Where Art Thou, Kaluma?: Projecting Arthur Kaluma as an NBA Prospect
FEATURING: Creighton Blue Jay Arthur Kaluma | PLUS: Gillaspie's Top 100
Where Art Thou, Kaluma?
The 2021-2022 NBA draft class has proven to be a very good one in its first season. Paolo Banchero has been the top rookie for the majority (if not all) of the season. Jalen Williams has proven to be the steal of the draft so far. Walker Kessler has played well enough for many to consider his inclusion within the Rudy Gobert trade as a steal for Utah. Keegan Murray and Bennedict Mathurin have had incredible moments during the season. Jabari Smith Jr. and Jaden Ivey’s play in the latter half of the season have been very encouraging. Shaedon Sharpe Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, and Tari Eason have all shown flashes that suggest they could be top-half-of-the-league players when they reach their full potential. We could be in the middle of a Johnny Davis turnaround. AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN CHET PLAY YET!
While some of the players that declared for last season’s draft have proven to have made the correct decision, there were a number of prospects that made enough noise to be considered as “draftable,” there were a few that came back to attempt to improve their stock. Marcus Sasser and Terquavion Smith had solid combine moments but elected to come back—along with players like Jalen Wilson and Kevin McCullar. Combine aside, there were some prospects that had hot second halves of the season. One of those players is today’s featured prospect, Arthur Kaluma.
Having made the decision that he would return to Creighton following a hot stretch toward the end of the season, the 6’7”, 225-pound forward would instantaneously be projected as one of the highest-rated returners within the 2022-2023 class. Following a season where he logged 10.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.3 APG, Arthur ranked as the 19th overall prospect in the Draft Initial Player Offerings. His Creighton team came in with a ton of expectations, having their entire starting five in the running for seasonal awards for their respective positions. Unfortunately, some tough moments early in the season made Creighton and Kaluma’s outlook a bit murky.
From November 23rd to December 16th, the Jays lost six games in a row—not a stretch that supported the preseason notion that Creighton could be the best team in the country. Going up against Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, BYU, Arizona State, and Marquette, Kaluma posted numbers of 12.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.5 APG—with shooting splits of 38/27/77. Creighton would go on to have an eight-game winning streak from January 14th to February 11th, but Kaluma would have less of an impact overall. During that stretch, Arthur put up averages of 10.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG—with shooting splits of 39/23/86. One of those eight games gave NCAA Champions, UConn, one of their few losses on the year. In that bout, Arthur only scored two points, going 0-for-6 from the floor—2-of-2 from the free throw line.
Having not lived up to the preseason expectations that were bestowed upon him, Kaluma’s stock has not sustained its preseason projection. On the latest $DRFT Stock Market Update, Arthur came in at 50th among the consensus while also ranking 44th on the latest No Ceilings BIG Board.
What’s interesting about the Kaluma discussion is how Arthur has competed against….himself? With the boom in his latter-half-of-the-season draft stock, there were indications that he would progress into a more dominant player. This is a popular assumption, believing that another offseason of development on top of a year of experience…a player in that situation has to get better right? Let’s take a look at how Arthur’s year-to-year tale of the tape checks out.
