Michigan Wolverines

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

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USA TODAY

Could Derrick Walton Jr. become the solution at backup PG?

Former Miami Heat two-way player Derrick Walton Jr. is reported to be nearing a deal with the Bulls. In an interview with The Athletic, it was stated: "Walton, 23, says he knows where he’ll play next season. An agreement is in place, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, is requiring him to sit on the news until next week. All Walton can put out publicly is this: 'Long story short, I’m good. I’m going to a great situation. All I can say.' "

And while it is not yet known if the potential contract will be a two-way deal or not, Walton would provide an intriguing lottery ticket for the Bulls. 

The team mostly ignored looking for a backup point guard on the market. There is obviously a belief in the organization that Cameron Payne will have some internal growth, making him the best option. And the trade of Jerian Grant for essentially nothing, shows even more that Payne is there guy. Retaining Ryan Arcidiacono is a nice move considering the hustle that he showed last season at both the G League and NBA level, but it still leaves the Bulls thin in terms of established backup PGs behind Kris Dunn. And that is where Walton comes into play. 

Walton was a four-year player at the University of Michigan, where he played in some big-time games and showed immense leadership potential. But in terms of strictly on the court skills, there is one thing that he does extremely well: space the floor. 

In his four years at Michigan, Walton took a total of 581 3-point attempts, and knocked them down at a 40.1 percent rate. His elite shooting is enough to make him a legitimate rotation player for Fred Hoiberg. And while Payne still may develop into a better player, his outside shooting is his calling card despite never being elite at that skill at the NBA level. And in fact, when you compare he and Walton’s stats from college, the G League and the NBA, it becomes apparent who is the better shooter right now.

3-point percentage at NCAA level: Payne- 35.9 percent, Walton- 40.1 percent
3-point percentage at G League level: Payne- 33.8 percent, Walton- 37.7 percent
3-point percentage at NBA level: Payne- 34 percent, Walton- 41.2 percent

Now obviously, there is a “small sample size alert” for the NBA level, as Walton has only taken 17 3-pointers at the NBA level in his limited time with the Miami Heat. But these numbers show that even dating back to their freshman years of college, Walton has been the more efficient shooter from 3-point range.

Cameron Payne has the edge when it comes to playmaking, and this is based off of the fact that Payne has maintained an assist rate above 30 percent through all of his G League stints, while also having a low turnover rate (9.9 percent). Walton didn’t come close to Payne in terms of G League assist rate, and his 17.9 percent turnover rate at the G League level shows that his decision-making has yet to catch up to his shooting. 

Ultimately, Walton is going to be most effective as an off-ball guard who can make quick decisions, and knockdown the 3-point shot at a high level. Though if Summer League was any indication, his passing out of the pick-and-roll is getting better. And while Payne certainly is a good shooter, his game is much more predicated on having the ball in his hands, and playing in the pick-and-roll. With so many players on the Bulls who can create their own shot, Walton could end up being the cleanest fit with this constantly evolving Bulls roster. 


 

See how they stack up: Week 10 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 10 college football top 25 rankings

With Week 10 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Georgia (9-0)

It was “beat a mediocre two-loss team by two touchdowns” week for the two top teams in the SEC, and the Dawgs held up their end of the bargain. They get a chance for a resume-booster next time out against Auburn.

2. Alabama (9-0)

Bama played a ranked team for the first time since the opener. LSU and Florida State, the two ranked teams the Tide have rolled (ranked at the time they played them, that is), have a combined record of 9-8. And everyone says Wisconsin’s schedule is soft.

3. Notre Dame (8-1)

The Irish somehow managed to give up 37 points to Wake Forest. But they dropped 48 on the Deacs and haven’t scored fewer than 33 points in any of their eight wins this season.

4. Oklahoma (8-1)

Bedlam lived up to its name, and the Sooner Schooner rolled out of Stillwater with one heck of an impressive shootout win. Baker Mayfield went bonkers, establishing himself as the new Heisman frontrunner with almost 600 passing yards.

5. Miami (8-0)

And there’s the impressive Canes victory we were all waiting for. Miami beat Virginia Tech and held the Hokies to just 10 points, finally not looking like a shaky unbeaten. Kings of the ACC for now, but Notre Dame is next.

6. Clemson (8-1)

The Tigers trailed deep into the third quarter, but two touchdowns in the final three and a half minutes of that period earned a win at NC State. With just three games left against Florida State, the Citadel and South Carolina, the champs are still very much in Playoff position.

7. Wisconsin (9-0)

Well, the Big Ten seems to now be Wisconsin’s to lose. Or rather, if the conference is gonna get any team in the Playoff, it has to be the Badgers. They’re holding up their end of the deal so far, but giant-killer Iowa is next. Gulp?

