Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oden v. Durant

Catching up with Henry Abbott's celebratory posting from yesterday, I was most taken with this entry, specifically this portion:
"Durant can be a big man too. He outrebounded Oden handily in college, and can defend a lot of bigs."
Let's (re-)inaugurate Hoopinion's 2007 Draft coverage (now that the previous inaugural entry has lost most of its relevance) by looking at the 2006-07 numbers from draft entrants 1A and 1B.

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions


Caveats and Analysis
  • Once healthy, Oden played 71.2% of Ohio State's minutes.
  • Oden had higher FT Rate ((FTM*100)/FGA) on the year than did Durant (40.4 v. 32.3). I don't know the exact number of free throws that Oden shot left-handed, but I believe it's safe to say (assuming he can shoot better than 62.8% from the line right-handed) that the value inherent in his ability to get to the line is not fully reflected in last year's scoring volume or efficiency numbers.
  • Henry's not entirely correct in his characterization of Durant as a rebounder relative to Oden. Durant did (slightly) outrebound Oden on the defensive glass, but Oden was a significantly stronger offensive rebounder (per opportunity). Per 40 minutes, Texas averaged 5 more possessions than Ohio State (not to mention the 7 extra overtime periods Texas played), thus the discrepancy between per game and per opportunity comparisons.
  • Henry is entirely correct in stating that Durant has tremendous potential as a defensive player.
To wit, blocks and steals per 100 individual possessions for potential top-20 draftees (forwards only):

B Wright3.52.0
J Wright2.73.0
T Young0.82.5

Rick Barnes is not a good defensive coach. Despite being putative rivals, I'm still irritated that TJ Ford never learned how to use his speed and quickness to become a useful defensive player. Durant, entering the NBA, is closer to Ford (though with far, far superior physical gifts) than to last year's anomalously defensively accomplished Longhorn draftees LaMarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker. Kevin Durant is 18 years old, has not received good defensive instruction and, still, unique among comparable potential top-20 draftees he averaged 3 blocks and 3 steals per 100 possessions.

Portland will have their pick of one of the two best prospects to enter the league in the last four years to consolidate their accomplishment in acquiring the two best college players from last year's draft. Despite Durant's prodigous scoring ability and his tremendous potential to develop into an excellent rebounder and defender, I rate Oden slightly ahead. Oden already is an excellent rebounder and defender and is much closer to Durant as a scorer than common perception would indicate.

Which isn't to say that Seattle's going to be distraught about drafting Portland's leftovers.