Kaluma’s 2022 Analytics (Per BartTorvik)
Minutes Percentage: 58.6
Offensive Rating: 90.5
Usage Percentage: 23.7
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 49.3
True Shooting Percentage: 51.6
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 5.2
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 15.9
Assist Percentage: 10.0
Turnover Percentage: 23.6
Block Percentage: 2.1
Steals Percentage: 1.3
Free Throw Rate: 25.1
2 Point Percentage: 54.8
3 Point Percentage: 26.5, on 27-of-102 shooting
Kaluma’s 2023 Analytics (Per BartTorvik)
Minutes Percentage: 72.8 (+14.2)
BPM: 2.5 (+1.7)
Offensive Rating: 100.9 (+10.4)
Usage Percentage: 23.1 (-0.6)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 48.3 (-1.0)
True Shooting Percentage: 53.0 (+1.4)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 6.8 (+1.6)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 16 (+0.1)
Assist Percentage: 10.3 (+0.3)
Turnover Percentage: 17.5 (Improved by 6.1)
Assist/Turnover: 0.8 (Improved by 0.3)
Block Percentage: 1.8 (-0.3)
Steals Percentage: 1.1 (-0.2)
Free Throw Rate: 40.6 (+15.5)
Dunks: 22/25 ( +1 make on +3 Attempts)
2 Point Percentage: 49.3 (-5.5)
3 Point Percentage: 31.1, on 41-of-132 shooting (+ 4.6 on +30 attempts)
There is no denying that, no matter if you are pro-Kaluma or an Arthur-skeptic, there are areas of his game that support either side regarding how he has played between the two seasons we’ve watched him play. The three-point efficiency has improved, but it’s still not where you want it to be. The defensive numbers falling do him no favors for his position. His decision-making numbers have trended in the right direction. The rebounding is fine. The pressure he puts on the rim has taken a nice leap. While it is important to take note of how a player has (or has not) progressed between years against themselves, it’s just as (if not, more) important to see how they stack up among their peers and those who have come before them. Let’s take a look at how Kaluma ranks historically among players of his height or taller. Here’s the query ran for the entire BT database:
Minutes Percentage: At least 70
BPM: At least 2.0
Offensive Rating: At least 100
Usage Percentage: At least 20
Effective Field Goal Percentage: At least 48
True Shooting Percentage: At least 52
Offensive Rebound Percentage: At least 5
Defensive Rebound Percentage: At least 15
Assist Percentage: At least 10
Turnover Percentage: Under 18
Assist/Turnover: At least 0.8
Block Percentage: At least 1.5
Steals Percentage: At least 1
Free Throw Rate: At least 40
Dunks: At least 20
2 Point Percentage: At least 48
3 Point Percentage: At least 30
That query yields a list of 34 players, with 14 of those players being drafted. Those 14 are Deandre Ayton (drafted 1st), Evan Mobley (3rd), Frank Kaminsky (9th), Justice Winslow (10th), Marcus Morris (14th), Grant Williams (22nd), Quincy Pondexter (26th), Larry Nance Jr. (27th), Landry Fields (39th), Mike Muscala (44th), Isaiah Roby (45th), Aaron White (49th), Romero Osby (51st), and Jaron Blossomgame (59th). That’s quite the spread of players there, but the 20 other prospects make the projection of players that meet this mark as clear as mud. We can see how he looks compared to his peers this season, to see how players that could be drafted in the coming months stack up to Arthur…or vice versa.
*Runs the same query for the 2023 season only*
Only four names populate after the search. Now, that sounds good on its surface but the names that are included with Kaluma are Filip Rebraca, Toumani Camara, and Enrique Freeman. While Kaluma is the most recognized name in draft circles among those names, let’s see how he ranks analytically in this field of four players:
Minutes Percentage: 4th
Offensive Rating: 4th
Usage Percentage: 3rd
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 4th
True Shooting Percentage: 4th
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 4th
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 4th
Assist Percentage: 4th
Turnover Percentage: 3rd
Block Percentage: 4th
Steals Percentage: T-2nd
Free Throw Rate: 4th
2 Point Percentage: 4th
3 Point Percentage: 4th
This is not a ringing endorsement of how Kaluma projects analytically as an NBA player. It’s genuinely shocking to find that he does not rank first within any of those categories against those names—who are all very fine college basketball players, but none of them (save Camara, maybe) are being considered as potential NBA players like Arthur is.
But projections are only one part of the assessment. The numbers aren’t screaming “future long-term NBA player,” but it is only a part of the evaluation. We know that the film is just as (if not, more) important than anything we’ve looked at thus far. Let’s take a look at how it measures up.
Per Synergy, Kaluma ranks in the 48th percentile (Average) on offense overall. When looking at how he ranks in transition and the halfcourt, he ranks in the 50th (Average) and 44th (Average) percentiles, respectively. Last season, Kaluma ranked higher in transition—within the 73rd percentile (Very Good) on 74 possessions—but lower in the halfcourt, within the 26th percentile (Below Average. This resulted in an overall offensive ranking within the 37th percentile (Average). This overall improvement has led to a general steadiness within all play types, but not one area in which he stands out. In other words, Kaluma has become a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none this season.
