Cavaliers

March Madness through Wine & Gold glasses

Kyrie once dropped 28 in a Tournament game.

Kyrie once dropped 28 in a Tournament game.

While I love the NCAA tournament (I mean, who doesn’t love all-day basketball?), I’m always looking out for NBA prospects. NBA is my first love and I just can’t help but filter my college hoops through an NBA lens. This has been especially true in the post-LeBron era, where the Cavs’ crappy records gives them a great shot at selecting the cream of the college crop at the top of the NBA draft.

I’m a huge proponent in the Cavs building through the draft. The Cavs have drafted players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving (and Brad Daugherty, Terrell Brandon, Ron Harper and Mark Price) while they’ve added guys like Larry Hughes, CJ Miles and Anthony Parker through free agency. The lesson I’ve taken away is that if I want the Cavs to add All-Star talent, it’s (unfortunately) going to have to be through the draft.1

Now, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t necessarily equate a good/great tournament performance into a good NBA player2. Some guys like Mateen Cleaves are just great college players. That’s fine. A good tournament run does not an NBA career make.

But what about going the other way? Do NBA All-Stars have crappy NCAA tournament games? A guy like Cody Zeller drops a stink bomb against Syracuse and I’m wondering if that should be a giant red flag or if I should focus more on his complete body of work. It’s the flip side of falling in love with a Big Game performance from someone like Derrick Williams3.

The Cavs’ current record 22-49 places them at third-worst in the NBA, giving them the third-best chance at landing that coveted top pick. And since I want the Cavs to draft another All-Star, I’m going to take a look at how the 2013 All-Stars fared in their respective NCAA Tournaments and see if many (or any) of them played poorly.   

For the sake of clarity and my sanity, I’m only going to take a look at the 2013 NBA All-Stars. Also, with apologies to Jacob, I’ll only be using basic scoring/rebound/assist stats.  There will be nothing advanced. Also, I’m only looking at the Tournament games preceding each player’s draft year. So if Tim Duncan had a crappy tourney game as a sophomore, that won’t be taken into consideration. I fully understand that whether a player makes it (or doesn’t) in the NBA  is based on any number of factors, from measurables like size and quickness to simply landing with the right franchise or situation.

Here’s the All-Star rosters listed with their colleges. Six players (LeBron, KG, Tyson Chandler, Tony Parker, Dwight Howard and Kobe) did not attend college. Also, Chris Bosh’s Georgia Tech team played in the NIT and Paul George’s Fresno State team didn’t make either tournament.

East All-Stars:

  • LeBron James – NONE
  • Kevin Garnett – NONE
  • Rajon Rondo – Kentucky
  • Dwyane Wade – Marquette
  • Carmelo Anthony – Syracuse
  • Kyrie Irving – Duke
  • Jrue Holiday – UCLA
  • Brook Lopez – Stanford
  • Tyson Chandler – NONE
  • Chris Bosh – Georgia Tech
  • Luol Deng – Duke
  • Paul George – Fresno State
  • Joakim Noah – Florida

West All-Stars:

  • Kevin Durant – Texas
  • Blake Griffin – Oklahoma
  • Dwight Howard – NONE
  • Kobe Bryant – NONE
  • Chris Paul – Wake Forest
  • LaMarcus Aldridge – Texas
  • Tim Duncan – Wake Forest
  • James Harden – Arizona State
  • David Lee – Florida
  • Tony Parker – NONE
  • Zach Randolph – Michigan State
  • Russell Westbrook – UCLA

Here’s their tournament breakdowns:

Rajon Rondo:

  • 2006 1st Round: #8 Kentucky vs #9 UAB: 8 points (3-10 FG, 2-4 FT, 0-1 3pt), 10 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2006 2nd Round: #8 Kentucky vs #1 UCONN: 11 points (5-10 FG, 0-0 FT, 1-2 3pt), 8 rebounds, 6 assists.

Dwyane Wade:

  • 2003 1st Round: #3 Marquette vs #14 Holy Cross: 15 pts (4-11 FG, 7-7 FT, 0-1 3pt), 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
  • 2003 2nd Round: #3 Marquette vs #6 Missouri: 24 pts (9-23 FG, 6-6 FT, 0-2 3pt), 8 rebounds, 7 assists.
  • 2003 3rd Round: #3 Marquette vs #2 Pittsburgh: 22 pts (10-19 FG, 2-3 FT, 0-1 3pt), 4 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2003 4th Round: #3 Marquette vs #1 Kentucky: 29 pts (11-16 FG, 5-6 FT, 2-2 3pt), 11 rebounds, 11 assists.
  • 2003 5th Round: #3 Marquette vs #2 Kansas: 19 points (7-15 FG, 4-8 FT, 1-1 3pt), 6 rebounds, 4 assists.

