Using Basketball Prospectus' college basketball translations, we have determined player comparisons for 2011 draftees. Through game tape, our Sebastian Pruiti explores what makes these players so similar as well as what these draftees are going to have to improve on to validate the comparisons.
Kemba Walker used a phenomenal junior season that started as MVP of the Maui Invitational and ended with a national championship to put himself firmly in the top 10 of just about every single mock draft. With Walker drawing interest from a number of different teams, we are going to evaluate him in respect to his NBA comparison, D.J. Augustin.
Scoring Off Of The Pick-and-Roll. The first thing that you notice when comparing Walker's play with Augustin's is that they both a very efficient when looking to score off of the pick-and-roll. Walker is a 38.5 percent shooter when playing off of the pick-and-roll, posting a PPP of 0.963 (putting him in the top 20 percent of college basketball players) while Augustin shoots 40.7 percent, posting a PPP of 0.928.
In addition to similar bottom-line production, Walker and Augustin are comparable in how they use screens. When they use the ball screen (Walker uses it 70.6 percent of the time while Augustin uses it 78.6 percent of the time), they both have a tendency to use their jump shot, with Walker taking a dribble jumper 68.8 percent of the time when using screens (Augustin takes a dribble jumper 71.4 percent of the time):
Both Walker and Augustin have a smooth jumper off of the dribble, and that shooting ability forces the defense to play the pick-and-roll perfectly every single time or they are giving up an open jump shot. You can't switch these screens either. When a big man is matched with Walker or Augustin, they are so quick that the defender has to give them space, and they are able to take advantage of that space by pulling up and knocking down the jumper.
Along with the dribble jumper off of the screen, both players have a tendency to go away from the screen at the same rate. Walker goes away from the screen 13.9 percent while Augustin goes away from the screen 14.5 percent (this is top 15 in the NBA in terms of percent of possessions going away from the screen):
The reason why these guys like to go away from the screen so much is because defenses are so worried about defending them when they use the screen that they tend to "show their hand" a bit early, and try to work over the ball screen. The second either Walker or Augustin sees this, they are quick enough to change directions and attack the rim.
Passing Out Of The Pick-and-Roll. The biggest difference between Walker and Augustin again revolves around the pick-and-roll. What I notice is that Augustin is a more willing passer out of pick-and-roll situations, and this helps because the defense knows that he has more options available. While Walker is effective when he passes out of the pick-and-roll, it is my opinion that he didn't do it nearly enough this past season.
Augustin's split between passing and shooting is right down the middle, with Augustin looking for his offense 52.2 percent of the time and looking for his teammates 47.8 percent of the time. The gap in Walker's splits are a little more extreme with Walker looking for his own offense 63.8 percent of the time and looking for his teammates just 36.2 percent of the time. Walker's tendency to look for his own offense coming off of the screen leads him take a few bad shots here and there:
This is a perfect example of when looking for your own offense too much hurts you. Walker comes off of the ball screen and attacks the lane. After getting bumped, the big hedging out on Walker is able to stay with him. This would be a perfect opportunity for Walker to dribble under the basket and look for a cutting or spot up teammate. Instead, Walker attempts the layup and the shot gets blocked out of bounds.
Maybe the most frustrating thing is that Walker's team was better when he was hitting teammates off of the pick-and-roll than when he was looking to create offense himself. When Walker was looking for his own offense, he posted 0.864 PPP on 40.7 percent shooting. When Walker was passing it to teammates out of the pick-and-roll, his team posted 1.008 PPP on 44.9 percent shooting.
For Kemba Walker to be the complete threat that D.J. Augustin is when he comes off of screens (and as funny as that sounds, he is a legitimate threat when doing so) he is going to have to be a more willing passer out of pick-and-roll situations. With better bigs around him, that might be easily accomplished by Walker.
Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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