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Basketball philosophy

Ben Simmons vs Brandon Ingram by the numbers

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ingramAfter LSU’s poorer than poor end to the season, Draftexpress.com replaced Ben Simmons with Ben Ingram at #1. Soon after Jonathan Givony wrote “Why Ben Simmons isn’t the top prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft”

Whether NBA teams end up following suit or not, this looks to be a tight debate for #1. Here’s a statistical look at it:

Per 40 minutes:

Brandon Ingram

19.7 pts, .55 TS%, 8.0 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.6 blk, 2.4 TOV

Ben Simmons

22.0 pts, .60 TS%, 13.7 reb, 5.5 ast, 2.3 stl, 0.9 blk, 3.6 TOV

Since Ingram is expected to play SF and Simmons PF, their numbers need some context. Here are 7 former freshman or sophomores to compare them to in per 40 minute rates:

SF

Carmelo Anthony (freshman) 24.4 pts, .54 TS%, 11.0 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl, 0.9 blk, 2.4 TOV
Kevin Durant (freshman) 28.8 pts, .59 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.5 ast, 2.1 stl, 2.1 blk, 3.2 TOV
Luol Deng (freshman) 19.4 pts, .55 TS%, 8.9 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.7 stl, 1.4 blk, 2.9 TOV
Kawhi Leonard (sophomore) 18.5 pts, .50 TS%, 12.8 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.8 stl, 0.7 blk, 2.7 TOV
Paul George (sophomore) 19.9 pts, .58 TS%, 8.6 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.6 stl, 1.0 blk, 3.6 TOV
Andre Iguodala (sophomore) 16.1 pts, .54 TS%, 10.5 reb, 6.1 ast, 2.0 stl, 0.5 blk, 3.5 TOV
Gordon Hayward (sophomore) 18.4 pts, .62 TS%, 10.1 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.4 stl, 1.0 blk, 2.8 TOV

PF

Chris Bosh (freshman) 20.3 pts, .63 TS%, 11.6 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.3 stl, 2.8 blk, 3.0 TOV
Kevin Love (freshman) 23.6 pts, .65 TS%, 14.4 reb, 2.6 ast, 0.9 stl, 1.9 blk, 2.7 TOV
Anthony Davis (freshman) 17.7 pts, .66 TS%, 13.0 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.7 stl, 5.8 blk, 1.3 TOV
Derrick Favors (freshman) 18.0 pts, .63 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.3 stl, 3.0 blk, 3.3 TOV
Carlos Boozer (freshman) 25.7 pts, .70 TS%, 12.2 reb, 1.2 ast, 1.2 stl, 0.8 blk, 2.6 TOV
Blake Griffin (sophomore) 27.3 pts, .65 TS%, 17.3 reb, 2.7 ast, 1.3 stl, 1.4 blk, 3.2 TOV
Lamarcus Aldridge (sophomore) 17.8 pts, .59 TS%, 10.9 reb, 0.6 ast, 1.6 stl, 2.3 blk, 2.5 TOV

From these lists a median statline can be built:

SF: 19.4 pts, .55 TS%, 10.5 reb, 2.4 ast, 1.8 stl, 1.0 blk, 2.9 TOV

PF: 20.3 pts, .65 TS%, 12.4 reb, 1.6 ast, 1.3 stl, 2.3 blk, 2.7 TOV

Now using this to break down how Simmons and Ingram performed

Steals

Ingram:
1.3 stl/40, SF median: 1.8 stl/40 (Ingram averages 72% of median)

Simmons:
2.3 stl/40, PF median: 1.3 stl/40 (177%)

Blocks

Ingram:
1.6 blk/40, SF median: 1.0 blk/40 (160%)

Simmons:
0.9 blk/40, PF median: 2.3 blk/40 (39%)

Steals and blocks are often cited as key in draft analytics. Each can claim strength in one. Simmons steal rate would rate 1st on the list of compared to PFs. Ingram’s block rate would be 2nd for SFs behind Durant. Simmons block rate is 2nd lowest, only ahead of Boozer. Ingram’s steal rate would be lowest on the SF list.

