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Conference Efficiency Midway Report

A belated view on the efficiency of Big Ten basketball players, just past the conference midpoint.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, fellow Hoosier fans, I know I'm little later on posting these than I like to be, but here's my look at the player performance in efficiency and per-possession terms through the first ten conference games (well, 9 for IU and Nebraska). The what and why can be found here, but my efficiency stats, in a nutshell, try to value each players' contributions (points, rebounds, assists, etc.) and efficiency (how many missed shots, turnovers, etc.). I calculate both per-game and per-possession rankings by taking the box scores from Big Ten teams' regular-season conference games and running them through my player efficiency ratings to determine the individual worth of 123 players. For the findings below, I trimmed anyone who played less than 10 possessions per game (like say, Devin Davis or Travis Carroll) to eliminate outliers. So that has cut the number of players listed below down to a "tidy" 112. The full worksheet can be found here.


IPSPG = individual possessions per game, or how many possessions (on worksheet) EPtotal= the total Effective Production of the player to date (on worksheet) EPPG= Effective Production Per Game EPPS= Effective Production Per poSsesion

For reference:

Mean EPPG: 11.0

Median EPPG: 11.1

Mean EPPS: 0.3007

Median EPPG: 0.2905

(So, essentially, if a particular player is at or above 11.0 EPPG and .2900 EPPS, they're doing pretty well. If they are below that mark, not so much, but keep in mind that outside shooters tend to get lower rankings and bench bigs tend to get higher rankings. This is why I compare and rank starters by position across the conference. It's also important to recognize that generally, the more a player is asked to do per-game, the more difficult it is to post an improved per-possession mark).

Well, here's yet another measure to show that Rayvonte Rice just doesn't have a lot of help. And even as the 5th highest rated small forward, Rice might not find a place to start in the top four or five teams in the conference. Huh. Despite Jon Ekey's decent performance relative to his teammates, fans in Iowa and Michigan are villifying the guys above and below him the overall per-possesion rankings: Zach McCabe and Glenn Robinson III (late-breaking edit: GRIII just bought himself some goodwill with the OT game winner at Purdue). Context matters, I guess. I don't know what Coach Groce does from here, honestly. I guess just hope next year's recruits are a good fit for the returnees next season.

Rice, Rayvonte 17.0 / 0.3139 5SF
Abrams, Tracy 13.0 / 0.2807 9PG
Ekey, Jon 12.2 / 0.2634 10PF
Morgan, Maverick 3.4 / 0.2549
Hill, Malcolm 4.4 / 0.2491
Egwu, Nnanna 12.0 / 0.2463 12C
Nunn, Kendrick 6.6 / 0.2419
Bertrand, Joseph 11.2 / 0.2269 10SG
Tate, Jaylon 3.2 / 0.1709


While I expected Sheehey's per-possession rate to drop from last year, I didn't expect this big of a drop. He went from above average to a substandard mark that's barely above his freshman year mark. On the good side, Noah Vonleh is the runaway conference freshman of the year (Nigel Hayes has a better per-possession mark, but is asked to do considerably less per-game) and I am actually fairly stunned that Troy Williams is boasts the third-best mark just ahead of Derrick Walton and Basil Smotherman. Also, don't worry about Robinson's low efficiency - it's a shame that the Hoosiers are relying on him so heavily in his first year, but he's got a pretty typical rating for B1G frosh guards to this point.

Vonleh, Noah 19.0 / 0.4035 7C
Ferrell, Yogi 19.3 / 0.3441 6PG
Williams, Troy 9.8 / 0.3363 6PF
Sheehey, Will 12.6 / 0.2489 8SF
Mosquera-Perea, Hanner 2.7 / 0.2241
Etherington, Austin 5.2 / 0.2209
Gordon, Evan 6.7 / 0.2123
Robinson, Stanford 7.3 / 0.2053 11SG
Howard, Jeff 2.4 / 0.1948
Hollowell, Jeremy 3.3 / 0.1578


I would hypothesize that moving Aaron White to the wing has hurt his production somewhat, but on the other hand, it's allowed Melsahn Basabe to establish himself as a top power forward in the conference. I am a little mystified as to why Adam Woodbury continues to start, even as McCaffrey gets significantly more out of Olaseni in slightly less minutes. And I know Marble is going to have a surprising low efficiency score due to his role as a shooter, but the turnovers do not help. Also, Mike Gesell is thriving as a run-and-gun point guard. Not bad for a guy who was going to be moved off the ball to start the season.

