Underrated Draft Prospects: Ricardo Ratliffe

In the previous installments of this series of posts, I’ve argued for Jesse Sanders, Marcus Denmon, C.J. McCollum, Jae Crowder, Kevin Jones and William Mosley. This time I’m arguing for Ricardo Ratliffe.

Another Mizzou Monster?

I have already covered one player from this year’s awesome but ultimately disappointing Mizzou team. Now I’m gonna cover another – the team’s only real big man, Ricardo Ratliffe. When I adjust for pace, strength of schedule, and expected NBA position, I have Ratliffe as the 4th most productive overall prospect in this year’s NBA Draft. Let’s see why:

Ricardo Ratliffe compared to average NCAA Centers and Draft Express Top 100 Power Forwards. All stats are adjusted to per 40 minutes.

Stat Avg C DE Top 100 PF Ricardo Ratliffe
effective Field Goal% 0.516 0.550 0.693
True Shooting % 0.549 0.583 0.753
3 Point Shooting % 0.331 0.367 0.000
Free Throw Shooting% 0.637 0.674 0.698
Offensive Rebounds 3.20 3.48 4.86
Defensive Rebounds 5.70 7.99 6.67
Total Rebounds 8.90 11.47 11.53
Assists 1.34 2.12 0.95
Steals 0.96 1.32 0.86
Blocks 1.56 1.82 1.58
Turnovers 2.54 2.69 2.48
Personal Fouls 4.77 3.10 4.05
Points! 13.22 18.96 21.31
Win Score 4.42 8.88 11.76

What makes Ratliffe so good is his sky high shooting efficiency. He shoots just short of 70% from the field, and he’s not a bad free throw shooter either. He’s also a very good offensive rebounder. So why are most draft experts predicting that Ratliffe won’t be drafted? Let’s again turn to Chad Ford and Draft Express for some insight.

Chad Ford:

Lacks ideal size for his position …Will turn 23 by time of the draft … No perimeter game to speak of

Jonathan Givony:

Ratliffe doesn’t offer much outside the paint … his basketball IQ appears to be just average … undersized center on both ends of the floor … may not be quick enough laterally to guard most power forwards

So, despite the lack of size issue, which I have literally tackled in every single post in this series, Ratliffe’s weaknesses appear to be his age and lack of perimeter game. Age is certainly an issue when considering potential. At 23 already, Ratliffe probably won’t get significantly better than he is now. But he’s pretty good now, and again, teams focus far too much on potential, which can be elusive, impossible to predict, and generally not worth the risk. Criticizing Ratliffe’s lack of a perimeter game is being too nitpicky. Most bigs don’t have great perimeter games, and no one is saying Ratliffe is going to be a top big in the league. Despite his poor perimeter game, his game around the basket is fantastic, and I think he can be a very good big in the NBA. If a team gives Ratliffe a chance, it could get a huge return on its investment.

-James

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