8. TCU (8-1)

The Frogs play at Oklahoma next. A win pretty much puts one of ‘em in the conference title game. Remember how that’s a thing in the Big 12 again? Playoff door status: still open.

9. Washington (8-1)

After the Big Ten blew itself up over the weekend, the notion of a Pac-12 team in the Playoff doesn’t seem so nuts anymore. Of course, Washington is the only team that could make it, and do the Huskies inspire that much confidence? They’re at Stanford next.

10. Oklahoma State (7-2)

Good on the Cowboys putting up 52 points against one of the country’s best teams. But that was Okie State’s second loss, and now the Playoff looks like a long shot with OU and TCU standing in its way of a Big 12 title game appearance.

11. Virginia Tech (7-2)

By getting shut down by Miami, the Hokies saw any outside Playoff chances vanish — chances that were slim already considering they lost to Clemson. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good team, though.

12. Michigan State (7-2)

Another week, another upset win for Sparty, which is suddenly and shockingly the king of the Big Ten East. They still have to beat Ohio State if they want to get a firm grasp on a Big Ten title game berth, but man who saw this coming?

13. Penn State (7-2)

The world has crashed down around the Nittany Lions in the last two weeks with losses to Ohio State and Michigan State derailing their once-promising campaign. Not getting demolished by Iowa doesn’t seem like much of a consolation prize, does it?

14. Ohio State (7-2)

Speaking of getting demolished by Iowa. What the heck happened, Buckeyes? Getting pummeled into a 55-24 pulp by Iowa was the last thing anyone expected. But a win this weekend over Sparty and they’re still in the Big Ten East driver’s seat. But the Playoff? Goodbye.

15. UCF (8-0)

UCF is still undefeated. Good on ‘em. Games against UConn and Temple follow before the season-ender against USF. That game could feature an awful lot of points, which would be nice.

16. Auburn (7-2)

Congratulations, Auburn, you are currently the third-best team in the SEC. But you also have to face the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the country over the next three weeks, so that title might not last long.

17. West Virginia (6-3)

The ‘Neers stopped the Big 12 juggernaut that was Iowa State this past weekend. West Virginia’s got three losses and could have one more with Oklahoma still on the schedule. But this is fine team. Too bad it’s already played five ranked opponents.

18. Washington State (8-2)

The Pac-12 is so ridiculous that a team with blowout losses to Cal and Arizona in its last four games is the conference’s second-best group. Wazzu gets that title for now after beating another contender, Stanford.

19. USC (8-2)

Despite being mired in a disappointing year that has in no way lived up to expectations, USC could still win a Pac-12 title. By quieting upstart Arizona this past weekend, the Trojans have a 6-1 mark in league play. No one in the Pac-12 has a better one.

20. Mississippi State (7-2)

Mississippi State’s only two losses have come against Georgia and Auburn. The Bulldogs should soon have a third with Alabama on the docket this weekend.

21. Memphis (8-1)

Memphis has won five in a row and has a sterling 8-1 record overall with wins against some of the Group of Five’s best. But if UCF goes undefeated, no one will care.

22. Iowa State (6-3)

America’s dream of seeing the ‘Clones play for a Big 12 title isn’t exactly over, but it’s looking very unlikely after a loss at West Virginia. Iowa State could still notch another huge win with Okie State on tap this weekend.

23. NC State (6-3)

Not being able to beat Clemson isn’t too big a deal, but the once impressive NC State (I still can’t figure out how they lost to South Carolina) has lost back-to-back games to two of the best teams in the country. Bummer.

24. Arizona (6-3)

The runaway Arizona train got knocked off the tracks against USC. Khalil Tate is still amazing, though.

25. Stanford (6-3)

Bryce Love returned only for the Trees to get chopped down by Wazzu. Love rushed just 16 times for 69 yards. Stanford can still shake things up, though, with a game this weekend against Washington.

Others receiving votes:

LSU (6-3)

The Bayou Bengals couldn’t score many points against Bama. What else is new?

USF (8-1)

That loss to Houston two Saturdays back ruined our shot at a Group of Five championship game between UCF and USF at the end of the regular season. But that game could still be a high-scoring affair, so excitement somewhat restored.

Michigan (7-2)

The Wolverines have beat up on Rutgers and Minnesota and now get a chance to do it again against Maryland before a gruesome two-step against Wisconsin and Ohio State to end the year. Jim Harbaugh’s team gonna play spoiler or what?

Northwestern (6-3)

Let’s give the Cats some love, why don’t we? They’re the first FBS team ever to win three straight games in overtime. That’s cool. And they’re also the second-best team in the Big Ten West, if that means anything.

