Saturday, May 12

Digesting NCAA Stats

Many, more (okay, much, much more) well informed, writers have penned articles on the conversion of NCAA statistics to an NBA level. Kevin Pelton, Richard Lu, all sorts of people have looked at this issue, and I’m not going to even begin to put forth the effort required to do that for this year’s class – it’s just flat-out too much work for something I get paid zilch for.

And, yes, the fact that the fourth year of the Rockford Files comes out on DVD next week will severely impact my ability to finish the task. Sorry, unless I’m gettin’ paid $200 a day plus expenses, I’m not going to tackle a statistical job like that.

Back to where I started now. Rather than comprehend the stats, I thought it might help to get us started by just looking at exactly what those statistics are. I’ll bet if you asked 100 people – NBA-fan people, that is – how many points Greg Oden averaged at Ohio State, maybe 10 would give you an answer that was close to his actual total (15.7), and even fewer would tell you he averaged just shy of 10 boards a night.

And that is precisely my point. We all know about these guys, but unlike NBA stats, NCAA stats are like the Book of Genesis – everyone has a vague idea, but most people just use it to confirm their own theories. Yes, we all know Oden’s a good shot-blocker, but how many did he average? It’s fine to say that NCAA stats don’t matter, and an argument can be made that there’s no point in paying attention to them. After all, if they did make a big difference, why weren’t Chris Corchiani or Bobby Hurley (all-time assists leaders) all-stars in the NBA? But shouldn’t we as fans have a decent idea of what these fellows did in their recent history?

I’m hoping this article will be helpful in getting Sonic fans to know a little bit more, statistically speaking, about the incoming draft class. I’ll try to focus on the top dozen or so players, since that’s the area from which Seattle will be picking. Possibly, I’ll look at how last year’s class did, and what we can learn from that as well.

For now, though, we’ll start by just looking at the raw numbers, and then start to delve into my amateur analysis in later articles.

Oh, what, you wanted another article about the arena? Like you haven’t heard enough about that topic already?

Below, I’ll give a brief look at the players, but if you want the complete look at all the players, you can click on the picture to the right.

Everyone wants to talk about Durant and Oden, for obvious reasons. Oden shot a much higher percentage (62 to 47), but was much worse at making free throws (63 to 82). Oden was also a better offensive rebounder (4.9 to 3.4) and shot blocker (4.5 to 2.1). Durant took a lot more shots (20.6 to 13.3) and generated more overall rebounds, steals, assists, while committing 1.5 less fouls. All are numbers you would expect, given Oden is a center and Durant is, well, I don’t know what he is. A small power forward? A powerful small forward? A powall forward?

On to the other guys (i.e., who the Sonics will be stuck with). Rather than go in-depth on each player, I’ll just throw out the leaders (all numbers are per 40 minutes):

PointsAl Thornton, 25.3
FG %Roy Hibbert, 67
BoardsJoakim Noah, 13
FT%Thornton, 79
FTANoah, Thornton, 7.7
3PMThaddeus Young, 1.7
3P%Acie Law, 46
Offensive BoardsHibbert, 4.1
AssistsMike Conley, 7.7(Law had 5.9)
StealsConley, 2.8
BlocksHibbert, 3.7
Ast:TOConley, 2.8
eFG%Hibbert, 67

Of note: Joakim Noah made one three-pointer all year (you could win plenty of bets with that one), Corey Brewer was a pest on defense (2.6 steals), Jeff Green really is the all-around player he's been getting credit for, and Brandan Wright, a 6'10" power forward, averaged fewer fouls than point guard Acie Law.

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