Finding Value in the 2016 NBA Draft: Malcolm Brogdon Is Better Than You Think
If you haven't been keeping up with this series, the basic idea is exactly what the title suggests: finding value in the NBA Draft.
I've previously touched on how a trio of point guard prospects stack up to each other in terms of size, talent and, most of all, collegiate production. Now, we'll transition to a comparison of wing players in Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon and Oklahoma's Buddy Hield.
These two players are ideal candidates to enter the league as shooting guards, and maybe even smallball small forwards. But, their similarities run much deeper than that.
Last year, both players produced at extremely high levels for their respective alma maters. In fact, both Brogdon and Hield earned Conference Player of the Year honors -- Brogdon in the ACC and Hield in the Big 12.
Each player also scored the most points per game for his respective team. While Brogdon tallied 18.2 points per game for Virginia, Hield put up 25.0 a game while outscoring all NCAA players in terms of total points with 925.
When you look at the raw numbers, there's no questioning Hield's superior scoring ability. He scored more points, made more field goals (not to mention three-pointers), and shot at a much higher percentage, all while amassing a usage rate 1.8 percentage points higher than the Virginia product.
However, take a look at what happens when their stats are taken over the course of 100 possessions, counteracting the gigantic difference in pace between the two schools.
|Per 100 Poss.||PTS||FGM||FTM||3PM|
Hield still holds an obvious advantage from the perimeter, but in terms of points, field goals made, and free throws made, the gap really narrows. And although Hield is far superior in scoring and shooting, Brogdon has shown the ability to be just as valuable to his team.
|Player||Win Shares/40||Win Shares||Box Plus-Minus|
In terms of Win Shares per 40 Minutes, Win Shares, and Box Plus-Minus, the two were nearly identical in their last collegiate seasons. It's no wonder that both garnered such accolades.
But, even with all these similarities, there is one distinct difference in the eyes of NBA brass and scouts, and that comes down to their age.
Age vs. Experience
When it comes to experience, only 25 minutes of playing time divide Hield and Brogdon. And that's not a plus or minus for other player.
On the other hand, age -- something so commonly referred to in the same vein as experience -- is a different story.
Brogdon, unlike most players entering the draft nowadays, put in four years at school. The same can be said for Hield. However, 371 days separate the two.
Brogdon is now 23 years old while Hield won't be 23 until halfway through his first NBA season. But, is that really that big of a difference? You could argue not.
The big difference isn't necessarily in experience or age, but it seems to be development. While Brogdon hopped on the scene early, becoming a three-year contributor for Coach Bennett in Charlottesville, Hield went from rotation player to starter to sudden superstar his last year in Norman. Here's a chart that helps to differentiate between their timelines.
It's pretty obvious that Brogdon is a less flashy player, and even less flashy -- in comparison to Hield -- as a prospect. I mean, recency bias is a thing, and Hield was one of the biggest boomers of this college basketball season, so that much is understandable. What isn't as understandable is the sizable gap between the two former college basketball stars in prospect rankings.
In DraftExpress' Top 100, Hield -- rated as the seventh-best prospect overall -- is 34 spots ahead of Brogdon, who is projected to fall to the early-to-mid second round.
At age 23, maybe that's just where Brogdon fits in. Teams like the Celtics, Clippers and Rockets -- all teams looking to up their game this season in hopes of competing for a title -- could utilize Brogdon's proven skillset with fewer worries about his age.
As for Hield, I can see why teams are so intrigued. The guy was March Madness' version of Stephen Curry and has a lot of potential in a perimeter-oriented league. But, in terms of production, it's hard to argue that Hield is that much better than Brogdon.
Basically, this boils down to high production and upside (Hield) versus consistent production and a low floor (Brogdon). When you're picking in the top 10 picks, you almost have to go for the former rather than the latter if you want to turn your struggling franchise around.
I get drafting principles and team needs. Buddy is going to come off the board quickly -- I get that. That said, we should still keep an eye out for where Brogdon lands. In the right situation, he could provide a ton of value, and he very well could enjoy a better career than the highly-regarded Hield.