clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Basketball 2014 Review Part I: Player Efficiencies

The first part of a look back on the season that was. In the section, I run the numbers on Big Ten Player efficiencies.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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, Jeff Howard or Travis Carroll) to eliminate outliers. So that has cut the number of players listed below down to a "tidy" 114. 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: 10.8

Median EPPG: 10.4

Mean EPPS: 0.2955

Median EPPG: 0.2857

(So, essentially, if a particular player is at or above 10.0 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  end 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).


Some really interesting drops and bounces in efficiency here as the season came to a close. Jon Ekey and Nnanna Egwu rallied, Joe Bertrand faded, and Tracy Abrams' slight decline doesn't bode well for his holding on to his spot next season with two backcourt transfers becoming eligible. However, Ken Nunn's jump in efficiency down the stretch with increased minutes should keep him in competition to start alongside one of the transfers next season. It's been said elsewhere, but the fact that Groce was able to turn the season around by playing the freshmen bodes well for next season. Still, playing the freshmen helped Jon Ekey play better, and he'll be missed. One final note, I ran some stops-per-minute numbers on all of the players, and Rayvonte Rice was the best non-big man outside of Sterling Carter in collecting steals, blocks, and defensive rebounds per possession. With the right supporting cast, Rice could be a breakout guy next season, if he's healthy.

Rice, Rayvonte    16.9 / 0.3298  5SF
Egwu, Nnanna    14.6 / 0.3156  10C
Ekey, Jon              12.4 / 0.3136   5PF
Nunn, Kendrick   9.7 / 0.2663
Morgan, Maverick 3.1 / 0.2596
Abrams, Tracy      12.0 / 0.2592  10PG
Hill, Malcolm          5.9 / 0.2514
Bertrand, Joseph  7.1 / 0.1938  11SG
Tate, Jaylon            3.0 / 0.1813
Colbert, Austin      1.1 / 0.1661


The Hoosiers teased with redemption before letting the season slide into the abyss. Vonleh's injury and late-season slide subverted the Hoosiers' last-gasp effort to claw their way back into the NCAA tourney. Still, there's some silver linings in the per-possession numbers here for Hoosier fans. First, Hanner Mosquera-Perea will almost certainly be forced into service as the starting center, but his numbers were pretty decent - he was about halfway between Vonleh  and Alex Olah in efficiency. And just on the defensive side of the ball, Devin Davis was pretty decent too. The Hoosiers should be able to hold their own defensively in the paint, as long as foul trouble isn't an issue. Yogi Ferrell's "low" efficiency numbers aren't that bad: while almost all other Big Ten point guards took about 2 three-point attempts/game, Yogi had to chuck up 6 per game. He made more threes than most other points even attempted. If the presence of shooters can help decrease that burden for him, that'll be a big boost not only to his efficiency, but the efficiency of the whole team. Stanford Robinson's numbers are totally decent for a freshman guard, too. with the incoming freshmen, there'll be a decent nucleus here. It'll just be hard for IU to sneak into the NCAA tourney next season, unless someone develops a low-post game this summer.

Vonleh, Noah                      19.2 / 0.3992  7C
Mosquera-Perea, Hanner 4.2 / 0.3593
Ferrell, Yogi                         18.4 / 0.3122  7PG
Williams, Troy                     10.4 / 0.3088  6PF
Sheehey, Will                      14.0 / 0.2605  11SF
Davis, Devin                        3.1/ 0.2501
Hollowell, Jeremy               5.6 / 0.2452
Robinson, Stanford            8.2 / 0.2321  10SG
Etherington, Austin             4.6 / 0.2169
Gordon, Evan                       6.5 / 0.1929


Looking over the numbers, I would tie Iowa's late-season decline to one single factor: the late season illness of Melsahn Basabe. When he got sick, his numbers plummeted from being one of the most efficient and productive power forwards in the conference to notably below average. On the Hawkeye team alone, Basabe dropped from the second-most efficient per-possession players to eighth. Roy Devyn Marble is going to be hard to replace next season, but otherwise Fran McCaffrey looks pretty well situated to build on his success. Reading Iowa blogs (well, BHGP), I do get a little confused about positions. To me, it seems like Jarrod Uthoff is pretty much your classic stretch four, and that's where he gets his minutes, while capable rebounder Aaron White has been moved exclusively to the three-spot this year in order to make room for Basabe and Uthoff. However, BHGP has been suggesting that Uthoff will play the three and White will move to the four. I don't know that it matters, since they'll both be getting starting minutes, but has anyone seen Uthoff play defense on a wing? Outside of Jeff Newton, I have a hard time remembering an IU power forward that's been able to sustain starting minutes, because defending wings gets pretty hard for 6'9"+ guys. 

