Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 18, 2010

Brandon Paul for national POY

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:56 pm

I know I usually wait until March to announce the Basketball Prospectus Player of the Year, but this season I’ve decided to shake things up. As I think back over the many thrills and surprises of this 2010-11 season, I believe we’re far enough into the year to arrive at some definitive conclusions. True, naming a POY on November 18 might seem a little unfair–Missouri, to pick one example, hasn’t even played a game yet–but frankly I’m trying to clear some things off my desk before the holidays. Consider the POY awarded….

Let’s look at highly-ranked teams who’ve already played three games. It’s way too early to worry about team stats, of course, but one example of what we can talk about already is minutes and shots–who’s getting them?

Pitt: More Moore than expected?
Brad Wanamaker has barreled out of the gate posting the Platonic ideal of a stat line for a point guard, spraying assists in all directions, taking care of the rock, and sinking half his threes and 68 percent of his twos. But the shots in this offense have mostly been taken by Ashton Gibbs and Gilbert Young, constituting a pretty straightforward piece of good news/bad news. Gibbs has been very Gibbs-like (hitting 46 percent of his threes) but Young’s had a really rough time getting the ball in the basket. Meanwhile freshman reserve J.J. Moore, branded the program’s next Sam Young by no less an observer than Jamie Dixon, has been notably assertive. Moore has personally accounted for 30 percent of the Panthers’ shot attempts from the field during his 36 minutes. Assuming the minutes are there, a Big East freshman with this ostentatious degree of green-lighting from his coach will be heard from sooner rather than later.

Oh, and yes, I see you, Dante Taylor, and your 33.5 offensive rebound percentage. You’re following in some very big footsteps.

Villanova: A new big two
First things first. ‘Nova has given their weird, needless, suicidal fouling a rest. Maybe that means they haven’t needed to foul against Bucknell, Marist, and Boston U. Or maybe it means Jay Wright hangs on my every word. I know which explanation I prefer.

Observers who wondered which talented Wildcat youngster would inherit the possessions and shots freed up by Scottie Reynolds’ departure need wonder no more. That youngster is named Maalik Wayns, who’s fired up a combined 50 attempts from the field and line during his 158 possessions of personal action. He and token greybeard Corey Fisher form Wright’s offensive core, as each player’s taken 26 percent of the team’s shots during their minutes. Alas, neither has yet found the range from the perimeter. Stay tuned.

Syracuse: Does Melo think this is UConn?
I fully expected Fab Melo to chart a DeMarcus Cousins-brand trajectory of frequent shooting by a big man on offense when I read this in the offseason: “He’s a good passer and shooter, but he’s also seven feet tall and he can block shots and rebound.” That was Jim Boeheim, touting his McDonald’s All-American to Seth Davis in July. So I’ve been surprised to see the highly-touted Brazilian following a much more Charles Okwandu-like trajectory: Melo’s attempted seven shots in 46 minutes. Sure it’s early, but that’s kind of my point. You’d be surprised how soon these “early” tendencies congeal into settled facts. By early December last year it was already clear that Cousins was going to take way more shots, per possession, than a certain freshman teammate. He did. 

Illinois: Paul closes out national POY race before it can begin
Congratulations to my 2010-11 national player of the year, Brandon Paul. This year choosing my POY was easy. Look at the facts: Paul has already had his YouTube moment. He’s taking more shots than any other Illini player (he accounts for 25 percent of the team’s attempts when he’s on the floor) and, more importantly, he’s making them. Thus far Paul has made 54 percent of his threes and 67 percent of his twos. He even records seven steals for every 100 possessions of D he plays. I fully expect all those numbers will stay right where they are over the next 30 games, so let’s just give Paul his hardware now. Congrats, Brandon!       

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