2008/09 Player Evaluation: Oleksiy Pecherov

 

(2007/08 evaluation)

STATS

Per-game: 3.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 1.3 3PA

Per-36 minutes: 15.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 5.6 3PA

Percentages: 38.6 FG%, 32.6 3PT%, 82.8 FT%, 45.5 eFG%, 51% TS%

Advanced (explanations): 14.5 PER, 16.1 REB%, 8.1 TO%, 20.3 UsgR, 111 ORtg, 114 DRtg, 0.5 WSAA (win score above average).

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Mike Prada: The 2007/08 season saw Oleksiy Pecherov log 319 total minutes in just 35 games playing for a playoff team, due to him missing a ton of time with an ankle injury. The 2008/09 season saw Oleksiy Pecherov log 277 minutes playing in 32 games for the second-worst team in the league despite being healthy the entire time.

One would think this is all the indication needed to figure out the organization’s long-term plan with their 2006 first-round draft pick., but as with most things with this organization, all is not what it seems. This disconnect is a major problem and makes an evaluation of Oleksiy Pecherov particularly difficult.

Allow me to explain further. Pech is under contract next year, since Ernie Grunfeld went ahead and picked up his nearly 1.5-million dollar option for next season. You’d think that would merit an extended look in games, to see whether the GM’s investment was actually worthwhile, but instead, despite mounting injuries, Pecherov played even less than before.

It’s a shame in some ways, because Pech did do a lot of things better than last year in the few minutes he received. He shot a bit less and didn’t commit as many turnovers, which is nice. Much has been made about how Pecherov nearly went the entire year without an assist, but at least his turnovers were also down. Most importantly, he continued to rebound the ball extremely well in limited minutes. His offensive rebound percentage nearly doubled, and no player on the team hauled in a higher percentage of all missed shots than Pecherov.

So he was getting better, at least if you look at his garbage-time stats. Which makes stuff like this all the more confusing. The claim by Kevin Broom’s source was that Pecherov stopped rebounding in practice and devoted himself to becoming a three-point threat, despite what the coaches wanted. I’m not saying Kevin or Kevin’s source is wrong, as Kevin has earned a level of credibility that behooves us to trust him, but it just seems like an odd criticism when Pech did rebound well when he was given limited chances. It’s possible Pech picked it up by the end of the year—he did had eight rebounds in 17 minutes in a late-March loss to Phoenix and snared 10 rebounds in the season-ending loss to Boston. But it also seems like there was a communication breakdown that caused the criticism to develop in the first place.

Regardless, the real problem here is that Pech just isn’t very good. We look at him and see what we want to see. We see a future pick-and-pop big man that can play a role off the bench. What we forget, though, is that Pecherov still has a ways to go. He may have deeper range than Darius Songaila, but he has nowhere near Songaila’s passing, cutting and defensive savvy. Songaila’s an eighth man, so that doesn’t exactly speak well for Pecherov. Throw in the fact that Pecherov plays the same position as two other project big men with more potential and better current production, and there’s just not room for Pecherov to really develop. There’s no need to invent a flimsy excuse as to why Pech doesn’t play. The real reason he doesn’t play is that he’s not good enough.

Essentially, Oleksiy Pecherov is a redundant project who remains under contract because the GM picked up his option, even though there aren’t enough minutes for him to go around. The Wizards won’t play him even when their entire team gets injured and they won’t send him to the D-League because they don’t do that, yet they’ll pick up his option so he can ride the bench and be the pleasant diversion for reporters looking to crack a few jokes with a goofy guy. I’d have less of a problem with Pecherov on this team next year if the team had actually gave him a chance this year, but they didn’t. There won’t be those same chances when everyone returns healthy next year.

There’s nothing wrong with punting a failed project if it means clearing up a roster spot for someone who can fit better and potentially be cheaper. My opinion remains on Pecherov remains the same as it did last year.  If you’re not going to play him, then why keep him at all?

JakeTheSnake: I'm still not quite sure what to think of Oleksiy Pecherov, even after playing for two years.  He's only played 596 minutes in his NBA career (by comparison, Antawn Jamison played 623 minutes in the month of December) and almost all of those minutes have come in garbage time, when it's really hard to make any kind of definitive observations about a player. 

What makes him all the more interesting is that while he has a reputation as a skinny, perimeter big who can knock down the outside shot, his production doesn't reflect that.  His rebounding percentage is higher than anyone else on the team and higher than such players as Brook Lopez, Andrew Bynum, Zach Randolph, and Chris Bosh.  Granted, playing in garbage time when rebounds are more available and going up against less-talented big men skews those rebound numbers somewhat, but it still goes to show that despite his wiry frame, he can still mix it up on the boards more than his frame and playing style would suggest.

