They Smell Like the Future: Mikhail Torrance

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 22, 2010 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by AP Photo.

Alabama senior
6’5”, 209 lbs (combine measurements)
21 years old
Point guard/shooting guard
Projection: Second rounder

Forgive me if I continue to sound cheery concerning the fates of fringe NBA prospects, but Mikhail Torrance is among the most promising. His size makes him a bit unconventional for a point guard, and in the hands of a lesser coach, with a lesser roster, and as a part of a lesser franchise, that could be a rather glaring problem. Nevermind the fact that Torrance is a solid NBA athlete with impressive playmaking skills; if Mikhail is tagged with the dreaded “tweener” label and stashed in the bottom of the toy box, he could see his potential NBA career quickly wither away.

The point guard designation is important to Mikhail carving out a place for himself in the L. Mind you, the little “PG” next to his name isn’t nearly as important as the responsibilities that usually come with it. Mikhail’s greatest skill is his ability to make plays for his teammates, and if he’s relegated to off-ball duties, he’ll struggle to be effective. Torrance just isn’t a strong enough scorer to make it as a cookie-cutter shooting guard on the next level. His shooting isn’t consistent enough and his finishing abilities aren’t really where you’d like them to be. That doesn’t mean he can’t improve his stroke or work on his creativity around the basket, but if a team throws Mikhail into the fire as a conventional 2 and expects him to produce, his life as an NBAer will be over before it really began.

If the Mavs are looking to go point guard, Torrance may be the best option. He’s not a knock-down shooter or the most reliable slasher, but he’s an interesting, athletic prospect with good size, reach, and instincts. He’s a big point guard, but not exactly in the Tyreke Evans mold; his physique is useful but hardly dominating, and while it gives him specific advantages in his ability to thread passes and get off his shot (not to mention contest those of his opponents), Torrance has no singular physical attribute that makes him a terribly valuable prospect. Mikhail isn’t the platonic ideal of an NBA athlete, but his combination of size, speed, and strength are still unique for his position.

There’s the distinct possibility that Torrance just isn’t good enough, that his talents were notable at the collegiate level but are just too nondescript in a sea of former college stars. In fact, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of just such a result, considering the catastrophically small success rate of late second-r0und selections. I see hope for Mikhail yet, and as long as a coach is willing to be patient with him and put him in the right situations, Torrance could become a nice back-up point guard with a long NBA life.

2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:

Per Game15.
Per 4019.

2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):


2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):


Other People:

Matt Kamalsky, Draft Express: “A 6’5 point guard, we’ve written a great deal about Torrance since his performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. He stacks up fairly well here –his overall points per-possessions of .981 is good for fourth in this group, and is third amongst college players. He doesn’t turn the ball over at a high rate either, coughing the ball up less than average on 16.2% of his possessions. However, his 15.3 possessions per-game render him as one of the lowest usage players on our list. Torrance stands out the most in transition, where his size clearly helps him as a finisher. He scored 1.354 points per-possession in transition, ranking as the best fast break scorer in the group. Though only average in half court situations, Torrance is the third most effective isolation player in the group shooting 47.5% and has a lot of experience on the pick and roll, with 30.8% of his possessions coming such situations (3rd most).”

Scott Schroeder, Ridiculous Upside: “Mikhail Torrance is a guy we might want to keep an eye on.  He did well at the Portsmouth Invitational and seems to have done the best in the functional mid-range drill as he hit 39 of his 42 attempts.  I probably don’t need to tell you this, but that’s awesome – and he can play the point.”

Jonathan Givony, Draft Express: “He dishes the ball in a variety of ways, be it with fancy bounce passes, creative lobs, bullets through the teeth of the defense, or simple, fundamental kickouts. A willing distributor, it’s fairly rare to see a converted wing player embrace the point guard position so thoroughly, as the talent he shows passing the ball is clearly innate. Fairly turnover prone, Torrance coughs the ball up a lot more than you’d hope, at times stretching the limit of his creativity and at times simply making unforced errors that hint at his inexperience running the position. A very unorthodox player, Torrance drives left almost exclusively (77% of his drives go in this direction according to Synergy Sports Technology) despite the fact that he’s right-handed. He looks highly uncomfortable finishing with his right hand around the basket, often switching awkwardly to his left even when the play doesn’t call for it. With that said, he shoots jumpers and free throws with his right hand, and when asked which one he prefers, jokingly says that it “depends on what day it is.”

Stats courtesy of Draft Express and Stat Sheet.