Our player profile series moves on and we stay with the bench brigade. Today we feature Abdel Nader, who was one of three transfers to make their Iowa State debut this past season and delivered some memorable performances during his junior campaign.
Season At A Glance
After sitting out the first two games due to an OWI charge he picked up last year during VEISHEA week, Nader didn't exactly explode onto the scene. In his first five games, Nader averaged a little more than 4 points per game and was 0-9 from 3-range.
In game number six though, Nader had a personal coming out party, connecting on 4-6 from deep en route to scoring 19 points off the bench in a 90-75 dismantling of Iowa in Iowa City. Unfortunately, it was another five games before Nader could duplicate that type of effort, scoring 19 points in a road win at West Virginia, which set the tone for a wildly inconsistent season from the junior forward.
Nader had just as many games where he failed to score (5) as games where he reached double figures. There were times where he looked brilliant, like the second half of the Big 12 championship game against Kansas, but there were also times where he was a non-factor, like at Kansas State where he played only 8 minutes, took one shot and failed to score.
Here's Nader's season statistics:
On the surface, Nader's numbers weren't exactly great and given his minutes distribution, are befitting of a bench guy. But let's compare some of these numbers to what he did at Northern Illinois.
Nader was downright abysmal offensively during his time in Dekalb, but a large part of that was due to the fact that he was overused and had no help around him. As a sophomore, Nader took the highest percentage of his team's shots (42.1%) in the country and also had the highest usage rate as well. As a result, he was overwhelmed and his numbers suffered.
During that sophomore campaign, Nader shot just 33.7% from the floor (not a misprint), 27.7% from outside and he connected on an almost unfathomable 37.1% of his shots inside the arc, which was actually an improvement from the 35.8% of 2-point shots he made as a freshman. He also turned the ball over a little more than three times per contest.
In his first season playing under Fred Hoiberg, Nader continued to struggle shooting from deep, but he made tremendous strides when it came to close range shooting. WRNL does not subscribe to Shot Analytics, so I don't have a shot chart to prove this, but I would have to imagine Nader's offensive mindset and shot selection improved drastically because of the offensive principles stressed by The Mayor.
Look no further than Nader's effective field goal percentage, which saw a sharp rise, coming in at 45% this past season, whereas his previous high was 39% during his freshman season at Northern Illinois. Now, eFG% weighs the 3-point shot heavily, but if you're looking for a reason for this jump, it's likely because Nader all but eliminated the mid-range jumper from his game.
Want proof? Remember that woeful 37.1% Nader shot on 2-point shots during his sophomore year at Northern Illinois? Well, this season, Nader's 2-point FG% shot all the way up to 53.5% as he was relentless in attacking the rack. That's progress.
Summer School Curriculum
This will be a big summer for Nader. With Dustin Hogue and Bryce Dejean-Jones graduating and Deonte Burton having to sit out first semester action, there's minutes and more importantly, a starting job up for grabs. Nader may have the inside track to locking down that starting spot, but he's got some work to do.
Nader does a lot of things well. At 6'6" he's a very good ball handler relative to his size and an explosive athlete to boot. He crashes the glass and his versatility allowed Hoiberg to play him in the post, on the wing and on limited occasions, he was even tasked with manning the 2-guard role.
But if Nader is going to take his game to the next level, he has to develop consistency and that all starts by getting in a daily regimen of shots in the gym. He doesn't have to be a 40% shooter from outside, but if he can get to 30% or slightly above, he enters Will Clyburn territory, which would really open up driving lanes and theoretically take his entire offensive game to another level.
In short; don't stop shooting all summer long.
(and mix in some ball handling and post drills for good measure)
Let's assume Iowa State doesn't land a certain 5-star, blue chip prospect from New York in the next couple weeks. Nader would seem to be a natural fit to fill the void Hogue left, right? Sure, Nader isn't quite as scrappy and fiery as Hogue, but he's a natural wing type that can play both inside and out.
Looking at what Iowa State returns and brings in, my initial inclination would be that Nader slides right into the starting line up and I'm sure most assume this will be the case. He gives Iowa State a more traditional look from a size stand point and because of that, it will make things much easier defensively, provided of course the Cyclones don't face many three-guard line ups.
I was very high on Nader's potential last summer and we saw what he was capable of spurts. The skill and ability are there, but to earn a starting role, he has to bring consistent production to the table. With an expanded role, I think he can get there.