Season Retrospective: Chase Budinger

I am going to try, during the oncoming slow time this spring and summer, to do a retrospective on each of the Wildcats that got significant playing time this season under coach Pennell.

I'll start with arguably the team's best player, certainly its most versatile, Chase Budinger.

Key Stats: Budinger ranked 4th in the Pac 10 in scoring at 18 ppg. Budinger was pretty efficient offensively, at 60% true shooting, TS. (True Shooting, for the uninitiated, accounts for the effects of 3-pointers and free throws.) Budinger is competent though not great from the arc (39.9%), well outside of the top 10 in both percent and makes. He got to the line a fair amount (.274 FTM/FGA), though his athleticism should result in a lot more FTs. Getting to the FT line is pretty much the entire difference between Chase Budinger and James Harden (.45 FTM/FGA). In other parts of his floor game Budinger remained steady. He was the 2nd leading rebounder on the team at 6.2 per game and had combined steals and blocks right about 2 per game.

Overview: What an odd career for Budinger. He came to the program hailed as the new Sean Elliott but played more like the new Michael Dickerson (their stats are pretty comparable). It's unfortunate that Lute Olsen miscast Chase as a "leading man", because really, what the hell is wrong with being the new Michael Dickerson? To its credit I think the Arizona fan base (ultimately) understood and appreciated who Budinger is better than the national media, who isn't quite ready to let him live down the fact that he's not Sean Elliott.

Looking Forward: Budinger's play this season most likely got him solidly into the first round of the NBA draft, with a chance to get into the lottery. After a 2007-2008 season that was in most respects a wasted year, 2008-2009 confirmed that the promise of his freshman season wasn't a complete illusion. Budinger also developed a toughness that he was said to lack. He grew into a leadership role out of necessity; not so much a rah-rah guy as he simply had to get it done. For Arizona to win most nights he, Hill, and Wise had to come through.

 

Budinger's value at the next level lies in his versatility. He doesn't dominate. That's not who he is. He can score in a variety of ways--efficiently. That's like left-handed relief pitching; there is always a place for that. Chase can handle like a guard and passes the ball well. He's also a solid rebounding small forward. On the downside, he can be an indifferent defender. (I've seen him practically control a game on that end, like UCLA, and I've seen him not show up defensively too.) It's unlikely that Budinger ends up in the lottery, though I'd hardly rule it out in what is shaping up to be a pretty weak draft. Virtually any team in the late teens or 20s taking Chase will get very good value.

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