Yesterday in our WRNL group chat, two of our writers got into a lengthy debate about whether DeAndre Kane or Abdel Nader was the better transfer for Iowa State basketball.
We decided to take their arguments public so you, the readers, can help them decide which player reigns supreme.
The Case for Kane (by Ian Rewoldt)
In comparing DeAndre Kane and Abdel Nader’s careers at Iowa State, there really is no comparison. The answer as to who was the better transfer is obvious. Even though Kane played for only one year and Nader played two, the answer is Kane unequivocally and any argument made for Nader i a Skip Bayless-level troll. It doesn’t get any lower than that.
Alright enough of this, let’s get into the meaty stuff.
Raw Stat Production
If you’re looking at raw production and numbers, Kane is by far superior. He scored about the same number of points in one year (612) that Nader scored in two years (638). Kane averaged 17.1 points per game while Nader was at 9.5 for his career. DeAndre averaged 6.8 rebounds per game as a point guard (!!!) while Nader put up a measly 4 boards over his Iowa State career. Kane walloped Abdel in assists as well, averaging 5.9 per game to Nader’s 1.1 per game.
Defensively, Kane averaged 1.2 steals per game and Nader averaged a meager 0.7 for his career. Even if you only look at Nader’s senior year, he averaged less at 1.1 steals per game. Nader did have 23 blocks in his senior year for the Cyclones while Kane had 10, but in terms of impact on their team’s performance this means extremely little, in fact, raw defensive stats like these don’t carry much weight at all. But for those who believe it counts for something, these two are fairly even.
Let’s just run through these quickly. All stats are according to Synergy Sports.
Spot Up Jump Shots
Kane: 1.159 points per possession
Nader: 0.982 ppp in senior year, 0.81 in junior year
Off the Dribble Jump Shots
Kane: 1 ppp
Nader: 0.868 ppp in senior year, 1 ppp in junior year (only 4 attempts)
Catch and Shoot Jump Shots
Kane: 1.25 ppp
Nader: 1.019 in senior year, 0.745 ppp in junior year
There’s a clear answer to who is a better shooter.
Who is better at scoring one on one?
Kane: 1.126 ppp on many more possessions
Nader: 0.848 ppp in senior year and 0.714 ppp in junior year
Kane: 0.966 ppp
Nader: 0.842 ppp in senior year and 0.222 ppp in junior year on only 9 attempts
Who is better defensively?
There’s a lot of noise in these numbers because there are 4 other teammates on the floor, but the defensive ratings are as follows:
Kane: 102.3 points per 100 possessions allowed
Nader: 103.0 points per 100 possessions allowed over his career
The Eye Test
As any fan who has watched Iowa State basketball the past five years can attest, DeAndre Kane was by far a better transfer for the Cyclones than Abdel Nader was in either of his two years. If individual moments are what you think makes or break players, then DeAndre Kane is clearly superior.
For those that don’t remember or blacked out that night, he hit a game winner against North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament to send the Cyclones to the Sweet 16. It’s one of the best shots in ISU history and Kane created it all on his own. He also dominated that contest and put up 24, 10, and 7 in that game. Abdel Nader never even sniffed a game like that for the Cyclones.
Nader did hit a game winner on the road against Cincinnati his senior year, but if you watch that play, it was entirely created by Georges Niang and Nader simply hit an open three from the corner. It was also a regular season game played in December, so in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t mean too much. I will also admit that Nader had one of the best dunks I’ve ever seen on his senior night against Oklahoma State, but that game was going to be won with or without that dunk. Nader doesn’t magically become a better transfer just because he put a plodding OSU center in a body bag. Please.
As far as players go, Kane played with Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang, Monte Morris, Dustin Hogue, Matt Thomas and Naz Mitrou-Long. AND HE WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM. Nader played with Niang, Morris, Thomas and Long, as well as Deonte Burton and Bryce Dejean-Jones. Abdel could barely get minutes his junior year and then started, but was about the fourth option his senior year when Naz was injured and Prohm used almost exclusively a 6 man rotation.
