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Just The Sports: Following Bad Advice

Just The Sports

Friday, April 28, 2006

Following Bad Advice

With the large number of early entries into the NBA draft, I could put all the players' names in a hat, draw one at random, and pick a player who does not belong in the NBA draft and will probably see his dreams of playing in the NBA dashed within three years. Don't get me wrong, though. I do not have a problem with players ruining their basketball careers if they do so after careful thinking and analyzing of their skill set. The problem I do have is with players who listen to their friends who hype them up and do not take the time to measure their own productivity on the basketball court as compared to their peers. For the purposes of this post, I will be discussing Daniel Gibson, who recently declared himself eligible for the draft, a decision which is either the result of a super-inflated ego (perhaps puffed by his entourage) or sheer stupidity. Whatever the case, the data suggest Gibson would be best served returning to college and putting his NBA aspirations on hold, at least until he becomes a better than average college player.

Before I get into Gibson's actual worth as a player, a little background is necessary to show what expectations he had surrounding him when he stepped onto Texas's campus and how that may have contributed to his overvaluing of himself. Gibson was picked to be the successor to TJ Ford at the point guard position. TJ Ford had taken Texas to a Final Four and was the best point guard in the nation in his last collegiate season. Gibson did not live up to expectations in his first year, but no one became too worried because after all, he was only a freshman. Then came this most recent season, his sophomore one, and with it came expectations which now seemed realistically attainable. Nowhere was this more reflected than in an article written before the season comparing his leadership skills on the basketball court to Vince Young's, quarterback for the Longhorn football team, leadership on the football field. Unfortunately for Daniel Gibson, he actually had to play the games and there came the problem. Only a few games into the season, Rick Barnes quickly realized Texas was not going to win with Gibson as his point guard and moved him off the ball, making him into more of a shooting guard. With that one move, Gibson's draft stock dropped precipitously because while he could be a point guard at the NBA level with his body type (6'2, 190lbs.), the transition to shooting guard at that size will be much more difficult. And if that is not already a big enough strike against Gibson, his lack of productivity at the shooting guard position is.

For a player whose position is listed as shooting guard, Gibson actually does not shoot particularly well. He was not even the best player on his own team, ranking third in 3-point field goal percentage among players with at least 100 attempts. His assist-to-turnover ratio is good but not stellar. He is a decent rebounder for a guard. His free throw shooting is below average for the position he plays, when he even gets to the free throw line. And worst of all, in my opinion, his shooting efficiency is 1.23 points per shot.

To get some idea of how Gibson's shooting efficiency stacks up against his college basketball peers, I did a systematic random sampling of the 337 Division 1-A basketball programs in the country. Then I took the top five players in field goal attempts and averaged their points per shot and then averaged the shooting efficiences of the sixty-seven teams of my random sample. The total average I came up with is 1.26 points per shot, meaning that Gibson is only an average to below average shooter. Not so good for someone whose whole game is based on his ability to shoot.

The ironic thing about this is Gibson may have been better served declaring for the NBA draft after his freshman year. At least then he would not have provided a larger sample size which NBA general managers can now use to point out his many deficiencies.


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