They Smell Like the Future: Jeremy Pargo

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 3, 2009 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Getty Images.

Gonzaga Senior
6’2” (listed)/6’1.5”  in shoes (at last season’s Combine), 219 lbs.
23 years old
Point guard
Projection: 2nd round/undrafted
Highlights (from 2006-2007)

Jeremy Pargo is certainly a point guard, but I wouldn’t say that he’s the point guard.  There are distinct reasons why Pargo may still be on the board at the end of the second round: his strengths are countered by a lack of development in his scoring and decision-making abilities, and despite his physical tools, Pargo hasn’t been able to play and score efficiently.  That said, he may still be worthy of a roster spot as an undrafted free agent or a second round selection.  The Mavs seem to agree, because they’ve worked out Pargo along with other fringe prospects.

Pargo is certainly a capable distributor and a strong defender, two attributes that have no doubt caught the Mavs’ attention.  In fact, those are two attributes the Mavs are lacking in their backup point guards.  J.J. Barea still comes into the game with blinders on at times, and his near-midget status prevents him from fully blanketing his assignments.  Pargo doesn’t walk tall with giants, but he’s definitely closer to the height of a prototypical point and is strong enough to give pro point guards trouble.  I don’t know if he’ll ever be capable of lock-down defense at the next level, but all of Pargo’s physical tools (height, strength, footspeed, agility) make it a possibility.

That’s where Pargo’s flaws come in to effectively temper any expectations.  Pargo’s quickness and first step should allow for open lanes to the basket, but instead have gradually made Pargo more and more open to the idea of settling for jumpers.  There’s one large problem with that, and I’m going to put this delicately: Pargo can’t shoot.  His spot-up game is average, and his beloved pull-up jumper is more amateur fantasy than MJ.  Factor in a little bit of a hero complex, and we’ve got a very sticky situation on our hands: a quick point guard who can get to the basket and can set up his teammates, but too often opts for low-percentage, contested jumpshots.  Plus, Pargo’s excellent handle on the ball often betrays him, providing him with avenues to accidentally stumble into murdering possessions in the half-court offense.  If Pargo was an inefficient, turnover-prone player at the college level, then how will his skills (and flaws) be affected by the equalized talent of a professional league?  This isn’t the WCC anymore, folks; the top competition is going to be more of a handful than Patty Mills.

Pro-Level Projections:

Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com used his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Pargo.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Pargo’s four-year career at Gonzaga.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

It’s certainly not awful for company for a late draft selection.  Steve Blake is a low-level starter at best and a solid reserve at worst, and Jason Hart is similar.  Marko Jaric is perhaps better than we give him credit, although I’d hardly say he’s an incredible asset.  Regardless, to dig up young, contributing point guards for the league minimum is nothing to scoff at.  If he can show improvement in his jumpshooting or be reined in a bit, he could be a valuable commodity off the bench.

They Smell Like the Future: Kevin Rogers

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 2, 2009 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo/Jerry Larson. 

Baylor Senior
6’9”, 235 lbs.
22 years old
Power forward
Projection: Undrafted, 2nd round at best
Highlights (from 2007-2008)

The Mavs have invited Rogers in for a workout, along with other players slated to go undrafted.  The real question is why.

Rogers doesn’t quite have the girth or the strength to be a legit power forward on the next level, but he is an agile, athletic body in a league where big men are constantly asked to do more versatile, athletic things.  He’s not a particularly good on-ball or help defender, a flaw which many attribute to his lack of court awareness on the defensive end.  His primary flaw on offense is the absence of a particular strength; to survive the NBA as an undersized power forward, you need a marketable skill.  Rogers doesn’t seem to have that.  His rebounding numbers are good, but not as good as you’d expect.  His scoring output is decent, but his post-up game doesn’t appear strong enough to overcome his lack of size, and his ability to create from the high post is very iffy.  Players like Brandon Bass or Paul Millsap are able to find their own levels of success because they have at least one elite skill that translates easily to the next level.  Bass can hit the midrange jumper consistently, is a great free throw shooter, and has the strength to finish at the rim in traffic and rebound well.  Millsap is a top-level rebounder, an improving offensive threat, and a defensive presence.  Rogers lacks that go-to weapon either offensively or defensively, and as a 22-year old senior that doesn’t bode well for his development.

