"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

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wade's Ex-Teammate LeBron Passes Jordan for GOAT; 11:33 p.m. Tweet Makes Nevada No. 1

What a 24 hours for basketball! But before we run through why LeBron James (who will always be tied to our Dwyane Wade) takes the court tonight at Golden State having passed Michael Jordan as the most valuable player of all time, let's talk about what happened just before the midnight deadline for players to return to their colleges rather than stay eligible for the NBA draft in three weeks ...

At 11:33 p.m. ET last night, Cody Martin tweeted that he would return to Nevada, and at 11:34 his twin Caleb Martin confirmed he would stay as well - beating the Midnight deadline for players to leave the NBA draft t return to school. Kentucky, Villanova, Tennessee, Maryland and Virginia Tech were not so lucky, losing players to drop in the www.valueaddbasketball.com top 25.
However, Kentucky's replacement players were so good that they actually remained the No. 3 team in the nation. Duke passed them for No. 2, but Villanova fell from No. 2 to No. 10 - with Kansas rounding out the projected Final Four. Here is the top 25 with notes on teams that lost players to the NBA once and for all at Midnight.
Team   Top 8 Value Add
1.   Nevada   52.98 – Cody and Caleb Martin announced return at 11:33 pm to keep them at No. 1 with 52.98 combined Value Add.
2.   Duke   46.65
3.   Kentucky   stayed in third despite 241st Vanderbilt (5.17) & 272nd Gabriel (4.93) dropping but being replaced by almost as good 9th and 10th men (8.22 combined Value Add) as Villanova dropped further and Duke moved ahead of Kentucky’s 45.33
4.   Kansas   42.26
5.   Oregon   41.52
6.   North Carolina   40.31
7.   Mississippi St.   40.05
8.   Louisiana St.   39.18
9.   Auburn   38.66
10.   Villanova   dropped from 2nd after 25th ranked Spellman (8.01 Value Add) & 32nd DiVincenzo, (7.84) both left and replacements are a combined 6.85 to lower team from 47.51 to 38.51
11.   Gonzaga   37.94
12.   Tennessee   dropped from 6th after Alexander, 5.89 left and with (1.25 replacement) lowered from 42.01 to 37.37
13.   Syracuse   37.44
14.   North Carolina St.   35.07
15.   Indiana   34.95
16.   Virginia   34.62
17.   Texas   34.28
18.   UCLA   34.26
19.   Kansas St.   34.16
20.   Michigan St.   33.63
21.   Marquette   33.13
22.   Maryland   39.36 – dropped from 9th after 33rd ranked Huerter (7.82) left and only a 1.23 replacement to lower from 39.36 to 32.77
23.   Florida   32.73
24.   Iowa   32.49
25.   Arizona St.   32.1 (moved from 26th to 25th due to Virginia Tech dropping out)
Dropped Out - Virginia Tech   33.49 – dropped from 21st to 33rd after 381th ranked Alexander-Walker (4.25 Value Add) left with only 1.32 replacement Value Add to drop from 33.49 to 30.85
... now back to the inconvenient truth that LeBron James takes the court tonight as the GOAT, at least if that means the most valuable player in the history of basketball. Now that all of my friends in North Carolina and Chicago have stopped reading, let's walk through this.
As Golden State opens as a double digit favorite in the opener of the NBA Finals, Michael Jordan fans are likely to still be able to cling to their one argument for his superiority over LeBron James - six championships.