Carmelo Anthony:

  • 2003 1st Round: #3 Syracuse vs #14 Manhattan: 17 points (7-15, 3-5 FT, 0-2 3pt), 9 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2003 2nd Round: #3 Syracuse vs #6 Oklahoma State: 13 points (5-16 FG, 2-6 FT, 1-2 3pt), 8 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2003 3rd Round: #3 Syracuse vs #10 Auburn: 18 points (7-17 FG, 2-3 FT, 2-4 3pt), 8 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2003 4th Round: #3 Syracuse vs #1 Oklahoma: 20 points (9-16 FG, 1-2 FT, 1-4 3pt), 10 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2003 5th Round: #3 Syracuse vs #1 Texas: 33 points (12-19 FG, 6-7 FT, 3-4 3pt), 14 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2003 6th Round: #3 Syracuse vs #2 Kansas: 20 points (7-16 FG, 3-4 FT, 3-5 3pt), 10 rebounds, 7 assists.

Kyrie Irving:

  • 2011 1st Round: #1 Duke vs #16 Hampton: 14 points (4-8 FG, 4-4 FT, 2-2 3pt), 4 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2011 2nd Round: #1 Duke vs #8 *ichigan: 11 points (1-4 FG, 9-10 FT, 0-2 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2011 3rd Round: #1 Duke vs #5 Arizona: 28 points (9-15 FG, 8-9 FT, 2-4 3pt), 0 rebounds, 3 assists.

Jrue Holiday:

  • 2009 1st Round: #6 UCLA vs #11 Virginia Commonwealth: 13 points (5-12 FG, 3-4 FT, 0-0 3pt), 1 rebound, 6 assists.
  • 2009 2nd Round: #6 UCLA vs #3 Villanova: 4 points (1-6 FG, 1-3 FT, 1-4 3pt), 4 rebounds, 7 assists.

Brook Lopez:

  • 2008 1st Round: #3 Stanford vs #14 Cornell: 4 points (1-2 FG, 2-2 FT, 0-0 3pt), 2 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2008 2nd Round: #3 Stanford vs #6 Marquette: 30 points (10-20 FG, 10-11 FT, 0-0 3pt), 4 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2008 3rd Round: #3 Stanford vs #2 Texas: 26 points (10-22 FG, 6-6 FT, 0-0 3pt), 10 rebounds, 0 assists.

Chris Bosh:

  • 2003 NIT 2nd Round: Georgia Tech vs Ohio State: 18 points (6-9 FG, 5-6 FT, 1-1 3pt), 7 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2003 NIT 3rd Round: Georgia Tech vs Iowa: 17 points (3-6 FG, 10-13 FT, 1-2 3pt), 9 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2003 NIT 4th Round: Georgia Tech vs Texas Tech: 21 points (10-17 FG, 0-1 FT, 1-1 3pt), 12 rebounds, 1 assist.

Luol Deng:

  • 2004 1st Round: #1 Duke vs #16 Alabama State: 15 points (6-11 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-3 3pt), 5 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2004 2nd Round: #1 Duke vs #8 Seton Hall: 20 points (6-9 FG, 7-8 FT, 1-3 3pt), 7 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2004 3rd Round: #1 Duke vs #5 Illinois: 18 points (6-11 FG, 4-4 FT, 2-4 3pt), 6 rebounds, 4 assists.
  • 2004 4th Round: #1 Duke vs #7 Xavier: 19 points (7-13 FG, 3-5 FT, 2-4 3pt), 7 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2004 5th Round: #1 Duke vs #2 UCONN: 16 points, 7-15 FG, 1-3 FT, 1-4 3pt),12 rebounds, 2 assists.

Paul George:

NO NCAA OR NIT TOURNAMENT GAMES

Joakim Noah:

  • 2007 1st Round: #1 Florida vs #16 Jackson State: 17 points (7-7 FG, 3-6 FG), 12 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2007 2nd Round: #1 Florida vs #9 Purdue: 9 points (3-5 FG, 3-4 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2007 3rd Round: #1 Florida vs #5 Butler: 13 points (2-4 FG, 9-11 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2007 4th Round: #1 Florida vs #3 Oregon: 14 points (4-9 FG, 6-7 FT), 14 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2007 5th Round: #1 Florida vs #2 UCLA: 8 points (3-7 FG, 2-7 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2007 6th Round: #1 Florida vs #1 Ohio State: 8 points (1-3 FG, 6-6 FT), 3 rebounds, 0 assists.

Kevin Durant:

  • 2007 1st Round: #4 Texas vs #13 New Mexico State: 27 points (6-13 FG, 15-16 FT, 0-4 3pt), 8 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2007 2nd Round: #4 Texas vs #5 USC: 30 points (11-24 FG, 6-8 FT, 2-9 3pt), 9 rebounds, 1 assist.

