Friday, January 18, 2013

The Scorer's: Pac-12 Edition

The Pac-12 is showing marked improvement over last year.  The conference has a number of quality wins to go with comparatively few bad losses. Still, the Pac has some work to do.  The Pac-12 has a conference RPI rank of 6, and KenPom has the Pac as the 5th best conference in the land.   Last year, the conference ranked 10th in the RPI, so things have improved.  Much of the change year over year can be attributed to an influx of talent.  For example, UCLA landed Shabazz Muhammad, generally considered to be the #1 or 2 ranked player in the country.  The Cats of course did well, too, landing three top twenty recruits.

Today, I want to look at the top scorers in the conference, and it's clear that freshman are having a significant impact on the league.  Like yesterday, I will look at three stats: points per minute, field goal attempts per minute, and points per field goal attempt.  This analysis is limited to players who have played at least 100 minutes and does not include last night's games.

The Scorers:
UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad is easily the most prolific scorer in the league.  Although Allen Crabbe leads all players in points per game, he plays nearly 35 minutes per contest.  Muhammad has averaged six fewer minutes, but ranks 4th.  When standardized to playing time, their positions are swapped.  Shabazz scores an astounding 0.63 points per minute played.  To put this number into context, a team comprised of five Shabazz's that played all 200 minutes of a game would score on average 126 points.

UCLA also has the 2nd ranked player in this category, freshman Jordan Adams, which may explain why UCLA's offense has been so effective this year.  The remainder of the top 5 include Brock Motum (WSU),  Allen Crabbe (Cal), and Devon Collier (OSU).   Arizona has no players in the top ten.  Mark Lyons ranks 11th in the league, and Solomon Hill is 19th. 

The Shooters:
In one of his early games at McKale, a fan screamed at Mark Lyons from the stands, "You shoot too much!"  It's true that Lyons takes more shots than any of his teammates, but he is not in the top ten in the league for shots per minute:

For field goal attempts per minute, once again, Shabazz Muhammad comes out on top, and he is easily the leader.  On average, Muhammad takes a shot about once every 2:07 that he's on the floor, and he leads the Bruins in shots attempted, despite having missed three games.  Brock Motum comes in a second at a rate of 2:13. C.J. Wilcox (Wash), Askia Booker (Col), and Allen Crabbe (Cal) round out the top five.  Mark Lyons ranks a distant 16th, taking a shot on average for every 2:46 of playing time.   Nick Johnson is the next Cat on the list, ranking 39th.  Compared to other teams in the league, the Cats have a much more balanced approached to shooting and scoring the ball.

The Quality Shooters:
Taking many shots generally leads to scoring a lot of points, and it's not surprising that coaches give the green light to players who are capable scorers.  However, a better measure of scoring efficiency is the number of points scored per field goal attempted, and the league has a different feel when viewed this way:

The topped ranked players in this statistic tend be big guys who have high field goal percentages but there are some exceptions.  Leading the league in this category is Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred from Rice, closely followed by our very own Brandon Ashley.  Why are Ashley's numbers so high?  Well, he is shooting 56.4% from field on 78 attempts.  He also has 56 attempts from the free throw line where is shooting a respectable 73%.  He is a very efficient player.  Colorado's 6'6" point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie ranks third followed by Ben Carter (Oregon) and Omar Oraby (USC).  The Cats have three players in the top twenty.  After Ashley, Solomon Hill ranks 12th and Kevin Parrom ranks 17th.

Note that Shabazz Muhammad does not make the top 20.  He ranks 34th.  In fact, only one of UCLA's players makes the list, Jordan Adams, ranked 16th.  Muhammad takes many shots and scores a lot of points, but compared to other players in the league, fewer points are scored per field goal attempted. The same thing is true of many of the Pac's leading scorers.  Allen Crabbe is ranked 18th.  Motum is 46th.  This gives me that impression that when teams lean heavily on individual players for point production, they are more likely to take bad shots.  Perhaps it's not surprising that Oregon and and Arizona each have three players in the top 20 in points per shot.  Then again, so do the Beavers and Utes.

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