this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Previously: Zak Irvin
Along with his reputation as an offensive guru, John Beilein’s become well-known at Michigan for his ability to discover under-the-radar recruits and turn them into stars.* Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas are the most-oft cited examples (along with Caris LeVert, who, like Burke and Stauskas, could become an eventual first-round draft pick), but Beilein’s found success in fleshing out his rotations with mid- or low-major recruits. In the last four recruiting cycles, Michigan developed a penchant for adding late-bloomers near the end of their senior seasons: in 2011, Max Bielfeldt; in 2012, Spike Albrecht and LeVert; in 2014, Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
*He’s also known for recruiting sons of famous NBA players and Dawkins continues that lineage.
Because of unexpected attrition and injuries to key players, Michigan’s best five-man lineup in the last month of the season featured four of those late additions: Spike, Mo, Aubrey, and Max. Though all four were seemingly recruited as depth guys, they often played as many as 30 minutes per game down the stretch. Michigan’s frustrating season quickly became unburdened from expectation and silver linings were actively sought for and discovered over the last two months of the season.
Aubrey Dawkins was the most encouraging of those “weird guys.” Before Caris LeVert’s injury in the waning seconds of the first Northwestern game, Dawkins averaged just 8.6 minutes per game and even though he was Michigan’s best player in the conference opener (hitting six threes and totaling 20 points on 9 shot equivalents), Aubrey wasn’t given much playing time. After LeVert went down, his minutes skyrocketed:
Despite taking a prep year and only fielding scholarship offers from Dayton, Cal Poly, College of Charleston, Northeastern, and Rhode Island, Dawk emerged as a high-ceiling prospect and a valuable rotational member going forward – simply put, he can get buckets and he can get them efficiently.
* * *
Checking the Eye-Test
Once he broke into the starting lineup, Dawkins’s strengths and weaknesses became quite evident. The NBA fetishizes so-called “3-and-D” prospects – players who fit neatly into the new wave of spread pick-and-roll offenses (which Michigan emulates to a certain extent) across the league. Providing spacing is an increasingly valuable trait; a guy has solid offensive value if he can stand on the perimeter and shoot 40% from three, even if he can’t do much more than that. Throw in credible (or better) defense on the wing, and you have a 3-and-D player – rapidly rising salary numbers for those types emphasize their perceived value.
Dawkins isn’t one of those guys, though he could possibly get there. His defense was bad across the board: Beilein hesitated to give him playing time early in the season and in hindsight, it’s easy to see why – he was frequently lost on the defensive end, prone to ball-watching, easily shed on screens, and beaten as the on-ball defender. His rebounding numbers were disappointing and he averaged about half a steal and half a block after his ascension to the starting lineup. Theoretically, Dawkins could develop into an adequate defender (or maybe even better than that), but as of right now, he’s decidedly a minus.
If he eventually does progress significantly as a defender – which is definitely possible – he has the offensive tools to fit the 3-and-D mold. He shot a healthy 43% from three on 88 attempts despite a funky, though consistent, release: his length and leaping ability allows him to soar over contesting defenders and he flicks the ball towards the rim with a low trajectory – almost like a shot in beer pong. Beilein drew up some sets to get Dawkins some elbow jumpers and he hit them well enough to overcome the inherent inefficiency of long twos. The “3” aspect of the 3-and-D player is definitely there and he’s shown he could handle high volume – Dawkins shot 46% on 4.5 attempts per game after cracking the rotation.
Like Tim Hardaway, another 3-and-D-without-the-D pro legacy, Dawkins can jump out of the gym, possibly his best hint towards a potential (though unlikely) pro career. I mean, just watch this emasculating throwdown over 6’11 Nnanna Egwu (and it’s impossible to watch just once). More importantly, he’s successful around the rim even when he isn’t dunking – Dawk shot 61% at the rim, per Shot Analytics. He can’t create off the bounce – remarkably, his assist rate was lower than Zak Irvin’s freshman year – but he’s clever cutting off the ball and gets close-range attempts that way (and in the same vein, Dawkins is excellent at moving around the arc to set up open looks from three). He’s a one-dimensional player: a scorer who needs to be set up by others. With Michigan’s bevy of players who can create, that’s perfectly alright.
