2013 WNBA Draft: Weighing scoring efficiency for scoring guard prospects

Stacy Revere

Scoring efficiency is clearly important for guard prospects, but can we get more precise at determining how important?

Over the past few years, I have maintained that a WNBA perimeter prospect's 2-point percentage was a make or break statistic.

Then last year, two players made rosters with a 2-point percentage beneath what I'd consider the threshold for a successful prospect: Natalie Novosel and Riquna Williams.

So are they outliers or was that threshold just imprecise to begin with?

Again, there are so few successful players that have made rosters that it's difficult to get too precise with any WNBA Draft data. But Drew Cannon at KenPom.com came up with something called "3-point score" for men's college basketball last year that seemed relevant to our little dilemma.

To summarize, he noted that 3-point percentage doesn't describe who the best 3-point shooters are because it doesn't account for the frequency at which a player shot from beyond the arc: the 3-point specialist who comes on the court for a few minutes a game and goes 1-for-2 or even 2-for-4 isn't necessarily a better 3-point shooter than the go-to player who's on the court all game and shoots a lower percentage on 6-8 attempts. He then applied the same reasoning to a formula for "2-point score".

2-point score fits nicely with an observation I've made about the WNBA draft over the years: low usage perimeter players (really, anyone under a usage rate of 20%) have struggled to make the WNBA over the years even if they're extremely efficient. It follows then that there should be some adjustment made for players who look less efficient because they've shouldered a larger responsibility for their college team's offensive production. This might not be the Holy Grail of draft statistics, but it's a step closer to alleviating that efficiency and volume problem.

Figuring out how well this applies to the WNBA draft even since the 11-player roster began will just be a longer project that I've alluded to undertaking this year, but a computer crash and some lost data badly derailed that (one day I will back things up properly... I swear).

Anyway, I did get through looking at it for this year and last year and will look at it more in the future but here are some preliminary observations.

  • Both Novosel and Williams had 2-point scores in the 1.00 range, but what gave them an edge over other prospects were things that have also been noted previously: Novosel shot better than 40% from the 3-point line and Williams had a steal percentage of 4.65%, both of which are solid skills to have. Neither was overly turnover prone (under 13% turnover ratio). It bears repeating that they made lottery teams last year, and both brought skills that their teams could use. But 40% 3-point shooting and high steal percentages have always been good signs.
  • Last year's draft continued a trend of turnover prone guards struggling to make the league: drop to a 15% turnover ratio and the chances of making a roster dwindle.
  • It's really not clear that free throw shooting matters much at all. April Sykes really stretched the limits of that thinking: she made the Sparks roster last year with a free throw production rate of 8.7%. Essence Carson has been a mainstay in the New York Liberty's rotation with a senior year free throw production rate of just 15%.
  • Pure scorers like Novosel and Williams (people with a negative value added rating) have to be either great 3-point shooters or get a high rate of steals.

Here are the numbers I have for the guards (which I'll speak more to shortly before the draft in a final draft board:

