Wildcat Player Impacts

[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.]

Yesterday, I wrote about a comparison between Arizona NBA players and UConn players.

Today, let’s compare some other schools – UCLA, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky. All of these schools are “basketball blue-bloods”, so one would think that they all should have their share of shining stars and impact players.

The criteria was simple, top 7 players from a specific school that have played in the NBA a minimum of 2 seasons. Rookies were left off because it’s too early to tell if their careers are boom or bust. After two full seasons, one should have a good idea of where the player is headed.

All stats listed are career stats. PERs listed are John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating. These are not counted in the calculation of the Player Impact Rating (PIR) but are listed to satisfy curiosity and as points of reference.

The PIR is a metric I created to summarize a player’s impact to the game 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 Mike Bibby, for example. Team PIRs are calculated two ways – one with 7 players, since empirical evidence suggest that the average school has at most 7 players in the NBA at any one point in time, and the other with 5 players, since you can only have 5 players on the court at any time. Obviously, the 5 player team PIR is calculated using the best five players.

Again, for comparison, I also did four other player PIRs. Unsurprisingly, none of the players calculated are even close to these four (one of which is a Hall of Famer, the other three will definitely be joining him).


As a reminder, here’s Arizona’s players and their individual PIR’s

Now, let’s start with the UCLA Bruins. Nothing like a conference rivalry to get things started. Plus, with the history of UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, one might think that there are a plethora of former Bruins in the NBA that are major players…


Hmm… Ok, let’s go cross-country to another tradition-laden school in Kentucky. Those Wildcats have a pedigree in basketball, dontcha know! They MUST have some pretty good players that are lighting up scoreboards, right?


OOPS! There are only 5 players from Kentucky currently in the NBA with more than 2 seasons under their belts. So, I guess Kentucky wasn’t as good a comparison after all, it seems. How about … North Carolina? Surely that would be a better comparison.


Wow… now there’s some heavy hitters in this group. But still, something seems not quite right. Maybe a midwestern school holds the solution? Let’s look at Kansas.


Uh oh… only 6 players here. That’s not really good either. I guess it’s up to Duke.

Now, before I did this calculation, I fully expected the results to be similar to everything else I’ve been seeing so far. However, Duke actually has 8 players in the NBA currently right now that qualify, so I had to use their top 7. How scary is that??


Notably, Shane Battier is NOT listed here for Duke. He was the 8th player and has a PIR of 43.62. If you include him and do a team PIR of 8 players, Duke would drop to a team PIR of 61.87. Ouch.

So what’s the verdict? Are any teams going to beat Arizona? Actually, the answer is “yes.”


How about just top 5’s?


As a side note, players with top 250 career PERs have been noted in the tables above and counted. Final tally: Arizona 5, North Carolina 4, Duke 3, UCLA 1, Kansas 1, Kentucky 0.

If any team was combined with Arizona players, Arizona players would outnumber the other team players except for Duke. Duke would have Hill, Boozer, and Brand, while Arizona would have Arenas and Bibby.

So, using this information, what have we learned? We already know that Arizona has the most draft picks of any school since the Lottery Era began. We know that of all the current NBA players, Arizona has more career PER players than any other school. We know that as a group, Arizona players have higher Player Impacts than any other school except Duke. And in head-to-heads against the “blue-blood” of college basketball, Arizona beats them all, again except for Duke.

For one last comparison, I’ll calculate the Arizona State’s NBA players’ individual PIRs (This one wasn’t even worth doing a table for – that’s how bad it is):

Ike Diogu 55.76
Eddie House 52.25

If combined with Arizona, Diogu makes the 6th spot out of top 7. I couldn’t calculate a team rating for ASU because they don’t have enough players in the NBA, and they won’t for next two years either with only 4 (add Pendergraph and Harden to the list).

Does Arizona belong now in the annals of college basketball as one of the “blue-bloods”? With 25 straight NCAA appearances, several Final Fours and a National Championship, the last measuring stick of “Players In The NBA” is still in review, but based on this evidence, I would argue that Arizona belongs now to that upper echelon of blue-bloods, the college basketball elite.

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.

Another Grab Bag

Random musings from a multitude of topics:

Lamont “Momo” Jones officially committed to the Arizona basketball team on Wednesday. This brings a recruiting class of Jones (SG/PG), Solomon Hill (SF), Kevin Parrom (SF/PF) and Kyryl Natyazhko (C) to the table before Sean Miller ever steps onto Lute and Bobbi Olson Court for an official practice. This also means that Arizona now has done the impossible and reloaded instead of rebuilding, as many thought would happen. The Pac-10 race is now three teams – UCLA, California, and Arizona.