[Hit the JUMP for the rest of the analysis]
ROUNDS AND LONGEVITY: ANOTHER LOOK AT NFL CAREER LENGTH
In the twelve year span from 1995-2007, about 2,600 players that heard their names called in the NFL Draft have seen the field on Sunday somewhere and for some length of time. The question we are examining in this particular work is, “How long?”
The answer may not shock many people - it might very well depend on where you were picked in the draft. We know from anecdotal evidence that the typical NFL career is on the short side, perhaps even fleeting. Indeed, in the sample I used – 1995-2007 – regardless of round, you could expect to spend 5.21 years in the NFL on average with a standard deviation of about three years. Here’s the broad distribution of players by career length:
The distribution is very, very skewed – in a sample of 2,624 players, 30.7% of them played 8 or more years, and only 12.8% of them played 10 or more years. Of more note, 49.3% of those players played five years or fewer, so you can see where that particular average comes from. Speaking of average career length, it began to take a tumble towards the end of the studied period.
Let me change this up for a moment and explain why I used 1995-2007 as a time frame. The primary reason is that I wanted to use a time period where there would not be very many careers still in progress. Using data too close to the present would drag down the averages for the first few rounds and probably do little to the remaining rounds. Also, it is a relatively recent timeframe, so the game was in a state at least close to what it is at the moment.
Bearing that in mind now, let’s look at average length of service by round overall:
Here, you’ll note the bars which show plus or minus one standard deviation. Essentially, the average career length of a first round pick is pretty atypical in the NFL, and you can see this tumble rather nicely to the also atypically brief career of a seventh round pick. The line crosses the average career length between the 3rd and 4th rounds, so basically your chances for a career of some length are greater in the first three rounds. That shouldn’t surprise you, but the numbers back it up.
Here’s the same data, but broken out by round and year. It will appear cluttered at the bottom (which you should expect as the separation decreases rapidly in later rounds), but you’ll note that the first and second rounds more or less fly high above the others.
Another way to look at this is to see the individual rounds distributed by length of service and player counts so that you can see the profile of each round in this time period. The first and second rounds are fairly normal, although they both have some multimodal moments:
The third round’s profile is very different, heavily skewed towards briefer careers:
The fourth through seventh rounds therefore should not be surprising:
So, we can see in this sampling that your draft round definitely can be a factor in how long you manage to stay in the league. In another part of this particular set of diaries, we will zoom in and look at the first two rounds and see if there is a potential impact from one’s spot in the draft order and later on we will tackle this by position to examine tendencies by round.
Oh, and in case you're ever confused...
Ok, so this was more an exercise in creating a magazine spread than me designing a wallpaper, but it occurred to me that many of you are just as crazy obsessed with Harbaugh's presence at Michigan and may enjoy it. This was a concept piece I did this week for a fictional magazine article about Jim. I did it because I'm working on building up a portfolio of various graphic design templates in order to possibly land some freelance stuff. I hope you all enjoy it. It has been sized to fit a standard HD 16:9 screen because that's what I run. As always, constructive criticism and suggestions are welcome.
Think getting into the first round doesn't matter? Think again.
There are some common misconceptions regarding early entries into the NBA Draft. A new "wisdom" seems to have sprung up among fans: sooner is always better, the key is starting your career earnings clock, there's still more money than joe fan will ever see in getting on a roster - or even in Europe - heck, add in that the streets of Europe's major cities are paved in gold.