Rebounding

Ingram:
8.0 reb/40, SF median: 10.5 reb/40 (76%)

Simmons:
13.7 reb/40, PF median: 12.4 reb/40 (110%)

Assists

Ingram:
2.2 ast/40, SF median: 2.4 ast/40 (92%)

Simmons:
5.5 ast/40, PF median: 1.6 ast/40 (344%)

These two are a win for Simmons. His rebounding rates 3rd behind Griffin and Love. Ingram’s rates last among the SFs. Simmons assist rate is the most dominant stat compared to his position of any player in this draft. He is near 3 and a half times the median and over 2x the next nearest peer, in Boozer’s 2.7. Ingram and Hayward tie for 2nd last ahead of Durant.

Turnovers

Ingram:
2.4 TOV/40, SF median: 2.9 TOV/40 (83%)

Simmons:
3.6 TOV/40, PF median: 2.7 TOV/40 (133%)

Ingram’s turnover rate ties for the lowest among SFs with Anthony. Simmons would have the highest rate among the PFs. As a comparison, the median TOV per 40 for Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Mike Conley, Jr. is 3.2. Therefore even when compared to pass-first peers, Simmons turnovers are still high.

Scoring (Pts and TS%)

Ingram:
19.7 pts/40, SF median: 19.4 pts/40 (102%)
.55 TS%, SF median: .55 TS% (100%)

Simmons:
22.0 pts/40, PF median: 20.3 pts/40 (108%)
.60 TS%, PF median: .65 TS% (92%)

Scoring is the most conflicting category to rate. From my research scoring is where the age and conference effects show up the most. Ingram is more than a year younger than Simmons and played a harder schedule. Duke ranks 10th in SOS to LSU’s 79th and played 21 games against top 100 opponents to LSU’s 15. As important is the talent on their own teams. As a non-tournament team, there is less competition on Simmons team to take shots. All of this context points towards Simmons scoring at a higher volume than Ingram this year, which is what he did.

Simmons has the 4th highest points rate behind Griffin, Love and Boozer, however his freshman rate is above Griffin’s. His TS% only rates above Aldridge on the PFs, however Aldridge had a drop in TS% from his freshman to sophomore year’s, his freshman rate was more efficient than Simmons.

Ingram’s pts rates 4th below Durant, Anthony and George, his TS% rates 4th behind Durant, Hayward and George. However George and Hayward were sophomores without strong conference competition. Overall, it’s fair to suggest his combination of volume and TS% for his age and conference is the 3rd best on this list behind Durant and Anthony.

As a whole, when taking into account conference, age, and efficiency I lean towards Ingram’s scoring season as more impressive than Simmons, though not by a significant amount.

Overall

Category by category, it’s a relatively split decision. Simmons is stronger in steals, rebounds and has the dominant stat in assists. Ingram has better blocks, has low turnovers and is arguably the more impressive scorer.

However the question isn’t always what stats they put up, but how. Consider Simmons’ weakness in the blocks stat. The median block rate jumps from 1.0 to 2.3 from SF to PF. Simmons plays as much like a SF as PF. If compared to SF, Simmons’ 0.9 blks per 40 would look a lot more normal. While the steal rate is higher at SF than PF, Simmons 2.3 would still rate above the median of 1.8 at that position.

Simmons’ second weak category is turnovers. However a good case can be made this was the cost for his unique facilitating and high assist role. Simmons had a Ast/Tov of 1.51 compared to the PF list’s average of 0.59. Ingram had a Ast/Tov of 0.91 compared to the SF’s average of 0.83. Ingram being used in much less of a facilitator role led to less turnovers, but also less assists.

Ingram’s weaknesses are harder to explain. The low assist rate can be explained by his less ball dominant role. However the real glaring numbers are ranking last among the list of SFs Anthony, Durant, Leonard, George, Deng, Iguodala, Hayward in both steals and rebounding, despite having the length of a center in a small forward’s body. Duke is an average rebounding team, so competition among his teammates for boards can’t be used as a great excuse in this case. In worst case scenario, there’s a chance his rebounding and steals hides in it a future problem in one of effort level, toughness or awareness going forward.

As a whole, both players do some things very well statistically. Ingram has an excellent combination of shotblocking, low turnover rate and scoring for his age, to Simmons steals, assists, rebounding. If a team is as concerned with Simmons personality as Jonathan Givony is, there is enough in the numbers to believe in Ingram.

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Written by jr.

March 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

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