Casper Ware is as interesting a prospect as his myriad of previous hairdos might indicate. In some rankings, he is seen as a borderline Top 100 prospect. In others, he is seen as a borderline NBA Draft choice. The truth, it appears, may actually lie somewhere in between, no matter how cool the stories are.
Some have said "the only flaw in his game is his height," since he posted 17 points and 4 assists per game over his last two seasons for an LBSU squad that played some pretty hefty non-conference competition.
Ware played four games against top-15 teams last season and averaged 24 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in those contests - all of which were close. Sounds like a pretty sweet prospect given the speed everyone raves about, right? Not so fast my friend.
The data shows a guy who isn't as good as he looks on film offensively or defensively, and his size may be his undoing in the end.
School: Long Beach State University Hometown: Cerritos, CA Position: Point Guard Height: 5'10" Weight: 170 Accolades: Big West All-Freshman Team, two-time Big West Player of the Year, Big West Defensive Player of the Year Team Record: 79-52
Everyone you read raves about Ware's incredible speed, his tenacious defense, his ability to create for his teammates, and his willingness to play a physical game that allows him to use his free throw shooting to compensate for his lack of shot-making ability. Add on to that, Ware also held more than his own against current NBA players in the 2011 Drew Summer League, winning MVP. Quoth one writer who saw it first hand:
He dropped 43 points on a team that featured NBA ballers DeMar DeRozan, Ron Artest Metta World Peace and Steve Blake. He scored 33 points while playing on a team with LeBron James, impressing James so much that the NBA MVP asked Ware to teach at his camp the next weekend.
Final Season Averages: 17.2 points... 2.6 rebounds... 4.4 assists... 1.7 steals per game
These numbers aren't too shabby...they also aren't very descriptive of Ware's entire body of work. That line you just read shows a player who is primarily adept at getting the points he needs to be his team's offensive leader and also has the wherewithal to be a defensive nuisance on the other end.
In truth, he had to work harder than a truly good prospect would to get those stats. Ware only shot 40% from the field, while taking sixty percent more shots than the next most active shooter on his team. Granted, that is compensated for in part by his free throw shooting, but this is more the case of a good player sticking out on a bad team. Ware's 4.15 HOOPWAR put him behind TJ Robinson and Larry Anderson (4.68 and 4.29, respectively), and James Ennis (1.65) was the only player to make it over 0.1.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Strengths: Ware is both fast and agile as well as a great ball handler, which means he can excel at creating space for his shots, and has the presence to be able to either make the pass or earn the contact foul to compensate for when he doesn't.
Weaknesses/Concerns: Some have said his height is his only weakness. That may be very generous - HOOPWAR shows him at 3.66 HW/30, placing him as only the third most valuable playeron his own team. Casper may be able to play feisty defense, but that doesn't really matter when you aren't big and strong enough to fight through a screen on either end.
Possible destinations: Millions of possibilities here, since he isn't very likely to get drafted. I wouldn't hesistate to compare him to Earl Boykins - he is too short to truly stick as an everyday starter in the NBA, but his speed, defensive chutzpah and ability to create his own shot should find him a home on someone's roster eventually.