Let’s get to what everyone is going to want to know about the most: How’s the shooting? Last season, on 107 spot-up possessions, Arthur ranked in the 16th percentile (Below Average) on spot-ups, scoring 0.654 points per possession on 31.5%. This year, he’s ranked in the 35th percentile (Average) on 158 possessions. That’s on 0.816 points per possession and 34.5%.
For those that believe in the shooting potential of Arthur Kaluma, plays like this have happened on a consistent enough basis throughout this season—which is an improvement from the year prior. People love improvement. In this clip, we see Kaluma and the Jays against Baylor. Trey Alexander (#23), Kaluma’s teammate, corrals the Baylor miss and pushes the break. As he approaches halfcourt, he finds Baylor Scheierman (#55), who gets the pass and gets into a quick pick-and-roll look. Scheierman’s drive causes the defense to collapse, leaving Arthur open in the left corner. He has plenty of time to get into his natural shooting motion and cans the open three-ball.
The mechanics look good in and of themselves. The timing of the jumper is a little slow. When left open, it’s not an issue. But we have seen Kaluma resort to pumps and jabs to create separation from the defense when he’s looking to let his shot fly. Those numbers bear themselves out in the analytics as well. On unguarded jumpers, Kaluma ranked in the 49th percentile (Average) this year. Once he’s guarded, he ranks in the 16th percentile (Below Average)—shooting only 21.4%. The next clip is an example of how pressure impacts his shooting commitment.
After the inbound, the ball finds its way into the hands of Ryan Nembhard (#2). Kaluma screens for Ryan Kalkbrenner (#11), who then runs up to set a ball screen while Kaluma returns to the right corner. Kalkbrenner’s dive to the rim draws the attention of the entire NC State defense, leaving our guy open on the perimeter. State’s Jack Clark (#5) does a great job of recovering for a closeout. The 6’8” defender puts pressure on the potential shot, while also getting into a stance to deter the drive to the rim. Arthur goes to his patented pump fake, jabs right, then crosses left into a step-back three that falls well short of the rim.
Operating in pick-and-roll sets can be a vital part of a wing’s game, especially at the next level. Kaluma was given the opportunity to run 39 possessions as the P&R initiator. On those plays, he ranked in the 43rd percentile (Average)—scoring 0.718 points per possession on 32.1% efficiency.
Kaluma gets the ball quickly on this play, as Kalkbrenner finds him on the right wing. Our guy is guarded by Colby Jones (friend of the program) and gets the screen to the right. Kaluma does a great job of running off the Kalkbrenner screen and scoring on an extended left arm—keeping the ball away from one of the better perimeter defenders in college hoops.
On this play, Kaluma is given the ball on the right wing after a kickout from Nembhard. He drives the middle of the lane as opposed to one specific side as we saw on the prior play. Nothing too fancy to break down here, as Kaluma goes back to the exact same dribble cadence and extended lay-in attempt. Instead of being guarded by a wing, we see Bryce Hopkins (#23) keep up with our guy step-for-step, and reject the shot.
Arthur saw a good amount of efficiency coming from this play type throughout the season. On 34 possessions, Kaluma went 60.0% on his scoring from this play type with 1.176 points per possession. This may be the most NBA-ready skill he brings to an NBA team.
Back to the matchup between Creighton and Xavier. Nembhard gets to initiate on this play. Kaluma and Kalkbrenner step up to give the ball handler the opportunity to pick who he wants to run the P&R with. Kalkbrenner is the selected teammate, but notice what happens on the left side of the floor away from the ball. Baylor Scheierman sets a backscreen on Kaluma’s man, which frees him up to dive to the rim. Nembhard times the pass beautifully and Arthur rises up to flush down the ball.