There are significant problems with these new orthodoxies - career longevity is where the real money is at (even for guys who are never more than bench players), an early start date on a career earnings clock doesn't mean much if the clock never gets past year 2, $1.2 million pre-taxes, agent cut, and expenses, is far from life changing money, some European teams can't even meet their payrolls due to cratering economies*, and most of the stories about huge Euro contracts seem to be apocryphal and possibly the work of a small handful of crazed European fans who plant these stories on various forums.
The facts very clearly display that it is far, far better to land in the first round of the NBA Draft - both for the guaranteed contract and the higher likelihood of establishing yourself in a league where it pays to play many years rather than a few - they print funny money for just about everyone besides first, second, and third year players in the NBA, stars or not. Willie Green, who in a 12 year career has averaged 10 points per game twice, had banked more than $22 million at the end of 2014. I studied draft years 2003-2013, and as the tables and charts show above and below** (props to our own LSAClassOf2000 for turning my sleep addled tables into these graphical displays), there is a distinct difference between length of the careers that start in the first round and those that start in the 2nd.
Lest anyone protest that, of course, first round careers are longer, as the top half of the round is all lottery players, note that isolating the non-lottery first rounders yields largely the same results.
Two articles ran last year on cbssports (HERE and HERE) that had truly dubious conclusions: the first suggested that early declarants fare better than their senior peers (this one is simply not true - it's mathematically wrong), the second suggested that the idea of bumping up one's prospects by returning for a senior year was outdated and fanciful. It is accurate that NBA teams (foolishly, I think, judging from the stats I've poured over these last weeks) tend to shy away from seniors in the lottery, but as the tables and charts show below, the value of turning yourself into a first round lock - even near the bottom of the first round - is significant.
So what if you don't get into the first round? I'm not finished with my research, but a general hypothesis is emerging. If you're stuck in the 2nd round, you better be ready to play right away or have freakish talent that teams will be willing to take multiple runs at. Essentially, if you're a 2nd rounder, you want to be either a guy who has spent 4 years in college (RS Jr or a SR) or a former top 30 recruit.*** Looking at second round seniors who are non-top 30 guys vs. early entries into the NBA Draft who are also non-top 30 HS recruits, the former have logged 37.63% of all possible years of service while the early entrants**** have accounted for 24.92% of all possible years of service. That's a pretty significant difference. It suggests that you don't want to be a second rounder or an undrafted guy (the cbssports article's point was that you make a roster generally as an early entry, drafted or not) whose game or body is not ready for NBA competition. If you are in that pool, it's good to still have the buzz (and the inherent talent) of being a former top 30 high school recruit.
To bring this part of the research to a close, I think people focus too much on the first contract (even though it is valuable for *future* contracts to be a first rounder). We hear too much about the "stigma" of being a junior and not a sophomore and the "super stigma" of being a senior (gasp) and not a junior with more upside. You know what's much more important than any of that? Being ready to play on day one of your entry into the NBA. Being ready to play on that first day in summer league.
Here is a partial list of guys who have had solid, lengthy NBA careers (or look to be on their way to such careers) after being drafted in the second round as seniors, without a former top 30 status to fall back on:
Dominic McGuire (RS Jr)
and a whole slew of guys still in the league who were drafted in 2012 and are looking very strong (Acy, Hamilton, Scott, Sacre, etc.)
I certainly understand the allure of the NBA Draft. For so many kids, the league is the dream. And why delay getting started with one's career? But is the dream a two to three year run (or, even worse, never seeing an NBA court)? I have to think it's a 10-12 year career, with some playoffs thrown in for good measure. My research suggests it can be a very bad thing to leave a a year before you're ready for the league if you have a lengthy career in mind. In fact, even relative to athletes who perhaps stay a year too long, it is a worse road to travel, to a significant statistical degree.
I believe people can improve their games at the league level - many do. But to get the attention and the support and the patience of an NBA team to allow for your development, they have to make an investment in you. And there's nothing wrong with spending four years in a college program to make sure that you are an investment that starts paying dividends on day one.
