knight (Freshman) #8
  6. Eric Gordon (Freshman) #7
  7. Evan Fournier (International) #20
  8. Zach LaVine (Freshman) #13
  9. Tyreke Evans (Freshman) #4
  10. Jordan Clarkson (Junior) #46
  11. Devin Booker (Freshman) #13
  12. Andrew Wiggins (Freshman) #1

Update: Moved Wiggins into this archetype grouping at his floor but also likely outcome at this stage. This is Booker’s floor as well.

Others Players in this Category: Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis (Amongst Others)

Rookies Also Included: Denzel Valentine (Senior) #14, Jamal Murray (Freshman) #7

I. What Sets Them Apart

In my opinion it’s best to think of the offense v. defense tradeoff in the league as a seesaw: the worse you are at defense, the better you have to be at offense to compensate and vice versa.  Everyone wants two-way players who are elite offensive players, but those generational types are few and far between.  The NBA game is a game of tradeoffs, and historically for perimeter players the league has shown a greater tendency to roll the dice on offensive oriented players at the expense of defense.

This is an enormous category of players that encompasses many more than those listed above, somewhat akin to “dribble drivers” in the lead guard section.  The general archetypal idea is this: ideally these players are good enough offensively as scorers and secondary creators to offset largely minus defense.  The players here accomplish that scoring threshold in various ways, but the underlying commonalities is it comes in a secondary handling role as this archetype doesn’t initiate offense and playmake well enough for others to be a primary creator.  Instead, they may serve as a primary scorer for their respective teams, but in a secondary handler role that does not assume the mainstay handling and playmaking role.

C.J. McCollum broke onto the scene last year as the prototype here.  He has incredible shake with the ball allowing him to create space for himself off the bounce despite not being a plus athlete.  He really separates himself from the pack with his off the dribble shooting prowess.  Overall, he can handle the ball in plus fashion, create for himself in isolation and in PNR, is a capable secondary playmaker for others but doesn’t have lead guard vision, and also provides off-ball shooting ability, enabling him to play-off ball as a legitimate threat, an absolutely crucial component.

Hood also stormed onto the scene last year with his scoring chops in pick and roll.  His combination of size and ball-skills, thus potentially making him not a total liability defensively in time, is an outlier combination for this group, and I can easily see Hood being the best player here at some point.  He is similar to CJ an off ball threat who shoots threes.

Beal and (pre-injury) Gordon are pretty similar players in being strong-framed undersized handlers who can shoot the hell out of the ball either off the dribble or off the catch, adding enough playmaking for others and frame value defensively to be impact guys.  Unfortunately, both have been derailed by injuries.  Pre-injury Gordon was an awesome PNR handler with his dual shooting and bowling-ball frame attacking towards the rim.

Knight and LaVine are both plus athletes, the former speed/burst wise and the latter in virtually every phase, who have taken stints at lead guard but don’t have the playmaking chops for others. Each are better served in a secondary handler role where they can focus on scoring.

Fournier has made outstanding playmaking and shooting strides in the league, becoming a plus shooter capable of shooting running off screens. On ball he is a slithery slasher who excels drawing fouls.

Clarkson took a different route than most of these players as a more unheralded second round pick. A plus pick and roll scorer armed with NBA burst, Clarkson doesn’t have the vision of a lead guard, but excels attacking and getting to the basket, and has made promising strides to his off ball shooting.

Lastly, preseason superstar Devin Booker rounds out the group (or most of the group as you’ll see below), with an underrated handle, deadly shooting potential and incredible fluidity attacking as a slasher.  This is Booker’s floor outcome, and he is well on his way to becoming the best player on it, and if he develops enough as a playmaker for others, could shift over to the lead guard position.

DeRozan/Evans Point

You probably noticed the glossing over of Evans and DeRozan above, or are wondering why DeRozan wasn’t on the primary scorers category 2 list.  There is an important distinction these two provide that warrants mentioning now.  Both players aren’t off ball shooting threats, and they aren’t good enough with the ball to be primary initiators or lead guards on a championship-level offense.

DeRozan can really score on high usage, relying on drawing fouls and midrange jumpers.  He can get his shot consistently, which certainly has value, but he isn’t an ultra efficient scorer mostly because he doesn’t shoot 3s.  He’s also not a creator for others in lead guard fashion.  That renders it necessary to place him with a on-ball playmaker like Lowry, which of course means he spends time off ball, and he’s not a respected threat as a shooter there.  DeRozan has a bad rap because he’s the anti-analytics poster boy in the analytics age, but it’s hard to dismiss that stance entirely.  He still has value, but he needs the ball to be effective, which is damning because he isn’t good enough with it to be the best player on a title team.

As for Evans, he similarly isn’t an off-ball shooting threat, and isn’t efficient enough as a scorer to be a primary handler and isn’t quite good enough of a distributor to be a primary initiator or lead guard.  He can get to the rim, but doesn’t finish well.  Ideally he’s a 6th man type who can handle the ball and score spear-heading second units.