Now, typically it is a bad idea to try to include any sort of analytical metric as evidence that a player is either good or bad on defense. What is interesting, however, is where Synergy ranks Kaluma on defense within multiple categories. Being credited for defending 208 total possessions, Arthur is ranked within the 12th percentile (Poor) overall—allowing 1.014 points per possession on 45.2% scoring from his opponents.
Across all play types, Arthur’s highest-graded defensive play type is on isolations. When defending players in iso, Kaluma is graded in the 46th percentile (Average). Against spot-up players, he’s in the 25th percentile (Below Average). He’s in the 26th percentile (Below Average) against pick-and-roll ball-handlers. He’s in the 11th percentile (Poor) against post-ups, in the 15th percentile (Below Average) on off-screen plays, and in the 19th percentile (Below Average) defending handoffs.
Again, defensive analytics can be quite fickle, but when almost every play type suggests that a player isn’t a good defender…that is at least a very interesting data point. To point to a positive indication, Kaluma ranked in the 79th percentile (Very Good) against spot-up plays, in the 74th percentile (Very Good) against pick-and-roll ball-handlers, and in the 66th percentile (Very Good) when defending handoffs last season. Perhaps this suggests that Arthur could be a solid defender in another situation.
Expectations can be a bit of a burden. Players returning for another year to improve their draft stock isn’t as easy as we like to make it out to be. Progress isn’t linear. With everything that we’ve seen from Kaluma this season, it’s easy to see why the conversations surrounding him have cooled a bit. On a team like Creighton, perhaps the draft community was a bit overzealous to imagine Arthur coming in and being a high-usage player.
While the jumper has improved, it still needs to find its way into the hoop with more consistency. He has been a fine player on a very talented and deep team, but there hasn’t been enough shown this season to give NBA teams a “warm fuzzy” feeling on his future outlook. On one hand, it’s easy to say that he should come back to school and improve his draft stock but we’ve already seen an example of him trying to do that, only for Arthur to slightly improve in a few areas. The other side of the coin shows that Kaluma is likely to be a Second Round pick, which gives him an opportunity to play in the NBA this coming season.
There is a lot of murkiness surrounding what Creighton looks like next season. Trey Alexander has some fans, and could go anywhere from late first round to anywhere in the second. Ryan Nembhard has opted to enter the transfer portal. Scheierman could go opt to go pro, or play another season of college hoops. Kalkbrenner and Kaluma could both go in a similar range, or return. Should Kaluma decide to enter the draft, it’s feasible for a team to take him in the second.
Gillaspie’s Top 100
We have seen a number of prospects opt to return for another year of development before going pro. There are also players that are testing the waters—getting feedback and returning to improve on the areas NBA teams feel that they need to. With this week’s update, players will have (Parentheses) to indicate where they were previously ranked. For prospects that are being featured for the first time, they will have (N/R) next to their name. There will also be ***Asterisks*** next to the names of prospects that have declared for the NBA, foregoing any eligibility they may have. For those of you that are NBA fans that are looking for players that could be taken by your team in the First Round, Second Round, or signed as undrafted free agents, may this ranking serve you well. As the season progresses, this list will continue to be updated. Let’s take a look at who’s where!