This ignores the fact that Jordan was one of THREE Hall of Famers playing at HOF levels (one of those years all three were in the top 15 in MVP voting) for the 4th, 5th and 6th championship. Further, that argument leaves Jordan behind Robert Horry (7 titles), as well as legitimate contenders for the greatest of all-time in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In this his 15th season, LeBron James was more than twice as valuable as Jordan was in his 15th and final season, and during the season passed Jordan in career Win Shares (the only way to truly compare players from different eras and to balance the impact on a great team or bad team).
In fact, in his five seasons without Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen on the court with him, Jordan never even had a winning season, averaging just 30 wins and 52 losses. Jordan apologists complained when James went to Miami to likewise team up with a future Hall of Fame Player in Marquette's Dwyane Wade - but James did not need a Hall of Fame teammate to make his teams awesome - averaging a 51-31 record in the years before and after he and Wade teamed up.
So when they had to carry their teams without the help of another Hall of Fame player, James’ teams were 21 wins better than Jordan's teams, even though he inherited a worse team.
It is also fair to note that while Pippen finished 5th, 7th and 9th in MVP voting three of his years with Jordan, and in one year Dennis Rodman gave Jordan TWO teammates in the top 15 in voting - only one season has LeBron ever had a top 9 teammate (Wade 7th, as his best play was prior to James' arrival). In short, Jordan never produced nearly the same results as James EXCEPT when he had Hall of Fame support far superior to the poor cast James dragged to the NBA Finals some of his years.
The three years before Jordan arrived in Chicago, the Bulls averaged a 36-46 record. Jordan played three seasons before another Hall of Fame player arrived, and during his three years before adding Pippen Jordan's teams averaged the identical 36-46 record. Jordan scored a lot - but his team was no better with him until another Hall of Famer came along.
Compare this to the transformation of the Cavs after James’ arrival.  For an apples to apples over three years, they averaged 25-67 in the 3 years prior to James arrival (11 games worse than the pre-Jordan Bulls), yet in their first three years with James the averaged 42-40 for a 17 average improvement in wins to ZERO for Jordan.
Jordan did not lead his team to a winning record until he was 25 and Pippen had arrived - but by age 25 James finished his seventh season having taken his Cavs to an average mark of 50-32 before leaving to Miami to team up with a player almost at Pippen’s level in Wade.
The difference continued throughout their careers. In the years before or after James and Jordan left and arrived, James’ teams averaged being 22 games better with him than without him and Jordan's teams did not improve at all until an extra Hall of Famer was added to the roster.
The dreadful Cavs improved 18 games as soon as the teenager James took the court. When he went from the Cavs to the Heat the Cavs lost 42 more games and the Heat won 11 more games. When he went back to the Cavs they won 20 more games and the Heat lost 17 more, for an average of 22 more wins a season with than without James.