Shaq traded to Cavs – straight salary dump, which is what I said should happen in this same blog last week, but only if it was for salary reasons. Now, with the 14th pick in the draft, and an extra $500k from the Cavs, the Suns should be looking for a couple of missing pieces to the puzzle. One, a veteran center who can play defense and rebound. Two, a backup SF. Ironically, the Suns might get the first in a trade for center Marcus Camby by sending Ben Wallace (whom they acquired in the Shaq trade) to the Clippers. Wallace makes $14.5m this year, and Camby makes only $10m, so a trade would also have to include a third player from the Clips, probably small forward Al Thornton ($1.78m). This gives the Suns the SF cushion they need in case Grant Hill does not return, and also gives them a center in Camby who will hustle, rebound, defend the pick-and-roll and finish at the rim.

I went to the Diamondbacks game last night and watched in horror as Eric Brynes absolutely killed Every Single Rally the D-backs had with two excuse-me swings back to the pitcher and two more groundouts to 2B. The Rangers aren’t a really talented or offensively-gifted team, but when you’ve got a rally-killer in Byrnes at the plate with 2 outs and men on board, all you need to do is score 2 runs against the D-backs and you can pencil yourself in a win. AJ Hinch should have started Ryan Roberts in left. Roberts hits .233 against right handers, unlike Byrnes (.215). Byrnes hits .185 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs, .218 with runners on and less than 2 outs. Roberts, even though he hits .167 with RISP and 2 outs – which is a function of not having that many bats in that situation (a grand total of 6) – has very good numbers with runners on base, hitting .314! And any manager will tell you that even if your AB gets you a hit, if you move the runner into scoring position, you’ve extended the inning just a bit more and put more pressure on that opposing pitcher.

The Mountain West conference had proposed an eight-team playoff to the BCS-people. It was rejected, of course, but really what that amounts to was a playoff that would be another dangling carrot to those non-BCS conferences – finishing in the top 8 would get a seed in the playoff, but would that REALLY happen every year in the next four years? Drawing on the past years, it’s possible, but really unlikely. One year, maybe two at best, but not all four. And what happens in the year it doesn’t happen – does the MWC complain again and threaten more antitrust stuff? Realistically, all the conferences signed on for this, and that’s the rules all teams play by. You want in, win on the field. Utah did last year, and it landed them a nice BCS bowl.

US defeats Spain 2-0 in soccer. I saw this headline in between innings at the D-backs game and did a complete double-take. Holy shmoly! One more victory away from the Confederations Cup? Now I have to find out when this final is playing on TV. You see, the US has NEVER done well in world play – well, the men haven’t at least. So, this is a big thing for the US Men’s team. It would be nice to walk away with a victory in the final and make it a stepping stone toward the next World Cup.

NBA Draft in less than 30 minutes – who will the Suns take at #14? My guess is probably be James Johnson from Wake Forest, though several sites have the Suns selecting Earl Clark from Louisville.

Finally, I’m almost done with the preseason AZ HS rankings. There will be some surprises, I’m sure.

Congrats to the Washington Huskies

The Huskies’ women’s softball team are the 2009 NCAA College World Series champions.

The Huskies’ title is the first for the school but continues the unparalleled domination of the sport by the Pac-10. The Huskies join powerhouses UCLA (10 titles – 1995 title was vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions) and Arizona (8 titles), along with one-time winners California and Arizona State. For those counting along, that’s 21 titles in 27 years.

Other title winners are the Big 12 (Texas A&M twice, Oklahoma), the Big Ten (Michigan), the Big West (Cal. State-Fullerton), and the WAC (Fresno State).

This also means that the ACC, the Big East, the SEC, and other major conferences and independents have effectively been shut out.

The only other sports where this has happened is in Men’s and Women’s Volleyball – the Pac-10 owns 13 of the 28 Women’s NCAA titles there (Stanford 6, USC 3, UCLA 3, Washington), with the Big West (Long Beach State 3, Pacific 2), the Big 12 (Nebraska 3, Texas), the Big Ten (Penn State 3), and the WAC (Hawaii 3).

In Men’s Volleyball, of the 37 titles, the Pac-10 owns 24 (UCLA 19, USC 4, Stanford), along with the West Coast Conference (Pepperdine 5), the Big West (UC Irvine 2, San Diego State, Long Beach State), the Mountain West (BYU 3), and the Big Ten (Penn State 2). The 2002 and 2003 titles were vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, so the WAC’s lone championship here was vacated (Hawaii 2002), and the only Division II school to win an NCAA championship was also vacated (Lewis University 2003).

When they say the Pac-10 is the Conference of Champions, they really mean it. No teams from the ACC, Big East, SEC, Conference USA, Sun Belt, or Mid-American have won a championship in these three sports.

Also, a final note here – the final four teams for Women’s Softball this year (2009) were Washington, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. That’s one Pac-10 team and three SEC teams, and yet the Pac-10 continues to dominate. That says a lot about the quality of players in the conference, the quality of competition, and the quality of coaching.