A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Ron Baker and searching for Draymond Green

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The Warriors picking Draymond Green 35th changed their franchise, changed the balance of power in the league, changed a position. Now teams will look at passing on Green and do their best to rectify the mistakes next time.

Here’s an attempt:

Draymond’s defense

Defense is a big reason teams missed on Green. Here is Draftexpress on his defense in December 2011:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 10.07.19 AM

Here is Chad Ford in June 2012:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 10.08.42 AM

Green was supposed to not have a defensive position in the pros as short for a PF at 6’7 and too slow to guard SFs. He’s gone on to be a top 2 defender in the NBA.

There are signs he was a better defensive prospect at the time. First off while Green is short at 6’7, a 7’1 wingspan is above average. He adds that to an excellent frame/strength. So Green’s length and strength combined was actually above average for a PF.

The next sign were results. Green averaged a quality 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 10.3 defensive rebounds per 40 and had the highest defensive win shares on an elite Spartans D. For this he was voted to the Big Ten’s All-Defense team. The season before he averaged more steals and blocks at 2.2 and 1.5 per 40.

Having a plus defensive body and a statistical and recognition track record of playing defense is a great place to start for projecting on that end, especially when you add in grade A basketball IQ and motor raves. While you can’t blame scouts too much for misreading his athleticism at the time, one can guess he would have looked better moving side to side than vertically.

Draymond’s offense

Draymond’s skillset was one of the most unique among college bigs this generation. A stretch big at 39% on 4.4 attempts/40 doesn’t happen too often on its own, but that combined with 4.6 assists/40 is what made him one of a kind, peaking at 5.7 assists/40 as a junior. Green’s unique shooting and passing skills in the NBA far from came out of nowhere. His scoring rate of 19.6 pts/40 on .54 TS% as a senior was not spectacular, but solid.

Ron Baker’s Draymond Green credentials

A prospect with some Green in his profile is Wichita State’s Ron Baker.

To start look at the similarities in Baker’s defensive profile. Defense is one of his biggest strengths in college. He made the MVC All-Defensive team and ranked 1st in Defensive Win Shares on Wichita State’s elite D. His 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, 5.5 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes is a strong combination compared to SGs.

Baker is small in height at 6’4, but his 6’9.5 wingspan is above average. He has a big frame. He is known most for his basketball IQ and high intensity allowing him to pressure opposing players and pick off passes.

So much like Green he has the defensive track record of production, the plus body and the IQ and motor. Athleticism is what scouts worry about most on that end. This is fair enough, although it appears to his ability to move side to side is more impressive than his jumping ability. If Green and Baker were such bad athletes, perhaps they wouldn’t have been good defenders in college.


On offense is where Baker loses the comparison to Green a bit more. He averages 4.1 assists per 40 and has the ball handling to run pick and rolls at the next level. He shot 34.8% from 3, after over 37% as a sophomore and junior. With a quality 78% FT his shooting projection is solid. His 17.4 pts/40 on .55 TS% as a senior isn’t amazing, but you can do worse.

All of this doesn’t compare too badly to Green, but the difference is position. Over 4 assists per 40 is good at SG, but once or twice a generation levels of rarity at PF. Being a 3 point shooter and floor spacer at PF is a whole different animal than SG. It doesn’t mean Baker can’t find a role with shooting, passing and basketball IQ at the next level, it’s just not as obviously rare from the outset as Green’s skillset.

I don’t expect Ron Baker to be a star like Green. I’d estimate the “median outcome” is probably more like Courtney Lee and to be a star would require hitting some high bell curve outcome. But if looking for a Green-like 2nd round older prospect with defensive production, body, IQ, motor make him underrated on that end and has shooting and passing tools on the other, he seems to check a lot of boxes.


Written by jr.

May 10, 2016 at 11:47 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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