AP Hoops: You Don't Know 'O' (But You Will)

Two of the three most efficient Prospects in the NBA D-League have already earned Call-Ups this year. Is Arinze Onuaku headed up next?

Names to Know

It is never been easy for Arinze Onuaku. Despite possessing heaps of talent and athleticism, a flurry of knee injuries during his college career at Syracuse left him off of the collective NBA radar. That is, before he fell to the Canton Charge in the 4th round of the 2012 NBA D-League Draft -- a round that has historically produced some NBA Call-Up sleepers. And it looks like Onuaku might be next, with the Charge's big man turning into a statistical dynamo this season, posting eye-popping numbers across the board and vaulting him up our Expert’s Prospect List.

At first glance, Onuaku’s numbers basic raw statistics are impressive - he is currently posting 14.3 PTS 11.5 REB 1.1 BLK per game. Decent enough, right?

Then you'll look a little closer and realize that he's put up those gaudy stats are in a mere 24.3 minutes per game. If we extrapolate those numbers to their per/48 minute values -- which means basically doubling them -- we’re looking a Wilt-esque 28 PTS 23 REB 2.2 BLK average.

Now, like any good students of statistics, I’m sure you’re are asking the same follow-up question I am: do these numbers hold up in advanced calculations? (Spoiler alert: the answer is a resounding “YES!”). Check out where he stands in a number of key advanced metrics:

Advanced Metrics: Where Onuaku Stands
StatisticValueRank
PER27.791
eFG%56.30%8
FTA Rate0.41917
OREB%22.80%1
DREB%29.10%2
REB%25.90%1

First, Onuaku is undoubtedly the most skilled rebounder in the NBA D-League. Not only does he haul in more than one-quarter of ALL rebounds available when he is on the floor, but he is equally adept at cleaning the defensive glass and crashing the offensive boards. We often find that many rebounders excel at one or the other. In fact, of the top four defensive rebounders in the NBA D-League according to DREB%, Onuaku is the only one who has an OREB% of greater than 8.7% (of course, Onuaku’s rate is more than 2.5 times this value).

Onuaku is more than just a rebounder, too – he's turned himself into an efficient scorer shooting an impressive eFG% of 56.3% - better than the vast majority of NBA D-League players.

Onuaku is the league’s most efficient positive contributor.

Beyond this, Onuaku gets to the line at an impressive rate shooting .419 FTA for every FGA taken. Despite his less-than-stellar FT% (50.7%), his ability to get to the line provides tremendous value for his team. Not only does it get his opponents in foul trouble, but even if he scores on 1 out of every 2 free throws taken, it would yield an average of 1 point per possession (an OffRtg of 100) which is a solid offensive rate.

Last and most certainly not least, is his league-leading Player Efficiency Rating (PER) which accounts for all of Onuaku’s on-court actions – both positive and negative. According to this statistic, Onuaku is the league’s most efficient positive contributor by a relatively wide margin. What bodes well for him is that the players with the second- and third-highest PER in the NBA D-League (Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jarvis Varnado) both currently grace NBA rosters, making Onuaku a very intriguing call-up candidate with the NBA D-League Showcase starting on Monday.


Going forward, we'll also include the Top 25 Most Efficient Prospects in the League every week (excluding Assignments and players who've been called-up), given the importance of PER in association with the likelihood of a player receiving a GATORADE Call-Up. As of Jan. 1, these are the league's kings of efficiency.

Top 25 Most Efficient Players (PER)
PlayerTeamPER
Onuaku,ArinzeCanton 27.79
Rojas,SadielFort Wayne21.65
Ohlbrecht,TimRio Grande Valley 21.34
Flowers,GaryL.A.20.11
Howard,RonFort Wayne20.06
Wilkerson,TylerAustin20.01
Wright,Chris C.Iowa19.71
Jackson,DarnellReno19.30
Fortson,CourtneyL.A.18.92
Kennedy,D.J.Erie18.92
Jackson,RickAustin18.48
Summers,DaJuanMaine18.38
Tyndale,MarkSioux Falls18.31
Wright,ChrisMaine18.30
Dentmon,JustinAustin18.25
Sutton,DominiqueTulsa18.11
Mitchell,TonyFort Wayne18.10
Major,RenaldoBakersfield17.78
Kelley,TreAustin17.69
Evans,SeanIdaho17.64
Goudelock,AndrewSioux Falls17.62
Sims,HenryErie17.58
Downs,MicahMaine17.56
Eyenga,ChristianTexas17.53
Singletary,MikeRio Grande Valley17.47