*Yes, I know that sounds a lot like an oxymoron.
I'm a couple days late on this, but long-time readers know how much I love putting together all-conference teams (in the tradition of the old All-Wonk Teams, which came in 1.0/2.0/3.0 versions). Separating out the top Big Ten performers through nonconference play this year was as tough as it has been in the last few years. There's a full contingent of 20 players you could argue deserve at least second team honors.
As a technical note, the tempo-free numbers below (via KenPom) account only for games through this past Sunday. The conventional stats (via the Big Ten), meanwhile, include the results of Tuesday's and Wednesday's games. Also, given that I've only seen a lot of these players play 1-2 times so far this season, the selections are probably biased toward offensive performance even more so than all-conference picks normally are.
Without further ado (drumroll as you click past the jump):
|Michael Thompson (NW)
|Maurice Creek (IU)
|Manny Harris (UM)
|Evan Turner (OSU)
|Jon Leuer (WIS)
- Turner gets the nod, despite being limited to playing in only 8 of OSU's 12 nonconference games due to the back injury. Numbers prior to the injury were just flat-out sick. Example: Ranked in top 20 nationally in both defensive rebounding % and assist rate. That's not an off-the-menu individual statistical combo meal.
- Taking Turner out of the mix, I'd probably go with Jon Leuer as Big Ten Player of the Year to date, narrowly edging out Harris. Leuer is coming on strong going in to conference play: averaging 21.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in last 5 games. Getting to the line (43.2 FTR) and blocking some shots (5.1 block%) to boot.
- Harris is doing it all again this season, despite an even bigger void of offensive support from his teammates (outside of DeShawn Sims). Superb assist rate of 32.5 to go with TO rate of just 13.5. Getting to free throw line with highest frequency in conference (FTR of 49.1).
- Michael Thompson is playing the point guard position about as efficiently as it can be played. TO rate of 10.9 sets the tone for a team that turned the ball over just 3 times (in 45 minutes of play) in its conference opener.
- Unfortunately, Maurice Creek won't have a chance to be considered for end-of-season all-conference honors. To quote myself from the other day, Creek was playing in a decidedly unfreshmanlike manner prior to his season-ending knee injury: scoring with extreme efficiency while limiting turnovers (TO rate of 13.1).
|Talor Battle (PSU)
|Kalin Lucas (MSU)
|Robbie Hummel (PUR)
|Draymond Green (MSU)
|JaJuan Johnson (PUR)||13.8||6.5||0.6||114.6||25.7||.717||.558||.000||14.3||15.3|
- This is where sorting the players out gets tough. Ended up going with guys off the consensus preseason favorites: 2 guys from MSU, 2 from Purdue.
- Talor Battle is putting up solid numbers given his lack of efficient supporting cast members (which helps explain the low assist average). Considering the way defenses have been able to focus on him, he's done a very good job of limiting turnovers (TO rate of 13.8).
- Lucas may not be doing everything Tom Izzo thinks he's capable of, but he has been scoring very efficiently. Decent assist rate of 24.8, considering he's been playing off the ball quite a bit.
- Hummel would merit first-team consideration if not for his 3-point shooting slump. TO rate of just 11.0.
- I'm an overtly-biased observer when it comes to Draymond Green, but his defensive rebounding has been phenomenal and he's been surprisingly assertive on offense (assist rate of 20.1, FTR of 48.1).
- JaJuan Johnson is doing all the stuff you want a big man to do: scoring, rebounding, and blocking shots (block% of 8.5), But he only passes the ball under severe durress (assist rate of 4.3), which helps explain his relatlively-low TO rate of 14.6.
|Trevon Hughes (WIS)
|Demetri McCamey (ILL)
|E'Twaun Moore (PUR)
|David Lighty (OSU)
|Drew Crawford (NW)
|Damian Johnson (MIN)
|John Shurna (NW)
|DeShawn Sims (UM)
|Mike Davis (ILL)
|Mike Tisdale (ILL)
- Again, you could make an argument for any of these guys being on the second team. My top runner-up was Damian Johnson, who has been the most disruptive defensive player in the conference. He ranks in the top 50 nationally in both block% (9.6) and steal% (4.9). And he's playing quite efficiently on offense. Lack of rebounding prowess kept him off the second team.
- Also, I couldn't pick among the three Illini candidates, all of whom have been pretty efficient on offense.
- David Lighty is doing a very nice job of stepping up in Evan Turner's absence: 94 points on 60 FG attempts in the last 5 games (covering the game Turner was injured early in and the 4 he's missed since).
- Drew Crawford is here in part because I was really enamored with the new dimension he adds to Northwestern's lineup in watching last night's game. Long, athletic, versatile player who's scored very efficiently to date.