(1) Victor Wembanyama | 7’2” | 229 lbs. | Forward | Metropolitans 92 ***
(2) Scoot Henderson | 6’2” | 195 lbs. | Guard | Ignite ***
(3) Brandon Miller | 6’9” | 200 lbs. | Forward | Alabama ***
(4) Jarace Walker | 6’8” | 240 lbs. | Forward | Houston ***
(5) Cam Whitmore | 6’7” | 232 lbs. | Forward | Villanova
(6) Ausar Thompson | 6’7” | 207 lbs. | Wing | OTE City Reapers ***
(7)Amen Thompson | 6’7” | 202 lbs. | Guard | OTE City Reapers ***
(8) Jalen Hood-Schifino | 6’6” | 213 lbs. | Guard | Indiana ***
(9) Anthony Black | 6’7” | 198 lbs. | Perimeter | Arkansas
(10) Taylor Hendricks | 6’9” | 210 lbs. | Forward | UCF ***
(20) Jordan Hawkins | 6’5” | 195 lbs. | Wing | Connecticut ***
(11) Keyonte George | 6’4” | 185 lbs. | Guard | Baylor ***
(12) Cason Wallace | 6’4” | 193 lbs. | Guard | Kentucky ***
(15) Brice Sensabaugh | 6’6” | 235 lbs. | Wing | Ohio State
(13) Gradey Dick | 6’8” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Kansas ***
(14) Jett Howard | 6’8” | 215 lbs. | Wing | Michigan ***
(16) Gregory “GG” Jackson | 6’9” | 215 lbs. | Forward | South Carolina ***
(17) Max Lewis | 6’7” | 195 lbs. | Wing | Pepperdine ***
(22) Kobe Bufkin | 6’4” | 195 lbs. | Guard | Michigan ***
(21) Colby Jones | 6’6” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Xavier ***
(18) Rayan Rupert | 6’6” | 192 lbs. | Wing | New Zealand Breakers ***
(19) Dariq Whitehead | 6’7” | 220 lbs. | Wing | Duke ***
(23) Nick Smith Jr. | 6’5” | 185 lbs. | Guard | Arkansas ***
(24) Trayce Jackson-Davis | 6’9” | 245 lbs. | Big | Indiana ***
(25) Adem Bona | 6’10” | 235 lbs. | Big | UCLA
(26) Dereck Lively II | 7’1” | 230 lbs. | Big | Duke ***
(27) Marcus Sasser | 6’2” | 195 lbs. | Guard | Houston ***
(28) Kris Murray | 6’8” | 220 lbs. | Forward | Iowa ***
(29) Sidy Cissoko | 6’8” | 200 lbs. | Forward | Ignite ***
(42) Bilal Coulibaly | 6’6” | 200 lbs. | Wing | Metropolitans 92
(56) Bobi Klintman | 6’10” | 225 lbs. | Forward | Wake Forest
(30) Noah Clowney | 6’10” | 210 lbs. | Big | Alabama ***
(31) Julian Phillips | 6’8” | 198 lbs. | Forward | Tennessee
(32) Terquavion Smith | 6’4” | 165 lbs. | Guard | NC State ***
(41) James Nnaji | 6’11” | 250 lbs. | Big | Barcelona
(33) DaRon Holmes II | 6’10” | 220 lbs. | Big | Dayton
(36) Leonard Miller | 6’10” | 211 lbs. | Forward | Ignite ***
(34) Jalen Wilson | 6’8” | 225 lbs. | Forward | Kansas ***
(35) Mike Miles Jr. | 6’2” | 195 lbs. | Guard | TCU ***
(37) Brandin Podziemski | 6’5” | 205 lbs. | Guard | Santa Clara
(38) Julian Strawther | 6’7” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Gonzaga
(39) Kyle Filipowski | 7’ | 230 lbs. | Big | Duke
(40) Jaime Jaquez Jr. | 6’7” | 225 lbs. | Forward | UCLA ***
(44) Tucker DeVries | 6’7” | 210 lbs. | Wing | Drake
(45) Kevin McCullar | 6’6” | 210 lbs. | Wing | Kansas
(46) Jordan Walsh | 6’7” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Arkansas
(47) Nikola Durisic | 6’8” | 214 lbs. | Wing | Mega
(49) Trey Alexander | 6’4” | 190 lbs. | Guard | Creighton
