With Marquette beating it's last mid-major opponent of the season last night, with a 64-50 win over UW-Milwaukee (see story here), I thought it would be a good time to run the first calculations of the best players in the country to prepare for Vanderbilt and the entire Big East.
I know most of you don’t follow us as much in the offseason, but NBC Sports, ESPN and Sports Illustrated picked up on pieces I wrote outlining the 8 different things a player does to help his team win and then the Value Add system to measure exactly how valuable all 3500 players were to their teams. You can click any of the links above for those referencs. The explanation of how you can precisely measure a player’s offensive Value Add appeared here.
Jae Crowder has already been named the top player in the country one week by NBC Sports, and running the 1st Value Add calculations of the year shows him as the 14th best offensive player in the country so far this year, and as an overall clear 1st or 2nd team All-American choice.
Value Add shows that Crowder has added 6.5% to Marquette’s overall scoring this year. That means if someone else had to fill his shoes this year, Marquette would be averaging 76.7 points a game instead of 81.7 points a game. Even though that is the 14th best total in the country, most fans never seem to think five points sounds like that big an impact, but even a player who makes a team two points better has a huge impact.
CROWDER COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 27-4 and 18-13
For argument’s sake, let’s assume that Marquette’s scores for the rest of the season were all exactly what Pomeroy predicts. Marquette would finish 27-4. Now if Marquette had scored five points less in each game because Crowder wasn’t on the team, that would turn nine wins into losses (2nd game vs. Norfolk State, Washington, Louisville, at Villanova, at Notre Dame, at UConn, at WVU, at Cincinnati, Georgetown)- so Marquette would finish 18-13 instead of 27-4.
We can’t measure defense as precisely, but there are four defensive stats in Pomeroy. Crowder and Indiana’s Cody Zeller are the only top 20 offensive players who are also among Pomeroy’s leaders in all three individual defensive stats (defensive rebounds, blocked shots and steals). On the table below I listed any of the three on which a player was among Pomeroy's leaders, and I also listed the 4th stat, the team defensive ranking (from 1st to 345th best) for points allowed per trip against an average offense.
Damian Lillard, Zack Rosen, Nate Wolters, Ryan Broekhoff and Andre Jones are adding a lot of points, but they are not among the top 100 overall players in the country because they are part of defenses that don’t even rank in the top 150 of the country. Only Doron Lamb (Kentucky, 5th), Mike Scott (Virginia, 9th) and Cody Zeller (Indiana, 24th) play for defenses better than the Marquette defense of which Crowder is a part (29th best defense in points allowed per trip, adjusted for opponents’ strength).
TOP 20 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS 2011-2012
|Rk||Fname||Lname||Team||Ht||Value Add||Defensive Stats|
|1||Damian||Lillard||Weber St.||6-f-2||11.0%||245th, Reb|
|4||Kevin||Jones||W. VA||6-f-8||7.3%||44th, Blk, Reb|
|6||Isaiah||Canaan||Murray St.||6-f-0||7.3%||71st, Stl|
|12||Jarrod||Jones||Ball St.||6-f-9||6.7%||91st, Def, Blk|
|13||Nate||Wolters||S. Dak St||6-f-4||6.6%||231st|
|14||Jae||Crowder||Marq||6-f-6||6.5%||29th, Reb, Blk, Stl|
|18||Herb||Pope||S. Hall||6-f-8||6.0%||69th, Reb, Blk|
|20||Cody||Zeller||Indiana||6-f-11||5.8%||24th, Reb, Blk,St|
Make a few common sense adjustments for defense to the precise measure of offensive value calculated by Value Add, and eight All-Americans become clear. The two top defensive big men in the country (6-foot-9 Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger, the latter of whom is clearly the best player in the country when healthy) are added to six of the players above to form the All-American team to date:
Alphabetical All-American list to date
Jae Crowder - Marquette
Marcus Denmon - Missouri
Kevin Jones – West Virginia
Doron Lamb – Kentucky
Mike Scott – Virginia
Thomas Robinson – Kansas
Jared Sullinger – Ohio State
Cody Zeller – Indiana
Last two spots pick from among Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson (22nd highest Value Add and among rebound leaders for 20th best defense in the country) and UNC’s trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson or Tyler Zeller.
