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Northwestern basketball 2017 player reviews: Dererk Pardon

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The sophomore became a vital member of the frontcourt.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Northwestern vs Vanderbilt Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Dererk Pardon, a year after being a surprise contributor in a freshman season in which he was supposed to redshirt, saw his role increase even more as a sophomore. He played over 30 minutes a game and was a solid rim protector for a Northwestern team without much frontcourt depth behind him. He developed rapidly throughout the season in all aspects — especially on the defensive end — and was able to hold his own against bigger forwards/centers, even in Big Ten play. Oh yeah, and he hit The Shot that came off The Pass.

Stats

The following numbers are taken from kenpom.com.

Despite playing much more than he did last season, Pardon’s offensive usage rate (in the chart as %Poss) actually went down as his offensive efficiency went up. Much like Sanjay Lumpkin, Pardon plays within the offensive really well, mostly contributing on open dunks and layups — which often are the result of offensive rebounds. His rebound rates remained constant from his freshman year but his block and assist percentages went up, a sign of his improved interior defense and surprisingly adept passing skills.

Shot Distribution

Stats via hoop-math.com.

Name FGA TS% eFG% % shots at rim FG% at rim % assisted at rim % shots 2pt J FG% 2pt Jumpers % assisted 2pt J % of shots 3pt 3FG% % assisted 3s FTA/FGA FT%
Dererk Pardon 167 60.5 61.1 70.1 69.2 56.8 29.9 42.0 47.6 0.0 --- ---

40.7% 54.5

As expected, the vast majority of Pardon’s shots are at the rim, a good portion of which are assisted. An underrated aspect of this stat is that while they’re high-percentage opportunities, they aren’t possible without good movement from Pardon toward the hoop. The high pick-and-roll with Bryant McIntosh and Pardon usually worked well and led to so many of those game-opening dunks and layups we’ve become accustomed to.

Pardon did show off a semi-competent 15-foot jumper at times during the season, but it’s far from a reliable weapon just yet. However, if he can make that consistently, it could open up the paint even more. Also, hook shots in the lane became a part of Pardon’s repertoire, which were his go-to when making a move on the block.

The Good

With the departure of Alex Olah, Northwestern had an enormous hole at center. It was unclear whether Pardon — at just 6-foot-8 — could fill that void. He proved up to the task, anchoring a relatively thin frontcourt well. His mobility as a smaller big allowed him to be an effective scorer when needed, and his athletic ability made him a potent defender (almost two blocks a game) and reliable rebounder.

The Bad

There isn’t much Pardon didn’t do well this season, but one area of improvement could be him being more assertive offensively. A lot of this owes to Northwestern’s offensive gameplan — which didn’t utilize him enough on the block, even when he hit a few early shots — but part of it is on Pardon himself. If he can be more aggressive and look for his own shot, and maybe take some more free-throw line jumpers, he could become a double-double guy as a true junior.

Offseason Focus

Free throws and jumpshots. Pardon won’t be a stretch five by any means — and won’t become the perimeter threat Olah was — but improved shooting at the charity stripe and a 15-footer or two a night would go a long way. He also could bulk up a bit, which would help against the likes of Ethan Happ and Nick Ward, despite the vast gains he made defensively and on the glass between his freshman and sophomore years.

The Bottom Line

Pardon is a vital member of this team, and if his 2016-17 season is any indication, the sky is the limit for him. It’ll be interesting to see if he is integrated into the offense more going forward, but if not, an undersized center averaging around a double-double with a couple of blocks per game is all Chris Collins could ask for, or even need.

Grade: A-