If there is anyone who still believes Nader is a better transfer, that belief is based on his current standing as a very strong NBA prospect, while Kane has never been in the league. This take has nothing to do with who was the better transfer at ISU and can be thrown out completely.
Additionally, the Nader lovers could state some vague praise for Nader saying he was more impactful or was so much better on defense that it made him a better transfer. This take is ludicrous. Find me any stat claiming that Nader was so far superior on defense or that the team increased their level of play so much while he was on the floor as to make up for the miles deep hole Nader is in in terms of his scoring, passing and rebounding when comparing to Kane. You can’t.
If you’re still not convinced, just watch Kane put this stat line up against Baylor. This thing is over.
The Case for Nader (by NotTheJeans)
(All statistical references made are per KenPom.com)
While Ian’s case for DeAndre Kane is an impressive one, it certainly does not tell the whole story. Context is crucial in this argument. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of that buzzer beater vs. UNC and the 2014 tourney run that could have been, but I believe Nader was, overall, the more meaningful transfer.
Raw Stat Production
Ian brought up a couple statistics that look like clear winners for Kane. Kane averaged almost nine more points per game at Iowa State and almost three extra boards. Kane was the best player on a team that featured Georges, Naz, Matty Ice, and Monte, while Nader had limited minutes his first year. Cut and dry, right? Not so fast.
Kane was brought to Iowa State to be the man. That team’s only other true point guard was a true freshman, Monte Morris. He was given the show from day one and had almost nobody else to compete with for playing time and leadership roles. Per KenPom, Kane played 84.7% of all available minutes, 10% more than Ejim, the next highest minutes played proportion. Kane definitely earned his share of playing time, but Fred also didn’t really have any other options. He averaged an impressive rebounding rate in his season at Iowa State, but that team also featured only Melvin Ejim and Dustin Hogue as its other consistent rebounders. Ejim did lead the Big 12 in scoring that season, but let’s not pretend that the offense ran through him. It ran through DeAndre Kane.
Nader, however, wasn’t so lucky to fall into a situation tailor-made for his success. His position group was a little more crowded his first year. Georges Niang, Dustin Hogue, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and, to a certain extent, even Jameel McKay (who often forced Nader out of the lineup to make room for Niang at the 4 and either Hogue or BDJ at the 3) all ate minutes and offensive opportunities. It should also be noted that Nader’s first year also corresponded with Niang’s junior year, which followed his massive weight loss over the summer and a substantial uptick in quality of play and versatility. Niang’s rebounding rate alone jumped almost 4% (which is a really big swing for one season). This, coupled with the arrival of BDJ, a good rebounder for his position, and Jameel McKay, a very good rebounder who played a ton of minutes, is reason for his lower per game rebounding averages.
The same can be said for his scoring. Kane played with a Georges, Monte, Matt, and Naz that were immature and relatively inefficient (in comparison to the rest of their careers). Nader played with a reinvented (read: significantly more productive and dangerous) Georges Niang, a more confident Monte Morris, a
ball hogging shoot-first guard in Bryce Dejean-Jones, and an improved Matt Thomas and Naz Long. Simply put, he had more competition for shots.
By the time Nader’s second season came around and he was given a more significant role (though still impacted by the increased scoring for Monte Morris and the arrival of shot-creator-supreme Deonte Burton), we saw a significant uptick. Nader’ usage rate and minutes rate increased, but so did his effective field goal and true shooting percentages, which both ended up a full two percentage points higher than Kane’s during his one season at Iowa State.
The Kicker - Versatility and Defense
“Additionally, the Nader lovers could state some vague praise for Nader saying he was more impactful or was so much better on defense that it made him a better transfer. This take is ludicrous. Find me any stat claiming that Nader was so far superior on defense or that the team increased their level of play so much while he was on the floor as to make up for the miles deep hole Nader is in in terms of his scoring, passing and rebounding when comparing to Kane. You can’t.”