Blake Griffin:

  • 2009 1st Round: #2 Oklahoma vs #15 Morgan State: 28 points (11-12 FG, 6-10 FT), 13 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2009 2nd Round: #2 Oklahoma vs #10 *ichigan: 33 points (14-20 FG, 5-10 FT), 17 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2009 3rd Round: #2 Oklahoma vs #3 Syracuse: 30 points (12-15 FG, 6-10 FT), 1 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2009 4th Round: #2 Oklahoma vs #1 North Carolina: 23 points (9-12 FG, 5-8 FT), 16 rebounds, 1 assists.

Chris Paul:

  • 2005 1st Round: #2 Wake Forest vs #15 Chattanooga: 20 points (6-16 FG, 5-6 FT, 3-10 3pt), 6 rebounds, 5 assists.
  • 2005 2nd Round: #2 Wake Forest vs #7 West Virginia: 22 points (6-14 FGm 9-10 FT, 1-2 3pt), 6 rebounds, 9 assists.

LaMarcus Aldridge

  • 2006 1st Round: #2 Texas vs #15 Pennsylvania  19 points (7-13 FG, 5-6 FT), 10 rebounds, 0 assists.
  • 2006 2nd Round: #2 Texas vs #10 NC State: 10 points (2-9 FG, 6-8 FT), 8 rebounds,0 assists.
  • 2006 3rd Round: #2 Texas vs #6 West Virgina: 26 points (11-15 FG, 4-8 FT), 13 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2006 4th Round: #2 Texas vs #4 LSU: 4 points (2-14 FG, 0-0 FT),10 rebounds, 2 assists.

Tim Duncan:

  • 1997 1st Round: #3 Wake Forest vs #14 St. Mary’s: 22 points (8-13 FG, 5-6 FT, 1-1 3pt), 22 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 1997 2nd Round: #3 Wake Forest vs #6 Stanford: 18 points (5-11 FG, 8-11 FT, 0-1 3pt), 20 rebounds, 2 assists.

James Harden:

  • 2009 1st Round: #6 Arizona State vs #11 Temple: 9 points (1-8 FG, 6-9 FT, 1-3 3pt), 7 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2009 2nd Round: #6 Arizona State vs #3 Syracuse: 10 points (2-10 FG, 6-8 FT, 0-5 3pt), 6 rebounds, 5 assists.

David Lee:

  • 2005 1st Round: #4 Florida vs #13 Ohio: 14 points (6-10 FG, 2-2 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2005 2nd Round: #4 Florida vs #5 Villanova: 20 points (7-12 FG, 6-7 FT), 10 rebounds, 2 assists.

Zach Randolph:

  • 2001 1st Round: #1 Michigan State vs #16 Alabama State: 12 points (2-4 FG, 8-8 FT), 5 rebounds, 0 assists.
  • 2001 2nd Round: #1 Michigan State vs #9 Fresno State: 6 points (3-6 FG, 0-1 FT), 3 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2001 3rd Round: #1 Michigan State vs #12 Gonzaga: 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 0 assists.
  • 2001 4th Round: #1 Michigan State vs #11 Temple: 8 points (3-5 FG, 2-6 FT), 14 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2001 5th Round: #1 Michigan State vs #2 Arizona: 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-4 FT), 5 rebounds, 0 assists.

Russell Westbrook:

  • 2008 1st Round: #1 UCLA vs #16 Mississippi Valley State: 9 points (3-8 FG, 2-2 FT, 1-3 3pt), 4 rebounds, 7 assists.
  • 2008 2nd Round: #1 UCLA vs #9  Texas A&M: 5 points (2-9 FG, 1-4 FT, 0-3 3pt), 4 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2008 3rd Round: #1 UCLA vs #12 Western Kentucky: 14 points (3-15 FG, 7-8 FT, 1-2 3pt), 11 rebounds, 5 assists.
  • 2008 4th Round: #1 UCLA vs #3 Xavier: 17 points (7-11 FG, 2-3 FG, 1-3 3pt), 3 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2008 5th Round: #1 UCLA vs #1 Memphis: 22 points (10-19 FG, 0-0 FT, 2-3 3pt), 3 rebounds, 2 assists.

Unsurprisingly (considering who we’re sampling), there wasn’t a lot of truly horrendous games, but I do count a few stinkers. Not every All-Star went really deep in their final collegiate season, but the vast majority played pretty well. I counted five guys who put up some clunkers:

  1. James Harden didn’t play particularly well at all during his final college tourney. He’s the biggest outlier among the bunch. Harden shot 3-18 over his final two games but did average 6.5 boards and 4 assists.
  2. Jrue Holiday shot just 6-18 over two games but still dished out a decent amount of assists.
  3. None of Zach Randolph’s game were super horrendous, but none were crazy crazy good either.
  4. LaMarcus Aldridge put up a 2-14 stinker in his last game, but still managed to grab ten boards. So… kinda like Cody Zeller.
  5. Rondo and Westbrook put up some classic Rondo and Westbrook games. Not the best field goal percentage but they did tons of other stuff.

