Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Point Guard Crop

Just By the Numbers: the 2014 Point Guard Crop
Jun 13, 2014, 11:02 am
In our first analysis of basic statistics, we take a look at the top 17 point guards eligible for the 2014 NBA draft.

A key component of the game of basketball, statistics are both exalted for their comprehensiveness and condemned for their ridiculousness. There are an unlimited number of ways to evaluate a player on paper, with each seemingly generating non-stop debate over its value. In recent seasons, Synergy Sports Technology and other companies have brought on a new generation of statistics in basketball, and along with the likes of John Hollinger and Dean Oliver, have changed the way NBA teams evaluate prospects.

Accounting for every jumper missed on a fast break, pick and roll from the top of key, and bad pass in crunch time, the data at the disposal of NBA decision-makers seems to get deeper almost daily. As statistics become more advanced, you can even start to predict what areas a college player may struggle in moving forward based on what their numbers in college or where they may still have upside.

As we get further and further away from the actual season that was played between November and April, we tend to forget at times how productive prospects actually were on their individual teams between all the talk about wingspans and upside and performance in private workouts and such.

With that in mind, we're running a simple analysis of how all the top prospects in this draft compare in all the different facets of the game statistically that matter at their individual position.

Points Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA23.9
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA22.5
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA21.1
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA20.9
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA23.8
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA19.1
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA18.5
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA21.3
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA20.2
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA15
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA14.3
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA18.4
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA15.9
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA20.3
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA11.6
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA19.7
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA19.5

This stat tells us plainly how often these guards put the ball in the basket, adjusting for minutes played and pace, which levels the playing field as best as we can without taking into account competition level, individual team roles, and teammates. This is a good place to start with this group of players, as it tells us about their versatility, the range of roles they played last season, and a little bit about each prospect's mentality as a playmaker or scorer. Scoring around a point every two minutes on the floor pace adjusted is generally considered a solid mark, but different variables can sway things dramatically.

C.J. McCollum led this group with a 30.6 mark a year ago, and while there's a few explosive scorers in this group, none of them exceed 24.0 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted. Both of the leading scorers this year hail from elite defensive teams. Russ Smith's ability to score in bunches is well documented at this stage, while Xavier Thames was one of the most prolific all-around scorers in the country.

Bryce Cotton and Deonte Burton check in 3rd and 4th though they have very different approaches on the offensive end. Cotton carried Providence for stretches with his sometimes ambitious shot selection while Burton did his best work attacking the rim one-on-one.

The top ranked point guard in this analysis, Marcus Smart, was maligned for his 31% shooting from beyond the arc, but still finishes in the top-5 here. He's not the scorer that Damian Lillard or Kyrie Irving were coming out of school, but he dwarfs the 13.5 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted Michael Carter-Williams posted a year ago by a wide margin. Carter-Williams averaged 18.1 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted as a rookie this season for the 76ers, showing that just because a players' collegiate production was not particularly impressive doesn't mean that they won't be prolific if handed the keys to a franchise that doesn't care about winning or losing.

There's a clear drop-off in this group after DeAndre Kane, as Tyler Ennis, Vasilije Micic, Keith Appling, and Aaron Craft were the four least prolific scorers in this group by a fairly significant margin. Looking back at what Ennis did as a scorer at the U19 World Championship where he scored 24.6 points per-40 minutes pace adjusted and what Carter-Williams did playing in the same system a year ago, it will be interesting to see how Ennis fits in as a scorer early in his career at the next level.

Usually in these studies we find that the European prospects lag far behind their American counterparts on paper due to their significantly smaller roles and the levels of competition they face. That's not entirely the case here with Vasilije Micic, who is arguably Mega Vizura's most important player. The creative force on a very young pro team, Micic plays a massive role, but is much more of a passer than a scorer.

The struggles of Keith Appling and Aaron Craft to put the ball in the basket are well documented, and playing in a deep, talented Big Ten certainly didn't help them here.

Three Point Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA6.4
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA6.2
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA6.2
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA6.2
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA6.1
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA5.9
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA5.5
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA5.2
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA3.8
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA3.6
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA3.4
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA3.2
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA3.1
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA3
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA1.8
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA1.7
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA1.7

This stat tells us a lot about the roles these prospects played for their respective teams, the confidence they had in their perimeter shooting ability, and the freedom they were given by their former coaches.

Each of the top-6 scorers in points per-40 minutes pace adjusted attempted over 5.1 3-pointers per-40 minutes pace adjusted. Only two players who did not place in the top-6 attempted that many, Kendall Williams and Markel Starks. For that reason these rankings read quite similar to the last ones with those two notable additions.

