Alec Burks would be a nice pick for the Milwaukee Bucks

As my chart showed a few days ago, the Bucks primarily need more production from the shooting guard position. I think they recognize that, and could select that position in the upcoming NBA Draft. While its difficult to project college shooting guards into the NBA, Colorado SG Alec Burks has the markings of a good prospect.

According to the book Stumbling on Wins, there are three collegiate attributes that correlate positively with professional production: 2pt FG%, rebounding, and playing center.  Burks obviously does not play center, he plays shooting guard, which unfortunately is the one position that negatively correlates with professional production.  But with that aside, Burks’ 2 point FG% is above average for a shooting guard (53.2%), and his rebounding production is impressive (6.6 per 48). Moreover, his collegiate Win Score per 48 of 11.66 is above average for the position and, if you apply the standard 34% college-to-pro Win Score per 48 reduction, his college numbers project above the NBA positional average.

Burks also has other qualities I personally prefer in a shooting guard prospect. He has above average size for the position. In Orlando, Burks measured 6’5” without shoes (avg SG height w/o shoes: 6’3 1/2′) and his standing reach is 8’7 1/2” (avg SG standing reach: 8’4 1/2”).  Burks is also a very good free thrower shooter — 82% (implying to me that he is a pure shooter).  I also like the fact that Burks will frequently drive the ball to the basket (which tells me he will not rely heavily on his jump shot at the pro level).  I lean toward aggressive penetrators at the SG (like James Harden) because I think they fare better in the professional ranks than players who are mainly perimeter jump shooters (like Rashad McCants). I am also encouraged that scouts consider Burks an above average ball handler (further suggesting that he won’t be a stationary jump shooter).

On the negative side, Burks shot a poor percentage from the college 3 pt range, somewhat undermining my belief that he might be a good pure shooter, and he is a bit thin and weak, given his height (193 pounds and he only pushed up 5 bench reps — I did 12 a couple years ago, and I’m not Tim Tebow, believe me).

But, all in all, if you told me the Bucks intended to select a shooting guard, and asked me to describe the kind of prospect I would hope they chose, Burks would fit my description almost perfectly.

Meaning he will probably be gone before the Bucks make their selection. 

No, no… I resolved to be more positive this year.

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5 Responses to “Alec Burks would be a nice pick for the Milwaukee Bucks”

  1. Blake Says:

    A prospect that the Bucks love doesn’t project to suck!? Hallelujah!

    The only downside is that I wouldn’t call him a shooter, he shot something like 29% on jumpshots this year.

  2. tywill33 Says:

    Two great points! But with his size, it should be a plus that he is willing to take it to the hole… but I don’t know!!

  3. vjl110 Says:

    I was hoping you could reconcile something for me. You say here that collegiate 2pt fg% is one of the best predictors of NBA production based on Berri’s work. However, I recall that based on some of your own work (“The Mystery of Landy Fields…”) the r^2 for eFG% college to pro is extremely low. 2pt fg% isn’t all of eFG%, but it is a major component of it. Things seem like pretty conflicting findings. The other component of eFG%, 3pt% has an r^2 of nearly .8 NCAA to NBA, so it can’t all be explained by that. What do you see as the explanation here?
    Is 2pt fg% predictive of NBA production in some abstract way?… I’m stumped.

    BTW, I did a write-up on Burks that drew in part from your “The Mystery of Landry Fields…” article several weeks ago.
    http://www.canishoopus.com/2011/5/1/2147506/projecting-alec-burks

    • tywill33 Says:

      Impressive work!

      I think my post focused narrowly on the correlation between a player’s ability to turn possessions into points in college and his subsequent ability to do the same in the NBA.

      Berri’s work asked and answered a different question. He asked, what collegiate statistical characteristics mark a productive NBA player? One of the markings he found was “an above average 2pt FG%”. But, he is careful to point out that it is far easier to decipher those players who are unlikely to be productive professionals than it is to decipher those who will be productive professionals.

      In other words, it is much easier to spot a rotten apple than it is to spot a sweet tasting one. You can see the deterioration on a rotten apple, but you have to bite to determine which ones taste sweet. That is what makes the draft frustrating.

      To extend the metaphor, Burks has every characteristic of a good apple. But is there a hidden worm? That’s the unknown.

      • vjl110 Says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        So, to expand on this issue… what are your thoughts on the potential of Derrick Williams?

        Positives:
        He had the highest 2pnt FG% of any high-scoring collegiate player last year (60.1%).
        He has an awesome eFG% of 65%, also the highest among volume scorers last season.

        Negatives:
        He doesn’t do anything else that well. He is an OK rebounder for a PF at 10.9 per 40pa. He doesn’t collect blocks, assists, or steals, and he turns the ball over a lot.

        Going by Berri’s heuristics, Williams’ super high 2pnt% and good-enough rebounding mean he looks like a “good apple”. We don’t know for sure if he will work out, and even if he does, we aren’t sure exactly how, but he still is probably worth consideration at the #2.

        Going off of your finding that the r^2 of eFG% college to pro is only 0.06, Williams’ only appealing talent will not translate to the NBA at much better than chance. That would make him a pretty terrible choice at #2.

        As a Wolves fan this is troubling. Any thoughts?

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