So. What have we learned? First, Tim Duncan and Dwyane Wade were beasts in college (go figure, Hall of Famers are great in college too). Second, most of the eventual All-Stars played pretty well in their final collegiate runs. Third, even the guys who did play (or rather, shot) poorly, most of them did other things to fill up the stat sheet. They still made an impact on the game. I didn’t come across any “2-15, 1 rebound, 3 assist” type games.

Now, let’s take a look at the Tournament runs from some of the prospects that the Cavs could be targeting at the top of the draft:

Ben McLemore:

  • 2013: #1 Kansas vs #16 Western Kentucky: 11 points (2-5 FG, 7-8 FT, 0-2 3pt), 6 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2013: #1 Kansas vs #8 North Carolina: 2 points (0-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 0-6 3pt), 5 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2013: #1 Kansas vs #4 *ichigan: 20 points (8-15 FG, 0-0 FT, 4-8 3pt), 2 rebounds, 1 assist.

Marcus Smart:

  • 2013: #5 Oklahoma State vs #12 Oregon: 14 points (5-13 FG, 4-8 FT, 0-2 3pt), 9 rebounds, 4 assists.

Otto Porter:

  • 2013: #2 Georgetown vs #15 Florida Gulf Coast: 13 points (5-17 FGm 1-2 FT, 2-6 3pt), 11 rebounds, 3 assists.

Anthony Bennett:

  • 2013: #5 UNLV vs #12 California: 15 points  (4-11 FG, 7-10 FT, 0-1 3pt), 11 rebounds, 2 assists.

Cody Zeller:

  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #16 James Madison: 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #9 Temple: 15 points (4-10 FG, 7-8 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists.
  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #4 Syracuse: 10 points (3-10 FG, 4-6 FT), 9 rebounds, 2 assists.

Victor Oladipo:

  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #16 James Madison: 11 points (3-7 FG, 4-4 FT, 1-3 3pt), 6 rebounds, 3 assists.
  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #9 Temple: 16 points (7-12 FG, 1-2 FT, 1-3 3pt), 8 rebounds, 1 assist.
  • 2013: #1 Indiana vs #4 Syracuse: 16 points (5-6 FG, 5-8 FT, 1-1 3pt), 2 rebounds, 0 assists.

Shabazz Muhammad:

  • 2013: #6 UCLA vs #11 Minnesota: 20 points (6-18 FG, 8-10 FT, 0-6 3pt), 4 rebound, 1 assist.

Well, if there’s any one thing I take away from this list it’s that there’s no Tim Duncan/D.Wade in this class. No one performance or player really stands out. The best game seems to be Anthony Bennett’s 15 point, 11 board night. Both McLemore and Muhammad had nice scoring games, but neither shot the ball well nor did much of anything else.

Another issue is that the sample sizes are really small for these top prospects (not that a deep tournament run is really all that more significant stats-wise). Smart, Porter, Bennett and Muhammad each got bounced in the first second round. Not one of the 2013 All-Stars got bounced after only one game (although, again, Chris Bosh and Paul George’s teams failed to make the bracket of 64).

As for the Cavs, I won’t have a strong opinion on who they should draft until I know where they’ll be drafting. I like to know who is a realistic option at their draft spot. I would guess they’d be going Best Player Available, assuming it’s not a point guard4. Even then, back in 87 the Cavs took Kevin Johnson the year after drafting Mark Price and then flipped KJ for Larry Nance. Something like that may be necessary if the Cavs don’t want to reach in order to draft a need position.

And if the Cavs some how end up with the top pick, they won’t even have to worry about any March Madness performance. Nerlans Noel hasn’t played a game since February.

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Footnotes:

  1. the last All-Star that the Cavs have traded for was Mo Williams (and let’s be honest….). Before that it was Shawn Kemp. Before that, it was Larry Nance. []
  2. or we’d still be marveling at the NBA career of Trevor Huffman []
  3. let’s take this time to thank anything holy that Chris Grant didn’t put too much stock into Williams’ 2011 tournament performance []
  4. and while I assume Chris Grant prefers a SF or C, I don’t think either Waiters or Thompson necessarily precludes them from taking a SG or PF []
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  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Nice write up Ben that must have taken some serious research. As far as the Cavaliers go for me it would seem SF is the position of need I.E. an athletic scorer who can produce for himself and/or a big man who is just that, a big man. Alot of the “big” names had a rough tournament so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Right now if I had to pick one player I’d be leaning towards Georgetown’s Otto Porter.

  • TSR3000

    GO BLUE!!!

  • WFNY_DP

    Alright, I’ll bite: Why is (Final Four bound) Michigan typed out with an asterisk each time?