Monday, December 14, 2009
How John Wall gave me my groove back
It was Saturday night, I was at a holiday party, when I walked in on this conversation/debate: Who is more athletic: LeBron James or Michael Jordan? To me the answer was simple ... Michael Jordan, at least as of today, is the better basketball player, but in terms of sheer athleticism, I don't know if there will ever be a specimen like the 6-foot-8, 250-pound King (and we all know he's definitely 15 pounds heavier than this listed weight). Others chimed in on the debate, including a high school basketball coach from this area and an assistant at a local Division-I men's basketball program, both of whom sided with my James argument.
The high school coach brought up an even more interesting point, though. He argued that John Wall might be the most athletic of the three. Now I'm not sure I'd put Wall in the same category as LeBron, but if you haven't watched the Kentucky point guard play yet, you're missing out. Part of the reason I returned to blogging was I was watching the UNC-Kentucky game from a few weeks ago and Wall literally had a sequence of plays that were so mind blowing that I was yelling in an empty apartment. Seriously, watch the youtube clip of it:
What's funny is that clip doesn't even include the disgustingly awesome alley oop he threw to Patrick Patterson immediately following that TV timeout. But when I watched all this live, I needed to tell someone about this kid. I looked over at my laptop and longed for the days when I could walk over, put down my thoughts, and then feel satisfied about getting my opinion off my chest. At the time, I thought I was discovering something, but judging from LeBron's "he's gonna be the No. 1 pick in the draft" comments this week, the secret's already out on this superstar-in-the-making.
The highlights make it plain and simple, Wall has skills and talents well beyond his 18 years. Maybe his first step is a millisecond slower than Derrick Rose's, but it's pretty clear hes already a better shooter than Rose. And even just watching that minute-and-a-half youtube clip, you can see he's got those point guard instincts, like knowing when to speed up and slow down. But I wanted to know ... how does he compare to other one-and-done freshmen that we've seen in recent years? So I decided to compare him with Rose and Carmelo Anthony, in my opinion the two best freshmen we've seen at the college level in the last decade (Greg Oden should be in the discussion as well, but I think it's too hard to compare stats between perimeter and interior players).
I'm not talking shooting percentage, points per game, rebounds, assists, not any of that stuff. That's all dependant on minutes played and how often someone has the ball in their hands. I wanted this comparisan to be about efficiency, specifically offensive efficiency, because we all know 'Melo had the ball every possession and was clearly the best player on that 2002 'Cuse team, Hakim Warrick notwithstanding. DRose had a talented group around him led by Chris Douglas-Roberts, and I would say Wall has the same with Patterson and a couple other of Calipari's too cool for school crew. So I settled on three very specific statistics, two of which you might not be familiar with.
1) Offensive Rating: A mathematical formula that not only takes into account how many points a player scores, but how many possessions/shots it takes them to get those points. In layman's terms, it's kinda sort of similar to a QB rating.
2) Effective Shooting Percentage: Another mathematical formula that takes into account that 3-point field goals are worth more than two-pointers — much more reliable to determine a shooter's range/efficiency than just regular field goal percentage
3) Assist/Turnover Ratio: Self explanatory
Well here's how they shake out:
Offensive Rating: 113.4
A/T Ratio: 1.0
A/T Ratio: 1.8
Offensive Rating: 116.9
A/T Ratio: 1.6
Now I know Wall only has a nine-game sample here, but I would argue his stats have come against arguably the toughest schedule in the country. Kentucky has already beaten UNC, Stanford, UCONN, and Indiana this year. With all that said, draw your own conclusions about the player who is already the clear cut No. 1 pick in next June's NBA Draft. If you haven't seen him play yet, set aside next Monday night. Wall and the Wildcats are taking on Drexel on ESPNU.
UPDATE: I realized when comparing Wall to one-and-done guys, I failed to mention Kevin Durant, perhaps the most prolific (in terms of scoring) to grace the college game this decade. His stats ... well Wall's ahead of his stats, so far.
Offensive Rating: 116.8
A/T Ratio: 0.5
Posted by Mark at 10:50 AM