WNBA Draft Stock – Alaina Coates
As the Women’s college basketball season is underway, the eyes start to turn towards the WNBA draft in April 2017. I would like to refer readers to this mock draft run by the popular DraftSite. I wanted to do a deep dive on a top prospects, South Carolina’s Alaina Coates.
Borned in Irmo (South Carolina), Alaina is a 21 year old senior women’s basketball player that attended Dutch Fork High School. She is 6’4 208lbs Center, wears number 41 and in her words, likes “to go to war down on the block”. She led the South Carolina (SC) Gamecocks to the 2016 Final Four after going 33-2 during the season culminating in an SEC championship. Ranked no 1 in their region, South Carolina was upset in the Semi-finals against Syracuse 76-68 In a tough fought game.
Let’s start by the fun stuff. I know a lot of you haven’t heard of this great basketball player before. Therefore, let’s start by getting to know her fun side. I give you FUN Alaina at this year’s SEC media day and FUNNIER Alaina along with her teammates last year.
Here’s a quick look at her numbers through her time at SEC
Her PPG game averages has stayed consistent at around 12PPG throughout her time at SC. However, it is important to note that along with her total minutes, her efficiency rose to an incredible 64.4% last year. Her rebounding has steadily increased to the level of averaging a double-double last year. She has been also able to increase her assists well decreasing her TO rate. Finally, even though her block total has decreased from her freshman year, this has been due to her increase awareness on defence and lesser propensity to gamble leading to an almost symmetrical increase in steals.
Deeper dive in synergy numbers shows even more the level of her dominance last year. She averaged 1.102 PPP good for 99th percentile throughout college basketball. Obviously she is much more of a half-court player but she does finish well in transition, scoring 1.576 PPP (99th percentile).
Here’s a REALLY interesting nugget. Zone defence is designed to take away the big men and force long-range 3s to beat the opponent. Coates went up against zones 36% of the time and still managed to shoot 67% on 94 attempts good for 1.278 PPP and the 99th percentile once more
With the help of her frontcourt partner in crime A’ja Wilson, she is a terrific finisher on high-low feeds, which adds to a huge amount of her buckets.
She also is a tremendous offensive rebounder and her soft hands give her the ability to finish possessions going up strong as shown here:
Finally, she has tremendous instincts on offence flashing high hands when open and displaying an ability to make tough catches
At this point in her career, Alaina classifies as an elite post-up defender and an average defender in space. She allows 0.652 PPP overall (80th percentile), 0.559 on post-ups (97th percentile) and 0.7PPP on Pick and Rolls. The caveat is that she only spent 13% of her possession defending in space comparatively to 38% on post-ups.
In this sequence, her lack of mobility gave her some issues to help and recover even though her matchup missed the shot.
However, her size makes her a tremendous weak side help-defender. Watch her wall the way to the basket.
To point to her improving on the defensive end, she can stay with perimeter challenged bigs trying to beat her off the bounce after facing up.
The women’s game is on the same trend to the men’s sports game where the spread Pick-and-Roll has been popularized, changing the nature and complexity of Bigs. As a throwback, Alaina can certainly beat her opponent by her shear size and strength. Her success this season and at the next level will be determine by her ability to move her feet defensively and calling out coverages effectively. Recently featured espnW.com’s Michelle Voepel, It will be fascinating to watch her grow and the Gamecocks’ contention for the Final Four will be largely impacted by her performance
Piece by Josué Sédjro – Twitter: @JoshuaHemsky