By the Numbers: Mike Scott vs. Carolina Players

Over at ESPN, Michael Rothstein has posted this years' first rendition of the Player of the Year Straw Poll. Thankfully for his comments section, Mike Scott is listed as one of the options, albeit near the bottom of the list.

Looking at the list, I was struck by a couple facts:

  1. There are only three players from the ACC on the list. Harrison Barnes (UNC), Scott and Kendall Marshall (UNC). No Duke. No one else from the conference.
  2. Marshall received the same number of votes (one third place vote) as Scott.
  3. Barnes received a lot more votes (four second place votes and three third place votes) than Scott.

This struck me as a bit odd. I'm betting Scott doesn't even make the list if not for that crazy comments thread the other day. But I don't feel like either Barnes or Marshall has done a whole lot to stand out. So I decided to dig into the numbers and see what they said about the performances of the three players so far this year.

Check back after the jump to see the analysis.

Let me go ahead and get this disclaimer out of the way. Here are the things I am NOT saying in this post:

  • Mike Scott is a better college basketball player than Harrison Barnes
  • Mike Scott has more NBA potential than Harrison Barnes
  • Mike Scott is a better college basketball player than Kendall Marshall
  • Mike Scott has more NBA potential than Kendall Marshall
  • Numbers and statistics tell the whole story

Here's what I AM saying in this post:

  • The disparity in votes between Barnes and Scott seemed a little big given my personal observations and the statistics I have available.
  • The disparity in votes between Scott and Marshall seemed a little small (if you can refer to zero as a little small) given my personal observations and the statistics I have available.

I've watched every U.Va. road game this year that was televised in any way and I've been in JPJ for all the home games. So I've got a pretty good idea of Scott's game. I don't have nearly the same amount of time spent watching Carolina play ball, but I have seen them play on several occasions. There's no doubt in my mind that Harrison Barnes is a good player. Kendall Marshall too. Barnes hasn't quite been as much of an all-star as some people thought he would be, but he's still solid. Marshall has more or less picked up where he left off last year when he took over for Larry Drew II.

Now, with that out of the way, let's take a look at some numbers. All the numbers I use here come from either the teams' statistics pages, espn.com or kenpom.com.

Player P/G R/G A/G ORtg eFG% OR% DR% ARate FTR
Harrison Barnes 16.8 4.8 1.1 111.8 52.8 7.6 10.4 7.3 35.7
Kendall Marshall 5.8 2.6 9.6 106.8 47.2 0.4 7.7 43.1 37.5
Mike Scott 16.9 8.9 1.6 122.5 60.0 13.4 25.1 15.4 55.2

First, some clarification for those not up to speed on what these statistics mean:

  • ORtg is Offensive Rating. This is an overall measure of a player's offensive effectiveness. The numbers I use are from kenpom.com and he credits Dean Oliver with the formula.
  • eFG% is Effective Field Goal Percentage. This is a metric that tries to balance the fact that players make three-pointers less often with the fact that a three-pointer is, obviously worth more. So you can just think of this as a corrected version of the normal field goal percentage.
  • OR% is Offensive Rebounding Percentage. This number gives the percentage of all possible offensive rebounding opportunities that the player takes advantage of. Note that this is not the percentage of offensive rebounds that the player gets out of all offensive rebounds his team gets - it's all opportunities. So essentially it is PlayerOffensiveRebounds / (TeamOffensiveRebounds + OpponentTeamDefensiveRebounds).
  • DR% is Defensive Rebounding Percentage. Same thing as OR%, but for the defensive side of the ball.
  • ARate is Assist Rate. To quote Ken Pomeroy: "This is assists dividied by the field goals made by the player's teammates while he is on the court."
  • FTR is Free Throw Rate. The formula for this one is 100*FreeThrowAttempts/FieldGoalAttempts. In other words, how often does a player get to the free throw line compared to how often he's trying to score.

So what do these statistics tell us?

First thing is that Scott pretty much manhandles Barnes across the board. His points-per-game stat is only slightly higher, but as we're all aware due to the #endpacism movement started by Ken Pomeroy, Scott scoring 17 is like a player on another team scoring in the upper 20s. The Offensive Rating gives a much better indication. Scott is actually 80th in the country in that statistics. Barnes? 409th in the land.

Scott's OR% and DR% numbers are just incredible, in my opinion. He is 87th in the country in the former category and 27th in the country in the latter. The idea that he collects a quarter of all defensive rebounding opportunities during our games just seems absurd to me. Some of that is because of the Pack-Line Defense. Some of it is just terrific play by Scott.

It has to mean something that Scott is better than Barnes at every single statistic in the chart above, right? Of course, it could mean I'm just good at picking statistics that prove the point I'm trying to make. But I'm pretty sure it means more than that.

The second thing: Its hard to use numbers to compare an inside player like Mike Scott with a guard like Kendall Marshall. The numbers bear out that Scott is a much better post player and Marshall is a much better guard. Real glad I looked into that, aren't you?

It is worth noting, however, that Scott's points-per-game and Offensive Rating are both higher than Marshall's (in fact, Marshall's is the lowest of the three). So Marshall is clearly an assist-first type of guard without much of a true scoring game. He's an assist machine, and on pace to tie the ACC all-time record. But I have to think that assists alone wouldn't be enough to garner him much national POY hype.

So basically, the stats bore out exactly what I expected: Whoever voted in that straw poll is biased towards Carolina and against Scott. Can't say I'm really surprised. For now, I'll just be content to point out the discrepancy and enjoy the fact that Virginia has a player in this discussion at all.

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