Olaseni, Gabe       13.5 / 0.4719
White, Aaron            21.9 / 0. 4115  2SF
Marble, Roy Devyn  22.2 / 0.3977  2SG
Gesell, Mike             16.8 / 0.3769  2PG
Woodbury, Adam     10.3 / 0.3651  8C
Uthoff, Jarrod            8.4 / 0.3055
McCabe, Zach           7.6 / 0.2967
Basabe, Melsahn     13.3 / 0.2812  8PF
Oglesby, Josh            9.3 / 0.2766
Clemmons, Anthony 2.2 / 0.1837


I'm not shocked that there aren't any top-rated players here, given Stauskas' late-season decline. However, I am surprised at how easily the Wolverines ran away with the regular season title. Despite the surprising performance of Caris Levert, Derrick Walton is my breakout candidate for next season. Given the curve of players like THJ and GRIII at Michigan versus ball-handlers like Darius Morris, and Trey Burke, I would think Walton's the guy who's numbers (and efficiency) will see a big bump. Also, with the very efficient Jon Horford now gone along with Mitch McGary, replacing Jordan Morgan just became a big point of concern of coach Beilien.

Horford, Jon           11.3 / 0.4701
Morgan, Jordan     14.7 / 0.4185  5C
Stauskas, Nik         20.6 / 0.3749  3SG
Albrecht, Spike       8.8 / 0.3686
Levert, Caris           19.2 / 0.3562  3SF
Walton Jr., Derrick  14.6 / 0.3529  6PG
Robinson III, Glenn 13.3 / 0.2745  9PF
Irvin, Zak                     5.4 / 0.2246

Michigan State

The Spartans were the most confusing team in the league, looking dominant for the first half of Big Ten play, then falling apart with head-scratching home losses, before rebounding to win  the Big Ten Tourney in convincing fashion. If you had told me in January that four of their starters would be ranked the most efficient at their positions in the conference, and not one of them was named Adriean Payne, I would've literally laughed out loud. This actually made me suspicious enough to go and review the assist totals to see if home-cooking on assist counts was throwing off the numbers, but no. MSU's assists per game as well as the number of assists awarded per field goal made was all pretty steady. The percentage was about 2 points higher at home than on the road, but in the three BTT games, the Spartans posted their highest assist/FG percentage yet (60.3%). This seemed to be a good passing team that just lost some head-scratchers to choke away a regular-season conference championship. To illustrate just how good MSU could be this season, look at their Elite 8 run that was narrowly ended by eventual national champion: Keith Appling averaged a jaw-dropping 4 fouls/game along with a horrid 2.5ppg, and had 9 turnovers against 12 assists, as well as shooting 33% from the floor in the four NCAA tourney games. And still, if Appling hadn't fouled Shabazz Napier on a three-pointer with 30 seconds left and UConn clinging to a 2-point lead, who knows? The Big Ten's most efficient point guard turned in the worst performance of his career, and MSU still almost got to the Final Four.

