Since I am tired of waiting for players to declare whether they are going to enter the NBA draft or not, I am going to spend my time doing some player comparisons. My goal is to do one player comparison each day on a player that is going to enter the NBA draft. I am going to project that player’s ceiling and floor. I will be basing it off of their statistics, size, skill, and who they remind me of before that player went to the pros.
Hopefully you understand what I just said. If not, let me put it in Layman terms for you: I am going to compare prospects to pros.
I am going to start small, eventually working my way up to the big-time prospects.
I don’t know much about Jared Cunningham, but I just heard that he is going pro (don’t put “Insider” information on Twitter Chad Ford!) so I am going to do my research.
Here is what I found:
Jared Cunningham profile:
Weight: 194 lb
Team: Oregon State Beavers
Pac-10/12 players have fallen off the map over the past two or three years. Stanford’s Landry Fields was a nice surprise for the New York Knicks last season and Derrick Williams is improving for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but they aren’t pumping out players like Kevin Love, Arron Affalo, Andrew Bogut, Gilbert Arenas, or Chauncey Billups anymore. Despite the lack of product they have put out over the last few years, Pac-12 players always become good in the NBA. Look at Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic as an example. Nobody knew who he was before this year. All he could do was shoot threes (that’s basically it, still), but he is averaging 16.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg, and shooting 41.6% from three-point land. I don’t know where I am going with this. But Pac-12 players always seem to find a niche in the NBA.
Back to Cunningham now.
He was named to the Pac-12 All Defensive First Team as a sophomore and will probably be on the team again this year. Offensively, he has had big games this year. He went for 35 and 37 points against Hofstra and Texas, respectively. He had 13 games this season in which he scored 20 points or more and another 11 games in which he scored between 15-20 points. His free-throw totals are insane. He went to the line 270 times this season (7.5 times per game) and he made 199 of those attempts. If he is shooting that many free-throws he must be doing one of two things: 1. Getting past his defender and beating the help-side defender to the spot around the basket or 2. He knows how to find the lane and draw contact. I am going to say that he is doing a bit of both.
He seems to be somewhat of an efficient scorer. He takes 12.2 shots per game (making 5.5 per game) so that averages out to 1.46 points per shot if you include free-throws (without free-throws it’s 1.01 points per shot). So getting to the line can boost a player’s points per game instantly.
If Dwight Howard could make 70% of his free-throws, he would average 23.3 ppg instead of 21.1 ppg (sorry, got side-tracked, again!).
I like Cunningham’s length. At 6’4 and nearly 200 lbs, he is big enough to play the two-guard spot; but I hope he has good enough ball-handling skills to run some point.
Even though the Pac-12 was disgraceful this season, they still produce solid pros. Now comes the important part.
Prognosis: So, Cunningham has some things in common with one of the greatest defenders the NBA has ever seen: Gary Payton. No, no, no I am not going to compare him to Payton but they have the same body-type (long and skinny for a guard) and both went to Oregon State. Looking at everything that Cunningham has to offer, Cunningham was projected to be the 28th in the first round . . . in the 2013 DRAFT! However, some players who are ranked higher than him might stay in school another year so that will help his stock. When I looked at every NBA roster, I came up with a number of players who compare I can compare with Cunningham. Some of the players are Marquis Daniels, Leandro Barbosa, Manny Harris, Jrue Holiday, Jordan Crawford, and Elliot Williams. I don’t think the comparison to both Daniels and Barbosa are fair to Cunningham because he isn’t a bum like Daniels and isn’t as quick as Barbosa.
I think his floor is a rich-man’s Manny Harris (which isn’t so rich because Harris can’t find minutes on the Cleveland Cavaliers). I think he has the potential to be the next Jrue Holiday-type player, defensively. He doesn’t have the point guard skills that Holiday possesses (he probably never will), but they are both very good defenders. Offensively, the closest comparison I can come up with is [Jordan] Crawford (sorry for doing that to you, Jared). Crawford loves to jack shots up. While I don’t think he will shoot to the extent that Crawford does, Crawford isn’t a bad offensive player. Let’s just hope Cunningham doesn’t end up on the Wizards (because God knows it’s every man for himself on that team).
What do you get when you combine Holiday and Crawford together? You get Jared Cunningham.