||We're 6 games into the season and trends are beginning to take form. It is still early and the first six games have been volatile in terms of lineup changes but nonetheless, some interesting trends are emerging that provide insight into who might get minutes in the future. It is easy to focus on a few stats such as scoring, rebounds, or assists to gauge a player's effectiveness on the floor. The converse is to dismiss statistics in favor of the "intangible" contributions such as leadership, heart, and hustle.
This column is titled "Inside the Numbers," but don't let that fool you. The intent of this article is primarily to glean meaningful interpretations from the statistics. Yet this is done in the backdrop a subjective assessment that combines the numbers as well as the "intangible" contributions listed above.
For example, the pure numbers for Michael Lee would paint him having a somewhat lesser impact than most fans would subjectively assess. I do not discount the statistical evaluation of Michael in complete favor of a subjective sense that he has a higher value to the team. Nor do I ignore the subjective sense that he has a higher value to the team in favor of the statistical evaluation. Most likely, I will be condemned by both camps (the purely stats camp and the purely subjective camp) in my assessment of players like Michael. That's fine, fire away. We're all entitled to an opinion and at the end of the day that's pretty much what this is--an opinion. The fact it happens to be the most correct and accurate opinion is not germane at this point. As my momma always used to say "the proof is in the pudding." Of course she used to say even more frequently "I'd rather owe it to you than beat you out of it." But her favorite by far is "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." I remember the day I was about 14 when I finally understood what that meant. I mean for 14 years I thought my mom was some sort of loony saying stupid things about how best to catch flies. I gained a lot of respect for my mother that day. Alas, I digress.
Freshman 3-pt FGs: At Giddens current pace of 1.5 3FGM/game he will easily move into second all-time behind Jeff Boschee's 79 in 1999.
Career Assists: Aaron Miles has moved past Kevin Pritchard into 6th all-time. He has 523 and needs 45 more to tie Adonis Jordan for 5th all-time. He will very likely finish the season in the second place all-time behind Jacque.
Career Steals: Aaron has moved up from 14th at the beginning of the season in career steals to 9th with 167 steals. He will likely finish the season in 3rd place all-time.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER STATS
Some other surprises are Jeff Hawkins’ poor n-NEP and Moulaye Niang’s good n-NEP. Moulaye has aquitted himself well while in the game and actually has about equal stats to Padgett as far as n-NEP. He has played only about 1/3 the minutes though.
As for the freshmen, Giddens started slowly but has come on to pass Padgett. Omar Wilkes has proven to be a popular player, but has not gotten many minutes. The n-NEP shows clearly he is making the most of those minutes with an n-NEP of 28.36. This is good for 5th on the team for the players averaging 5 or more minutes per game. The book on Omar is his defense is very sub-par, but he has shown himself to be an offensive contributor which may get him some more minutes in certain situations.
Another surprise is the relatively low n-NEP of Michael Lee. Michael has protected the ball well with a team leading A/TO ratio of 5.00. His problem has been his poor rebounding (2nd worst on the team next to Jeff Hawkins) and his 3 for 13 shooting. The volatile Jeff Graves also has a sub-par n-NEP. Christian Moody’s n-NEP is better than Jeff’s and, as mentioned above, Moulaye’s is much better. Overall A-Ron gets the nod for team MVP to this point but only barely over Wayne and Keith.
Let’s start with n-FGA. This is the number of FGAs a player takes per 40 minutes. It gives us a measure of those guys who are prone to shoot. On the playground we call these guys gunners. Jeremy Case and Brett Olson lead the team but let’s limit the comparison to the top 10. Interestingly, given the big deal made of the high/low offense, Padgett and Simmy trail Keith, JR and A-Ron in shooting tendency. Also, Jeff Hawkins is about 20% more likely to shoot than A-Ron. I’m not sure that is what we want. Of the top 10, Keith and J.R. are the shooters on this team. You’d like to see Wayne up there also. I’m sure this is an issue with Coach Self. He’d like for Wayne to be up there at 15 FGA/40 minutes and for Hawkins to be down around 10. Also, Bryant Nash is more likely to shoot than Simmy or A-Ron. I really don’t think that is what Coach wants to see. Jeff Graves is only about 1/3 as likely to shoot as Keith and ½ as likely to shoot as A-Ron or Simmy. Even Moo Moo is as likely to shoot as Simmy. I suspect this will likely change.
