In case you haven’t noticed, the offseason will be reserved for administrative notes in this space. In this instance, I’d like to direct you to individual stats from the 2004-05 season, which I just posted.
In doing so, I’ve noticed there is a select group of guys that posts a Block Rate of at least 6 and a Steal Rate of at least 2.5 over a full season. Among power conference players, the list in 2006 was Shelden Williams, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and Julian Wright. All will eventually be first round picks, perhaps lottery picks.
There was only one power conference player in the 6/2.5 club last season. That player was…Shavlik Randolph?? Er, I mean, Shavlik Randolph! Anyway, Randolph leaving Duke early was widely viewed as a practical joke gone bad, but he did manage to get fairly regular non-garbage time minutes after catching on with the Sixers as an undrafted free agent.
The other point is that South Carolina’s Renaldo Balkman, whom I mentioned in passing a couple of times last season, barely misses the 2006 list at 5.9/4.1. Balkman isn’t among the top 75 juniors listed at DraftExpress, and ESPN’s Chad Ford has just placed him at #127 overall on his big board. Balkman’s raw numbers are unimpressive: 9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 apg. But USC played at the 16th slowest pace in D-I, and Balkman only played about 25 mpg.
On Thursday, Balkman declared for the draft. It’s probably no more than a Pittsnogle-esque information-gathering move, and probably will be met with a collective yawn by the basketball community. But given his impact on defense against solid competition and that he has a competent offensive game, I think it’s a good bet that he’ll be earning NBA money someday, whether it’s this season or next.