Don’t look at me. That was Trey’s recommendation for a nickname for our own Ahmad Nivins. Trey’s nickname list is both exhaustive and awesome…look no further than Rodrigue “Crayfish” Beaubois. Don’t ask questions, just nod your head and chuckle.
Beaubois is bringing the foreign intrigue as a prospect that has largely gone unknown and unseen. But Nivins, a domestic product from St. Jo’s, is perhaps just as mysterious. St. Jo’s didn’t exactly carry a high profile during Nivins’ time as the man, putting Ahmad far from the spotlight in the fairly weak Atlantic 10 Conference. You wouldn’t expect St. Jo’s to crack the national rotation unless something truly special was going on (like say, Jameer Nelson and Delonte West tearing it up), and Nivins’ time as a collegiate athlete definitely fell short of that mark. Ahmad Nivins is not “something special,” and there’s a distinct possibility that he could be out of the NBA faster than you can say Pavel Podkolzin. But there’s also the possibility that Nivins could be a nice rotation big off the bench, which is a fine role to fill for a late second rounder.
If you look at Nivins’ numbers in college, there are certainly some bright spots. He showed consistent improvement during most of his time in college, though his junior season was somewhat of an step backwards. As Nivins’ minutes climbed, so did his level of efficiency, which is an encouraging sign. One number, in particular, that caught my eye was Nivins’ usage rate. He used 22.9% of his team’s possessions, a high mark for a big man. For reference, that percentage tops Jonny Flynn, thought of as a ball-dominating guard. It puts Nivins in the same ballpark with Blake Griffin and Sam Young, among others.
Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily a good thing. For one, Nivins will not be a high usage player on the next level. He’ll need to transition into being a spot rotation guy who operates without the ball in his hands. That’s quite a departure from being the 23rd leading scorer in the nation. Nivins is used to operating against not just college opponents, but relatively weak ones. He’s faced nothing that could truly prepare him for the strength and burl he’ll encounter in the pros, but there’s still reason for optimism. Looking over Nivins’ breakdown, his rebounding numbers are more than a strength. They’re practically a calling card. He’s not an off-the-charts boarder like Paul Millsap was in college, but Nivins has the resume to be a solid NBA rebounder.
When factoring in how Nivins’ statistical production could potentially transfer to the next level, his high usage rate nukes most of the relevant stats. His points will obviously drop dramatically, as will his assists, his shot attempts, his free throw attempts, and his turnovers. But one are which should remain relatively untarnished by lower usage is rebounding. Regardless of whether or not Ahmad has the ball in his hands during the offensive sets, his numbers do indicate that he could very well be a solid rebounder in the pros. Nivins’ high true shooting percentage (68%, good for 6th in the NCAA) and effective field goal percentage (61%) are also promising signs.
I’m not even sure if Nivins’ will make the cut for this year’s roster, but I could definitely see him filling a James Singleton-esque role in the future. He’s got decent size for an NBA power forward, and could be a nice minimum-commitment, low-risk find in the late second round.