Diamond Stone is having a terrific freshman season for Maryland, especially on the offensive end of the floor.
Courtesy of friend of the site Mike Lynch of Sports-Reference.com, we are able to quantify it. Of course watching film of Stone helps to draw these conclusions, but now the numbers drive the point home.
Take a look at four statistics that show how impressive Stone has been.
1) For a freshman center or center/power forward in the last 20 years, only one player has shot a higher percentage from the free-throw line than Stone (80 percent) after taking at least 100 attempts.
Keith Waleskowski of Dayton in 2000-01 is the only player to have shot a higher percentage in that group.
Stone’s mark from the line is important for two reasons:
Firstly, free-throw percentage is a good indication to scouts to reveal whether or not a player has potential as a stretch-four or stretch-five option at the next level. A good free-throw percentage means a player has solid touch and that can translate to other parts of a player’s offensive game
Secondly, his ability to hit free throws has been vitally important to Maryland especially in the second halves of games. At the college level, he is a talented low-post scorer who sometimes can only be stopped by the opposition fouling. Were he a 50-percent free-throw shooter, that would make Maryland more hesitant to go to him because fouling would be the best defense. Knocking free throws down at an 80-percent clip makes him that much more dangerous.
2) For a freshman at any position since 2009-10 who has played at least 500 minutes and had a usage percentage of at least 25, Stone has the sixth-best offensive rating (120).
Let’s parse this. So we’re talking about the last seven seasons and freshmen playing any position who are basically one of the centerpieces of a given team’s offense. Put those players in a group and numbers show Stone is having the sixth-best offensive season among them. And it’s loaded:
1 - Jared Sullinger, Ohio State | 2010-11 (126)
2 - John Brown, High Point | 2013-14 (124.9)
3 - Ben Simmons, LSU | 2015-16 (121.5)
4 - Alec Burks, Colorado | 2009-10 (120.9)
5 - Melo Trimble, Maryland | 2014-15 (120.7)
6 - Diamond Stone, Maryland | 2015-16 (120.0)
7 - Jahlil Okafor, Duke | 2014-15 (119.9)
8 - Derrick Williams, Arizona | 2009-10 (119.2)
9 - C.J. McCollum, Lehigh | 2009-10 (118.8)
10 - Tyler Hall, Montana State | 2015-16 (118.6)
Look at that list. Every player there that has left college has become a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, aside from Sullinger, who went 21st. But, there was even a time when Sullinger was considered a lottery pick before slipping.
Three Power Five players are still in school (No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons, Stone’s teammate Melo Trimble, who is projected to flirt with the lottery if he declares, and Stone). Pretty good.
3) For a freshman center or power forward since 2009-10 who has played at least 500 minutes, Stone has the fourth-best PER among them (28.9).
It’s another testament to Stone’s efficiency as a post scorer. The others in the Top 5?
1 - Jahlil Okafor, Duke | 2014-15 (30.7)
2 - James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan | 2015-16 (29.7)
3 - Hassan Whiteside, Marshall | 2009-10 (29.1)
4 - Diamond Stone, Maryland | 2015-16 (28.9)
5 - Joel Embiid, Kansas | 2013-14 (28.2)
There are two Top 3 picks in that group, plus one of the game’s best young centers in Whiteside. Not a bad group to be in.
Attribute that high PER number to Stone’s ability to finish through contact, plus convert at the line when he gets there.
4) Since 2001-02, only two players have shot better than 55 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line in a freshman season with at least 100 attempts from each.
One of them? Diamond Stone. The other? NBA Rookie of the Year frontrunner Karl-Anthony Towns at Kentucky last season.
Towns, of course, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. As a rookie, he is averaging 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 85 percent from the line.