"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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Butler 2nd best offensive player in country by one count

I wanted to focus on the players still on the MU roster, and hand out some accolades after seeing Pomeroy (www.kenpom.com) publish his first individual rankings of the season. For those of you who don’t following Pomeroy, he basically calculates every trip down the floor for every player, and breaks down the percentage of trips that he steals the ball, rebounds, etc.

Of the 4,000 or so Division 1 players in the country, Pomeroy now ranks Jimmy Butler as the second best offensive player in the country who does something at least one of every five trips down the court.

The only player who is more efficient is Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis. To oversimplify somewhat, there are eight individual factors and Butler is among the best in the country in six of the eight - getting to the line (FTRate), overall shooting (eFG%), offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, blocks and steals. The only two he does not make the leaders board on is assist rate and avoiding fouling, though he just misses on the latter. Once the offensive factors are added together, Butler calculates as the second best player in the country.

Obviously he has been helped by the defensive attention that has to go to Lazar, who Pomeroy clearly identifies as one of the top “Go-to” guys in the country. Hayward has shouldered the burden by taking 40.6% of the team’s shots, the third highest total of any player in the country, and registering as one of the top defensive rebounders in the country by clearing the defensive board 21.9% of the time opponents shoot.

DJO combines with Butler for one of top 11 shooting duos

The one area in which MU has clearly improved this year is overall shooting, thanks to the ability to hit treys. Pomeroy ranks overall shooting by crediting a player for 1.5 shots made if he makes a three-pointer, since of course they are 50% more valuable by giving the team 3 points instead of 2. Only 70 players in Division 1 shoot better than 64% by this calculation, or in other words average scoring 1.28 points per shot taken.

Syracuse, the best shooting team in the country, has three of the top 70 shooters, but MU is one of only 10 Division 1 teams with two players hitting over 64% with DJO joining Butler to accomplish the feat. DJO has hit 16 of 38 two-pointers (42.1%), but an incredible 24 of 43 treys (56%) to combine for a 64.2% effective field goal percentage. By this measure, DJO has put up 81 shots and they’ve resulted in 104 points, or 1.28 points per shot (twice the eFG%). Obviously Butler focuses on higher percentage two-pointers, hitting 43-73 (59% on two-pointers), but he has also added 7 of 10 on treys to keep opponents honest. That puts him slightly ahead of DJO with 1.29 points per shot taken, or 64.4% eFG%.

Syracuse’s three marksmen are Rick Jackson, Andy Rautins and Wesley Johnson. MU has actually already seen the best combo in the country in South Dakota’s Tyler Cain (69.9%) and Jake Thomas (65.5%), and Arizona State, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Miami of Ohio, Mississippi State, Notre Dame (Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough) and Green Bay are the others with two players over 64%.

All four guards making mark

What can’t be missed this year though is the fact that in addition to two clear stars in Butler and Hayward, all four of MUs guards are very good. One player was not going to replace what we lost when Junior Cadougan went down, but all four guards stepped up.

In addition to DJO’s offensive shooting, Mo Acker has led the defensive pressure. Mo is the 31st best player in the country at picking opponent’s pockets. He steals the ball 5.1% of the opponent’s trips down the floor, and leads an MU team that is the 13th best of 347 teams at stealing the ball. MU steals the ball 14.3%, exactly one out of every seven of the opponent’s trips down the floor. This is an incredible number, though as in shooting Syracuse leads the nation with an even more incredible 18.7%.

While they don’t shoot nearly as much as Butler and DJO, it should also be noted that both Cube and Mo are hitting better than 55% eFG%, well above the national average of 48.8%. To give a comparison, they are both better than Lazar’s team high 53% last year. This is particularly encouraging for Mo, who actually was an even better shooter than Lazar at 55% eFG% in 2007, so it appears he is simply returning to form at 57% this year. For comparison, in 2006, none of the guards were anywhere near 50%.

Mo Acker is playing the perfect point guard, as in addition to being one of the top steals guys in the country and being selective in hitting shots when open, he is also ranked among the leaders in assists. When he is on the court, 27.5% of MUs baskets are the result of an assist from Mo, one of the best totals in the country.
In addition to his 55.1% eFG%, David Cubillan is also ranked among the best in the country at never fouling. Per time on the court, DJO, Acker and Cube all rank nationally for their overall offensive performance.

Like Acker, Dwight Buycks is putting up more of point guard stats, being ranked in steals (3.2% of opponents trips) and assists (20.6% of MU buckets).

What we clearly have – and need

The great news is Acker and Cube are clearly improved, and Buycks and DJO hit the ground running as JC transfers. Add to that Jimmy Butler’s amazing play, and this team has two stars (Hayward and Butler) and four very good guards. That makes for a very good six man rotation. Comparing that to the top 6 on the other Big East teams, and MUs top six can clearly finish in the upper part of the Big East.

Obviously the question is whether or not we can possibly have enough depth after losing our starting point guard, center and a back-up but potentially promising forward. It seems to me the key is to (obviously) avoid any injuries among those six, but also Joe Fulce, Youssoupha Mbao, and/or Erik Williams will need to jump on the opportunity for minutes created by Maymon’s departure the same way all four guards jumped on their opportunity when Junior went down.

If two of those three step up I believe MU will be in the upper part of the Big East again. If none of the three step up, then I just don’t think the strong six we have can be expected to do much better than .500 for the season. I am already very confident the next two years will be amazing, but here is to hoping that this year can be special too with Fulce, Mbao and/or Williams developing to a point that we look back and say, “what a surprisingly good year, and Maymon’s departure was the big turning point.”


theKAYman said...

nice post. i can't believe they factor in avoiding fouling and Butler still is #2. impressive.

John said...

I got to say, I'm the biggest believer there is in Jimmy Butler, but that's awesome. I picked him in the preseason as my breakout player in the Big East and he hasn't disappointed. I really enjoy watching him.

JohnPudner said...

Believe it or not, Butler is not that bad on fouls committed per minute on the court. He has a lot of fouls, but mainly because he has played 76.8% of the minutes, by far the most on the team. The worst fouler was Maymon, who fouled 6.5% of the time. From worst to best, our frequent foulers are: Fulce 4.8%, Hayward 4.4%, DJO 3.7%, Acker 3.6%, Buycks 3.1%, BUTLER 2.7%, Cubillan 1.8%. Cube comes in as the 154th best at avoiding fouls (there are about 4,000 D1 players), so Butler is actually one of the better per minute.

The Chuter said...

Butler is my fav player on the team, but lets face it, he's a role player and no more. Wish we had 5 more of him, but to rate him as 2nd best shows how ridiculous these stats are.

Andrew said...

Its Monday and we had a game on Saturday and no wrap-up yet? What's going on with this blog?

Unknown said...

I don't get it, Butler is a big time player. Although he had modest beginnings and origins, he shows it game after game that he can play against anyone.

Oliver said...

I echo the comments on Butler, but I could not disagree more on Cubillan and Acker. They are barely servicable.

I give them credit for being good guys and trying hard, but due to their size they cannot defend, cannot penetrate effectively, and have difficultly passing into the post. This will become painfully obvious in the Big East. They should be backups that can come in to pressure full court or hit a three every once in a while. Unfortunantly, we do not have enough players to allow that to happen.

Unknown said...

If you guys don't write something soon I will and find a new site...

Beaver said...

Please, write something new soon...

TB said...

count on it guys......just taking time to decompress