Shabazz Napier makes his first appearance near the top of these rankings, as the Connecticut star make big shot after big shot all NCAA Tournament long.

There's an obvious drop off after Deonte Burton, with Jahii Carson and DeAndre Kane being among the more interesting players in the second tier considering each shot 38+% from beyond the arc last season, but did so on small sample sizes which leads one to wonder if their previous struggles as shooters could come back to haunt them with the longer distance of the NBA 3-point line.

Bringing up the rear are Elfrid Payton and Semaj Christon, both of whom have tremendous size for point guard prospects, but also have a lot to prove at the next level as jump shooters. Neither player was particularly effective as a pull-up jump shooter, but Christon was effective as a set shooter in limited attempts. Will Payton develop the confidence needed in his jump-shot to punish NBA defenses for sagging off him as his career unfolds?

Three Point Attempts Per Field Goal Attempt
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA0.46
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA0.43
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA0.42
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA0.39
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA0.38
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA0.38
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA0.36
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA0.34
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA0.32
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA0.31
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA0.25
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA0.24
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA0.24
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA0.22
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA0.19
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA0.12
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA0.12

This stat examines how heavily these guards relied on the 3-ball to score, which is a good indicator of the roles each prospect played last season, but also an indirect gauge of how well each of them got to the rim as well. Players which attempted a large proportion of their shots from beyond the arc may have some deficiencies in terms of size, ball-handling ability, athleticism, aggressiveness, or shot-selection. Or they simply could be outstanding shooters. Every player should be judged individually in this regard.

The rankings shift around a bit in this category compared to the last, making it easier to distinguish shooting specialists from those who see many three-point attempts simply based on a high volume of possessions.

Kendall Williams makes a significant jump to the top spot here. In a typical year the top point guard in this metric would be attempting over half of their shots from beyond the arc, but that's far from the case this year. Williams, like Shabazz Napier, took a lot of 3's, but he was more of a dynamic shot creator than a traditional spot-up shooting specialist.

Marcus Smart is the only player in the top-5 to shoot below 30% from beyond the arc on the year. His lack of accuracy didn't stop him from attempting a 3-pointer on 42% of his field goal attempts, which is can be considered both a positive and a negative depending on your perspective. On one hand, Smart is likely a better shooter than his 3-point percentage indicates, as simply cutting down on the many bad shots he took in Oklahoma State's disorganized offense could reap immediate dividends. On the other hand, where did this unabashed confidence in his long-range shooting come from? And why did he not have a better idea of what his limitations are?

Markel Starks and Bryce Cotton round out the top-5, which is interesting since the pair played for two of the slowest paced high major programs in the country. It will be interesting to see how Starks and Cotton acclimate to playing at a faster pace next season as pros.

Unsurprising considering where they ranked in 3-point attempts per-40 minutes pace adjusted, Elfrid Payton and Semaj Christon finish at the bottom of these rankings, as its already been established that this is clearly not the strong point of their game.

Free Throw Attempts Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA9.4
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA9
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA9
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA7.9
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA7.8
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA7.7
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA7.7
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA7.3
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA7.3
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA7.2
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA6.9
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA6.4
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA5.4
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA5.4
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA5.2
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA4.6
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA4

Free throws attempted per-40 minutes is a good statistic to measure the aggressiveness of a player getting to the rim, as well as his athleticism and ball-handling skills. In some ways, it provides an inverse look at the three-point stats we just looked at.

Marcus Smart takes the top spot here by a decent margin. His strength and athleticism helped him get to the rim at a high rate, where he showed terrific toughness drawing contact. This aggressiveness attacking the rim is one of his biggest selling points as a NBA prospect. If he either improves his outside shooting, or cuts down the amount of off the dribble 3-pointers he attempts, he could see significant improvement in his scoring efficiency.

Fellow big guards Elfrid Payton and Semaj Christon join Smart in the Top-5. While questions remain about the jump shooting ability of all three players as they transition to the next level, each more than compensated with their ability to get to the line at the college level. The high number of threes Smart attempted relative to Payton and Christon puts into perspective how good he is at finding contact when he ventures inside.

Bryce Cotton and Xavier Thames did the majority of their scoring from the perimeter last season, but also found their way to the line at a very nice rate. Neither player shot above 46% inside the arc, but both found ways to draw contact. Players with average physical tools usually see their free throw rate fall off dramatically at the pro level relative to college, so it will be interesting to see how this part of their game translates to the NBA.

