Thursday, June 11, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects: Wayne Ellington, UNC

Stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.6 t/o's, 48.3% FG, 41.7% 3PT, 77.7% FT

Listed Size: 6'5", 190 lb, 10/29/1987 (21 years old)

(photo credit: WHYGWam)

About Him: If you go strictly based of statistics, Wayne Ellington looks like one of the best two-guard prospects in this draft. Despite having a higher usage rate than only Terrence Williams of Louisville, Ellington still managed to score 15.8 ppg, averaging an incredibly efficient 1.04 PPP. He was also one the best at his possession in catch-and-shoot situations and finishing at the rim, according to Synergy Sports.

The question that scouts will have to answer is how much of this is a result of Ellington's skill, and how much is a by-product of playing in the UNC system. Ellington is the perfect player to run the wing on a break alongside Ty Lawson - he is fast, he can jump, and he is a deadly three point shooter. Was he such an efficient scorer simply because Lawson got him wide open three's and easy lay-ups?

It may be a combination. Ellington is, in fact, a phenomenal shooter. With his feet set and shoulders squared, he is virtually automatic out to beyond the NBA three. He really understands how to use screens off the ball to get open as well, and has a quick trigger when he creates space. The knock on Ellington was that he could never really create his own shot, which was really brought to the forefront last year when he tested the draft waters.

This season, Ellington showed off a nice pull-up jumper that he could hit going either direction. He is a very good leaper, and is able to get the shot off against most defenders. The problem is that this is virtually the only shot Ellington can create for himself. He is far from a good penetrator (while is first step isn't very quick, he does take enormous strides for a guy his size), mainly due to the fact that he really struggles to finish with contact. Ellington is an excellent leaper, but he is not all that strong in the air, and knows it. Instead of trying to beat his man all the way to the rim, he had a tendency to take a pull-up jumper when he gained a step (see his 3.6 FT's-per-40).

Ellington is also not a great ball-handler, but he didn't need to be with a guy like Lawson on the team. He isn't a huge assists guy, but he still managed to sport a 1.6:1 a:t/o ratio. Part of the reason Ellington is such an efficient player is that he didn't take too many chances; and he didn't need to with the talent on UNC's roster this past season. Ellington had a tendency to get hot for spurts, scoring 10 straight points or 15 in a half, but then disappearing for long stretches. Again, this could very well be a by-product of playing with so much talent - rarely did he need to step up, and he performed very well when he did (Final Four MOP) - but it could also be a sign of his overall aggressiveness.

Defensively, Ellington is not very good. He doesn't move side-to-side well, he played in a college system that preached running the floor on offense instead on solid defense, and he is not all that strong of a player.

Comparisons: Best Case: Poor man's Ray Allen; Worst Case: Roger Mason, JJ Redick with hops.

Bottom Line: Ellington could carve himself out a nice little role in the league based on his shooting ability. But unless he develops an all-around game and decides he wants to be a defender, he probably will end up as not much more than a role player.


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