Olaseni, Gabe 14.5 / 0.5519
Basabe, Melsahn 15.5 / 0.4295 2PF
White, Aaron 21.8 / 0.4261 2SF
Gesell, Mike 16.3 / 0.3815 4PG
Woodbury, Adam 9.4 / 0.3376 10C
Marble, Devyn 17.9 / 0.3365 4SG
Uthoff, Jarrod 7.9 / 0.2853
McCabe, Zach 7.4 / 0.2654
Oglesby, Josh 6.8 / 0.2324
Clemmons, Anthony 2.4 / 0.1563


Nik Stauskas may take a backseat (narrowly) to Gary Harris in per-possession efficiency for an off-guard, but he does (narrowly) eclipse Harris for the conference's best per-game efficiency mark. Caris Levert has been a really pleasant surprise on the wing as well, from recruiting afterthought to one of the more efficient and productive wings in the conference as a sophomore. The much more highly recruited and hyped GRIII has been fairly disappointing at the four-spot.

Horford, Jon 12.7 / 0.5191
Stauskas, Nik 24.9 / 0.4501 3SG
Morgan, Jordan 14.7 / 0.4202 6C
Albrecht, Spike 9.7 / 0.3985
Levert, Caris 17.8 / 0.3424 4SF
Walton Jr., Derrick 14.1 / 0.3324 7PG
Robinson III, Glenn 12.2 / 0.2574 11PF
Irvin, Zak 4.9 / 0.1991

Michigan State

The Spartans' per-possession, and frankly, per-game efficiency as a team is quite eye-popping. Now, in the first 10 games of the conference season, they were 9-1 and looking like the dominant team. But I also wonder if the various injuries didn't play into as each player had a chance to shine as they were given opportunities with the ball that they otherwise might not have encountered (looking at you, Matt Costello & Kenny Kaminski). I'm not actually that surprised by Branden Dawson's marks here - the guy can get stops. However, Keith Appling's turn as the top-rated point guard really does surprise me. I suppose he does play some pretty good defense, but there are several players in the conference who I would use to fill the role of floor general before Appling. Also of note, Denzel Valentine looks like a budding Draymond Green in his ability to do all kinds of things to fill up the box score, and Adriean Payne's marks are based off of a mere four games, so don't read too much into his marks, either.

Dawson, Branden 23.4 / 0.5056 1PF
Costello, Matt 15.3 / 0.4855 3C
Harris, Gary 24.8 / 0.4561 2SG
Valentine, Denzel 21.6 / 0.4547 1SF
Appling, Keith 23.4 / 0.4508 1PG
Payne, Adriean 16.0 / 0.4138
Kaminski, Kenny 7.9 / 0.3474
Trice, Travis 9.2 / 0.2905
Gauna, Alex 2.8 / 0.2551
Ellis, Alvin 2.8 / 0.2495
Byrd, Russell 1.7 / 0.1214


Elliot Elliason demonstrates how little scoring measures into my scheme: despite only notching 8ppg, Elliason is my top-rated player in per-possession efficiency. His back-up, Mo Walker, has the third-highest mark in the conference. DeAndre Mathieu's efficiency mark is a bit underwhelming, but it's still above-average overall. In fact, only frosh combo guard Daquein McNeil is below the mean or median per-possession efficiency.

Elliason, Elliot 20.7 / 0.5582 1C
Walker, Maurice 12.1 / 0.5288
Hollins, Austin 19.7 / 0.3746 3SF
King, Joey 9.9 / 0.3526
Hollins, Andre 14.5 / 0.3251 5SG
Mathieu, DeAndre 14.6 / 0.3211 8PG
Otosenieks, Oto 10.1 / 0.3191 8PF
Smith, Malik 11.2 / 0.3141
McNeil, Daquein 2.2 / 0.1199


Coach Tim Miles' accomplishments seem even more stunning when you look at this backcourt - without Deverell Biggs this is clearly the worst pair in the conference. Leslee Smith has a nice per-possession mark off the bench, but when you consider the guys he compares against, just below Nikola Cerina and just above Joey King and Kenny Kaminski, you get the sense that Smith's a good, not great, big man off the bench. Pettaway's the real talent here, although I'd watch Shavon Shields down the stretch.

Smith, Leslee 10.6 / 0.3554
Petteway, Terran 18.6 / 0.3518 4PF
Pitchford, Walter 10.0 / 0.3003 11C
Biggs, Deverell 10.6 / 0.2776
Shields, Shavon 13.5 / 0.2467 10SF
Rivers, David 3.3 / 0.1797
Gallegos, Ray 8.5 / 0.1796 12SG
Hawkins, Nathan 3.6 / 0.1791
Webster, Tai 7.4 / 0.1767 12PG
Parker, Benny 2.1 / 0.1523


I slotted Tre Demps as point guard, because honestly that's the position he's playing for most of the 30 minutes he's on the floor. Back when Sobocop was still an institution at point guard, it could've been up for debate. Speaking of which, I know Sobolewski has been injured, but his game has been a really poor match for the new style that Chris Collins has implemented. I look at the roster and marvel that the Wildcats won three road games. How on earth did that happen?

