Draft watch: An updated look at Vonleh’s stock

  • 03/11/2014 11:24 am in

Noah Vonleh finished the regular season as the Big Ten freshman of the year and averaged 11.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He was also named third team All-Big Ten by the coaches and the media.

At just 18 years old, his long term potential continues to make him a frequent topic of discussion amongst those who cover the NBA draft, with most projections slotting him into the top 10 if he decides to go pro.

In our latest edition of draft watch, we take a detailed look at where Vonleh’s stock stands heading into postseason play:

ESPN: (8) Draft Express: (7) NBADraft.net: (5) Sports Illustrated: (6)

· Analysis: Since our last update in late January, Vonleh moved up in each of the four big board rankings we’re currently tracking. ESPN and Draft Express each moved him up one spot, NBA Draft.net moved him up 11 spots and Sports Illustrated elevated him by three spots.

There was plenty to like about Vonleh’s play in the Big Ten. First off, he hit 15 of his 25 attempts from behind the 3-point arc and finished the conference season with an effective field goal percentage of 57. He was also the Big Ten’s best rebounder at 8.8 per game and his defensive rebounding percentage of 26.8 ranked second in the conference.

On the flip side, Vonleh only had seven assists total in Big Ten games and his field goal percentage on 2s (48.4) is a lot lower than what you’d expect out of a 6-foot-10 player. His free throw rate, measured by free throws attempted divided by field goals attempted, was just 43.3 percent. By comparison, as a freshman, Cody Zeller had 31 assists in Big Ten play, made 61.6 percent of his 2s and had a free throw rate of 61.6 percent.

As we mentioned in our January update, one major factor that Vonleh will have to consider is the potential benefit of coming back for another season and entering what figures to be a less top heavy draft in 2015. For example, the No. 3 pick this June stands to earn approximately $5.3 million more than the No. 10 pick over his first three seasons in the league.

· Expert Opinion: “With his 7-4 wingspan and terrific 242-pound frame, Vonleh has the body, length and intensity-level needed to compete on the interior in the NBA. He shows some ability to score both inside and out, flashing hook shots over either shoulder and range out to the 3-point line, but does not have the skill-level or aggressiveness needed to be a consistent scorer at the college level yet.

Vonleh has made over half of his 3-pointers on the season, but takes less than one attempt per game, which indicates he still has plenty of work to do in this area. Additionally, he lacks elite explosiveness as a shot-blocker and finisher around the basket, and ranks as one of the poorest passers in this draft class, posting the worst assist to turnover ratio (now second worst) and assist per possession rate, to go along with the third worst PPR, which could be an issue as he transitions from the center spot collegiately to the power forward position in the NBA.” – Draft Express.

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  • Snookafly

    I thought he had more creative offensive moves coming in to college. Maybe he was just worn down from the B1G by the end.

  • Snookafly

    Cody got a lot of those points from put backs and running the floor.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Not if you ask Cody Zeller. I’ve heard him say that he has absolutely no regrets about leaving for the NBA when he did and that he believes he 100% made the right choice to turn pro after his sophomore season.

  • Bled4IU

    I hope it is quick and painless, or at least quick. The anticipation is killing me!

  • Bled4IU

    I agree, best case scenario is a big in the middle. But, if you are undersized you can still be successful with team rebounding, look at U of L this year. After their player dismissal they have adapted a very good team rebounding plan and it is working. Having athletic players who play as a team will heal the pain from lack of size. But, i’ll be the 1st to admit, I want Vonleh back more than anyone for next year.

  • ScoopGeoff

    What are you basing this on? The fact that Cody isn’t starting? Putting up all-star numbers?

    Listen, very few rookies make a big impact in their first

  • Normally I would agree with you.. But when that is the decision.. and they are allowed to go, right out of HS.. It really ruins college b’ball. Several years ago, when they could do that.. the college game really suffered in my opinion, because there was a real dearth of high level talent. So many guys try to go, that don’t have a prayer of ever playing, that the only guys in college are second tier talent.. not a whole lot of fun to watch. I think there is in fact a valid reason to educate these guys and allow them to mature a bit I think the rule should be, they should be in college a minimum of college or aged 20 prior to being able to enter the draft. .. they do it in football (and it’s three years)and it’s been challenged in court and never turned around. Now maybe that’s just because the NFL has such a strangle hold on everything and everyone, but I think there is merit in a rule like that.

