A little while back I saw something interesting while looking at the stats on draft express. The win share stat has done a pretty good job of projecting sleeper pgs for the last 10 years. Don't believe me? Have a look and decide for yourself.
PGs with a win share over 12
Name - WS - Drafted
- Lester Hudson - 13.3 - 58th
- Ty Lawson - 12.8 - 18th
- George Hill - 12.6 - 26th
- Kyrie Irving - 12.3 - 1st
- Stephen Curry - 12.1 - 7th
Lester Hudson put up ridiculous stats (26 points, 8 boards, 4.5 assists, 3 steals 1 blk, 4 to's, and 60% ts) against pretty bad competition (his college team has never made the NCAA tournament). He's the only guy on this list who hasn't provided convincing evidence that he'll have a long NBA career yet. Throughout his 4 year professional career he has bounced around from team to team putting up absurd D-League stats but struggling to be efficient in the NBA.
Ty Lawson played for a very good UNC team, but got overlooked because of his size. Draft Express gave him a best case comparison of TJ Ford despite the fact that Ty Lawson was one of the most efficient guards in the country and TJ Ford has always been woefully inefficient. In his junior year Lawson put up monstrous stats that were highlighted by a 66 % true shooting percentage. They really should have gotten him more attention.
The Spurs shocked the world when they picked George Hill in the first round of the 2008 draft. All the mocks had him as a late second round pick at best and prior to a couple of weeks leading into the draft he was projected by virtually everyone as undrafted. The gamble paid off in a big way as he gave them several years of good production before they flipped him for a higher first round pick which turned into another efficient and cheap player.
Kyrie Irving put up some of the best stats in college basketball playing in his first 11 games while playing for Duke as a freshman. This won him the 1st overall pick in the draft. Because of that, it's hard to call him a sleeper, but he certainly hasn't been a bust so far.
Finally we get Stephen Curry, who amazingly was usually projected as undrafted during the year that he put up that 12.1 win share stat. An elite eight tournament run put him on the radar and another year of hype continued to raise his draft stock. Eventually the Warriors picked him up with the 7th pick in the draft, one of the few moves that I don't think they regret.
Overall that's a pretty good list of sleepers. It's not perfect but I think it does better than most other single stats do. It also does a better job of producing college sleepers then the same stat for other positions. So far though I've given only a small sample size. I'll extend it by tracking all players with a win share greater then 10
I found 21 more players on their database. Eleven have either played in the NBA or have been drafted by NBA teams.
- Jameer Nelson - 11.1 - 20th
- Kirk Hinrich - 11.1 - 7th
- Nick Calethes - 10.8 - 45th
- Julyan Stone - 10.5 - undrafted
- Mario Chalmers - 10.4 - 34th
- Donell Taylor - 10.4 - undrafted
- Chris Paul - 10.3 - 4th
- Rodney Stuckey - 10.1 - 15th
- Rajon Rondo - 10.1 - 21st
- Jeremy Lin - 10.1 - undrafted
- Norris Cole - 10.0 - 28th
Why are these point guards being undervalued? I have no idea. Perhaps it's still due to small sample size and the trend will break apart in the next couple of drafts. However, if you buy into this, I think the next natural question is whether you are willing to bet draft picks on this trend continuing. Here are the top 3 PG's in this next draft.
- Jesse Sanders - 12.6 - projected undrafted
- Damian Lillard - 12.0 - projected mid lottery
- Scott Machado - 10.5 - projected second round
Scott Machado is a name that most will recognize. In his senior year he put up some of the best assist numbers in the past ten years while also improving his TS % from a pretty bad .50% to a good .60%. Physically he's probably below average by NBA standards showing a soIid 3/4 sprint time but a poor vertical leap and wingspan. Nonetheless I think he's a great second round gamble. He seems likely to be a serviceable back up with a small chance of being way to efficient to keep off the floor.
Everyone knows Damien Lillard and his appearance on this list might provide fuel for those who want to pick him at the 6th spot. He had a breakout junior year by scoring 25 ppg and raising his TS% from an already good ~.60 (from his first three years) to .64. Physically he seems above average but not quite his dominant as Westbrook or Rose. At the combine he showed off an excellent wingspan and vert, with his only question mark being a below average 3/4 sprint time. He's hard to project in my opinion, and as I'm writing this I'm still having a hard time deciding on whether I would pick him over Drummond or not.
Jesse Sanders, however, is not well known, and it's kind of hard to even find information about him. He is not even in Draft Express's top 100 prospects. In is senior year he put up 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game while scoring also scoring efficiently. That's why he has a huge win share statistic, but does he have the physical tools to play in the NBA? Based on his combine data that's available he has a below average wingspan and 3/4 court sprint time but a 30" no step vert which actually puts him in pretty good company (and perhaps partially explains his rebounding).
I did some more digging to see what I could find on Jesse Sanders, and I actually came away fairly impressed.
- Here's one article about him.
- Here's his (fairly impressive) senior highlights
- Liberty fans absolutely love him
- And of course, there is the Jeremy Lin comparison
Overall, I'd love to see the blazers draft him. Sure, the competition level that he faced was poor, but I think he's very skilled and possess very good intangibles. I also think he's decently athletic (see the dunk at 4:40 on the video!), and his stats clearly back up his potential as an NBA player.
Who do you think the blazers should draft?