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ARIZONA’S ONE-AND-DONE PLAYERS VS. PROGRAM’S OTHER LOTTERY PICKS AS ROOKIES
Statistical comparison of Arizona’s one-and-done lottery picks Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon and Jerryd Bayless in their rookie seasons with the program’s other lottery selections. The stats are averages of each group.
Enter Stanley Johnson. pic.twitter.com/czRd27Rk8N
Somebody must have told Stanley Johnson to try and get in LeBron's head… but who??? pic.twitter.com/sxmNNhp541
Stanley Johnson had by far the lowest field-goal shooting percentage in a rookie season of Arizona’s 13 NBA draft lottery picks, but none of his predecessors drew the ire of one of the NBA’s best players in the playoffs.
Johnson’s competition against LeBron James in the playoffs, often heated, was one of the noted subplots of Detroit’s elimination at the hands of the Cavaliers. James intentionally put a shoulder into Johnson as the players walked to their benches during one timeout.
“I wish he would just talk when (the game) is 0-0, not when he is up by 16,” Johnson was quoted as saying about James. “That means something. That means you’re confident in yourself.”
Because of his run-in with the King, Johnson’s rookie season became one of the more publicized of an Arizona lottery-pick group that includes Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby, Sean Elliott, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson.
It so happened that Frye and Jefferson teamed with James in the Cavaliers’ sweep of the Pistons in four games. Other lottery picks from Arizona, Andre Iguodala, Jason Terry and Jordan Hill, are also in the postseason.
Johnson is the only player among Arizona’s lottery picks who shot below 40 percent in his rookie season. He made only 37.5 percent of his shots from the field. The next lowest was Derrick Williams’ 41.2 mark in 2011-12.
Johnson, the No. 8 pick overall in last year’s draft, also had the fourth fewest starts among the Wildcats’ lottery picks in their rookie seasons. He started only six times during the regular season, which was more than Hill and Jerryd Bayless (no starts) and the late Brian Williams a.k.a. Bison Dele (two starts).
Iguodala started all 82 games of his rookie season in 2004-05 with Philadelphia, which picked him ninth overall in the 2004 draft. Stoudamire, the King when it comes to rookies from Arizona, started all 70 of the games he played in 1995-96 for Toronto (which took him seventh overall). He missed the last 12 games because of tendinitis in his left knee.
Stoudamire, the Raptors’ first ever draft pick, averaged 9.3 assists and 19 points per game, by far the best marks for an Arizona lottery pick in his rookie season. He set what was then the record for three-point field goals made by a rookie with 133. He received the Rookie of the Month award twice and unanimously made the Schick All-Rookie first team, and eventually won the Rookie of the Year.
Mike Bibby, along with Williams the highest Arizona player taken in the draft at No. 2, started all 50 of his games as a rookie in 1998-99 with Vancouver. The season was cut short by a labor dispute. He also was an All-Rookie first team selection.
It should be noted that Arizona’s one-and-done lottery picks — Johnson, Bayless and Aaron Gordon — combined to average less points a game (17.6) as rookies than Stoudamire. Their 14 combined starts is less than six others — Iguodala, Stoudamire, Sean Elliott (69), Bibby, Terry (27) and Williams (15).
Johnson, Gordon and Bayless also averaged a combined 17.5 minutes a game as rookies. The others who played at least two years at Arizona: 25.9.
The graphic to the upper left drastically shows how far progressed Arizona’s lottery picks who stay at least two years in the program are when matched against the one-and-dones.
This data only factors lottery picks. Grant Jerrett made the mistake of leaving after only one season and he was out of basketball only two years later. Allonzo Trier made the smart move by staying at least one more season at Arizona because he was not projected to be a lottery pick.
If Johnson made the surprising move Cal’s Ivan Rabb is making — staying at least two seasons — he could have positioned himself for All-American or player of the year status. That could have landed him a more prominent role as a rookie as one of the top five players chosen in this year’s draft.
His decision to leave, a sound one because he was the No. 8 pick by Detroit, carries most weight because of the storyline with James in the first round of the playoffs.
In the end, Johnson and the Pistons were swept. Johnson played well in the four games against the Cavs, shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range. But he did not record an assist or offensive rebound in the four games, a glaring reminder that he has plenty of room for improvement for his total game.
Arizona’s Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson has long said players should stay in college at least two years for the necessary development to immediately handle the demands of the NBA. The numbers bear that out.
ARIZONA’S LOTTERY PICKS
How they fared in rookie season
Note: Jordan Hill’s stats include games with New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.