  • I hope you’re right about that.

  • I don’t think it’s necessarily the right move for him. What if he goes and ends up dropping to 10th or so? It really depends who really shines in the NCAA tournament, but there could be some sway in opinion.. and it’s highly likely that he won’t be playing in that. There’s a lot of guys just like him, that never made it in the NBA. It takes a special talent and he does have a lot of talent. But when you’re talking about the best in the world.. it’s another matter. I am sure he doesn’t envision entering the NBA and sitting the bench for three or four years and bouncing around from team to team as trade bait. I would reach an agreement with Crean that if he stays, they start using him like they were that one game. Letting him go to the perimeter and face up and not necessarily drive all the time, but set a screen.. and maybe drive to the right and take the pull up jumper. In other words, give him more of an NBA type of role.. In addition to just always banging around underneath. I’m sure Crean would be interested in keeping him.. and changing his role a bit.

  • Mitch had the back problem before just this season.. So it wasn’t a thing that he just hung around and got injured.. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he missed time his Freshman year for that same problem. It just got untenable in his Sophomore year and they elected to have it surgically repaired.

  • That’s a good point. We don’t know what the Doc’s are saying abut the long term prognosis on it, but it isn’t getting any better playing everyday in the NBA’s rigorous schedule.. AND, what if it scares some NBA teams and he falls like a rock in the draft? Remember these projections are all by guys who just want to create interest in their projections. They are not responsible for what actually happens.

  • I can’t agree with ypu on that. For some reason, Cody was unwilling to take the three pointer.. or even a 15 foot jumper. there were so many other options on that team. that if he was passing up those shots to drive into trouble and lose the ball, which happened too often.. then he got his touches. ..and consequently scored about what he was going to. he wasn’t going to be a 23 point scorer per game no matter what.

  • That is because as other’s have pointed out, the offense that most teams are playing today, doesn’t rely on a back to the basket big man. It’s too easy to pack the lane and stop that. Cody wasn’t big and strong enough to be a ‘Shaq’ type of player. You’re seeing that in the pros right now. He is easily stopped underneath. Cody’s abilities need to be more of a four than a five. But Cody was too reluctant to take the outside shot. Even though he had one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he place second in the tree point contest at HH his Sophomore year?

  • CreamandCrimson

    You are probably the only one of us (that I am aware of) that has talked to a person (or people) with actual connection to Noah Vonleh. Your consistent belief that there is reason to believe he will be in Bloomington for 2 years is the only reason I am still holding out hope he’ll be back for his sophomore season.

  • IUBizmark

    I’m sorry if that’s the impression I gave. Statistics show people with a college degree earn more than those without (though I’m sure you’ll point out that won’t be the case here) and there are a myriad of health benefits not to mention that college can teach you a structure for problem solving throughout life. At the end of the day it’s an individual decision, but there is a lot of value in staying in college.

  • VAHoosier

    Teams have gotten away from big post players not because they are too easy to stop… It’s because slashing wings and guards are so plentiful, and truly skilled post players are rare. Young players don’t develop post fundamentals anymore… it’s not sexy. Players would rather break defenders down on the dribble, face the basket. Cody was plenty big and strong to be dominant as a post player IN COLLEGE if he would have committed himself to developing that part of his game. But, yes, of course he is not a back-to-the-basket player in the NBA, where he lacks the size and strength to do that.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Your post got me thinking a little bit, mainly the final two lines….You mention Jordan Morgan earlier on in the post and you are right, he cleaned up around the rim and ate our lunch at the beginning of the game. He started as the “center” for the Big Ten champs all conference season and is listed at 6’8″, 250 pounds. Now, could he be overwhelmed by a highly-skilled 6’10” big man who got the ball a lot? Sure, that’s possible. But that didn’t happen very often when I watched Michigan play and they only lost 3 conference games so it wasn’t a huge problem for them.