Dawson, Branden 22.1 / 0.5169  1PF
Costello, Matt         12.4 / 0.4757
Valentine, Denzel   21.9 / 0.4542  1SF
Harris, Gary             22.6 / 0.4218  1SG
Payne, Adriean       17.8 / 0.4034  6C
Appling, Keith          18.9 / 0.3782  1PG
Gauna, Alex              2.5 / 0.3352
Kaminski, Kenny     6.9 / 0.3159
Trice, Travis             11.2 / 0.3071
Byrd, Russell            2.5 / 0.2165
Ellis, Alvin                  2.5 / 0.1447


I've been quite surprised by DeAndre Matthieu's sudden leap into the top tier of point  guards alongside Craft, Frazier, and Appling. Along with Gesell, all five fall into the .3700 range - which is a historically tight grouping. Matthieu's success is even more surprising given his reputation for not taking outside shots, only averaging about one three-point attempt per game in conference, while all other starting point guards took 2+/game, except for Nebraska's Tai Webster. What happens if foes can make him shoot off the bounce next season? And can they? Kudos to Maurice Walker for turning his career around under coach Pitino. I thought he might swept away in the transition, but he really showed some steps towards realizing his potential.

Walker, Maurice    13.4 / 0.5043
Elliason, Elliot      15.4 / 0.4561  2C
Hollins, Austin      16.8 / 0.3322  4SF
Hollins, Andre       13.7 / 0.3171  6SG
Mathieu, DeAndre 17.8 / 0.3738  4PG

Otosenieks, Oto     6.7 / 0.2699

King, Joey                8.7 / 0.2511  11PF

Smith, Malik            7.2 / 0.2346
McNeil, Daquein    2.5/ 0.1387


I tend to think Nebraska's late-season run had as much to do with good timing as it did with talent or coaching skill. Don't get me wrong, I like Tim Miles, and I think he did a great job this season, but I think some of the right performances came at the exact right time. For example, Indiana and Michigan State fans might be forgiven for being shocked at Walter Pitchford's last-place rating after he notched a combined 35 points and 14 rebounds in those two big road wins, and yet he averaged a mere 9.1ppg and 4.6rpg in all other conference games. With that in mind, I think I have lower expectations for next season than most for Nebraska. They've got enough to get back to the Big Dance (as I noted he might, Shavon Shields stepped up quite nicely in the back half of the schedule), but I don't think they'll be much more than a bubble team again.

Petteway, Terran  17.8 / 0.3453  4PF
Shields, Shavon  16.6 / 0.3094  6SF
Smith, Leslee      7.8 / 0.3075
Rivers, David        8.6 / 0.2783
Biggs, Deverell    10.6 / 0.2776
Parker, Benny        6.2 / 0.2632
Pitchford, Walter   9.4 / 0.2536  12C
Webster, Tai          5.4 / 0.1594  12PG
Gallegos, Ray       7.2 / 0.1565  12SG
Hawkins, Nathan 1.5 / 0.1149


Poor Drew Crawford's numbers really took a dive in the last part of the season as he had to bear far too much of the burden. Crawford averaged a crazy 38 minutes per game in the first five games of the Big Ten play, and that number actually went up over the next fifteen (including BTT games) to a beyond-insane 39 minutes per game. At least he had a gem in his regular season finale at Purdue. If Cobb can stay healthy next season, he might be able to step up into the starring role on a deeper, better team. Also, looking at the stops-per-possession I noticed that the Wildcats had five players above average, with only Tre Demps not posting decent numbers of those players who got regular minutes. For example, Sanjay Lumpkin (actually kinda terrible offensively, outside of the occasional three) was in the same neighborhood as Troy Williams, Brandon Taylor, and LaQuinton Ross.

Cobb, JerShon      13.9 / 0.3207  5SG
Olah, Alex                16.1 / 0.3312  9C
Cerina, Nikola        3.6 / 0.3024
Crawford, Drew      15.9 / 0.2757  10SF
Demps, Tre             11.0 / 0.2214  11PG
Sobolewski, David  4.0 / 0.2027
Lumpkin, Sanjay     8.3 / 0.1765  12PF
Abrahamson, Kale  3.7 / 0.1421

Ohio State

If Matta hadn't landed both a great freshmen class and a key graduate transfer for next season, I would be pretty bearish on the Buckeyes next season. LaQuinton Ross did pretty well in efficiency rankings, and everyone else besides Amir Williams was pretty decent. However, OSU loses three of its top four guys (both in production and efficiency), and Shannon Scott and Williams have not shown a great ability to generate offense on their own. I was a little surprised that Sam Thompson didn't really take a step forward this year, but as I mentioned above, Aaron Craft was as good as anyone at the point guard spot.