Since a slew of transfers are on their way and that number could still rise, I figure I'd post this since Michigan has already appeared to set a record for transfers welcomed in a single year with 4.
My source for this is the Bentley football roster database. This is a list of every documented Michigan incoming transfer.
I say documented because it is possible that guys transferred here in the late 19th century and early 20th century and it just wasn't listed that they transffered.
There are some really impressive names on this list that you might recognize.
|Player||Pos.||U-M Years||Transferred From|
|Charles Street||QB||1898-1899||Williams College|
|Ebin Wilson||C||1900||Eastern Michigan|
|Willie Heston, Sr.||HB||1901-1904||San Jose State|
|Arthur Reid||N/A||1901||Simpson College|
|Willard Peach||E||1916, 1919||Western Michigan|
|Howard Yerges||QB||1944-1947||Ohio State|
|Len Ford||E||1945-1947||Morgan State|
|J.T. White||C||1946-1947||Ohio State|
|Michael Kerr||OL||1986-1987||DuPage J.C.|
|Chris Kurpeikis||OT||1995||Notre Dame|
|Russell Shaw||WR||1996-1997||Locke - El Camino C.C.|
|Jonathan Goodwin||OL||1999-2001||Ohio University|
|Spencer Brinton||QB||2001-2004||San Diego State|
|Austin Panter||LB||2007-2008||Kensington - Butler C.C.|
|Steven Threet||QB||2007-2008||Georgia Tech|
|Blake O'Neill||P||2015-||Weber State|
Italics indicates JUCO (junior college) transfer
The most exciting part of the game was having Harbaugh home
As spring games go, that was the most exciting one we've seen in years...but only because we haven't actually seen a spring game in years. The 7-0 win for the Blue team featured lots of good defensive plays and some pretty disconcerting offense. It seems the rich (defense) has gotten richer while the poor (offense) has only received a modest raise. But there is still time...
"If They Could Say It" is my attempt to give the honest answers coaches (and others) won't/can't give during their press conferences. The idea is to answer the way I believe the individual would if s/he could answer honestly without any repercussions or media frenzy. This is my attempt at the Spring Game edition, and I'll answer some questions for the HC and the coordinators. When appropriate, I'll use actual questions asked at press conferences (those will be in bold italics; my made-up questions are in standard italics).
Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?
My general takeaway is that our offense is bad and our defense is good. Sure, the defense should be ahead at this point, but I did not see enough guys willing to do whatever it takes to win on offense. We have a long way to go.
I liked the inside pressure from the defensive line, the linebacker play, the safeties, and the cornerbacks who are actually listed as CBs on the roster. Dennis Norfleet may have just lost his job as a CB.
And finally, your phrasing really sucked there. "What maybe obviously needs work?" That's a stupid fucking question. And I think I've pretty much answered it anyway--there are probably only four positions on offense that are set in stone, and that's not a good thing.
What did you see out of your quarterbacks today? What did you like from them?
I saw two guys prove that they are who we thought they were. Shane has an amazing arm and is finally developing some touch, but he doesn't go through his reads and always trusts his arm to make the primary throw. He's got a pretty good deep ball--his fades get there pretty quickly and in the right spot--and some good chemistry with Darboh. Some of those slants he threw were Brett Favre speed throws...not sure if that's a good thing. Physically, he's ready to go be our starting QB, and we can win with him. Mentally, I'm not sure he's ready to go through progressions and know how to throw the ball so our guys can catch it.
Malzone has "it," but hasn't developed enough to be physically ready to start. He reads the game, goes through progressions, and knows how to win. His throws are still just a little bit off and he didn't challenge the defense deep. But he was hurried quite a bit and he is still in the thick of the race. We'll just have to see if he can make the throws this fall.
I wish Speight had been healthy. This QB race is wide open. Rudock will definitely challenge. By next year, we'll have lots of good options.
