Last week, ESPN projected the rookie stats of several of the top draft picks and tabbed Brandon Knight to put up 8.0 ppg in his first season as a Piston. This week, Kevin Pelton got after it again, this time projecting the 2011-12 (or whenever) stats of this past season’s rookies and comparing their stats with players that came before them. John Wall was compared to Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins landed the coveted Antoine Walker comparison. Shimmy away, my friends.
Here is what he had to say:
John Wall, PG, Washington Wizards
17.6 ppg, 8.5 apg, 4.6 rpg (16.4, 8.3, 4.6)
For Wall, a breakthrough season seems to be another year away. In fact, of the five players in this group, Wall’s comparables saw the least average improvement the following season — just 4.5 percent. Although Wall is frequently compared to Derrick Rose, who also played for John Calipari in college and was taken No. 1 overall, SCHOENE matches him with Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder because both players made a relatively low percentage of their 2-point attempts. (Rose is fifth on the list.) Rose was an All-Star as a sophomore, but his big improvement came last season, when he won the MVP award. Westbrook also broke out in his third season, making the All-Star team for the first time.
That’s not to say Wall won’t improve in Year 2. A big difference could be seen in his turnover rate. Similar players cut their turnovers by 6.4 percent the following season, which explains why Wall’s assists-to-turnover rate is projected to go from 2.20 to 2.31.
DeMarcus Cousins, F/C, Sacramento Kings
15.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg (14.1, 8.6, 2.5)
When you think of Cousins, you probably don’t think of passing, but statistically his assist rate was one of the strongest aspects of his game as a rookie. Similar players (led, amusingly, by fellow Kentucky product Antoine Walker) handed out nearly a third more assists the next season, which would take Cousins over three assists a night. Just six big men in the league, including Griffin, averaged more than Cousins’ projection of 3.2 apg. As important to Sacramento might be a decline in Cousins’ foul rate, projected at more than 6 percent. Cousins led the NBA last season with 4.1 fouls per game. In fact, he fouled 58 more times than anyone else in the league.
(SCHOENE cannot account for the possibility that Cousins plays a different role next season. Because center Samuel Dalembert is a free agent and the Kings dealt for power forward J.J. Hickson, Cousins could end up logging far more minutes in the middle.)
Again, this doesn’t count the Kentucky Effect, but it’s a nice effort. I guess.