Cerina, Nikola 4.5 / 0.3753
Olah, Alex 16.0 / 0.3431 9C
Crawford, Drew 17.3 / 0.3019 6SF
Demps, Tre 11.1 / 0.2431 11PG
Cobb, JerShon 12.3 / 0.2361 9SG
Lumpkin, Sanjay 8.8 / 0.1917 12PF
Abrahamson, Kale 4.0 / 0.1485
Sobolewski, David 2.0 / 0.0879

Ohio State

It's hard to call Shannon Scott a "shooting" guard, but he has more three-point attempts and less assists than Aaron Craft, so that's where he goes. Scott and Craft are an impressive pair despite their lack of scoring, and show the value of 1) getting stops, and 2) having a good assist/turnover ratio. Also, LaQuinton Ross might be a star in the conference next season, should he stick around and keep improving. Amir Williams is still capable, but significantly lower when measured against his peers than I thought he'd be (barely ahead of Alex Olah!).

Scott, Shannon 23.2 / 0.5006 1SG
Craft, Aaron 22.9 / 0.3848 3PG
Williams, Amir 13.5 / 0.3554 8C
Ross, LaQuinton 16.6 / 0.3492 5PF
Della Valle, Amadeo 4.2 / 0.2534
McDonald, Trey 4.1 / 0.2511
Smith Jr, Lenzelle 12.1 / 0.2476 9SF
Thompson, Sam 8.4 / 0.2125
Loving, Marc 3.1 / 0.1474

Penn State

Don't read too much into Jack's performance. He plays less than 20 minutes/game, so I could've decided to relegate him to the "bench" category where he would've been just behind Nigel Hayes (who plays slightly more possessions, btw). Still, he starts every game, so his per-possession efficiency leads Noah Vonleh, for example, who is asked to do so much more. And it's a good sign for Chambers' future. On the other side, DJ Newbill's performance is strangely underwhelming, as his penchant for big-time shots masks some of the weaknesses in his efficiency. Also, I am rooting for Frazier to rally late to seize the top-rated point guard position.

Jack, Donovan 13.8 / 0.4407 5C
Frazier, Tim 22.9 / 0.3904 2PG
Taylor, Brandon 11.4 / 0.3132 9PF
Newbill, DJ 14.3 / 0.2558 7SG
Travis, Ross 11.5 / 0.2558 7SF
Thorpe, Geno 4.7 / 0.2366
Dickerson, Jordan 4.5 / 0.2361
Woodward, Graham 3.2 / 0.1265
Roberts, Allen 1.7 / 0.1067
Johnson, John 1.7 / 0.0496


Don't let Hammons' (relatively) low positional ranking fool you - he is a top 10 talent in the conference. And Hammons has been doing well despite playing every game with paint packed against him, as only Sterling Carter seemed to have the game to supplement his talents. And looking at these numbers, before he went off against IU, Carter looked pretty impressive: below Aaron White but above Austin Hollins as a starting wing? Wow. Now that Carter is out of the season , Purdue may find rough sailing down the stretch, unless someone else discovers a hot hand. Frankly, I'd love to see what Raphael Davis could do, given a bit of longer leash.

Hammons, AJ 20.0 / 0.4581 4C
Carter, Sterling 10.3 / 0.3964
Davis, Raphael 8.4 / 0.3783
Johnson, Ronnie 16.5 / 0.3729 5PG
Smotherman, Basil 11.1 / 0.3309 7PF
Peck, Errick 8.4 / 0.2988
Simpson, Jay 3.8 / 0.2911
Johnson, Terone 12.9 / 0.2529 8SG
Scott, Bryson 5.3 / 0.2397
Stephens, Kendall 5.9 / 0.2019 12SF


Frank Kaminsky is having a great season, and Nigel Hayes is going to be a star. Once again, Traevon Jackson plays well against Indiana and in late-game situations, but overall is a pretty substandard point guard. Josh Gasser, on the other hand, I think is much better contributor than these statistics show. But all I have access to is the box scores, until someone finds a way to quantify team or on-the-ball defense and/or hockey assists, at which point I think Gasser's relative value would rise. I'd like to point out that Duje Dukan has one of the least efficient marks here, but his rating is still superior to comparable players like McCabe, Ekey, and GRIII.

Kaminsky, Frank 20.2 / 0.5194 2C
Hayes, Nigel 14.5 / 0.4441
Dekker, Sam 18.8 / 0.3784 3PF
Brust, Ben 17.4 / 0.3141 6SG
Jackson, Traevon 13.0 / 0.2676 10PG
Dukan, Duje 3.0 / 0.2662
Gasser, Josh 12.9 / 0.2385 11SF
Koenig, Bronson 4.9 / 0.2246