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.