East-West Comparison

[UPDATE 7/3/09: After some discussion with some readers from wildaboutazcats.com, I revisited the formula to account for positions played by players. While the numbers are different overall, and the order in which players are listed has changed, the results are basically still the same.]

When it comes to NCAA basketball, no one can deny the fact that since the NBA shortened the draft to only two rounds in 1985, Arizona has had the most draft picks of any university (31) – more than Duke (29), UCLA (28), North Carolina (25), or Connecticut (23).

Some of those picks have been superstars (Gilbert Arenas), while others… not so much (Marcus Williams).

What would happen, then, if you had an all-Arizona NBA team vs. say an all-UConn NBA team?

Let’s take a look – for Arizona (all stats are career stats):
PG – Gilbert Arenas (22.8 PPG, 4.2 REB, 5.5 AST, 1.8 STL, 20.74 PER)
PG – Mike Bibby (16.4 PPG, 3.3 REB, 6.1 AST, 1.3 STL, 16.91 PER)
C – Channing Frye (8.2 PPG, 4.6 REB, 0.5 BLK, 0.4 STL)
SG – Andre Iguodala (15.6 PPG, 5.7 REB, 4.4 AST, 1.8 STL, 16.89 PER)
SF – Richard Jefferson (17.7 PPG, 5.3 REB, 3.0 AST, 0.9 STL, 16.56 PER)
PG – Jason Terry (16.2 PPG, 2.9 REB, 4.9 AST, 1.3 STL, 17.86 PER)
SF – Luke Walton (5.6 PPG, 3.2 REB, 2.5 AST, 0.6 STL)

for UConn (all stats are career stats):

SG – Ray Allen (20.9 PPG, 4.4 REB, 3.8 AST, 1.2 STL, 19.72 PER)
SF – Caron Butler (16.7 PPG, 6.0 REB, 3.0 AST, 1.7 STL, 16.72 PER)
SF – Rudy Gay (16.7 PPG, 5.4 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.2 STL)
SG – Ben Gordon (18.5 PPG, 3.0 REB, 3.0 AST, 0.8 STL)
SG – Richard Hamilton (17.9 PPG, 3.3 REB, 3.4 AST, 0.8 STL, 16.96 PER)
C – Emeka Okafor (14.0 PPG, 10.7 REB, 1.9 BLK, 0.8 STL)
PF – Charlie Villanueva (13.4 PPG, 6.3 REB, 1.2 AST, 0.6 STL)

If one went purely on PPG, UConn has the decided advantage at 118.1 PPG to Arizona’s 102.5. How about PER? Arizona has five career leaders versus UConn’s three.

However, I created another metric to summarize a player’s impact (PIR) based on the person’s stats over time – this takes into account the number of minutes played, so the career stats aren’t skewed by the longer careers of people like Bibby and Allen.

For comparison, I also did four other player PIRs. Unsurprisingly, none of the UConn or Arizona alums are even close to these four (one of which is a Hall of Famer, the other three will definitely be joining him).

Michael Jordan 96.87
LeBron James 89.92
Shaquille O’Neal 88.41
Steve Nash 79.03

Where do the UConn players rank?
Ray Allen 65.49
Emeka Okafor 61.28
Charlie Villanueva 61.16
Ben Gordon 60.42
Rip Hamilton 58.98
Caron Butler 58.87
Rudy Gay 54.46

Arizona … much, much better:
Gilbert Arenas 72.65
Mike Bibby 64.46
Jason Terry 62.48
Andre Iguodala 60.46
Richard Jefferson 58.88
Luke Walton 52.73
Channing Frye 50.24

Now, you have Arizona with three highly rated players along with Ray Allen and Emeka Okafor.

Also, if we drop all players who have not played 10000 minutes (which actually is 2 players from each side) and sum the PIRs, you get an average team (5 players) total of:

UConn: 61.01
Arizona: 63.79

(Even if you keep all 7 players and do the average PIRs, UConn ends up with 60.10, Arizona slightly higher with 60.27.)

In summary, UConn players may score more, but Arizona players have a little more impact in and on games than UConn players do. This is one of the many reasons why Arizona has more players drafted than any other school in the country.

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