LeBron arriving or departing
Before and After
Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers
Miami Heat
Miami Heat
Cleveland Cavaliers
Teams 22 games better w/LeBron

Contrast this with the amazing lack of difference Jordan’s departures and returns made. When he arrived from UNC the Bulls actually won one FEWER games to finish 27-55, and as noted did not improve them one game over his first three years. When he took the 1993-94 season off the Bulls were only two games worse. 

James critics will note that Jordan then came back for only part of the 1994-95 season, but he was there for the entire playoffs and the team did just as well as they did the year before without him - a loss in the Conference Semifinals. The next year they had a monster year - but remember that was only after adding a THIRD Hall of Fame Player in Dennis Rodman to the them.
And then Jordan played his final two seasons with the Wizards’ - his 14th and 15th seasons, but unlike James’ 14th and 15th seasons he was simply not very good, getting a couple of MVP mentions the first year and then having a nice farewell tour. The Wizards’ were 10 games worse when he arrived, and just as good the year after he left.

That means the only time a team was more than two games better the year after or before Jordan left was after the 1997-98 season - WHEN ALL THREE HALL OF FAME PLAYERS LEFT AT ONCE.

Jordan arriving or departing
Before and After
Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls***
Washington Wizards
Washington Wizards
Teams 4 games better w/Jordan

*** because of the 1998-99 strike, the Bulls record is projected with 21 wins

Jordan was an incredible leader of teams with other Hall of Fame players, and he knew how to close when his teammates were superior to all the opponents they would face. I will even grant that his three best seasons may have been slightly better than any of James' seasons.
However, James’ ability to take teams that should not be in the playoffs all the way to the NBA Finals time and time again is a much dramatic than Jordan’s ability to make sure his Hall of Fame teammates did not blow championships.
James passed Jordan and he is still playing strong.
Unless you want to argue that Horry is greater than Jordan because of the extra championship, it is time to admit there is a new all time King.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

48 More Impact Transfers: Updated Big East and National Team Rankings

Good catches all, especially on Creighton who does plunge out of the tournament. Here is the national update and then where the Big East teams rank now.


Big East Team Top 8 Value Nat'l
Villanova 47.51 2
Marquette 33.13 23

St. John's 28.52 45
Providence 27.99 49
Xavier 27.7 51
Butler 27.36 54

Creighton 22.35 80
Georgetown 21.86 86

Seton Hall 20.07 105

DePaul 19.42 117

I last wrote here about Joe Cremo's visit to Villanova - and not only did he sign there but Denzil Mahoney (update, sits out next season) signed with Creighton several days later to get the Big East the top two Value Add pick-ups of the last several weeks. After business travel kept me from home for 26 of 28 consecutive days I finally returned to make hundreds of updates to the Value Add google doc and I will hope to have www.valueaddbasketball.com updated to correspond during the 3-day weekend.

Creighton's pick-up of Mahoney will move their projection ahead of Marquette to leave us third in the Big East - but Villanova and Creighton are waiting to see if players go to the NBA while Marquette is set. The following are the 48 players worth at least 2 more points per game who signed and/or left teams - or at least appear to be headed to a team if so noted - since Marquette completed its roster.

First - an insert of changes based on BrewCity and TAMU McEwen Updates

CollegeStatusRankPlayerValue Add
North CarolinaKept6Luke Maye #329.18
Boston CollegeLost17Jerome Robinson #18.53
Texas A&MLost19Tyler Davis #348.43
CreightonLost25Khyri Thomas8.03
GonzagaKept47Killian Tillie #337.55
West VirginiaKept59Sagaba Konate #507.29
NebraskaKept63James Palmer #247.08
NevadaKept70Jordan Caroline #247.01
WoffordKept76Fletcher Magee #36.97
Creighton2020139Denzel Mahoney #34/20206.23