The final roster spots can be crucial for either success in the 2009-2010 season, or seasons beyond that.  The Mavs need to fill those spots with projects, veteran backups, or young contributors that can fill a need.  Rogers is none of those.

Rogers may be able to find success in the NBA, but it’s going to take some serious progress in regard to his back-to-the-basket creativity, his face-up game, and of course, his defense.  His lack of polish as a senior is a tad troubling.  He hasn’t shown much improvement since his sophomore season, and to ask him to be a drastically different player at this point might be a bit too demanding.  The Mavs need some help, but undersized, underdeveloped power forwards isn’t quite what I’d prescribe.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Rogers.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are obviously based on Rogers’ four-year career at Baylor.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

I know there are some out there whose eyes will light up when they see Glen Davis on that list, but hold your horses.  Davis’ numbers were very similar, but those are also over a very small sample size.  On top of that, Davis has only recently begun to contribute to the Celtics, and thus Rogers stats are projected to match that of Davis’ first two years in the NBA.  Doesn’t sound too great to me.  Malik Allen and Melvin Ely have had lengthy NBA careers, but neither has ever been more than a rotation player at best, bench warmer at worst.  So congratulations, Kevin Rogers!  Degree in hand, you’ll be treated to a long career of Malik Allening.  Nothing wrong with jetsetting if it means that your belly and your pockets are full from that lush NBA salary, even if it swells only to the veteran minimum.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Draft Ranges

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 30, 2009 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

The Mavs don’t have a very good track record when it comes to finding value late in the draft, though selecting Josh Howard with the final pick in the first round back in 2003.  But the stakes have never been higher, with the Mavs’ few young assets weighing their options in free agency and the Mavs’ 2010 pick in the hands of the New Jersey Nets.  This one counts big time, and it’s up to the management and the scouting team to find the diamond in the rough.

It’s tough, but hardly impossible.  Quality players pass right under the noses of many a team year after year, leaving latent value late in the draft.  The Mavs pick at 22, which is just a shade closer to the lottery than to the Mavs’ customary position at the draft’s tail.

Here are the picks at 22 this decade:

2008 – Courtney Lee
2007 – Jared Dudley
2006 – Marcus Williams
2005 – Jarrett Jack
2004 – Viktor Khryapa
2003 – Zoran Planinic
2002 – Casey Jacobsen
2001 – Jeryl Sasser
2000 – Donnell Harvey

Three of those players (Courtney Lee, Jared Dudley, Jarrett Jack) have shown rotation player chops.  Lee is the most notable as the starting 2 guard of an impressive Orlando team just one win away from the Finals.  In fact, if the Mavs could magically re-draft Lee this year, they’d be in pretty good shape.

Just for fun, here are picks in the late first round (20+) :

2008
Courtney Lee (22)
Nicolas Batum (25)

2007
Wilson Chandler (23)
Rudy Fernandez (24)
Aaron Brooks (26)

2006
Renaldo Balkman (20)
Rajon Rondo (21)
Kyle Lowry (23)
Shannon Brown (25)
Jordan Farmar (26)

2005
Jarrett Jack (20)
Nate Robinson (21)
Francisco Garcia (23)
Jason Maxiell (26)
Linas Kleiza (27)
David Lee (30)

2004
Jameer Nelson (20)
Delonte West (24)
Kevin Martin (26)

2003
Boris Diaw (21)
Travis Outlaw (23)
Kendrick Perkins (27)
Leandro Barbosa (28)
Josh Howard (29)

2002
Tayshaun Prince (23)
Nenad Krstic (24)
John Salmons (26)

2001
Brendan Haywood (20)
Gerald Wallace (25)
Jamaal Tinsley (27)
Tony Parker (28)

2000
Morris Peterson (21)

It’s certainly worth noting that even the 2005 draft, predicted to be a weak draft class among pundits and largely looked at as a failure in comparison to its contemporaries, still produced productive players late in the first round.  Blake Griffin is no Tim Duncan and the consolation prizes may have their flaws, but that doesn’t mean true commodities can’t be found late in the first.

Next week I’ll start examining potential picks for the Mavs, starting with those rumored and confirmed to have scheduled workouts with the team.  Some of those players seem poised for success on the pro level, and others may not even be top competitors in the D-League.  As fans, we can only hope that MGMT not only makes the right decision in assessing the talent of a potential pick, but also in picking talented players to fill holes in the Mavs’ rotation.