Iowa (6-3)

The Hawkeyes obliterated Ohio State and with it the Buckeyes' Playoff chances. Iowa's been a hard-to-read team all year long, but the resume looks all right, doesn't it? Wins over Ohio State and Iowa State with losses to Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern. Not bad.

Toledo (8-1)

Toledo’s undefeated in every game it’s played against teams not named the Miami Hurricanes.

See how they stack up: Week 6 college football top 25 rankings

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USA TODAY

See how they stack up: Week 6 college football top 25 rankings

A special, if somewhat sad edition of the top-25 rankings this week. Saturday delivered another terrific day of college football, but we also must remember and celebrate one of the best rock n rollers of all-time, Tom Petty, who passed away earlier this week. So, in addition to the usual top 25, you get some bonus rankings, my picks for the 25 best Petty songs ever. Enjoy.

With Week 6 in the books, here’s my top 25:

1. Clemson (6-0)

It wasn’t a blowout, but the champs rolled on with a comfortable-enough win over Wake Forest. Of bigger concern is Kelly Bryant, who left the game with an ankle injury.

No. 25: “Saving Grace” from Highway Companion, 2006

2. Alabama (6-0)

Bama held on to win by eight after a 21-point third-quarter lead shrunk down. But was it ever really in doubt for the Tide? They will no doubt roll through a weak schedule leading up to the Iron Bowl.

No. 24: “The Wild One, Forever” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

3. TCU (5-0)

Defensively, the Frogs kept West Virginia out of the end zone through the first 41 minutes. Offensively, Kenny Hill had himself a day and matched the Mountaineers’ late charge. Oh, and TCU is now in complete command of the Big 12.

No. 23: “A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)” from Hard Promises, 1981

4. Georgia (6-0)

The Dawgs delivered another SEC pounding — yawn — and have outscored their conference foes by 100 points in three games. Expect that number to balloon further with Mizzou on the schedule next.

No. 22: “Rebels” from Southern Accents, 1985

5. Penn State (6-0)

Saquon Barkley had a negative rushing total in the first half Saturday, and this one was somehow never in doubt. Barkley finished with a pair of touchdown runs as the Lions look far and away the best team in the Big Ten East.

No. 21: “The Same Old You” from Long After Dark, 1982

6. Wisconsin (5-0)

Things looked a bit dicey with Wisconsin tied with Nebraska in the third quarter. But the Badgers ran away, closing with three straight touchdowns and winning easily on Jonathan Taylor’s huge night: 249 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.

No. 20: “Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

7. Washington (6-0)

I doubted Washington early, and at this point I’m not sure why. The Huskies pounded Cal on Saturday night — yes, Chris Petersen, a night game — and are one of three teams (Alabama, Ohio State) in the top 10 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

No. 19: “Century City” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

8. Washington State (6-0)

Wazzu’s still undefeated, taking complete advantage of an Oregon team without its starting quarterback, holding the Ducks to just 10 points, Oregon’s fewest since the LeGarrette Blount punch game.

No. 18: “Hometown Blues” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

9. Miami (4-0)

What a wild finish in the rivalry game with Florida State, but Miami finally stopped its losing streak to the Noles. The Canes’ defense allowed more than 400 yards, but Malik Rosier threw three touchdown passes.

No. 17: “Listen to Her Heart” from You’re Gonna Get It!, 1978

10. Auburn (5-1)

Just like Alabama and Georgia, Auburn is clobbering everyone else in the SEC. Since only beating Mercer by 14, the Tigers have smoked Mizzou, Mississippi State and Ole Miss by a combined 144-47 score.

No. 16: “Runnin’ Down a Dream” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

11. Ohio State (5-1)

Somehow, the guy who was one of the most focused-on college football players of the summer, J.T. Barrett, is low-key having a phenomenal season. Saturday against Maryland: 320 passing/rushing yards and four total touchdowns.

No. 15: “Louisiana Rain” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

12. Virginia Tech (5-1)

Josh Jackson threw for 322 yards in the Hokies’ 13-point win over Boston College. You would’ve liked to see a bit more, but it was a nice bounce back after the loss to Clemson.

No. 14: “Ways to Be Wicked” from Nobody’s Children, 1995

13. Oklahoma State (4-1)

Okie State finally got to rest up after losing to TCU and almost losing to Texas Tech. The TCU loss looks better and better, but the Cowboys need to hope for a slip-up from the Frogs and not slip up themselves in the back-to-back gauntlet of West Virginia and Oklahoma.