RankMay Announcements2019 TEAMValue AddNotes
65Joe Cremo #24Villanova7.06transfer from Albany^ SG
139Denzel Mahoney #34/2020Creighton6.23transfer from Southeast Missouri State SF
154Matt Mooney #13Texas Tech6.06Sr. Grad transfer from South Dakota
216Malachi Flynn #22San Diego St.5.37transfer from Washington State^ PG
246Tramaine Isabell #2Available5.19transfer from Drexel PG
277Christian Mekowulu #21Available4.94transfer from Tennessee State C
288MaCio Teague #25/2020Baylor4.89transfer from UNC Asheville
374Austin Reaves #12Oklahoma4.32transfer from Wichita State PG
389Isaiah Brock #10Grand Valley State4.25transfer from Oakland PF
419Parker Stewart #1Tennessee Martin4.13transfer from Pittsburgh^ PG
477Javan White #25Clemson3.90transfer from Oral Roberts^ PF
500Marcus Burk #34/2020IUPUI3.84transfer from Campbell
512Andre Fox #22South Alabama3.80transfer from High Point^ SG
539Marcus Carr #5Minnesota3.75from Pitt^ Proj raised due to NBA potential
545De'Monte Buckingham #11Cal State Bakersfield3.71transfer from Richmond SG
567DeAndre Dishman #2Available3.66transfer from Eastern Kentucky SF
610Jeremiah Bell #1Alabama-Birmingham3.48left Milwaukee
632Malik Hines #0Available3.40transfer from Massachusetts C
640Jalen Johnson #20Available3.38transfer from Saint Louis SF
711Sacha Killeya-Jones #1North Carolina St.3.20Kentucky/2017
746Sidy N'Dir #13Pittsburgh3.09transfer from New Mexico State PG
781DJ BurnsTennessee3.00
809Teddy Allen #13Wichita State2.89transfer from West Virginia SF
844Nat Dixon #5SMU2.81transfer from Chattanooga SG
860Jalen Dupree #40Samford2.76transfer from Murray State^ PF
868Deon Lyle #1Available2.74transfer from UTSA SG
889Khwan Fore #2Tennessee2.68transfer from Richmond PG
897Eric Lockett #5North Carolina St.2.66transfer from Florida International
907Jax Levitch #5North Carolina Ashville2.64transfer from Fort Wayne^ SG
953Braxton Key #25Virginia2.58transfer from Alabama PF
974Rodney Chatman #1Dayton2.53transfer from Chattanooga PG
986Elbert Robinson IIIOld Dominion2.50transfer from LSU C
987Elijah 'Eli' Wright/2020St. John's2.50transfer from Mississippi State SG
988Robert Cartwright #2UC Irvine2.50Sr. Grad transfer from Stanford
1018Londell King #1Available2.46transfer from Morehead State SF
1126Jamal Johnson #1/2020Auburn2.26transfer from Memphis
1176Jaquori McLaughlin #0/2020UC Santa Barbara2.20transfer from Oregon State^ PG
1177David Beatty #0La Salle2.20transfer from South Carolina SG
1178Michael 'MJ' Cage, JrPepperdine2.20transfer from Oregon C
1180Izaiah Brockington #21Penn St.2.20transfer from St. Bonaventure SG
1181Rapolas IvanauskasColgate2.20transfer from Northwestern^ PF
1182Femi Olujobi #25/2020DePaul2.20transfer from North Carolina A&T^ PF
1199Brandon Averette #0Utah Valley2.18transfer from Oklahoma State^ PG
1218Mason Faulkner #11/2020Western Carolina2.14transfer from Northern Kentucky
1230Saddiq Bey/PredictionVillanova2.11247 Ranked 123^ SF
1252Bobby Planutis #1St. Bonaventure2.07transfer from Mount St. Mary's SF
1300Zack Dawson #2South Florida2.00transfer from Oklahoma State^ PG
1301Maciej Bender #25/2020Mercer2.00transfer from West Virginia

Monday, May 07, 2018

As off seasons go, we're off to a great start

The masses have spoken (if like a dozen people on twitter can be considered "the masses") you wanted a pod to talk about the off season so far and we're here for it. We spend the beginning of the pod talking about the two recruits that Wojo landed and how they may impact the team as well as projecting forward to next season and 2019. We both love the signings but will it have enough of an impact on the roster to make up for glaring defensive issues. Below are the stats that Joe cited on the pod:

           Offense            Off eFG%                        Defense            Def eFG%
2015   105.4 (154)       49.8 (130)                      98.5 (69)           49.2 (173)
2016    108 (116)          52 (76)                          100.1 (88)         48.7 (107)
2017    120.8 (8)           57.4 (4)                         104.2 (165)       52.2 (241)
2018    119.4 (12)         56.8 (14)                       106 (186)          53.8 (292)
We then turn to long term recruiting news and start talking about 2019/2020 in earnest. Once we get back from our trip into the future, we spend time talking about the non-conference schedule as we know it for 2018 and what the means for the team and their mindset. We close out the pod talking about the possible end of Dwyane Wade's NBA career and how desperately we want him to play one more season as a farewell tour. As always, enjoy! Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Cremo's Visit to Nova Could Insure Nova top BE Spot of Marquette in Updated Value Add Projections

Joe Cremo's visit to Villanova could be good for the conference if not for Marquette's chances to win a Big East title. While the defending National Champions have an 18-point lead in projected Value Add over Marquette for the top spot in the Big East, that could be cut to less than four points if both Omari Spellman (8.01) and Donte DiVincenzo (7.84) leave for the NBA. Adding Cremo's 7.06 (65th best-projected player) widens the gap. (www.valueaddbasketball.com will be updated in a week, but for now, the updates on the bottom of this post are only in the google sheet).

