Willie Warren's Struggles Continue
As a former high school All-American starting at Oklahoma University as a freshman, playing alongside Blake Griffin, who would go on to be the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Willie Warren had it all. But this year has been a complexly different story. Without Blake and his brother Taylor, Warren has struggled as the focal point of the Sooners offense. Prior to this season and even still, Warren is widely considered a potential Top-10 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft; maybe he has the upside and the talent to be a top pick, but he certainly isn't showing it.
Last season, Warren was slowly developed into a Point Guard from his natural Shooting Guard position. As the year went by, the 6'4" freshman continued to improve and progress as a combo guard. Many NBA scouts and coaches around the country were anxious to see Warren this season- so much so that he was named a preseason All-American by CBS Sports and Fox Sports. He excelled as Blake Griffin's sidekick, but with the preseason #17-ranked Sooners in his hands, Warren was expected to be dominant- one of the best scorers in the nation who also has the tools and skills to play Point Guard at the next level.
Not only has Oklahoma dropped from the AP rankings this season, Warren's draft stock has slipped as well. As the Point Guard and main scoring option for the Sooners, Warren is looking to do too much. He brings the ball up and is asked to not only set-up shots for others, but for himself as well. And that is a role he has yet to adapt to. His turnovers have nearly doubled from last year's numbers (2008-09: 2.2, 2009-10: 4.2), while his overall field goal percentage and 3-point percentage have taken a hit. After gaining the reputation last year as a prominent outside shooter, Warren has not been able to find his touch this year and is shooting under 30% from the 3-point stripe. This year, Warren has only made more than half his field goal attempts just four times. He has also had five or more turnovers in a game nine times in his 17 games played!
Simply put, Warren has not displayed adequate enough court vision or decision-making to garner attention as a Point Guard or even as a combo guard. Right now, he is just a Shooting Guard being asked to do too much. As long as Willie Warren continues to play Point Guard, he will continue to struggle; and as long as Warren struggles, so will his Oklahoma team.
By Corey Ruff - President - 1-20-10