"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lazar ranks among MUs 30 All-Time Greats

Before turning full attention to the 677th player to take the court as a Marquette player at some point during the 2010-11 season (Vander Blue, Jae Crowder, Jamail Jones, Devonte Newbill or Reggie Smith), allow me my annual update of the greatest players in Marquette history through the 2010 season.

Based purely on the database figures, Lazar ranks as the 27th greatest of 676 MU all-time players. Because a small percentage of a player’s rating is based on being drafted and/or playing in the NBA, Lazar could move up a few spots if www.nbadraft.net is correct in just moving Lazar up as a projected FIRST ROUND draft pick. Explanation below, but here is my updated Top 30 based purely on the numbers:

Greatest 30 Players in MU History
1 Dwyane Wade 2002, 03
2 Maurice (Bo) Ellis 1974, 75, 76, 77
3 Alfred (Butch) Lee 1975, 76, 77, 78
4 George Thompson 1967, 68, 69
5 Dean Meminger 1969, 70, 71
6 Jim Chones 1971, 72
7 Maurice Lucas 1973, 74
8 Don Kojis 1959, 60, 61
9 Jerel McNeal 2006, 07, 08, 09
10 Earl Tatum 1973, 74, 75, 76
11 Terry Rand 1954, 55, 56
12 Dave Quabius 1937, 38, 39
13 Jerome Whitehead 1976, 77, 78
14 Tony Smith 1987, 88, 89, 90
15 Larry McNeil 1972, 73
16 Travis Diener 2002, 03, 04, 05
* Lazar Hayward (moves up to 17th if he has as good a rookie year as Wesley Matthews)
17 Jim McIlvaine 1991, 92, 93, 94
18 Lloyd Walton 1974, 75, 76
19 Glen (Doc) Rivers 1981, 82, 83
20 Wesley Matthews 2006, 07, 08, 09 (moved up 2 spots due to rookie NBA season that has moved him into 18th on the all-time CAREER NBA scoring list among Marquette grads)
21 Bernard Toone 1976, 77, 78, 79
* Lazar Hayward (moves up to 22nd if drafted or makes NBA roster)
22 Dominic James 2006, 07, 08, 09
23 Ed Mullen 1933, 34, 35
24 Gary Brell 1970, 71
25 Michael Wilson 1979, 80, 81, 82
26 Bob Lackey 1971, 72
27 Lazar Hayward 2007, 08, 09, 10 (even if not drafted, ranks 27th)

28 Sam Worthen 1979, 80
29 William Chandler 1942, 43, 44, 45 (broke Top 30 after new records from 1940s discovered)
30 Raymond Morstadt 1934, 35, 36

I outlined these rankings through the 2008 season in the Ultimate Hoops Guide: Marquette University, but for the record, I am not trying to sell more books when I update this every year. The stat geeks like me who wanted the book bought it two years ago, I don’t think anyone has bought one in over a year, so I just like to keep the rankings current through www.crackedsidewalks.com.

For those who haven’t read my work on this in the past, the ratings are based on three areas:

1. Statistical. The biggest part of the rating is based on the player’s statistics, but in the context of the team defense played, to put players from all eras on equal footing. So when Dave Quabius averaged 9.9 points per game in his All-American year of 1939, that was 30% of what MU needed to win each night since they were giving up 32.6 points per game. That’s about the same as Lazar scoring just over 18 points per game while MU was giving up 64.6 points this year.

Once you add in Lazar’s points, rebounds, steals, blocked shots and assists in the context of the 64.6 points per game allowed by the team, the formula calculates that Lazar was worth 6.6 wins to MU this year, the 19th best total in history. Jimmy Butler was worth 5.3 wins, Darius Johnson-Odom 3.5, Mo Acker 2.7, David Cubillan 1.7, Dwight Buycks 1.7 and Joseph Fulce 0.5. Without the great breakthroughs for Mo and David in their seniors season MU would have missed the NCAA Tournament with four or five fewer wins.

The statistical part of the formula calculates that Lazar was worth an additional 19.2 wins while at Marquette (1.7, 4.6, 6.3 and 6.6 for his four years), so estimates that MU would have been 77-61 during his four years instead of 96-42 if he had not chosen to come to Marquette. Without going through the rest of the math, his final Statistical Rating is a 23.0, which is the 19th best ever though quite a bit behind the top three (Bo Ellis 31.2, George Thompson 30.8 and Dwyane Wade 30.4).

