[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.