Ross, LaQuinton    17.9 / 0.3762  3PF
Craft, Aaron              20.8 / 0.3756  3PG
Scott, Shannon        14.8 / 0.3475  4SG
Smith Jr, Lenzelle    14.6 / 0.3019  7SF
Williams, Amir          9.6 / 0.2662  11C
Thompson, Sam     10.6 / 0.2613
McDonald, Trey         4.0 / 0.1943
Della Valle, Amadeo 2.2 / 0.1378
Loving, Marc               2.2 / 0.1239

Penn State

So Tim Frazier ended up as the 5th most efficient point guard, per possession, but still was essentially level with Nik Stauskas as a top-8 player in effective production per game. He was also one of the best defenders on the team. Donovan Jack will be an interesting case to watch next year - did he benefit from Frazier's deliveries? Can he stay on the floor? Case in point, Jack fouled out in 12 minutes in the home loss against IU (with 7 points, 2 rebs), but was able to play 29 minutes in the road shocker at Assembly Hall with only 2 fouls (and 10 points and 6 rebounds). DJ Newbill's coming back next season, but he really didn't add all that much besides volume shooting and a few gutty late buckets. I think his efficiency, and the team's success, will take a step backward next season if Newbill has to initiate the offense.

Jack, Donovan         13.7 / 0.4313  4C
Frazier, Tim               20.6 / 0.3749  5PG
Taylor, Brandon        9.9 / 0.2567   10PF
Newbill, DJ               15.2 / 0.2769  7SG
Travis, Ross             12.9 / 0.2857  8SF
Thorpe, Geno            5.2 / 0.2742
Dickerson, Jordan    4.9 / 0.2419
Woodward, Graham 3.2 / 0.1312
Johnson, John           3.9 / 0.1202


Don't let the Boiler faithful's criticism of Hammons fool you - that's a good player in the making.  Could he be better? Yeah, a lot, but they're lucky he came back instead of jumping to the NBA. Also, Raphael Davis looks really good in these ratings. I don't know that he rises all the way to 2013 Oladipo-levels, but he's on a steep ascent. That said, I can't understand why Terone Johnson continued to get the minutes he did, once Sterling Carter found his feet. Carter never played more minutes than Terone Johnson, with Carter's minutes coming at the expense of Davis' PT. I could go on about Davis & Carter outperforming TJ despite playing significantly less time, but overall I don't think anyone would argue that the Johnson brothers were a key component of the Boilers finishing last in the conference. Furthermore, freshman Kendall Stephens' shooting may have been necessary to have on the floor, but that was the only thing he did better than Davis or Carter.

Hammons, AJ         19.1 / 0.4369  3C
Carter, Sterling         9.7 / 0.4503
Davis, Raphael        13.8 / 0.4434
Peck, Errick               8.5 / 0.3085
Johnson, Ronnie     14.2 / 0.2989  8PG
Smotherman, Basil  9.3 / 0.2971  7PF
Johnson, Terone      12.5 / 0.2651  9SG
Simpson, Jay             3.7 / 0.2289
Scott, Bryson               5.2 / 0.2249
Stephens, Kendall     7.3 / 0.2147  12SF


The success of this Badger team demonstrates the value in maximizing the production of your big men. Kaminsky and Dekker were arguably the top pairing in the conference, and Bo Ryan diminished the amount of plays that quality guards like Gasser and Brust  would have to make so that Frank the Tank and Dekker, and even Nigel Hayes, could have room to operate inside. Kaminsky's range really overshadows how good he is in the paint on both sides of the ball. With only Brust gone, UW is a national title threat next season.

Kaminsky, Frank   22.8 / 0.5574  1C
Hayes, Nigel         13.1 / 0.4082
Dekker, Sam         18.8 / 0.3859  2PF
Brust, Ben              14.7 / 0.2604  8SG
Jackson, Traevon 18.9 / 0.2729  9PG
Dukan, Duje           2.9 / 0.2845
Gasser, Josh         15.2 / 0.2775  9SF
Koenig, Bronson   4.1 / 0.1952