Well, guess what Ian. You know who made a bigger impact on that end of the floor? That’s right, Nader.
The 6’6” wing was nearly always tasked with guarding the other team’s best player, and could effectively guard the 1-4 positions on the floor, and even some 5s due to his strength, his athleticism, and his length. Kane was strong enough to guard 1-4, but only really ever guarded the point guard or shooting guard. Nader’s block percentage for his Iowa State career is around 2.5%, while Kane only managed 0.8% (THIS IS A HUGE MARGIN, BY THE WAY). This not only means he blocked (significantly) more shots, but he also contested and altered (significantly) more shots. Point guards generally have the highest steal rates on the team due to them having the most interactions with the primary ball handler, yet Nader’s and Kane’s steal percentages at Iowa State are virtually identical at 1.7% and 2.0%, respectively.
Nader’s defensive (and offensive) versatility and productivity is more impactful than Kane’s ability to muscle around smaller point guards by a relatively wide margin. He was a legitimate disruption to the opposing team’s offense, and his superior athleticism allowed him to recover and help on defense more effectively than Kane. Was Kane’s ability to match up physically with Marcus Smart helpful? Sure, but that’s more “right time, right place” than defensive presence.
Intangibles and Growth
This is the area that Nader has the most ground to make up on Kane. Kane was a man amongst boys at times, and was dependable when the team needed a bucket. He knew when he needed to just lower his head and take it straight to the teeth of the defense. Early in his tenure at Iowa State, Nader did show some questionable selection (no doubt a holdover from his days as a one man show at Northern Illinois), but by the end of his career, he was a smart, efficient scorer that scored timely buckets in a variety of ways.
But that’s just it. In a way, Nader is kind of the embodiment of this most recent era of Iowa State basketball. He started as a relative unknown coming from Northern Illinois. Nobody had any real expectations of him. Meaningful production was the cherry on top. Sure, he encountered difficulties at the start, but I don’t think anyone can refute his tremendous improvement over his two year stint at Iowa State.
I would even venture to say that if we took his senior as a standalone comparison to Kane’s, this comparison would be far less of the David vs. Goliath battle than it is. By the end of his Iowa State career, Nader was an efficient scorer, a consistent 3-point threat, a shot creator, a shot blocker, and an impact defensive player. Kane showed up and left as a finished product. Sure, his 3-point percentage had a nice little bump from his days at Marshall, but I think it’s fair to contribute a healthy portion of that to the style of offense Iowa State ran.
Those who side with Kane will forever point at the buzzer beater against UNC as the final nail in the coffin, disregarding the shot Nader hit to beat Cincinnati. However, look at the tape. The pass was to Nader, but he still had to hit a well-contested three in a hostile gym to beat an extremely good Cincy team. No, it’s not the NCAA Tournament, but that doesn’t make the shot any less difficult. Any argument otherwise is a straw man at best.
While I’m fully aware that I’m in the minority on this issue, I believe Abdel Nader was an overall more useful and impactful transfer for Iowa State due to his versatility, his growth, and (like it or not) his presence as a star prospect in an NBA franchise.
“His NBA career has nothing to do with his impact at Iowa State!” - False. More Cyclones in major professional leagues = more exposure. More exposure = better recruits. Better recruits = more winning. I like more winning, how about you?
If you want to argue that an NBA career doesn’t affect your legacy at Iowa State, you must also answer this question. Do you think today’s top recruits choose to go to Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and North Carolina because of their rich basketball traditions? Or it because John Calipari, Bill Self, Coach K, and Roy Williams each pump out a boatload of NBA players every single year?
Kane started as the better player. Nader finished as the better player. Nader wins. DeAndre Kane was essentially an extremely effective rental. Nader was a crucial part of two successful teams and will continue to build on his legacy in the NBA.
So, who ya got?
This poll is closed