"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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jake Thomas dunk contest win points again to balanced MU attack; Only Michigan St., Indiana, UCLA & Arizona can match MUs 10 top 1000 players

Thank you to Midwest Ballers for the mix from Friday's Midnight Madness, where Jake Thomas probably shocked many readers by winning the dunk contest. And while some may certainly have judged Jamil Wilson's between the legs dunk as the best on the attached footage, I hope the video will show that Jake could be a lot more than just the best pure 3-point shooter at Marquette since Steve Novak.

Buzz's two transfers are MUs only two players to have been among the national leaders in 3 of the main 8 categories on www.kenpom.com as shown on the table below (last year NBC Sports picked up on my post here noting that Jae Crowder may be the best overall player in the country for ranking so high in 5 of 8).   Trent Lockett is the name that jumps out, as he has been among the best in the nation in three categories (eFG% of best shooters, Stl% as best at steals and FTR as best at getting to the line for free throws).  Jake Thomas is all the way in the top 100 in shooting (98th in eFG%), but also in the top 500 in protecting the ball (Turnover Ratio) and just makes the top 500 on getting to the line (Free Throw Ratio).  Thomas is also the only player besides Davante Gardner to make it into the top 500 in Overall Offensive Rating (ORtg).  Like Jimmy Butler, Gardner has had consecutive years in the top 20 while not yet being appreciated by fans.

8 key statsMU players who've been in top 500
eFG% Thomas 98th in 2010, Lockett 286th and 335th in 2011
OR% Gardner 15th*, 37th in 2011*
DR%No top 500 players on MU roster
AstR Cadougan 63rd, 153rd in 2011, Lockett 452nd in 2011
TOR Thomas 222nd in 2011, Jamil 469th
Blk% Otule 35th*, Jamil 135th
Stl% Derrick 68th*, Blue 323rd in 2011, Lockett 396th and 350th in 2011
FTR Otule 14th*, Gardner 33rd* and 44th in 2011*, Lockett 91st and 350th in 2011, Blue 234th, Cadougan 329th, Thomas 498th in 2010
Ortg Gardner 3rd and 19th in 2011, Thomas 268th in 2010 and 478th in 2011
* - indicates did not play 40% of minutes so not listed as leader at www.kenpom.com, but this is the rank the player would have had with enough minutes (e.g. if neither Gardner or Otule were hurt last year).

Certainly some will be quick to note their initial skepticism over Thomas ability to contribute at the Big East level after piling up his top 100 shooting year against lesser competition.  However, when we then turn to www.valueaddbasketball.com, which adjusts for competition, Jake Thomas is still a top 700 offensive player (top 28% of all D1 players) and a top 1000 overall player even after accounting for South Dakota's weak defense.

I do not know if that means Thomas will be in Buzz's final 7 or 8 man rotation or not - but I am very confident he would be in the 7-man rotation for most BCS schools.  The beauty of Marquette this year is the depth, which really may be the best in the country.  As you can see from the table below, only 28 teams in the country have even seven players among the best 1000 in the country, so just about anyone on Marquette's roster could be in the rotation of any other team.

We do not start the year with a top 100 player, so someone on the team will have to go to the next level to enable us to go up against teams with one or more top 100 players - but noone can go deeper.  Trent Lockett was not a top 1000 player last year mainly because of a very high turnover rate on a terrible team, but assuming our packed roster can actually catch passes, he should shoot way up in light of all the areas in which he is so strong (also Lockett and Thomas are excellent defensive rebounders for guards, even though not in the top 500 since that list is almost all front line players.)

Derrick Wilson is not in the top 1000, but as the 68th best steals man in the country last year, he at very least has a very strong role to play.  Everyone else on the 2013 roster is in the top 1000.  We knew we had the dynamic duo of Crowder and DJO last year.  The fun this year is that while I believe Gardner will be our best player, it really could be anybody.  MU has a roster full of players that are very good, and if a couple step up to be great, then this will be a very good team indeed.  If I had asked before the dunk contest who the three most likely players to win would be, I doubt Jake Thomas would have been one of your choices.  Guessing at who MUs top three players will be this year could be just as tough, in a very good way.

Here is the list of the only 45 teams with at least seven players in the top 1000 - and a column for how many top 100 players each team has as well.  The list is periodically updated at www.valueaddbasketball.com.

TeamTop 100Top 1000
1Michigan St.211
9Nevada Las Vegas19
16North Carolina St.28
23North Carolina08
24Texas A&M08
25Iowa St.08
28Oklahoma St.08
29Ohio St.27
30Notre Dame27
37Kansas St.17
39Texas Tech07
40West Virginia07
42Georgia Tech07

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