The catch is that for a guy who is known for his ability to get buckets, he's not all that good at getting the ball in the hole.  He only shoots 38% from the field and 32% from behind the arc.  He's got the range to be an effective scorer in this league, but he has to learn how to rein in those shot attempts if he wants to be effective and get more time on the floor.  His free throw shooting is solid, but he doesn't get to the line enough to make it something that could be pointed to as one of his strengths.  And it's not like there's much else out there that you can point to as a strength.  He's definitely not going to make in this as a defensive stopper and it's unlikely he'll ever be an average distributor.  Unless of course you think that his 2 assists this season were just a fluke.

Despite the fact that he hasn't produced much in his career so far, I'm still holding out hope for Pecherov.  When he gets it going, like he did against New Jersey, he can be a nice piece off the bench and if nothing else, he's funny.  I can't hate a guy that gives me things to talk about, but we have to remember that on-court production is still the most important factor.  If he can't figure out a way to get better this off-season at actually making an impact on the floor, all the jokes in the world aren't going to help him stay in the league.

Truthaboutit: I could cite some of Oleksiy Pecherov's mediocre numbers, including his assist per 138.5 minutes rate, but they're a moot indicator as to his value to the franchise. The 23-year old just didn't get enough time on the court. However, when a guy's player evaluation from last year can be easily recycled, a bulk of responsibility lies on his shoulders.

Rail if you will on the Wizards' player development, or lack thereof, and whether or not Ed Tapscott stunted growth. The fact remains that if Pecherov gave more reasons for increased run, the minutes would have found him, especially in such an injury plagued year. The epitome of his season's effort was more when he got blocked by the 6'2"Boobie Gibson in the last meeting against Cleveland than the few positive moments.

Already behind a prideful veteran exempt from the bench (Antawn Jamison), a rookie with more fire and defensive instinct (JaVale McGee), a role player with court smarts (Darius Songaila), an inconsistent prospect with a much better skill set (Andray Blatche), and the occasional Etan Thomas sighting, the Ukrainian goof-ball dubbed 'Big Oily' was already in a position where working extra hard was a prerequisite for more time.

At one point, Pech seemed to want to rebound, which is more than you can say for many European big men with an outside touch. But it's not encouraging that hustle on the glass decreased, while hovering around the arc increased, toward the end of the year, at least in practice as Kevin Broom highlighted on the Secret Weapon. I like Pechrov, but his comedic shtick isn't much without meaningful contribution.

Imagine if Pech used the three point shot as a threat and not a crutch. Imagine if he became a great pick and pop big, opening up the lane for penetration. Imagine if Big Oily had a high defensive IQ. Imagine if he had the heart of Songaila. If you can conjure all of this magically happening over the summer, I'd say you need to come back to reality.

Rook6980: I love Oleksiy Pecherov. He's not a knucklehead or a locker room problem. He's a fun loving, likable player. He's worth more than a few chuckles during the year, and he seems to be a genuinely nice fellow.

Obviously any evaluation of Pecherov should start with the caveat that there's very little data to work with. He only played 277 minutes in 32 games in 2008-09. That's about 8 games worth... and that's LESS than he got last year.

Pecherov is the stereotypical European big man, with a face-the-basket type game. He's got a sweet looking stroke from outside; and he has NBA 3-point range. After that, it gets pretty dicey. Although he is listed at 7-ft, he doesn't take advantage of that size on defense or to score inside. Instead, he seems willing to sit on the outside and chuck up 3-point shots; hitting only 32% of them. Pecherov did shoot fewer 3-point shots than last year, when he chucked up a 3-pointer for every 5.3 minutes of playing time. This year, it was a whole 6.4 minutes between 3's - so that's an improvement, I guess.

The frustrating thing for me is that I could see flashes of what Pecherov could become. Occasionally, he would go inside and show a nifty little move, or follow up an offensive rebound with a dunk. Pecherov is not a bad rebounder either, averaging 2.4 per game in a little over 8 and a half minutes of play; and sporting a Kevin Garnett like 16.1 Rebound rate (best on the team). Unfortunately, he seemed lost and confused on defense - frequently looking tentative and out of position.

For a guy that's been with the Wizards for 2 full seasons, I would have expected more improvement by now. I place most of the blame for Pecherov's limited development squarely on the Wizards. Pecherov is the perfect example of how the Wizards fail to make use of any resources to help develop their young talent. Pecherov should have spent the entire year in the D-League working on getting stronger and concentrating on defense and rebounding. Instead, he had another wasted year riding the pine.

Since the Wizards didn't send him to the D-League, Pecherov should have followed Darius Songaila around like a puppy. Do everything Songaila did. Work when he worked. Slept when he slept.  A 7-ft Songaila, that can hit the 3-pointer would be a real asset for the Wizards... Unfortunately, I think it's probably too late now, as I don't see a future for Pecherov on the Wizards.

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