Why freshmen may dominate the draft more than they did the college season

rw

Robert Williams.

The 2017 NBA draft is likely to be the league’s most freshman-dominant selection, well, ever. Since the one-and-done rule was enacted over a decade ago, the record for most freshmen taken as lottery picks is eight.

That occurred just two years ago in 2015. Sing along with me: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow, Myles Turner, Trey Lyles, and Devin Booker.

However this freshman class we currently have before us looks like it’s going to beat that record with ease. Right now on the mock draft boards, one of the few people on earth who’s not currently a college freshman but who stands an excellent chance of being taken in the lottery is Belgium’s own Frank Ntilikina. Another potential gate-crasher here could be Cal sophomore Ivan Rabb.

Other than those guys and their ilk, however, the top of the draft may be thick with freshmen, to wit:

Markell Fultz
Lonzo Ball
Josh Jackson
Dennis Smith
Jonathan Isaac
Jayson Tatum
Malik Monk
Lauri Markkanen
De’Aaron Fox
Miles Bridges
Justin Patton
Robert Williams
T.J. Leaf

Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: “Cue the carousel” edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

North Carolina is (still!) vying to be Roy Williams’ best offensive rebounding team yet

bradley_final

Could more minutes for Tony Bradley push UNC’s offensive rebounding even higher? (AP)

Through games of February 13, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville            9-4   67.7    1.12    0.96    +0.16
2.  Virginia              8-4   62.0    1.09    0.97    +0.12
3.  North Carolina        9-3   72.2    1.16    1.06    +0.10
4.  Florida State         9-4   72.4    1.11    1.02    +0.09
5.  Duke                  8-4   70.4    1.14    1.06    +0.08
6.  Wake Forest           6-7   71.8    1.13    1.10    +0.03
7.  Notre Dame            8-5   67.9    1.09    1.07    +0.02
8.  Syracuse              8-6   66.5    1.13    1.12    +0.01
9.  Miami                 6-6   65.5    1.07    1.07     0.00
10. Georgia Tech          6-6   69.6    0.95    0.99    -0.04
11. Virginia Tech         6-6   69.6    1.05    1.12    -0.07
12. Clemson               3-9   67.0    1.05    1.15    -0.10
13. Boston College       2-11   71.5    1.01    1.12    -0.11
14. Pitt                  3-9   65.3    1.06    1.17    -0.11
15. NC State             3-10   72.3    1.03    1.19    -0.16

AVG.                            68.8    1.08
Acceleration since 2015:        8.9%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 70

The last time we saw North Carolina, the Tar Heels were being limited to their worst offensive rebounding game of the ACC season by Duke. Yet even with that performance added to the mix, it’s conceivable that Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Tony Bradley and company will still turn out to be even better at crashing the offensive glass than any of their illustrious predecessors were. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Post-Gaga edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

You’re right to love Swanigan, and, oh, by the way, John Collins has something to say

collins

A Biggie who blocks shots? Is that possible? (AP)

Through games of February 6, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville            7-4   68.4    1.13    0.96    +0.17
2.  Virginia              8-3   61.8    1.10    0.96    +0.14
3.  North Carolina        9-2   72.7    1.16    1.04    +0.12
4.  Florida State         8-3   72.3    1.11    1.01    +0.10
5.  Duke                  6-4   71.5    1.14    1.06    +0.08
6.  Syracuse              7-4   66.2    1.14    1.12    +0.02
7.  Notre Dame            6-5   67.0    1.08    1.07    +0.01
8.  Wake Forest           5-6   71.8    1.12    1.12     0.00
9.  Miami                 5-5   65.7    1.07    1.07     0.00
10. Georgia Tech          5-6   68.7    0.96    1.02    -0.06
11. Virginia Tech         5-5   70.3    1.06    1.14    -0.08
12. Boston College        2-9   71.5    1.03    1.14    -0.11
13. Clemson               3-7   67.6    1.03    1.15    -0.12
14. NC State              3-8   72.4    1.05    1.17    -0.12
15. Pitt                  1-9   65.0    1.03    1.19    -0.16

AVG.                            68.8    1.08
Acceleration since 2015:        8.9%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 59

Wake Forest has climbed into the bubble picture and will stay there as long as the Demon Deacons hover in the area of .500 in ACC play. This projects to be a really good year to go 9-9, 8-10 or possibly even 7-11 in said league.

Continue reading

What I saw at the scoring revolution

lauri

He makes twos, threes, and all kinds of symbolic sense. (Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star)

With February now upon us, I want to update the yay-scoring hallelujah I posted at ESPN.com a few weeks back. Here are the changes we’ve seen in major-conference play since 2013, in order of magnitude…

1. Scoring’s up 12.3 percent
There are exactly eight more points scored per 40 minutes of major-conference play than there were in the 2013 season. You can now expect a team to put 73.3 points on the board. (Well, not literally. On average.)

