Money-back guaranty: You’ll like at least one Kispert doppelgänger

Money-back guaranty: You’ll like at least one Kispert doppelgänger

Money-back guaranty: You’ll like at least one Kispert doppelgänger
Wizards guard Corey Kispert | Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Back in April, I wrote about Corey Kispert’s somewhat promising rookie season. Now it’s time for the doppelgänger treatment.

Overall, Kispert’s rookie season rated below average. He struggled on defense, which is normal for rookies, and showed he can be a good NBA shooter after a rough start to the season.

He’s a good bet for an uptick in three-point shooting — last season, he shot just 35.0%, but he connected on 62.9% of his twos and 87.1% from the free throw line. Even with basically average three-point shooting, his offensive efficiency was above average.

Even as a specialist, he’ll need to maintain (or improve) that efficiency, while also boosting his three-point volume because…well…he didn’t much more — below average rebounding, playmaking and defense.

His 8.8 three-point attempts per 100 team possessions sounds kinda high, but league average was 7.1.

Here’s a look at some of the stats I use when evaluating players (box score stats are per 100 team possessions, unless otherwise noted):

  • PPA (in PPA, average is 100 and higher is better): 87
  • Offensive rating (points produced per 100 individual possessions): 116 (+4.0 relative to league average)
  • Usage: 13.9% (average is 20.0%)
  • Points: 17.5
  • Rebounds: 5.8
  • Assists: 2.3
  • Steals: 1.0
  • Blocks: 0.6
  • Turnovers: 1.4
  • Fouls: 2.6
  • Free throw attempts: 1.7
  • efg: 56.4%
  • 2pt%: 62.9%
  • 3pt%: 35.0%
  • FT%: 87.1%

For those unfamiliar, my Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.

Kispert’s rookie season fits a familiar player archetype — low usage shooter who avoids turnovers. His first 7 comps rate as highly similar, and his top 30 comps are fairly strong matches. The differentiator between how successful these players become is often related to how well they learn to defend.

  1. Hollis Thompson, Philadelphia 76ers, 2014-15, age 23 — Undrafted out of Georgetown, Thompson managed to appear in four NBA seasons. His first two seasons with The Process 76ers were his best (PPAs: 69 and 71), and then he slipped to replacement level for a couple seasons before exiting the league.
  2. Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns, 2019-20, age 23 — A surprise 11th overall pick (most expected him to go later in the first round), Johnson was immediately productive as a 23-year-old rookie (PPA: 95). He actually took a step back in his second season (84 PPA), before getting to an above-average 124 PPA in year three. One difference between Johnson and Kispert: defense. Johnson is a plus defender (and was as a rookie); Kispert needs to improve on that end.
  3. Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies, 2020-21, age 22 — Bane’s rookie season was a lot like Kispert’s — decent, somewhat promising, but not mind-blowing (PPA: 86). If Kispert could match Bane’s second season, it would exceed everyone’s wildest dreams, including Kispert’s. That’s because Bane produced like one of the league’s top wings — a 162 PPA that included 43.6% shooting on 9.4 three-point attempts per 100 team possessions. Bane matched Kispert’s 116 offensive rating but with a usage rate of 23.3%.
  4. Jodie Meeks, Philadelphia 76ers, 2001-12, age 24 — Good shooter who managed several averageish seasons in a 10-year career. Meeks even cracked average twice — at 23 with Philly, and at 26 with the Lakers. Naturally, his production cratered when he got to Washington.
  5. Gary Trent Jr., Portland Trailblazers, 2019-20, age 21 — Selected in the second round, Trent has already outperformed his draft slot. He barely played as a 20-year-old rookie (just 111 minutes), but when given playing time began producing at a mid-80s PPA level — a bit below average, but still useful. Last season, he became a solid starter with the Toronto Raptors.
  6. Josh Hart, Los Angeles Lakers, 2017-18, age 22 — Hart’s career projection seems plausible for Kispert, though I think Kispert will be a better shooter. Here’s Hart’s PPA progression: 90 (this is the comp season), 60, 90, 89, 132.
  7. Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings, 2010-11, age 22 — Casspi wasn’t bad as a youngster, but he didn’t improve much. His best season was a 96 PPA at age 27.
  8. Justin Jackson, Sacramento Kings, 2017-18, age 22 — The 15th pick in the 2017 draft, Jackson has played for seven teams in five seasons. He was slightly above replacement level in his rookie year, but he hasn’t improved.
  9. Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors, 2015-16, age 24 — This comp is probably more encouraging to Wizards fans than it should be. While Ross has wrecked Washington with multiple scoring binges, he also has to play other NBA teams. And he hasn’t fared as well against them. Overall, he’s been kinda okay — a mid-70s PPA level producer in most years. His peak was a 93 PPA at age 27.
  10. Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers, 2015-16, age 22 — Another Process Sixer. Another guy who just never figured out the NBA. He’s been replacement level throughout his career.

Kinda like my April write-up, Kispert’s doppelgängers are somewhat encouraging. If he can grow into a player like Johnson, Bane, Trent or Hart, the Wizards would be ecstatic. But the comps also include two Kings, two Process Sixers and some outright scrubs.

For Kispert, a successful NBA career is likely to boil down to taking and making lots of threes, and becoming at least neutral on defense.

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