After taking over for the injured John Wall last season, Tomas Satoransky, the Bulls new 27-year-old point guard, put on a nice little show in D.C., averaging … 10.7 points per game (on a 48.0 FG% and 40.4 3FG%), 6.2 assists per game, and 4.4 rebounds per game over 54 starts (80 games total). And he’s been getting a ton of love for it ever since.
Back in April, for example, Bleacher Report threw Satoransky on their list of “The Most Interesting NBA Free Agents Nobody is Talking About” and The Ringer had Satoransky as one of the most objectively underrated players in the NBA back in January. On the most recent Bulls Talk podcast, host Mark Schabowski was joined by NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh, who also spoke highly of the Bulls new addition, slapping that underrated label on him, as well.
So I decided to go ahead and do a little bit more digging to see just how well Satoransky matches up against some of the other NBA guards around the league. Because at the end of the day, we can talk about him being underrated all we want, but if the numbers aren’t actually there to support … it’s hard to appreciate just how big of an impact he’ll actually have on the team (which is ultimately the point, right?). Well, as it turns out – with a little dive into the numbers – uh, yeah … Satoransky might be pretty underrated.
Thanks to NBA.com, we can mess around with the advanced stats for the entire league, and even create our own filters (the one I used for this post can be found here). I decided to look solely at how Satoransky’s 54 starting games matched up against all other guards in the NBA who started AT LEAST 50 games during the 2018-2019 season.
When you go ahead and lump Satornaksy into the rest of these starting guards, well, he is right near the top in plenty of categories (57 qualified players):
- Assist Ratio: 36.5 (1st)
- Assist-to-Turnover: 3.50 (2nd)
- Offensive Rebounding Rate: 3.7% (3rd)
- True Shooting Rate: 58.9% (9th)
- Effective Field Goal Rate: 55.0% (14th)
- Offensive Rating: 111.9 (18th)
Why … HELLO. During his 54 games started last season, Satoransky is stacking up nicely against some of the best starting guards in the NBA (Note: This list includes shooting guards as well, so some of his rankings are even higher, when you consider only point guards).
The 36.5 assist ratio (1st) is great news for the Bulls. If Chicago needed to walk away with anything this offseason, it was a true-facilitator that could help Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen get their hands on the basketball in open space. Satoransky appears to be that guy. Moreover, his 3.50 assist-too-turnover ratio (2nd) demonstrates how careful he is with the big orange rock – among starters, only Darren Collison (3.67) was better than Satoransky last season.
For a little additional reference, consider that he ranks higher than Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is better at assisting the basketball or has the highest assist numbers per game, but it does demonstrate his facilitating and careful playmaking ability.
Moving on … Satoransky’s 3.7 ORB% (3rd) is rather surprising, isn’t it? The guy is averaging the third best percentage of rebounds for his team among guards behind Ben Simmons (6.7) and Jimmy Butler (5.4). I know people liked his length and size, but I didn’t realize it would equate to this kind of production on the glass. Last season, as a team, the Bulls were dead last in team OREB% and OREB per game (8.8), so they could use all the help they can get.
Jump to the true-shooting percentage, and boy, the Bulls are getting some nice value. The true-shooting percentage statistic takes into account three-point field goals and free throws in addition to the normal two-point field goals. Satoransky as a starter was shooting above 40 percent in both FG% and 3FG%, so this number makes sense.
His 58.9 TS% (9th) puts him in the conversation alongside scorers like Kyrie Irving (59.2) Damian Lillard (58.8) and Buddy Hield (58.7). For reference, Zach LaVine ranks 20th among starting guards who played at least 50 games.
I’ll reiterate that this doesn’t mean he is scoring the same as the players listed above (he isn’t and will not be), but it does show that he is pretty darn efficient. Satoransky isn’t the most threatening player in the game, and he isn’t going to be your top scorer, but – broadly speaking – he does the right things with the basketball when he gets his hands on it.
Heading into the regular season, it feels safe to assume Satoranksy will be the starting point guard. If Kris Dunn is still on the roster and Coby White shows promise, it’s hard to say exactly how many games Satoransky will start, but there’s a reason many were very interested in his services as a starting guard this upcoming season. I know he wasn’t the biggest name out there, but as the article linked above points out, his name was kind of lost in the sand with such a fruitful free-agent market this offseason.
I’m curious to see what a full season as a true-starting point guard would do for Satoransky’s stats, whether we’ve seen the best in this smaller sample size or if there is still more to unravel.
Ugh, can the season start already! I’m ready!