Name

TS%

2p%

3p%

PPR

FTP

2p Score

Stl%

Martin, Anna

56.18%

56.02%

31.48%

1.65

19.40%

1.04

3

Clarendon, Layshia

53.23%

51.72%

29.41%

0.11

23.41%

1.03

2.70%

Rasheed, Niveen

52.26%

48.21%

22.92%

-1.28

30.47%

1.03

4.80%

Williams, Kamiko

54.35%

53.10%

35.90%

2.43

8.15%

1.03

4

Madden, Jordan

60.45%

58.02%

40.00%

2.16

18.28%

1.02

2.7

Rodriguez, Leonor

56.56%

51.85%

34.71%

-3.37

24.73%

1.02

3.2

Ritchie, Adrian

59.69%

55.13%

37.57%

2.42

20.58%

1.02

5

Faris, Kelly

63.27%

62.77%

39.62%

2.37

18.11%

1.02

4.5

Spani, Taber

57.51%

51.66%

37.07%

-1.74

20.60%

1.02

1.1

Godbold, Adrienne

49.89%

46.93%

26.09%

-8.21

21.21%

1.02

4.3

Webb, Adrienne

54.38%

47.99%

36.29%

-2.68

21.66%

1.02

1.3

Hayden, Kimetria

55.51%

51.09%

38.81%

3.24

13.73%

1.02

2.6

Hill, Tayler

55.66%

47.17%

31.68%

-2.40

41.11%

1.01

3.5

Deluzio, Alexa

55.41%

47.85%

37.50%

-2.22

21.81%

1.01

1.7

Brown, Chynna

53.27%

46.00%

41.96%

-3.10

11.05%

1.01

3.8

Tyson-Thomas, Carmen

48.70%

45.98%

29.51%

-2.04

16.55%

1.01

3.9

Jeffery, Chucky

48.23%

44.81%

28.75%

-1.08

18.81%

1.01

3.8

Smith, Andrell

47.29%

41.89%

32.95%

-2.25

13.70%

1

3.1

Mathies, A'dia

52.41%

42.31%

40.76%

-1.00

17.16%

1

3.4

Smith, Shenneika

44.60%

41.58%

25.00%

-4.22

15.83%

1

2.8

Rodgers, Sugar

48.29%

39.73%

31.90%

-5.18

23.11%

1

4.9

Ruffin-Pratt, Tierra

46.55%

40.91%

20.37%

-4.44

34.73%

0.99

4.4

Hall, Elashier

46.06%

35.85%

33.77%

-5.67

28.37%

0.99

4.2

Smith, Andrea

45.43%

33.43%

36.31%

-4.98

21.82%

0.97

4

  • It's possible Clarendon is still underrated: It's hard to say without knowing more but Clarendon gets one the biggest boosts of anyone in this draft when converting her 2-point percentage into a 2-point score. Add to that the fact that she doesn't turn the ball over much and you have an extremely efficient offensive threat, one of the best we've seen come out in the last few years. She'll be one to keep an eye on. For reference, she has the exact same 2-point score as Tiffany Hayes.
  • Tayler Hill is still a great prospect: Still Hill gets the nod as the top scoring guard to me because of the combination of size, defensive ability, and managing to score at such a high usage rate. But Clarendon isn't far behind - if at all - and you have to wonder how high she's being considered.
  • Both Clarendon and Hill have strong similarity ratings: Similarity ratings are purely statistical so you can quibble with them, but Clarendon and Hill both sit in the Candice Wiggins-Epiphanny Prince (junior year college statistics) range as efficient volume scorers who aren't quite pure scorers due to strong assist or steal ratios. It is becoming the place to be for perimeter draft prospects.
  • Two other players who 2-point score really favors: 5'11" Adrienne GodBold of Illinois and 6'0" Niveen Rasheed of Princeton. GodBold is really turnover prone as indicated by her low pure point rating and Rasheed is a mid-major prospect, but we'll see what GMs think of them.
  • 2-point score tempers the efficiency of low usage players like Kelly Faris, Kimetria Hayden and Jordan Madden: Obviously they still rank high on that list, but not as high as they do on a 2-point percentage list. The two Baylor players will be interesting to watch: Hayden has a high turnover ratio (15%) at a low usage rate that should be considered a warning sign and while Madden is a solid 3-point shooter her usage rate of 13% is lower than what you'd expect to make a roster.
  • Madden, Chynna Brown, and A'dia Mathies are all 40%+ 3-point shooters to watch: Brown didn't get much pub at Texas Tech and is only 5'8", but she has a swagger to her game and can knock down threes. Mathies does get a bad rap for being inefficient, but if she can find a team that needs a 3-point threat she could find a niche for herself. Madden might be worth a shot for a team looking for 3-point help.
  • Adrian Ritchie's outstanding efficiency becomes a bit more pedestrian with the 2-point score adjustment but she still has outstanding numbers across the board that are hard to ignore.
  • Chucky Jeffery is tough to peg statistically: She doesn't have the assist ratio of a point guard but also isn't a terribly efficient scorer. The one hope for her is that when she doesn't have to lead a team in every major category she'll become more efficient in one. But on paper she'll have a hard time making a case for being drafted over one of these other players.
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