2. Three-point attempts are up by 9.4 percent
Changes Nos. 1 and 2 are correlated. (Ahem, coaches.) Note that both major-conference play and Division I basketball as a whole are more perimeter-oriented than they’ve ever been. This statement specifically includes the 2007-08 season, back when it was widely said there were “too many threes” and the three-point line was therefore moved back a foot. Now there are more threes than there were when there were too many threes. Personally I’m fine with it. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Halftime edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

The conference seasons have now more or less reached their midpoints. No more “it’s early” qualifiers and disclaimers. Time for sweeping declarations made in the most emphatic and dogmatic timbres imaginable. Louisville is good! (Relatively speaking.) Carlton Bragg doesn’t matter! (So far.) The Big Ten is strange! (Possibly.)

And so forth….

The Cardinals may indeed turn out to be as good as they look here….

mitchell

It will be bad news for the rest of the ACC if Donovan Mitchell continues to believe he’s actually Bryce Alford. (louisvillecardinal.com)

Through games of January 30, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville            6-3   68.9    1.13    0.94    +0.19
2.  North Carolina        7-2   74.5    1.14    1.01    +0.13
3.  Virginia              6-2   62.1    1.10    0.98    +0.12
4.  Duke                  5-4   72.6    1.13    1.06    +0.07
5.  Miami                 4-4   67.1    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Florida State         6-3   73.8    1.05    1.03    +0.02
7.  Notre Dame            6-4   66.9    1.07    1.06    +0.01
8.  Syracuse              5-4   67.0    1.12    1.11    +0.01
9.  Wake Forest           3-6   71.7    1.11    1.13    -0.02
10. Georgia Tech          5-4   68.1    0.97    1.01    -0.04
11. Virginia Tech         5-4   71.2    1.09    1.14    -0.05
12. Clemson               2-6   66.4    1.06    1.14    -0.08
13. Boston College        2-7   71.5    1.03    1.12    -0.09
14. NC State              3-6   74.3    1.01    1.14    -0.13
15. Pitt                  1-7   66.0    0.99    1.17    -0.18

AVG.                            69.5    1.07
Acceleration since 2015:       10.0%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 49

Louisville is blowing out opponents, and moreover the Cardinals are doing so without the benefit of either Quentin Snider (injured hip) or Tony Hicks (hand). Any team that’s 0.19 points better than the ACC on every possession is, by definition, a threat to win the national title.

Right?

I’m certainly not going to sneeze at a win at home over NC State (a feat that Duke tried and rather conspicuously failed to record), but the Truth in Hoops Stat Labeling Act of 2017 does require that I at least show you all the ingredients that went into making that preposterous scoring margin…
Continue reading

Meet the nation’s best teams at taking shots

meeks

The man is a shot-volume super-hero…and, in a very different way, so too is Markelle Fultz. (dailytarheel.com)

If you’ve wondered how North Carolina can shoot a hair worse than the league average in ACC play yet still lead the conference in offense, the answer is shot volume.

Thanks in part to the Tar Heels’ accuracy-agnostic exertions, sheer volume has actually outperformed effective field goal percentage in predicting an ACC team’s scoring in conference play thus far. (Which, for the record, is highly weird and unusual and purely a function of eFG correlating in an aberrantly poor manner in this single instance. The weird state of affairs will correct toward normalcy, this being a sport where putting the ball in the basket tends to translate very well into scoring. Still, this volume stuff does beat the predictive pants off of plain old turnover and offensive rebound rates alone.)

Here are your shot volume leaders, stragglers, and mean-huggers in major-conference play, with handy categorical labels at one standard deviation on either side of the average. Teams that appear at or near the bottom have offenses that are more susceptible to being hurt by an off shooting night. Conversely if you’re near the top of the list and your offense is bad anyway, you may be looking at issues of misplaced two-point-jumper devotion, the wrong guy taking your shots, etc. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: “Statistically extreme” edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Duke’s season collapsed in two ways, gradually and then suddenly

fj

We were expressly told that Duke would be good this year. What happened? (Chuck Liddy, newsoberver.com)

Through games of January 23, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  North Carolina        6-1   76.4    1.14    0.99    +0.15
2.  Virginia              5-2   62.0    1.10    0.99    +0.11
3.  Louisville            4-3   68.7    1.06    0.98    +0.08
4.  Florida State         6-1   74.2    1.09    1.01    +0.08
5.  Notre Dame            6-1   67.4    1.12    1.04    +0.08
6.  Duke                  3-4   73.2    1.11    1.05    +0.06
7.  Miami                 2-4   65.7    1.03    1.05    -0.02
8.  Wake Forest           3-4   72.4    1.10    1.12    -0.02
9.  Syracuse              3-4   66.2    1.10    1.13    -0.03
10. Virginia Tech         4-3   72.2    1.07    1.11    -0.04
11. Pitt                  1-5   66.3    1.04    1.13    -0.09
12. Boston College        2-5   71.6    1.01    1.11    -0.10
13. NC State              3-5   75.2    1.02    1.12    -0.10
14. Georgia Tech          3-4   67.9    0.95    1.05    -0.10
15. Clemson               1-6   67.6    1.05    1.16    -0.11

AVG.                            69.8    1.06
Acceleration since 2015:       10.4%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 39

As I watched Duke fumble away a home game and lose 84-82 to an NC State team that entered the evening 2-5 in ACC play, it occurred to me that these Blue Devils possess little or no quintessential Duke-ness. We’ve become so preoccupied with the idea of Grayson Allen as a stock Duke-villain figure that we didn’t even notice the basketball happenings. Continue reading