Looking a n-3FGA we see that Hawkins is the real gunner (Case is actually more of a gunner but is not in the top 10). Jeff is about 20% more likely to shoot the trey than Giddens or Lee, who are twice as likely to shoot it as A-Ron and Keith. All those seem about right, with the exception of Hawkins. The issue here is many of Hawkins minutes are at PG, and when he is shooting he is not passing.
As you might expect the big guys are more likely to get to the FT line. Simmy leads the team by far, followed by Moo (that’s right, Moo) and Jeff Graves. An interesting not here is Omar seems to have a knack for getting to the line. He gets to the line more than Keith and A-Ron. Omar is proving to be somewhat of an offensive spark. Our other freshmen are typically well below their peers in getting to the line. That will change as they get more comfortable and aggressive.
Who’s getting the job done on the boards? This may or may not surprise you, but Moo is by far the most effective rebounder to this point in the season. In fact, he owes most of his high n-NEP to his nose for the ball. Simmy and Graves are both around 10.5 rebounds per 40 minutes while Moo is at 12.0. Far more importantly, 9.0 of those 12.0 are on the offensive glass. The next best offensive rebounder is Wayne at only about half of Moo’s numbers. This is one situation where numbers do tell a valid story. Moo has been nothing short of fantastic on the offensive glass.
There is consistently no single stat that differentiates the freshmen from the upperclassmen more than fouls. When you chart n-Fouls by class it is an amazing correlation. This team is no exception with one notable exception. That notable exception is Jeff Graves who, as a senior, leads the team in n-fouls at 6.84 per 40 minutes. Padgett, Giddens and Lee are all in the 5-6 range and the big 3 are doing great in the 2.5-3.0 range. That is good news if we can keep those 3 guys on the floor and out of foul trouble. Giddens and Padgett need to work on their defense to lower their fouls.
Assist tell another interesting story. What does Jeff Hawkins bring to this team? Apparently not effective passing. Hawkins trails everyone of the top 10 with the exception of Graves and Nash. This is not what you want to see from your backup point guard. This is one of the more telling statistics in this table. Graves and Moo are more likely to get an assist than Hawkins. Considering Hawkins handles the ball about 4 times as much as these guys that is alarming. This single stat is one of the reasons I expect to see Hawkins minutes diminish, especially when Lee gets back. Lee has shown vast improvement in this area of his game and was averaging 3.92 assists per 40 minutes, good for 2nd on the team behind A-Ron. Look for Lee to play some PG in the future.
When you talk TOs you are generally talking big men. The one exception is Keith. This is Keith’s biggest nemesis. He has actually gone a little backward so far this season. He is averaging 4.04 per 40 minutes for the 2nd worst on the team leading only Jeff Graves.
What other justification is there to play Niang? How about blocks. Niang is averaging 3.0 blocks per 40 minutes, good for 2nd on the team to Padgett. Padgett’s 3.91 is a freshman record-breaking pace. Also props to J.R. who has averaged a very respectable 1.82. I guess a 43” vertical might help a little.
Speaking of Moo, did I mention he has a nose for the ball? He is averaging 2.0 steals per 40 minutes, good for 3rd behind A-Ron and Keith. Moo has demonstrated a few skills (rebounding, shot blocking, and steals) that may earn him more minutes. Props to A-Ron for an excellent defensive start to the season also.
Let’s start with SE. Shooting efficiency (SE) is the percent of points scored of the possible points scored (assuming FGAs were 2 pointers). Conventional wisdom says this number should be above 55% and preferably above 60%. You can see we have two glaring problems (three if we count Moo). Here is the rub, Hawkins has the lowest SE on the team yet is the most likely to shoot when he is in the game. Combine that with the fact he is at the bottom of assists and a picture emerges of Hawkins style of play.
The other glaring problem is Michael Lee. We all saw last year what Michael can do, so we know it is not a matter of ability. That does not change the fact he has not shot well thus far. Giddens and Keith are right on the verge of being very good (60%) and certainly adequate (55%). Moo is a poor shooter and that is his big weakness. It certainly shows in his shooting. As for the subs, Moody, Bahe, and Wilkes are all in great territory.
As for treys, Hawkins (27.3%), Lee (27.3%), and Miles (21.1%) are definitely not getting it done. These numbers need to be above 30% and preferably above 35%. Langford and Giddens are okay but certainly have room for improvement. Giddens has made up for his poor 3-point shooting by shooting well from 2 point range (68%). A very bright shot for this team is our FT%. This could end up being the best FT shooting team in 10+ years.
The next edition of ITN will feature the team stats.
|Email Don||Stats all for now, folks.|
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