Unlike Payton and Christon, Tyler Ennis and Aaron Craft don't make a jump here. Neither player attempted many threes or got to the line at a high rate, mainly due to the fact that their teams did not rely on their ability to put the ball in the basket as heavily as Louisiana-Lafayette and Xavier relied on their primary ball-handlers.

Vasilije Micic takes the bottom spot on this list, following in the footsteps of most international point guards who played big roles that we've analyzed in the past. Micic is not the most explosive athlete around and is unlikely to be a high free throw attempt player in the NBA either.

Free Throw Attempts Per Possession
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA0.48
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA0.48
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA0.47
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA0.42
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA0.41
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA0.41
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA0.37
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA0.37
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA0.36
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA0.35
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA0.35
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA0.34
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA0.34
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA0.33
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA0.33
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA0.29
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA0.25

Even though Free Throws Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted tells us how much a player attacks in bulk, it doesn't show how much they attack relative to their usage rate. This stat tells that story.

A few players shift around some here, again indicating the differences in usage among the players.

Elfrid Payton jumps into the top spot, with Marcus Smart in toe. Kendall Williams is the biggest beneficiary of the shift to per-possession statistics, as his usage, and overall free throw rate, was held back by the fact that he was sharing the ball with a pro-caliber frontcourt in a slower tempoed offense.

Semaj Christon falls to the middle of the pack, as he got to the line more as a byproduct of his usage relative to the rest of this field than his proficiency at drawing contact. The opposite is true for Aaron Craft who jumps to the middle of the pack.

Tyler Ennis retains his spot in the bottom 5, joined by Jahii Carson and Jordan Clarkson, both of whom benefitted from their high usage in the previous example.

True Shooting Percentage
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA0.6
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA0.6
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA0.58
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA0.58
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA0.57
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA0.57
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA0.57
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA0.56
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA0.56
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA0.55
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA0.55
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA0.55
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA0.55
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA0.55
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA0.55
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA0.53
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA0.52

True Shooting Percentage is adjusted to account for what a player adds to their efficiency and team's point total with free throw attempts and 3-pointers. This stat attempts to adjust for all the ways a player can put points on the board. A figure under 50% is considered extremely poor, while anything over 60% is considered extraordinary. Most of this group fits in between those two figures.

This is one of the more interesting categories to look at, especially combined with usage and scoring rate overall, to see those who is both using a large number of possessions and scoring at a very high efficiency. Among the top-5 players in scoring rate, Russ Smith, Deonte Burton, and Bryce Cotton are the 3 players to finish in the top-5 here as well.

Shabazz Napier ranks just off the lead here, thanks to the fact that he led this group in free throw and three-point percentage shooting 87% from the line and 40.5% from beyond the arc. Considering the degree of difficulty in some of the shots he attempted, his efficiency in making those shots was a big reason Connecticut won the National Championship. It will certainly be interesting to see if he can continue to make such shots at a high rate at the next level with bigger, longer and more athletic players guarding him.

Aaron Craft makes his first appearance in the top-5, as he managed to be fairly efficient despite his lack of jump shooting ability.

Marcus Smart, Vasilije Micic, and Elfrid Payton all finish in the middle of the pack here. Smart shot just 42% from the field, but got to the line at a high enough rate to sit right around average in this group. None of those three players shot above 30% from beyond the arc, but all rank among the top-5 players in this group in 2-point percentage at a 51+% rate.

Jahii Carson and Tyler Ennis sit well below the rest of the field here despite playing very different roles. Carson had to shoulder a considerably larger scoring load, and often struggled with his shot-selection, while Ennis' struggles to get to the free throw line or make 3-pointers prolifically hurts him in a major way here. To put Ennis' inefficiency into perspective, Michael Carter-Williams posted a significantly lower true-shooting percentage of 49.8% a year ago. Ennis is the least efficient scorer in this group based on his play last season, but he would not finish at the bottom of these rankings most years. Still, NBA teams will likely have some concerns about his lack of efficiency considering his relatively small usage rate.

Assists Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA7
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA6.8
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA6.4
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA6.1
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA6
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA5.9
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA5.7
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA5.7
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA5.7
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA5.6
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA5.6
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA5
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA4.8
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA4.7
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA4.5
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA4.3
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA3.9

Moving away from the scoring categories, some players who didn't stand out in any of the previous categories immediately jump to the top of the list, indicating the rather noticeable schism between pure scorers and pure distributors in this group.

For quite possibly the first time since we started doing these analyses, an international prospect ranks as the top per-minute assistman. Part of that is the result of the lack of pure passers in this draft, as Vasilije Micic would have ranked 8th among point guards a year ago, but he's a smart, prolific distributor with tremendous court vision nonetheless, as he's shown both in the Adriatic League and in FIBA play over the last few years.