The overall point that has been repeated throughout this process is that if you need the ball and are a one way offensive player, you better be damn good with it.  DeRozan is very good with the ball, but he’s not quite elite as a scorer and doesn’t create for others, rendering the team with him as a starter capped ceiling wise as a contender.  If both he and Evans were plus defenders who could really guard elite scoring wings or lead guards at the point of attack, it would render their skill-sets more agreeable to roster building. Alas, that is not the case.

Overall, these players ideally can shoot 3s off-ball, shoot well off the dribble, and offer enough playmaking in a secondary handling role to get around defenders to score, while offering some facilitation for others.  They are better pure scorers than category 7 players and have sizable more on-ball handling fluidity than 3&D types.   They don’t have lead guard vision or creation for others ability, and are also 1 or 2 position minus defenders.  The hope again is that they can score, shoot, and playmake well enough to raise the seesaw to compensate for the lackluster defense.  If they can this archetype can serve as starters.  If not, they are probably 6th man scorers.

A.High Usage/Sub-Elite to Elite Offense

2015/16 Regular Season Usage Rate (ESPN “Shooting Guards” Sorted by Usage) 

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  • The numbers speak for themselves here, but basically all of these players have average to elite usage rates for wings.  Each also has a corresponding above average TS% for the position (FTs of course boosting DeRozan specifically).

2015/16 Regular Season ORPM (ESPN “Shooting Guards”)

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  • 9 of the 11 players here (outside of Booker in his rookie year and Clarkson in a draconian environment/offensive scheme with no spacing) were + ORPM players.
  • DeRozan, McCollum and Hood wee all +2 offensive wings, each relying on skills outlined in the introduction to score efficiently and create reasonably well.
  • Also notice the negative and sometimes sizably negative (DeRozan, Fournier, Beal) defensive metrics.

2015/16 Regular Season OBPM (Wings > 500 Minutes)CJ14.png

  • Another all inclusive positional metric illuminating the plus offensive impact these players with the cut-off at 1 (Clarkson and Booker again miss out).
  • DeRozan, McCollum, Hood, Evans and Fournier do enough on offense to compensate for their negative defense in this metric, while Beal, Gordon, LaVine and Knight fall short.

B.On-Ball Self Creation: Iso/PNR/Drives/Shooting Off the Dribble/Foul-Drawing

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype

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  • Notice how much aqua and yellow there are in the frequency and possession boxes here compared to the 3&D players.
  • The outliers here are Hood’s efficiency in being able to create offense around or shooting over smaller players in isolation despite not drawing fouls, DeRozan’s ridiculous possession total with above average efficiency (relying on foul drawing),and Beal and Fournier’s shooting efficiency.
  • Clarkson, Gordon and Evans were the only below average isolation scorers of the group last year, largely because of shooting.

2015/16 Regular Season PNR BH Playtype

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  • Again we see high volume possession totals finishing in PNR, with 9 of the 11 sporting above average efficiency.
  • McCollum’s off the dribble shooting ability affords him a considerable advantage here despite not drawing fouls or getting all the way to the rim.  He has one of the highest finishing possession totals in the league, and tops amongst secondary-handlers.
  • DeRozan is even more efficient with his foul drawing and ability to get to the rim.
  • Clarkson is much better using a screen with his raw burst to turn the corner in straight lines than he is trying to create 1 on 1.
  • Hood and Booker also are proficient drawing fouls here.

2015/16 Regular Season DHO Playtype

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  • This is the firt time I’ve included dribble hand-off stats, as outside of lead guards it is most applicable to secondary handlers.  Clarkson again rates out very well here, as does LaVine, both of whom have a plus first step + burst combination.
  • Schematically DHOs allow the offensive player to get a head of steam to scorch into the lane instead of having to accelerate and change speeds in PNR. They can also be used effectively to create space for threes, where Clarkson, LaVine, Hood and Beal especially thrived.

2015/16 Regular Season Drives Per Game (Inclusive Wings)

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  • As customary for wings, drives show handling prowess and aggression attacking the rim off the dribble.  DeRozan and Evans are high usage dribble drivers, relying on getting to the basket to compensate for range shooting.
  • McCollum has a very high drive mark for a secondary handler, with Knight, Clarkson, and Fournier behind at a distance.
  • Clarkson drives to score more than anyone on this list, which aligns with the eye test and his tunnel vision.

2015/16 Regular Season Restricted Area Finishing (Inclusive Wings)

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  • DeRozan makes his money getting to the line most of all, but also converting in plus fashion at high usage attacking the rim.  Tyreke gets to the hoop as much as almost anyone, but is a minus finisher.
  • Both Knight and Clarkson have the speed + burst to get into the lane consistently, but Knight is the better finisher.
  • Notice McCollum isn’t on this list, as he’s the rare offensive player who can sport elite efficiency despite not getting to the line or the rim in plus fashion.

2015/16 Regular Season Pullup Jumpers (Inclusive Wings)

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  • This is the lifeblood behind the secondary handler: the ability to shoot off the dribble in creation situations.  Hood and Clarkson show promising signs here, and Hood continues to just shoot over smaller players effectively off he dribble.
  •  DeRozan doesn’t shoot threes nearly as much so he suffers in terms of eFG%.
  • Knight takes a ton of off the dribble shots, but isn’t elite there.

