The Welcoat Dragons picked Joe Devance as the no. 1 pick overall in the 2007-2008 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Draft. Coming into the draft, Joe had excellent college and Philippine amateur basketball credentials.
While not necessarily a “standout” with the University of El Paso Texas (UTEP) Miners as some articles described him, with career career stats of 2 ppg & 1.2 rpg there, he is nevertheless a legitimate US NCAA Division 1 player and veteran. He also was the Philippine Basketball League’s (PBL) Most Valuable Player for the Unity Cup in 2006. His subsequent impressive showings in the 2007 PBL conferences and in the Rookie Draft Camps only served to strenghten his stock in the PBA draft.
Devance’s Individual Stats
The problem though, is that Joe has not really been living up thus far to the expectation that was put on him when he was picked no. 1 in the draft. Those expectations were quite high, thanks to his Manager who kept insisting that Devance is a “franchise” player. Those kinds of statements can be expected from a Manager, of course, helping Joe secure a lucrative 3-year contract. But when players do not live up to such statements, you can expect a backlash of sorts to occur.
For one thing, Joe Devance’s individual stats has not been very impressive. His shooting percentages, for example, has not been that well, as last conference, he only shot 31% from the 3-point area, and only 40% from the 2-point area. This conference, his 3-point shooting worsened to only 26%, and though his 2-point shooting improved to 42%, it is only a very marginal improvement, still below what would be acceptable from the floor.
His minutes and points per game has also dropped, 16.13 ppg and 31 mpg playing time last conference, to just 10.42 ppg and 27 mpg of playing time. The fact that they have 2 imports may have something to do with that, but then again they have been losing, hence his team could’ve probably used more help from his end.
The Welcoat Dragon’s Performance
With Devance in the lineup, the Dragons also has not seen an improvement in its winning percentages thus far. Before Joe joined the Dragons, the team had a 7-29 Win-Loss record, for a miserable 24% success rate in the 2006-2007 PBA season. With Joe onboard, the Dragons ended up with a 3-15 Win-Loss record (16.7% success rate) in the Philippine Cup. This current conference, the Fiesta Conference, the Dragons are only 3-9 (25% success rate).
Of course, it would be unfair to blame all of the Dragon’s misfortunes on Joe, but I think this shows that at the very least, Joe is not necessarily a franchise player. At least not yet, anyway. Whether he will be one, still remains to be seen.
I think the problem with Joe’s game, is that has become a “softie” against the bigger, taller and better players in the PBA. He is almost 6’8″, having been measured at 6’7 3/4″ in the PBA Draft camp, but he likes to play more of an outside game. He does seem to have the ballhandling skills for that, for his height he can sure handle the ball well. But then that’s the problem: In a league where most of the big men are only around 6’6″, Joe seems to have an aversion mixing it up inside the paint, contentedly sniping from the perimeter and occassionally driving to the basket, very rarely trying to score from the post.
Which brings us to the next problem: Even though he likes to play from the outside, he’s not a good shooter, as can be seen from his shooting percentages above.
So you in effect you have a very tall player who doesn’t have much of an inside presence, but who also couldn’t shoot really that well from the perimeter.
He also hasn’t shown much leadership out there on the court. His points off the floor tend to come slowly within the game, instead of bunching it up to rally his team from behind, or to help his team win a game.
In fairness to Devance, the jury is still out for him, of course. He has a lucrative, 3-year contract with the Dragons, so he has until that much time to prove that he does belong in the PBA. But visions of him being a franchise player, or being one of the best in the league has gone, for now. For the Welcoat Dragons and their fans, they are still looking for 2 or 3 players that could form the cornerstone of a winning team in the future, and it is not necessarily true that Devance will be one of those cornerstones.