Tyler Ennis takes the top spot among college floor generals, but falls short of Michael Carter-Williams's 8.4 assists per-40 minutes pace adjusted from a year ago. A midseason slump from his supporting cast doesn't help Ennis' cause here, but he still showed plenty of promise as a passer playing with a poise beyond his years.

DeAndre Kane, Russ Smith, and Bryce Cotton round out to the top-5, which is very interesting considering all three were considered to be more combo guards coming into this season. Kane's effectiveness as a playmaker in Fred Hoiberg's NBA style offense made Iowa State one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country prior to Georges Niang's injury. Smith and Cotton were polarizing players for their teams offensively, as their ability to score in bunches and put pressure on the defense helped them create openings for others as well.

Elfrid Payton, Shabazz Napier, and Marcus Smart all rank near the middle of the pack here, as most of the top guards in this year's draft are more than just table setters.

Deonte Burton, Semaj Christon, and Jordan Clarkson finish in the bottom-5. Missouri, notably, needed Clarkson to score, and at 6'5 in shoes, he's one of the more viable candidates in this group to see time at shooting guard throughout his career, as his point guard metrics indicate he's better suited to do.

Turnovers Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA4.4
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA3.9
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA3.8
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA3.7
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA3.3
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA3.1
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA3.1
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA3.1
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA3.1
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA3
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA2.7
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA2.5
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA2.5
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA2.3
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA2.2
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA2.1
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA1.9

A few things stand out on this list relative to the last, starting with Micic finishing unsurprisingly as the most turnover prone player in this group while Ennis retains his spot just off the lead. As good of a passer as Micic is, especially in the two-man game, Ennis plays a uniquely low-mistake brand of basketball, which sets him apart from virtually every one-and-done floor general who has come before him. The early part of his NBA career will be an interesting litmus test into how extremely young efficient passing guards translate to the next level in the short-term.

Xavier Thames and Deonte Burton were among the least prolific passers in this group, so it's no surprise they don't turn the ball over at a high rate either. Aside from Ennis, Bryce Cotton, who maintains his spot in the top-5, is the next more efficient playmaker in this group on paper. Russ Smith jumps in the opposite direction, joining Shabazz Napier and Elfrid Payton in the bottom-5.

Pure Point Ratio
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA6
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA3.8
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA3.7
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA2.8
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA2.7
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA2.5
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA2.3
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA1.6
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA1.5
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA1.2
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA1.2
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA0.9
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA0.6
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA0.5
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA0.1
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA-1.2
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA-1.2

Looking at the prior two categories combined and then adjusting for the negative value of the turnover, Tyler Ennis immediately stands out for his outrageously high pure point rating, ranking first overall easily and having one of the highest ratios in the past 30 years among college players who subsequently went in the first 60 picks of the NBA Draft. Among recent players, Kendall Marshall posted a ridiculous 10.19 PPR in his last season at UNC playing alongside a slew of first round picks, but Ennis' mark is almost identical to the one Mike Conley posted in 2007 for Ohio State before heading to the pros and extremely impressive given the meticulous pace Syracuse played at this year. This is clearly Ennis' biggest selling point as a prospect, and it's a major one.

Kendall Williams and Bryce Cotton both impress here, as do Xavier Thames and Deonte Burton, even though neither player dished out assists at a high rate. a PPR over 2 is usually considered solid at the college level, while a negative one is a major red flag.

Marcus Smart and Shabazz Napier are just average here, while Vasilije Micic and Eflrid Payton find themselves in the bottom-5 among top prospects. Payton's performance here is a bit disappointing considering his shortcomings in other areas, showing that he may still have a ways to go to become a complete basketball player.

Jahii Carson and Jordan Clarkson take the bottom two spots, as their aggressiveness probing the defense off the bounce play against them in this metric. Clarkson's PPR is another indication that he might end up being more of a shooting guard than a point guard in the NBA.

Rebounds Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA7.3417
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA6.9165
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA6.7857
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA6.3673
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA4.5441
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA4.4219
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA4.3892
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA4.3266
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA4.3081
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA4.1575
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA4.1093
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA3.8839
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA3.8667
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA3.8008
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA3.6547
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA3.0676
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA2.5497

Rebounding is an important aspect of the game, and while some guards are seldom asked to head down into the paint and make their presence felt in traffic, others, like Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook for example, have the length, athleticism, toughness, and timing to make an impact in the possession battle on the glass. More than anything, this stat can be viewed as an indication of a player's physical tools (size, length, strength, athleticism) and anticipation skills, even if some college systems simply discourage their players from crashing the glass due to tactical reasons.