You yourself noted that you played with mixed offensive lines today. How much would you say the running game has come along since maybe day one of spring practice to now?
Not enough. Were you watching? It's not good enough. The blocking is still inconsistent and the RBs aren't always finding the holes. De'Veon Smith has demonstrated that he's the best back we've got that's healthy right now. His vision, balance, and power really showed today. We mostly limited Derrick Green to outside runs where he doesn't have to work as hard find the crease. Ty's been looking good, but wasn't able to go today. Shallman is an H-back playing RB. But the bottom line is that if we don't get better blocking from our first team OL, it's going to be a long season. I'm disappointed that only Cole and Glasgow have locked down starting roles. The other three spots are up for grabs, though Kalis is probably close.
Are you guys trying to come up with, even within the coaches, some kind of two-deep so that you go into the summer with some idea and then they can fight again in the fall, or are you just not even going to look at that again until the fall? You talked about the starting five on the line. Do you have an idea who those are? Can you share?
Did you see a published depth chart? We obviously have one. If I wanted you to know that information, don't you think I would have given it to you? Stop asking the same fucking question different ways as if that's going to get me to answer it.
The only guys that have locked-down starting spots on offense are Mason Cole, Graham Glasgow (assuming he's not in jail), Amara Darboh, and Jake Butt. Kalis and Smith are close, and Chesson is right there too. But it's disappointing that so few players have separated themselves, and that showed on the field today.
Your team lost today. What positives do you take away from this game?
That I'm a better football coach than I am a general manager. Yeah, the Maize team lost, but the defense sure kicked the offense's ass today.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your defense?
Our DTs kick ass. We have several good players there, and not enough good players on the outside at DE. Glasgow, Hurst, Mone, Henry, and Wormley are all making plays. Injuries aren't helping, but we need more production from our DEs.
The LBs are pretty damn good. Bolden is everywhere, and Morgan isn't far behind. Gedeon will make an impact. Ross and McCray will add even more once they're back.
The starting CBs look pretty good--Lewis is a future NFL player and Countess has improved. We need more depth there--Norfleet isn't going to cut it. At safety, we are surprinsingly loaded. Wilson and Peppers are the clear starters, but Hill, Clark, and Thomas are impact players. We may have to find ways to get more of them on the field.
Coach, how di-
WOOOOOOOO!!!! FUCK YEAH!!! BLUE TEAM, BABY!!! SUCK IT, DURKY-DURK!!!
Coach Durkin mentioned that the defense is way ahead of the offense....
Well, duh. Did you see what I inherited? Do you have any idea how poorly coached this offense has been? We are un-learning bad habits and trying to replace them with good ones. That takes time, especially on the offensive line.
Who are the guys that stand out right now on offense?
Coach Harbaugh already answered this, but I'll add to it. Darboh is a very good WR, and he'll start for us. Chesson will likely start too, because he knows how to play the game and is a good blocker. We need Canteen, Cole, Norfleet, and Ways to step-up. Jake Butt's going to have a big year in this offense. De'Veon Smith showed why recruting rankings aren't always right--he's way ahead of Green. We still need more production, and hopefully Isaac can help us there. On the O-Line, only Cole and Glasgow have really grabbed the job by the balls. Kalis is close. We need Magnuson, Braden, LTT, Dawson, and JBB to step up. Kerridge is clearly our best FB. There are five or six starting jobs wide open, and that's not a good thing right now. On defense, they've got the opposite problem at DT, LB, and S--too many good players to start them all.
What are you going to do to improve between now and the fall?
The most important thing is that we're going to smash each other on the O-Line until we play like fucking men. But we really need time to develop--the offensive side of the ball on this team has not been well-taught, and we are obviously behind the defense.
Does that mean you think Coach Durkin is a better coach?
Shut the fuck up. Did you see who won today? BLUE TEEEEAAAAMMMM BABY!!!