    I say all that to ask, could Devin Davis be our “Jordan Morgan”-type player next season? He’s currently 6’7″, 221 pounds. I would imagine he could be 6’7″, 235 by the time next season begins. If Noah leaves, I think he could be starting as the nominal “center” in a lineup with Yogi, JBJ, Stan and Troy. That’s 6’0″, 6’2″, 6’4″, 6’7″ and 6’7″ with an array of 6’4″-6’10” options off the bench. We’d be a bit suspect on the glass against large teams and teams that excelled in the paint would probably hurt us but we could create matchup problems on the other end with our quickness and athleticism. I hope we aren’t forced into this lineup because Noah returns and this can just be an option but if it comes to it, I do think there are ways to still be very successful without a 6’10” “big guy”.

  • Kyl470

    I agree with your assessment of what could happen to Noah if he leaves. He could very well ride the bench and not see much action, but I still think he should go for one reason. That reason is Kwame Brown. I think Kwame Brown defines the word bust. He was a number one pick that never made it, but going pro straight out of high school was the smartest thing he ever did. The fact is that Kwame was not a good player and had he gone to college he would have been exposed and no NBA team would have ever taken him with the first pick. If Noah comes back he will be highly scrutinized and if he doesn’t show big time improvement it could actually hurt his draft stock. That would be my argument for going.

  • Kyl470

    Now here is my argument for staying. College is fun and once you go pro you can never come back as an athlete. The NBA will always be there and according to experts the 2015 draft should be weaker at the top than the 2014 draft which will increase your chance of being a top 3 pick vs. a top 10 pick. Coming back also gives you a chance to experience the NCAA tournament which is something that the NBA playoffs just can’t duplicate. Also you could be the centerpiece on a team that could make a deep run in the tournament and become an Indiana legend.

  • Snookafly

    I loved my time in college, but sadly, I think the noble pursuit of education has been replaced by a trillion dollar big business model. Quite frankly, these kids aren’t getting what they pay for anymore.

  • skotchie

    Ok, I’m with ya here in the fact I don’t like the early entry either. However I don’t understand your statement “rather expand and further prostitute the sport”. And “institutions accept money and look the other way”.
    1) Who’s doin the pimpin? Are you saying the NBA pays college’s for players? Or college’s taking the TV revenue and looking the other way? But then I would ask who looks the other way and from what? NCAA doesn’t say who can and cannot go to the NBA. Sooooooo,,

  • skotchie

    Kinda true, not sure how high Mitch was rated to go in the draft last year, but I’d guess he could declare tomorrow without playing a game this year and get drafted in a decent position injury and all.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    I agree. I think he should go pro. With good support it will be the best way for him to improve. I don’t think he can improve a lot on this current IU team. The experts note that his passing isn’t good. Watching the games, who’s he going to pass to? 4 guys standing around or already in his way? He works and works and works just to get the ball while the outside guys (YF particularly) stand there, dribble, and point. Defenses are often in superb position once he does touch the ball…makes it difficult to be an effective scorer.

  • Kenneth234

    Everyone keeps bringing up Jordan Morgan…the thing about Jordan Morgan is that he is a Senior, has played in that system, and against that level of competition. Whoever, we would get, would likely not have any of those going for them either. So, lets just hope Noah stays for one more season.

  • hoosier1158

    I don’t think anyone thought the #4 pick last year would be starting this year. I’m saying another year of college ball would have been good experience and more classes would have been a good as well.

  • hoosier1158

    I’m sure he thinks he made the right decision. I’m just saying another year of college ball wouldn’t have been a bad thing for him.

  • I agree with your logic.. But, what do you think of his ‘tone’ after the loss to the Illini. Maybe he was just real ‘down’ at the time, but I thought it sounded more ‘gone’ than ‘stay’ just relative to his overall feeling about his experience so far in college, or at least the college level game.

  • Guest

    And you are all morons.