Huge U-turn on the Bucks rookie Larry Sanders


That’s me backing up the cat on my rookie regression models.  In to the junk they go.  They’re nice, but they’re way too imprecise. 

Instead I’m going to analyze the Bucks rookies draft picks using the tools I’ve been taught to employ:  logic, analogy, and historical precedent.  Applying these three tools, I see a much brighter rookie season for Larry Sanders than I initially forecast, but a much cloudier one for Darrington Hobson, and basically the same for Tiny Gallon.  Let me explain.

What I did was I first chose two analagous players to compare to each of the Bucks rookies to provide me with a guidepost.  Then I relied on my own observations about the way College/NBA transitions usually work and finally I relied on Nichols translation model that he posted on

The analagous players for each were:

1. Larry Sanders (Jason Thompson, JaValle McGee)

I chose the pair because each is long and lanky with standing reach and strength that is similar to Sanders, and each played college ball against mid-level competition, like Sanders.

2. Darrington Hobson (Jalen Rose, Ice Reynolds)

Hobson was a bitch to categorize.  He’s basically a point forward.  Both of the two I chose were tall, left-handed point forwards.  But the two players chosen were much better finishers than Hobson (more on that later).  Reynolds was a very underrated player in Milwaukee and Orlando.

3. Tiny Gallon (Baby Davis, Tractor Traylor)

He was almost too easy to match.  Notice how all three have nicknames?

 Larry Sanders – Predicted MWS48 (-0.31)

I’ve radically upgraded Sanders for a couple reasons.  His resume suggests that he is a natural rebounder and natural shot blocker.  Let me explain.

Generally a player’s rebounding numbers in college translate well to teh pros.  There are, I think, two situations where they don’t.  For the purposes of this post, only one of the situations is relevant. 

If a player is a “rebound catcher” his numbers will decline.  What I mean is, you’ll have situations where a player will have defensive rebounding numbers that are totally out-of-whack with his offensive rebounding numbers.  This suggests that the player is not a naturally aggressive rebounder, and is benefiting from “freebies”.   Another sign of a rebound catcher is a player whose defensive rebounding numbers suddenly increase when he becomes an upperclassman.  This suggests deference on freebies, which will not occur in the pros.

Sanders does not show any signs of being a rebound catcher.  He shows every sign of being a natural rebounder.  If you look at his offensive and defensive per 40 numbers, they are almost identical throughout his career, even when he was a freshman reserve.  And, they don’t increase at all when he becomes “the man”.  That tells me there isn’t a lot of padding on his totals, and thus they should carry over.

Another great sign:  his percentage of team offensive rebounds are almost equal to his percentage of team defensive rebounds.  That tells me he WANTS to rebound, he doesn’t just catch rebounds.  Therefore I do not believe his rebounding numbers will reduce more than 13%.

His blocks should also be high.  If you notice, he was an aggressive shot blocker as a freshman.  Again, that tells you he produces blocks on instinct.

He has no problem with turnovers.

He will not be a scorer, but he will not be horrible at converting possessions into points.

The one area where I guarantee Sanders will post ugly numbers is personal fouls.  First off, he’s a fouler.  Second, an Iron Law of the NBA is “Young Big Men who are role players are foul targets”.  Its just a fact.  Ask Joel Pryzbilla.  (Ted Davis used to crack me up when Pryzbilla would get his first foul like 20 seconds after he checked in “Well, I see the referees have recognized that Pryzbilla entered the game.”)

But overall, I am now much more sanguine on Sanders.  I don’t want to trade in hyperbole, but he could develop into a Marcus Camby.  Shit, Marcus Camby took time to develop into Marcus Camby.  (Check out Camby’s fouls per 40 when he was younger compared to now).

I will supplement this post with the projection numbers I came up with.  I left them back at the ranch.

I’ll give you Hobson’s and Gallon’s in the next post.  Hobson’s are not good, for the exact reasons that Sanders are good.  He has both characteristics of a guy who will see a sharp decline in rebound production.  He appears to be a “rebound catcher” and most of his rebounds came as an interior player whereas he will most definitely play the perimeter in the pros.


One Response to “Huge U-turn on the Bucks rookie Larry Sanders”

  1. Jerbil Says:

    Inclined to agree the regression isn’t much help. Redid it for one of your files (the 3rd one, “Chris Webber” draft). Got an RSQ of 40%. This supposedly means that only 40% of the variation in rookie WS is explained by the variation in college WS. Not saying this couldn’t be improved on, but as it stands, leaves a lot of explaining to do.

    OTOH, your comparison of Sanders and Gallon favored Gallon because he got his numbers against better competition, at an earlier age. So will the conclusion that Gallon is the better prospect stand?

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