UCLA hoops has been a massive disappointment in 2012-13 thus far. The Bruins have yet to play a conference game, yet it’s clear that they’re nowhere near as ready to take on the Pac-12 as everyone thought they’d be at this point and even less equipped to compete against a resurgent conference.
Some of this falls on the players but for the most part, head coach Ben Howland’s inability to adjust mid-game, and his unwillingness to tweak with his rotation and sets have cost UCLA dearly.
Of course, it’s only fair that we rate and rank how each player does individually. The following rankings and ratings are both affected by how they’re used and how well they’re performing, severely misused or not.
So without further ado, here are the rankings and ratings (out of 100) for UCLA’s ballers so far.
1. Jordan Adams. Rating: 95
The least-heralded of the stacked 2012 UCLA recruiting class wound up being the most impressive freshman up to this point and it’s not even close.
He’s this UCLA squad’s best player. While he’s averaging a team-high 17.8 points a game, he’s knocking down 49 percent of them, an impressive number considering Adams loves to play the perimeter and take anything from 15 feet out or further. His three-point percentage is a respectable 36 percent (we can count multiple times per game, too, when those shots shouldn’t go in) and he’s also getting to the line at a high rate, taking 5.2 free throws a contest, converting 89.4 percent of them.
And his role has increased in recent games, too, with stubborn honcho Ben Howland finally giving him a starting nod against Cal State Northridge. Since starting, Adams has went 17-for-32 from the floor and has been improving defensively (based on eye tests, although his defensive rating is a meager 97.8), staying active and aggressive with opponents’ wings.
Adams has exceeded expectations and it’s clear there is no better player on this team.
2. Shabazz Muhammad. Rating: 89
At the outset, Shabazz Muhammad struggled. While his debut against Georgetown was highly anticipated, he didn’t look like the top recruit UCLA fans had hoped he would be right out of the gate.
Of course, expecting Muhammad to dominate immediately was asking for too much too soon.
And even through that, Muhammad delivered, earning 15 points off of 10 shots in his first game and shooting above 50 percent in two other games. Of course, those didn’t come without mediocre shooting performances, including a 4-for-13 debacle against Cal Poly. He also forced shots early in games much to the dismay of his team, but nearly always figured it out late in games to improve his shot selection.
Muhammad has only been slightly disappointing and now that he’s cut the In N’ Out, he’ll likely be much better from here on out.
3. Norman Powell. Rating: 81
Norman Powell has improved dramatically from his 2011-12 freshman campaign. Although his performance has been more sporadic than the youngsters ahead of him on this list, he’s capable of being UCLA’s wildcard game-changer.
His spot-up game has become far more effective than it was in 2011-12, and he’s become far less erratic with his handles, all while playing smarter basketball. As a result, he’s seeing a ten-minute spike in his playing time from last year and has taken nearly half of the field goal attempts he had last year through just nine games this year.
Powell is still apt defensively and probably improved some, all while limiting his needless turnovers and boosting his maturity on the court.
So far, a decent season from Powell.