No. 13: “Learning to Fly” from Into the Great Wide Open, 1991

14. Notre Dame (5-1)

Not expected to do much after last year’s eight-loss debacle, the Irish are kind of really good. They’re the No. 6 rushing team in the country, adding to their total with 341 more rush yards against North Carolina.

No. 12: “You Wreck Me” from Wildflowers, 1994

15. Michigan State (4-1)

Out of nowhere, here comes Sparty. A sensational defensive performance against a top-10 Michigan team in rain-soaked Ann Arbor, plus a not-so-bad loss to Notre Dame, has Mark Dantonio’s team skyrocketing.

No. 11: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” from Stevie Nicks’ Bella Donna, 1981

16. West Virginia (3-2)

A valiant comeback attempt by Will Grier & Co. was shut down by Kenny Hill, but that doesn’t take away from West Virginia managing to look good on the road against one of the country’s best teams.

No. 10: “I Won’t Back Down” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

17. USC (5-1)

You don’t really get any points for beating up on terrible Oregon State. But things are about to get much tougher for Sam Darnold and USC with back-to-back games coming against Utah and Notre Dame.

No. 9: “Anything That’s Rock N Roll” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

18. Oklahoma (4-1)

Iowa State played out of its mind, had a linebacker throwing passes and pulled the upset of the year. Baker Mayfield played well, the Sooners were just derailed by fumbling at the worst possible time. And like that, the Playoff chances take a nosedive.

No. 8: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” from Greatest Hits, 1993

19. North Carolina State (5-1)

Don’t talk back to the Wolfpack, who now have beaten Florida State and Louisville this season. A Week 1 home loss to South Carolina — how did that happen? — is all preventing the Nov. 4 game against Clemson from determining the ACC.

No. 7: “Breakdown” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

20. Stanford (4-2)

With a big win over previously undefeated Utah, the Cardinal are really still in the mix for the Pac-12 crown. Two losses (even two good ones) might box Stanford out of the Playoff race, but Bryce Love & Co. are a good team.

No. 6: “Don’t Do Me Like That” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

21. South Florida (5-0)

No game for the high-scoring Bulls this weekend. All eyes are on the season finale against UCF.

No. 5: “Even the Losers” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

22. Louisville (4-2)

Not even Lamar Jackson’s 427 total yards and three total touchdowns could put Louisville past NC State. The Cardinals have allowed 37.3 points per game in their four contests against Power Five teams this season.

No. 4: “Free Fallin’” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

23. San Diego State (6-0)

Another win for the Aztecs and another big day for Rashaad Penny. They’ve got six wins, two of them coming against Pac-12 teams, and can’t possibly lose to another Mountain West team, right?

No. 3: “The Waiting” from Hard Promises, 1981

24. Michigan (4-1)

The Wolverines’ offensive ineptitude really bit them hard on Saturday night, as the Big Ten-iest game of all-time ended in Michigan State walking out of the Big House with a win. Michigan can’t run the ball, nor can it throw the ball, which is a horrendous combination.

No. 2: “American Girl” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1976

25. Utah (4-1)

The Utes are undefeated no more, losing to a good Stanford team on Saturday. In a crowded and competitive Pac-12, Utah gets no rest: USC next and Oregon, Wazzu and Washington down the line.

No. 1: “Refugee” from Damn the Torpedoes, 1979

Others receiving votes

UCF (4-0)

The Knights are rolling just as well as any Group of Five team out there, dropping 51 points in three quarters on Cincinnati.

Georgia Tech (3-1)

Off week for the Jackets, who have the second-best rushing offense in the country (shocking, I know) and a one-loss record in a crowded ACC.

Iowa (4-2)

The Hawkeyes finally got to exhale from those back-to-back losses to Penn State and Michigan State, two of the best-looking teams in the Big Ten. Iowa beat up on Illinois for a near 30-point win.

Texas Tech (4-1)

Scoring 65 points against Kansas is always fun! A good tune up for the Red Raiders who play road games at West Virginia and Oklahoma over the course of their next three games.

LSU (4-2)

Good for Coach O to go into The Swamp and get a huge road win over a ranked Florida team to stop his program’s free fall. Beating Florida is a whole lot better than losing to Troy.

Florida (3-2)

The Gators somehow lost a home game to an LSU team that lost to Troy last weekend. But I wanted to include Florida here to sign off with what The Swamp did to honor Tom Petty. It was awesome.

Other Tom Petty songs receiving votes

“Baby’s a Rock N Roller” from You’re Gonna Get It!, 1978

“Letting You Go” from Hard Promises, 1981

“Straight Into Darkness” from Long After Dark, 1982

“Make It Better (Forget About Me)” from Southern Accents, 1985

“The Apartment Song” from Full Moon Fever, 1989

“Surrender” from Anthology: Through the Years, 2000