This is not to say that is how the season will end. Darius Johnson-Odom had a terrible non-conference season last year, and this year he is already the 62nd best offensive player in the country (see below). He was already selected on a CBS Sports telecast as one of the top 4 candidates for Player of the Year along with Denmon, Robinson and Sullinger above, so if he explodes to dominate the Big East again this year it could be him rather than Crowder who becomes the third Marquette player of the decade picked as one of the Top 10 players in the country (Dwyane Wade and Jerel McNeal the other two).
Detailed math on calculating Offensive Value
For those of you who want to go through the detailed math, you can go to this link, or below is the explanation followed by the Top 100 offensive players so far this season:
Ken Pomeroy uses the formulas from Dean Olivier’s Basketball on Paper to precisely calculate a players Offensive Efficiency based on his shots, turnovers, assists, offensive rebounds, ability to get to the line, etc.
Jae Crowder scores a 128.8 Offensive Rating, meaning when for every 100 times a Marquette possession goes to Crowder, he scores 128.8 points, well above the national average of about 100.
Value Add starts from that number, and measures it against how many points a typical reserve would score if he had the ball instead of Crowder all of those times. Overall Marquette has faced the 72nd toughest defense of any team this year, which the average BCS bench player would score 92.18 points per possession against.
When you divide the points Crowder produces by what a replacement would have scored (128.8/92.18) you find that WHEN HE HAS THE BALL, Crowder scores 39.7% more points than a replacement would score. Scott Wood of NC State has the best total when he has the ball, registering a 143.9 Offensive Rating against very tough defenses, so he adds 58% to NC State’s scoring WHEN HE HAS THE BALL.
However, the next step is to determine how often you have the ball. Wood only gets the ball 14.8% of the time, so he is actually only adding 8.6% to NC State’s scoring while he is on the court (58% X 14.8% of the time getting the ball). Crowder gets the ball a lot – not as much as DJO but 22.3% of the time, so while he is on the court he adds 8.9% to MUs scoring, slightly better than Wood. Damian Lillard is tops in the country, improving Weber State’s scoring by 13.7% when he is on the court – though with terrible defense on the other end. Davante Gardner is actually 42nd best in the country when he has the ball, adding 7.3% to Marquette’s scoring.
It may seem that it is just a matter of giving the ball most players the ball more to increase their rating, but actually players start losing ground when they are used too much and they get tired and defenses key on them. For example, Olivier shows that even Kobe Bryant starts to cost the Lakers points once he starts having to handle the ball more than one-third of the time. Obviously Gardner is an awesome player when getting a limited number of chances, but is not yet able to be a guy who can score when getting the ball all the time.
The final step is to calculate what percentage of minutes the player plays. Crowder is playing 73% of Marquette’s minutes, so when multiplying that by the 8.9% he adds to Marquette’s scoring when on the court, we arrive at the final number of 6.47% of points added to Marquette’s total scoring over the course of the season. Like with possessions, a player who is forced to play too many minutes often starts to hurt his rating and the team's overall scoring.
The overall figures will stay about the same for most players as competition gets tougher, because the first step adjusts for the defense placed, so players do not have to score as much against tough defenses as they did against creampuffs to maintain the same rating.
The following are the top 100 offensive players in the country, going through each of these figures. The defensive calculation, which I did calculate last year, is much more complicated, and not nearly as accurate, so these are not adjusted for defense. We know Chris Otule blocking so many shots helps the rest of the defense, and that their defense was about the 20th best defense with him and the 40th best without him, but beyond that there aren't enough stats to get a truly accurate firm figure for the percentage of points he takes away from opponents, despite my best attempt in this link:
TOP 100 OFFENSIVE PLAYERS (VALUE ADD)
|13||Nate||Wolters||S. Dakota St||6-f-4||Jr||26.7%||8.0%||6.6%|
|33||Chase||Tapley||S. Diego St||6-f-2||Jr||30.8%||6.4%||5.4%|
|58||Jaime||Serna||UC Sa Clara||6-f-9||Sr||47.5%||8.5%||4.8%|
|84||Scott||Eatherton||St. Franc PA||6-f-8||So||30.8%||6.9%||4.4%|