2015/16 Regular Season Pullup Jumpers (Inclusive ALL Players > 5 FGA)

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  • Just to illustrate how elite CJ was shooting off the dribble last year, he was third in the league behind only Durant and Curry in eFG% for those who had 5 + attempts.

2015/16 Regular Season FTr (Inclusive Wings)

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  • DeRozan had the second highest FTr/Usage combination in the league last year behind only Harden.

C.Off-Ball Shooting Threat: Spot Up/Off Screen

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Playtype

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  • Unsurprisingly, 9 of the 11 players here are in the top quartile in off-ball shooting efficiency.  Similarly unsurprisingly, DeRozan is not in that group.
  • Very surprisingly, Booker is the only below average spot up shooter, largely due to his shooting struggles post all-star break.  Also surprising, Tyreke’s proficiency here last year, which I’m chalking up to a low possession total outlier (also he drew FTs an unsustainable amount). Plus, no one defends him out there anyway, so there is no gravitational added value.
  • LaVine was the best spot up shooter % wise last year, which I’m not sure most would expect.

2015/16 Regular Season Off Screen Playtype

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  • Fournier really separates himself here with plus efficiency running off screens for threes on high usage.
  • 9 of the 11 players carry some gravitational pull and the eye of defenses running off screens, aiding those respective teams schematically.

D.Creation for Others In Secondary Role

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  • None of these players are lead guards vision wise from the eye test, but the overall assist/usage mark sheds more light on distribution ability.
  • Tyreke was incredibly pass-first last year and was sub-elite in this metric, but I’m not buying the plus vision in a small sample.
  • Knight and McCollum both have good creation for others marks on elite usage for secondary handlers, whereas LaVine has an impressive mark on lesser usage.
  • The rest of the players are more self-creators than creators for others.  DeRozan has similar usage to Harden, and you can see the creation for others gap.

II. College Indicators/Translations

1.Measurements

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  • I’m not going to run through each player in depth because this group is just too large, but there are 5 guys with “combo-guard” height here, and only Hood has plus height for the position.
  • Gordon, DeRozan and Evans entered the league with plus frames, while Beal plays bigger than his size with dogged toughness.
  • Some wingspans are marked negative relative to position, and some relative to height.  There are far more players here who don’t meet the overall 6’6″ + ideal wing height and length measurables.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted

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  • Scoring: Outside pre-Duke Hood and LaVine, every one of these players had an above average to elite scoring mark. CJ was elite every year, dominating lower competition.
  • 3pt Attempts/%: DeRozan was the only non-shooter from 3, reflective of his current state.  CJ (x2), Hood, and Booker all posted outlier elite 3p% seasons on healthy attempts.
  • Foul Shooting Consistency: Notice the above average to elite FT shooting basically across the board.
  • Average Steals: There aren’t a lot of negative outlier steal marks, but there aren’t a lot of positives either

3.Efficiency

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  • Shooting: As projected scorers there weren’t a lot of negative outliers in terms of shooting and foul-drawing.
  • Passing/Decision-Making Metrics: Similarly, there were no negative outliers in these facets, but notice Hood’s standout A/TO marks.

4.Usage

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  • Outside of Fournier, Booker, and LaVine, every player here posted a sub-elite to elite usage season.  CJ did so 4 times, with all time usage marks, while maintaining plus efficiency.

5.Hoop-Math Creation

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  • Clarkson got to the rim a ton his JR year, with 108 unassisted makes there, indicative of his burst.  McCollum also sported plus metrics here, and Booker finished in elite fashion.
  • McCollum’s unassisted 2pt jumpers and total 2pt jumper attempts were elite self creation marks.  Clarkson and Hood finished just behind him, with Good, LaVine and McCollum having efficient shooting seasons from those spots.
  • McCollum and Hood also threw in legitimate unassisted 3pt marks, especially Hood as he wasn’t the primary handler.

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Lack of All-Star Appearances: Most of these players are young, and guys like Booker look to have an excellent chance at becoming all-stars/top 30 players, but it’s telling that only DeRozan in a weak wing conference has made an AS team (albeit twice).  It’s just hard to be a good enough scorer in a secondary handler role to eclipse the value of other primary positions that playmake for others and/or defend.
  2. High Draft Capital Required: Only Clarkson fell out of the first round on this list, and that’s not an accident.  Offense is almost always coveted over defense, especially when range shooting is a part of that package.  You can get 3&D guys with some ball-skills in the second round who might have better positional size and athleticism, but you’re unlikely to get college scorers on high usage with NBA athleticism there, especially underclassmen.
  3. CJ McCollum = City on a Hill of Small School Stat Indicators: CJ did everything you want to see from a small school prospect: dominated usage with elite marks in scoring, efficiency, 3pt shooting, and really hit the self creation/unassisted stat indicators of getting to the rim, 2pt jumpers and 3s.  If you’re looking at a profile of a small-school scorer, it better look something like CJ (or teammate Dame Lillard), and they better have enough athleticism to create for themselves (not Jimmer).

Next Up: Category 9 Wings: Defensive Versatile

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