The great thing about projected scoring levels is that they are great to argue with.
And St. John’s fans might raise an eyebrow at this Sports Illustrated list of top 100 transfer scorers, as Dan Hanner and Chris Johnson work to guess where players in new places will fall on a points per game basis.
On their list, Arizona transfer Justin Simon is 49th at 8.9 points per game, projected, after averaging 2.3 points per game in limited time at Arizona.
Marvin Clark, Jr. comes in at 78, scoring 6.4 points per game in their projections, after scoring 3.9 points per game at Michigan State.
That second one raises an eyebrow here, since Clark was a solid per-possession scorer as a freshman and as a sophomore at Michigan State. In limited minutes against the best Big Ten teams, he wasn’t as wildly efficient as he was against lower-tier teams, but the Johnnies’ schedule should be a little easier than a typical Michigan State schedule.
Clark used around 20% of possessions each season, scored better than one point per possession, and rebounded the offensive glass while playing 20% of the team’s minutes, about nine minutes per game.
With that in mind, that 6.4 seems low as a projection at St. John’s.
Clark should be able to double his scoring to eight points per game, unless the two star guards Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett take as many shots as they did last season.
That may have been a big part of the consideration in Clark’s numbers; but one of the pushes this year (as it was last year) was to get those guards to keep the ball moving and to activate an interior scoring game for Chris Mullin’s St. John’s team.
Meanwhile, Justin Simon’s projection seems reasonable, and perhaps even a bit high. It’s a little higher than what Malik Ellison scored last season; Ellison had a mix of effective games and games where he struggled.
We expect that Justin Simon will be an impact player, but would not be surprised if there were not struggles offensively for him as well. Simon seems to be more of an open-court scorer and needs to prove that he has an outside shot to respect. His turnover rate at Arizona was higher than Ellison’s at St. John’s.
Where Simon should really shine is as an upgrade over Ellison defensively. He’ll get his steals and dunks, he’ll make some shots. But if Simon can be a defensive stopper while providing ballhandling and ball movement, his points-per-game-average doesn’t need to be large for him to have a transformative impact on the Red Storm season.