As much as I'd love the best shot possible to win the Big East one of these years, the fact that Villanova lets the Big East claim two of the last three national championships seems more important for the overall resume, Value Add projects five NCAA bids with St. John's the third team out and Butler the sixth team out.

Georgetown's signing of Omer Yurtseven (7.04 rating after transferring from NC State) would make the Hoya's a tournament team if he did not need to sit out a year. The other big pickups calculated in the 2020 column below are St. John's David Caraher (3.32) and Eli Wright (2.5), DePaul's Darious Hall (2.08) and of course Koby McEwen (2.36).

RnkChangeTeam By Conference2019 Roster2020 DeferNCAASeed1st Opponent
21Villanova57.26auto bid1Vermont-Howard winner
26-1Marquette39.172.36at-large7Notre Dame
340Providence36.36at-large9Kansas St.
478Xavier34.07at-large12.5Iowa St. then Virginia Tech
52-2St. John's32.915.823rd out
56-2Butler32.250.76th out
120-6Seton Hall24.39

And here are the most significant pickups.

PlayerRnkProjected Value2019 TEAMUpdates after 4/27
Romeo Langford/Crystal Ball228.2Indianacrystal shifted Kansas to Indiana
Joe Cremo #24657.06Available"visits to Kansas and Villanova http://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/big-12/university-of-kansas/article210214699.html https://www.vuhoops.com/2018/4/30/17301418/villanova-basketball-recruiting-joe-cremo-transfer-visit
Dru Smith/2020896.78Missourisigned with Missouri
Wendell Mitchell1136.5Texas A&MTexas A&M signing
Charles Jones Jr1146.5Utahupgraded due to JUCO POY
Jordan Brown/Crystal Ball1506.1Nevadacrystal ball says Nevada
Matt Mooney #13/could stay1546.06South Dakotahttps://twitter.com/moonswag13?lang=en still might stay South Dakota
Kavell Bigby-Williams 353264.606LSUdid sign LSU last year, not clear if issues with dismissed charges at Oregon
Justin Coleman4.16Arizonacorrected his projection to 4.16, signed april
Trey McGowens/crystal ball2.7Pittsburghcrystal ball
Trace Ramey/crystal ball2.6Texascrystal ball
Uros Plavsic2.6Cleveland St.upgrade rating to 2.6
Isaac Likekele/crystal ball2.26Texas Techswitched from Fresno
Brison Gresham 55/20201.85Houstonhttps://247sports.com/college/massachusetts/Bolt/REPORT-Jarreau-Gresham-set-to-join-Houston-Cougars-in-2018-19-105348099
Emmitt Matthews Jr/Crystal Ball1.6West Virginiacrystal ball
Dejon Jarreau 3/20201.57Houstonleaving but JUCO in between https://247sports.com/college/massachusetts/Bolt/REPORT-Jarreau-Gresham-set-to-join-Houston-Cougars-in-2018-19-105348099
Robert Braswell/Crystal Ball1.52Syracusecrystal ball
Lukas Kisunas/Crystal Ball1.35Stanfordshifted Arizona to Stanford
Bryce Golden/Crystal Ball1.28Syracuseshifted Syracuse to Butler
Xavier Johnson/crystal ball1.02Pittsburghswitched from Nebraska
Majur Majak/crystal ball0.82St. Peter'scrystal ball
Neftali Alvarez/crystal ball0.7Florida Gulf Coastcrystal ball
Maurice Calloo/Crystal Ball0.65Oklahoma St.crystal ball shifted Illinois to Oklahoma St.
Amir Harris/crystal ball0.47Nebraskacrystal ball
Mike Wynn/crystal ball0.44Mississippishifted from East Carolina to Mississippi
Junior Farquhar/Crystal Ball0.05SMUcrystal ball