(51) Ricky Council IV | 6’6” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Arkansas ***
(52) Andre Jackson Jr. | 6’6” | 210 lbs. | Wing | Connecticut
(53) Jalen Slawson | 6’7” | 215 lbs. | Forward | Furman ***
(55) Amari Bailey | 6’5” | 185 lbs. | Guard | UCLA
(57) Jordan Miller | 6’7” | 195 lbs. | Forward | Miami ***
(58) Reece Beekman | 6’3” | 190 lbs. | Guard | Virginia
(60) Nae’Qwan Tomlin | 6’10” | 210 lbs. | Forward | Kansas State
(61) Isaiah Wong | 6’4” | 184 lbs. | Guard | Miami
(62) Jaylen Forbes | 6’5” | 192 lbs. | Wing | Tulane
(50) Azuolas Tubelis | 6’11” | 245 lbs. | Big | Arizona
(83) Ben Sheppard | 6’6” | 190 lbs. | Wing | Belmont ***
(63) Oso Ighodaro | 6’9” | 215 lbs. | Big | Marquette
(64) Jaylen Clark | 6’5” | 205 lbs. | Wing | UCLA ***
(65) Zach Edey | 7’4” | 305 lbs. | Big | Purdue
(54) Arthur Kaluma | 6’7” | 225 lbs. | Forward | Creighton
(66) Emoni Bates | 6’9” | 190 lbs. | Wing | Eastern Michigan
(67) D’Moi Hodge | 6’4” | 188 lbs. | Guard | Missouri ***
(68) Olivier-Maxence Prosper | 6’8” | 230 lbs. | Forward | Marquette
(69) Ryan Kalkbrenner | 7’1” | 260 lbs. | Big | Creighton
(70) Adam Flagler | 6’3” | 185 lbs. | Guard | Baylor ***
(71) Tyler Burton | 6’7” | 215 lbs. | Forward | Richmond
(72) Judah Mintz | 6’3” | 172 lbs. | Guard | Syracuse
(73) Keyontae Johnson | 6’6” | 230 lbs. | Forward | Kansas State ***
(74) Kobe Brown | 6’8” | 250 lbs. | Forward | Missouri
(76) Terrence Shannon Jr. | 6’6” | 225 lbs. | Wing | Illinois
(77) Paulius Murauskas | 6’8” | 220 lbs. | Forward | Lietkabelis
(87) Seth Lundy | 6’6” | 220 lbs. | Wing | Penn State ***
(98) Landers Nolley II | 6’7” | 220 lbs. | Forward | Cincinnati ***
(78) Dillon Mitchell | 6’8” | 205 lbs. | Forward | Texas
(88) Coleman Hawkins | 6’10” | 225 lbs. | Forward | Illinois
(82) KJ Adams Jr. | 6’7” | 225 lbs. | Big | Kansas
(84) Jalen Pickett | 6’4” | 209 lbs. | Wing | Penn State ***
(85) Javian McCollum | 6’2” | 155 lbs. | Guard | Siena
(86) Jacob Toppin | 6’9” | 205 lbs. | Forward | Kentucky ***
(88) Oumar Ballo | 7’ | 260 lbs. | Big | Arizona
(89) Baba Miller | 6’11” | 204 lbs. | Forward | Florida State
(81) Eric Gaines | 6’2” | 165 lbs. | Guard | UAB
(90) Tyrese Hunter | 6’ | 175 lbs. | Guard | Texas
(91) Josiah-Jordan James | 6’6” | 224 lbs. | Forward | Tennessee
(92) Mojave King | 6’5” | 195 lbs. | Wing | Ignite ***
(93) Drew Peterson | 6’9” | 205 lbs. | Wing | USC ***
(94) Omari Moore | 6’6” | 195 lbs. | Wing | San Jose State ***
(N/R) Emanuel Miller | 6’7” | 217 lbs. | Wing | TCU
(99) Baylor Scheierman | 6’7” | 205 lbs. | Wing | Creighton
(96) Jalen Bridges | 6’7” | 225 lbs. | Forward | Baylor
(97) Tristan Da Silva | 6’9” | 217 lbs. | Forward | Colorado
(N/R) Deshawndre Washington | 6’7” | 205 lbs. | Perimeter | New Mexico State
(N/R) Mouhamed Gueye | 6’11” | 195 lbs. | Big | Washington State
(N/R) Ousmane N’Diaye | 6’11” | 210 lbs. | Forward | Senegal
(N/R) Charles Bediako | 7’ | 225 lbs. | Big | Alabama
(100) Olivier Nkamhoua | 6’9” | 236 lbs. | Big | Tennessee
(N/R) Mike Sharavjamtz | 6’8” | 180 lbs. | Perimeter | Dayton