(Bump. -- Ed.)
Following up on Ducking Delvon's post on last year's backcourt compared to this year's, I thought it would be useful to compare this year's frontcourt to last year's. I'm not sure where to categorize Dawson and Summers. Both play basically the same position, but they are not the same player. Summers shot lots of 3s, Dawson shoots far fewer of them. Basically for much of last year we had a 2 man frontcourt of Green and Roe, with Nix and Payne subbing in and Summers basically at small forward (Appling at 2 and Lucious coming in for Lucas while he was still here). So I guess there will be some overlap here in that I will include Summers as a front court player. That gives us a front court for last year of Summers, Green, Roe, Sherman, Nix, Payne, and Thornton. This year we have Dawson, Green, Nix, Payne, Thornton, Gauna, and Byrd. I'm using tempo-free stats from all of last year for those players who played last year, vs tempo free stats YTD for this year. The rest follows below the jump.
Starting with percentage of minutes played, offensive rating, and usage rate (percentage of possesions used as listed on Statsheet) the comparisons break down as follows:
We're using our front court slightly more than last year, but the real difference is that our front court is much more effective this year as judged by total offensive rating. They're, as a group, playing a similar percentage of minutes but they are clearly doing something to earn a higher offensive rating than last year. Green is the spitting image of last year despite consuming a slightly higher number of possessions, but Dawson is a major upgrade over Summers. Nix and Payne have both improved markedly. Nix has taken most of Roe's minutes and he's playing a hair better on offense than Roe, but much better than last year. His game has improved quite a bit and he shoots more than Roe did. Payne has also seen major improvements on offense and is playing more than last year. Thornton is also playing a lot more and doing so more effectively than last year. Basically Payne/Thornton/Dawson are major upgrades over Payne/Sherman, Thornton (last year's version) and Summers. Ideally all these stats would be weighted by minutes played so that a poor stat in a particular area for someone who plays relative spot minutes wouldn't skew the aggregate results, but I don't have time for that right now.
Moving on to effective FG percentage, ORpercentage, and FTrate:
Not much to see here - both teams are pretty even in all these categories although this year's team has a slight edge in Offensive rebounding and shooting. Next we turn to turnover percentage and assist percentage:
Again, on aggregate not much difference here, although the turnovers have been reduced fairly significantly. Nix's assist rate has improved quite a bit. Green has tapered off some in that area. Not having Sherman on the team really improves the turnover rate. Summers, for a guy who spent a fair amount of time as a guard, had an abysmal assist rate.
Now on to defensive stats, Dreb%, Steal%, and Block%:
These individual stats don't really tell us how the team as a whole is performing - it looks like we are significantly worse at defensive rebounding this year based on individual performance, but if you look at the rebounding percentage for the team, the difference is less significant than the individual stats would lead you to believe. Basically, we're a little better than last year at offensive rebounding and slightly worse at defensive rebounding. We are turning teams over at a higher rate. Nix and Payne are playing much better than last year and are playing more minutes. Nix vs. Roe last year would be a wash, except Roe was a low usage player. Nix is more willing to shoot and this year they are going in at a high rate. The combination of Thornton/Dawson is a significant upgrade over Summers. Dawson is scoring better, dishes more assists, and grabs more rebounds. I also suspect he plays better D. Thornton is also playing more effectively than last year and some of the minutes Summers played are going to him. Not to be lost in all of this is the teamwide efficiency. According to Ken Pomeroy's stats, we're roughly 6 points better on offensive efficiency and about the same improvement has been seen on defense, which pushes our overall efficiency margin to a 12 point improvement. Now that we're into the conference season it would not be a surprise to see a little regression, but we are playing much better than last year on both ends of the floor.