I just followed up with Celtics 2013 second round draft pick out of Colorado State Colton Iverson, who has been playing this year in Turkey for Besiktas in the Turkish League and Eurocup league. Iverson's stats are generally somewhat down from his last year in college, with rebounds per minute, scoring and true shooting all down and personal fouls and turnovers up. Fellow late second round pick and advanced stats darling Mike Muscala is playing in Spain, and the story is much the same.
My immediate question was whether this statistical deterioration by both players is a typical effect a higher level of competition playing pro ball in Europe.
Previuosly, I did a comparison of the NBA Development League (D-League) to the NCAA to compare the competition level and in particular to evaluate PJ Hairston, a former North Carolina player who has recently started playing in the D-League in hopes of getting drafter this summer.
The method there revolved around comparing a player's score on a metric called Alternative Win Score in both leagues that he played, in that case, the NCAA and the D-League. There was a clear pattern of players showing a degradation in their production against D-League competition, especially when the slower college pace is taken into account.
As a reference for the AWS scale I made this chart, as a rough idea what different AWS numbers per 40 minutes mean.
|Description||Duant-ian||All-Star Conversation||Solid Starter||Role Player||Back Bench Player||Soon to be Out of the League|
|Example||Kevin Durant||Al Horford||Kyle Korver||Brandon Bass||Ryan Hollins||Marquis Teague|
Looking at play in Europe is a bit more difficult than the D-League, as there is no single European league. The league Bucks first round selection Giannis Antedekoumpo played in was a decidedly junior Greek league, the kind of which many young 'draft and stash' European prospects taken in the second round have the majority of their on court experience. For this comparison, I am using the seven larger European leagues tracked by DraftExpress.com. The level of play isn't exactly the same in the different European leagues used here, with the Spanish ACB and Euro-League being the best. However, it is relatively close, especially compared to the distance apparent between general NCAA competition and the European leagues.
I looked at 29 NCAA players that went from the college game right over to Europe like Iverson and Musina concentrating on the last three years. The per 40 minutes stats for both college and European Leagues were pace adjusted to the NBA level, as I did in the D-League comparison. The median AWS fell by 2.1 points going from college over to the major European leagues. All of these players are coming out of college and still developing, so the difference in competition levels is probably understated slightly.
The differences in some of the major stats categories are below shown as percentages of possessions:
|AWS Diff||TS% Diff||Reb% Diff||TOV% Diff||PF% Diff|
All of the categories showed deterioration moving to the European pros.
A good example of a player that falls fairly close to the central tendencies here is Kyle Singler, whose AWS per 40 fell from 6.6 his senior year at Duke, a solid starter, to role player numbers in the Spanish ACB and the Euroleague with an average AWS of 4.3 (It dipped again his first year in the NBA though is hovering between role and deep bench level this year).
Another is Robbie Hummel, who put up an All-Star level 9.7 his senior year at Purdue and fell to a 6.8 Quality starter level in the ACB. (And is scoring a 4.5 role player level with the T-Wolves).
For fans of the transitive property, I also tested movement between the D-League and European leaguesm finding a difference of -.88 moving from the D-League to Europe using 65 players going from Europe to the D-League or the other way around. Since the college players going to the D-League scored about -1.5 AWS lower, the total of those added difference are roughly in line with the college to Europe total difference.
This one of those projects with a lot of data collection and calculations that ends up with a pretty simple answer and not one all that unexpected. But, still a necessary step since I plan to keep including European draft prospects in my Draft potential model. (And happily these findings follow my initial estimate closely).