His name is hardly ever mentioned in the ‘NBA Unicorn’ conversation, but Dewayne Dedmon’s combination of outside shooting and defensive metrics make him one of the most unique players the League has ever seen.
In only 25.1 minutes per game last season, the versatile 7-footer averaged more than seven rebounds (7.5), one block (1.1.) and one steal (1.1) each night, while knocking down over 38 percent from behind the arc. If that doesn’t sound impressive, here’s the full list of NBA centers, according to basketball-reference.com, who’ve ever posted such a stat line.
That’s right – the new Kings big man sits in a tier of his own. Even if the above criteria is expanded to include all positions, he’s only the eighth player to amass that kind of two-way production, joining the company of Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Larry Bird, Chris Webber, Draymond Green, Shawn Marion and Donyell Marshall.
What’s remarkable is that Dedmon has quietly transformed into a deadeye outside shooter over his two years with the Hawks, after taking only a single three-pointer over his first four seasons combined. In 2016-17, 72.2 percent of his shots came within three feet of the basket, per NBA.com; last year, with floor-spacing becoming more and more crucial, he operated primarily outside of the paint, firing more often from downtown (41.3 percent) than at the rim (35.0).
Among all centers, the USC alum launched the sixth-most threes (3.4 per game), draining shots when left alone in the corners (80th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass) or spotting up from the wings and the top of the key (70th). Only two players at his position were more effective on catch-and-shoot triples (38.1 percent; min. 100 attempts), and when opposing defenses left him wide open behind the arc, he converted on 42.5 percent – a better mark than Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard, via NBA.com.
Those unimpeded looks are likely to rise, considering No. 13’s ability to pop out to the three-point line when defenses collapse around De’Aaron Fox on drives to the rim, and when opponents need to account for an entire lineup of strong outside scorers, including Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Although he’s shifted his game away from the basket, the seventh-year veteran has continued to be proficient at close range; his 68.7 field-goal percentage in the restricted area tied him with the likes Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic. When factoring in his free-throw accuracy (81.4 percent), Dedmon’s 60.2 true-shooting percentage put him at an elite level (33rd among all qualified players.
A strong pick-and-roll finisher, who’ll soon become one of Fox’s favorite lob targets, the Sacramento signee placed in the 83rd percentile with 1.28 points per possession in the category, per Synergy Sports. Among players with at least 100 possessions, only 10 were more efficient.
Since the Hawks were one of just two teams which played at a faster pace (104.6) than the Kings last season (103.9), the California native won’t need time to adjust to Sacramento’s up-tempo playing style. Effective at running the floor on the break, he ranked in the 63rd percentile in transition scoring (1.17 PPP) last season, after grading in the 82nd and 74th percentile in 2017-18 and 2016-17, respectively.
“Definitely watching and playing against Sacramento, you could see the young guys, they like to get up and down and play fast,” Dedmon said at his introductory press conference. “De’Aaron Fox is probably one of the fastest point guards in the League … (The Kings) up-tempo style is kind of how I’ve been playing. I like to get up and down, run the floor and now I shoot threes. It’s fun basketball.”
But his offense is only half the story, considering Dedmon has consistently rated as an excellent rebounder and defender in both the post and pick-and roll.
In 2018-19, he ranked in the 70th percentile among bigs in block percentage (2.2), after finishing in the 82nd percentile or better in three of his previous four years, per Cleaning the Glass. Similarly, he’s finished no lower than in the 78th percentile – and as high as in the 93rd – in defensive rebounding rate since he became a rotation regular.
Dedmon had the fifth-best Defensive Real/Plus Minus (3.94) in the League in 2016-17, according to ESPN.com, and while that number dipped to 2.00 last season, it was good enough to slot him between Steven Adams (2.15) and Clint Capela (1.98).
Although he doesn’t block as many shots as traditional rim protectors, Dedmon held opponents below their cumulative field goal percentage on both two- and three-point attempts. Players covered by the quick-footed center converted on 56.7 percent of their shots within five feet – five points lower than their season averages.
So how much better were the 29-win Hawks with Dedmon on the floor? Atlanta posted a minus-6.8 efficiency differential on the season, but when he took the court, they were 2.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively (74th percentile) and gave up 1.7 fewer points per 100 on the other end (66th), via Cleaning the Class.
Dedmon, who’s maintained his high offensive efficiency with an expanded role and continued to pose a strong defense presence, possesses a skill set that will serve as an ideal complement to Sacramento’s identity.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out here with these guys, try to make the best of this opportunity and try to end this Playoff drought,” he said. “That’s the goal.”