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Northwestern basketball 2018 player reviews: Dererk Pardon

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Dererk Pardon had a solid year as a center in the Big Ten.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Penn State vs Northwestern Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past three years, Dererk Pardon has established himself as one of Northwestern’s best centers ever. This year saw a continued maturation of his game offensively and defensively as he adjusted to playing more minutes and bearing more of the offensive load. He was one of the only Northwestern players to improve when conference play rolled around and was a huge bright spot this season.

Stats:

The following numbers are taken from KenPom.com.

Those are some great stats. Everything got better for Pardon in 2017-18. Pardon was the fourth-best player by offensive rating in the Big Ten. Importantly, he got better in Northwestern’s games against Tier A competition. He shot 61.9 percent from the field and improved his free throw percentage from 54.4 percent to 61.3 percent. He also increased his rebounding percentages, assist rate and his fouls drawn per 40 minutes. He was consistently a great center for most of the year and did not miss a start.

Shot Distribution

Stats are from Hoop-math.com.

As expected, the vast majority of Pardon’s shots were around the basket (71 percent). However, Pardon developed an effective midrange and post-up game this season, which took many opponents (Purdue, for example) by surprise. Pardon shot 48.5 percent on midrange twos this season, which is a really good number. Pardon also took his first three-pointer of his career this year, but it did not fall. However,

The Good:

Dererk Pardon is a top-of-the-line Big Ten center. He has excellent defensive acumen and can score at will at the basket. The development of a midrange jumper just adds to his offensive abilities. If anything, Pardon should be getting more offensive touches and chances to score, which should happen next season. Pardon is also prolific rebounder despite only being listed at 6-foot-8. He has also shown signs of improvement in every season at Northwestern, something that can’t be said for everyone on Collins’ roster. Pardon has really been a stellar example of long-term development from the coaching staff. Pardon also got much better at not fouling on defense despite playing more minutes. He only fouled out twice this season and just once in conference play.

The Bad:

Pardon still struggles from the line and has little to no game outside of about 10 feet from the basket. That’s fine for a big man, but it would be really nice if Pardon could stretch the floor even more and extend his shooting range. If he could do that, Pardon would be an NBA prospect, but for now, his game is highly effective but somewhat limited. If he can improve to a 65 percent free throw percentage while adding more range, he could be an All-Big Ten player next year. As it stands, he’s still a high-quality center with a low ceiling offensively.

Defensively, Pardon is never going to be a dominant 7-foot-1 shot blocker, and he’s doing a good enough job limiting opposing centers with his long arms. Pardon shut down Ethan Happ and Isaac Haas at times this season but also got torched by Mike Watkins, of all people. He’s good, but a bit inconsistent. Everyone can always improve on defense though.

Offseason focus:

Free throws, outside shots, improving post-up game.

Bottom line:

Dererk Pardon has been a Northwestern success story from the minute he walked onto the court as an emergency addition after Alex Olah got injured in 2016. Pardon has developed from a raw, foul-happy freshman into an extremely effective and solid Big Ten center on both sides of the ball. Pardon may well be Northwestern’s best two-way center of all time and its most important player next year.