2. Impact. The second factor is Impact on the program, and Lazar gets a “7” here for being the best player on a team that made the tournament but was eliminated the first weekend. Bo Ellis is the only “10” in this Impact Rating for his role in two runs to the championship game, but only the leaders on good teams get higher than a “4” on this.

3. Dominance. The last factor is the dominance as judged by people who pick All-Conference and All-American teams, as well as by the NBA scouts and coaches who select players for the NBA. As ticked as I am that Lazar was only given 2nd team All-Big East this year, I’m sticking to the numbers and 2nd team All-Conference gives a player 8 of a possible 15 points. The only players to get a perfect 15 in this category are players who have a combination of All-American awards and dominant NBA performances (Dwyane Wade, Jim Chones, Don Kojis, Maurice Lucas and National Player of the Year Butch Lee).

However, while Lazar only gets an “8” for second team All-Conference, players who are drafted in the top two rounds or make an NBA roster get a “10,” which would move him up to 22nd All-Time.

I don't think our fans fully appreciate what a tiny percentage of college stars ever score an NBA point. For example, when a Maryland fan was on me after the Washington loss and how great all their 2005 National Champion players were, I pointed out to him that not a single player on that title team ever scored an NBA point. Despite all the great Marquette stars over the years, as of today Travis Diener is 15th All-Time among all-time MU with 851 career NBA points, followed by Butch Lee in 16th (778), Steve Novak in 17th (750) and Wesley Matthews already in 18th (626).

If Matthews can keep up even three more years at his current pace, he would move ahead of all MU NBA players except Maurice Lucas (12,312 career NBA points), Dwyane Wade (11,671 through today), Don Kojis (9,931), Doc Rivers (9,418), George Thompson (8.128), Jim Chones (6,283) and Jerome Whitehead (4,531). Being able to play at the next level is rare, and a factor that I believe should be part of the evaluation when rating the all-time greats.

Matthews production to date already has him up to a “12” on the dominance part of the formula, which moved him up two more spots to put him on my All-Time Top 20. If Lazar can become a 5th MU player to put up several hundred points in the NBA in recent years, he would likewise move up into the Top 20.

For those of you who don’t care about ancient history, you can go back to discussing how great Jimmy, DJO and the rest of the guys will be with Vander Blue and company next year, but for us old-timers, that’s the Top 30 as I see it now. My evil database will be used to project the future wins, but for today let's focus on putting Lazar among the All-Time greats, a list that I'm sure Vander Blue will be joining in a few years!


Unknown said...

I appreciate your efforts, but I don't understand for a second what a player's NBA statistics have to do with where they rank in MU history. Wesley Matthews was a fine player, but he is nowhere near the 20th greatest player in program history. Hayward had a better career than Wesley in every conceivable fashion.

JohnPudner said...

Richard - you make a fair point, and having received many comments since first doing the book many do share that view. In fact, in Jim McIlvaine's review of the book he said if I'm giving credit for what a player did after graduating then I should give Marty Holmes extra credit for fathering Katie Holmes 12 years after he scored his 53 points for Marquette in two seasons :-)

However, here is why I include it as a small part of the evaluation: The perfect system would be if someone who knew basketball could have really watched every MU player over time and put together a list that accounted for everything they did on the court. Since we don't have that, I am basically giving a little weight to the opinions of experts who did watch the players, namely NBA scouts, coaches and writers and opposing coaches who pick all-conference and All-American teams and decided who to drart. Apparently some of those people watched Wesley last year and decided that he knew what he was doing on the court, and perhaps that he was doing things on the court that didn't show up on the state sheet such as using his ironclad body to box out big men so that his teammates could get rebounds, etc. Certainly a lot of players with better stats all across the country were judged as not as good a player as Wesley by the NBA scouts, so in that sense I believe he was "better" than those players not just at the college level. I view him getting on an NBA team as more of a verification of other things he was doing for Marquette beyond the pure stats. Then you add to that his stats showing him as the 2nd best player on a 25-10 team that won an NCAA game. That's my defense of where Wesley is. Now keep in mind that those same scouts seem to think even more of Lazar, as reflected in him being pegged as a first round pick this year, it's just that we won't know that for sure for three months until the draft and then subsequent rookie camps that hopefully land Lazar making a bunch of money somewhere.

In both cases though, I think the system does show that at a school that has landed more than two dozen All-Americans, that Lazar and Wesley rank right among them among the all-time greats.

Your opinion is probably the majority one on this, and mine the minority opinion, but that's my logic and why I'm more comfortable including it anyway.