DeAndre Kane rebounded the ball at an elite rate for a point guard last season. His transfer from Marshall was a coup for Iowa State, as he flourished in a number of facets of the game. It is no surprise that he and Marcus Smart take the top-2 spots in this group considering their size, strength and gritty approach to the game.

Shabazz Napier crashes the party of big guards in top tier of rebounding guards. Napier's ability to clean the glass was huge for UConn as they went small late in the year. He may not be a freak athlete, but he proved to be very scrappy pursuing the ball all season, posting a very impressive mark.

Deonte Burton rounds out the top-5, albeit a ways behind the top-4. Burton, Jordan Clarkson, and Jahii Carson finish above average here thanks in no small part to their near 40-inch verticals.

Semaj Christon finishes surprising poorly here considering his physical tools, while Markel Starks takes the bottom spot by a considerable margin.

Steals Per-40 Minutes Pace Adjusted
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA3.4
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA3
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA2.6
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA2.6
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA2.4
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA2.2
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA2.1
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA2
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA1.8
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA1.6
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA1.5
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA1.5
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA1.3
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA1.3
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA1
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA1
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA0.8

A point guard's ability to apply ball pressure and get in the passing lanes often helps his team quicken the pace of the game without forcing the issue. Though there's a million ways to create a turnover, this stat paints a broad picture of what a prospect brings to the table both physically in terms of quickness and length and mentally in terms of intensity and anticipation. Many analytics-based metrics use this stat heavily as part of their formula to decipher how effectively players will transition from college to the NBA, as it has reportedly proven to be quite telling throughout the years.

Marcus Smart finishes near the top of the pack once again, finishing a ways ahead of lauded collegiate defender Aaron Craft. Russ Smith and Tyler Ennis make up the second tier of prospects followed by Elfrid Payton, showing that this metric is as much a byproduct of intensity and anticipation as length, size, and quickness.

Jahii Carson easily takes the bottom spot here, with Bryce Cotton and Markel Starks not too far ahead. Jordan Clarkson and DeAndre Kane didn't generate as many steals as you'd expect relative to their physical tools.

Blocks Per-40 Pace Adjusted
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA0.7
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA0.6
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA0.6
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA0.5
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA0.4
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA0.3
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA0.3
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA0.2
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA0.2
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA0.2
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA0.1
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA0.1
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA0.1
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA0.1
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA0.1
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA0.1
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA0

No player in particularly stands out in this category this year, though Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton do validate their ability to use their size and athleticism to challenge the occasional shot. Keith Appling makes a surprise appearance in the top-5, while Deonte Burton's explosiveness helps him keep pace with the bigger guards.

Vasilije Micic takes the bottom spot here. He joins Pierre Jackson among players who didn't block a shot prior to be included in our study over the last few years.

Player Efficiency Rating
Marcus SmartOklahoma StateNCAA27.3
Xavier ThamesSan Diego StateNCAA27.1
Russ SmithLouisvilleNCAA26.3
Shabazz NapierConnecticutNCAA25.9
Deonte BurtonNevadaNCAA25.1
Elfrid PaytonLa LafayetteNCAA24.4
Bryce CottonProvidenceNCAA24.2
Kendall WilliamsNew MexicoNCAA22.6
DeAndre KaneIowa StateNCAA22.3
Tyler EnnisSyracuseNCAA21.7
Jordan ClarksonMissouriNCAA20.4
Semaj ChristonXavierNCAA19.3
Markel StarksGeorgetownNCAA17.9
Jahii CarsonArizona StateNCAA17.3
Aaron CraftOhio StateNCAA17
Keith ApplingMichigan StateNCAA16.3
Vasilije MicicMega VizuraADR, SERBIA15.8

Created by John Hollinger, PER is a total measure of what a player does on the floor based on more than a dozen weighted calculations. It isn't always wise to compare players across different leagues given how different the style of play is internationally and at the college level. The NCAA is especially tricky considering the varying levels of competition we find in the different conferences. As maligned as the countless catch-all statistics out there are, PER specifically provides an interesting glimpse into how all of the statistics we've looked at thus far piece together.

Marcus Smart leads this group with a mark that would have earned him just the 5th spot last year. Smart's ability to get to the line and score at a respectable rate, combined with his tremendous defensive and rebounding numbers help him overcome his average assist rate among his peers.

Xavier Thames and Russ Smith take the next two spots thanks in large part to their prolific perimeter scoring ability. Shabazz Napier and Deonte Burton round out the top-5, and rank fairly similarly in many metrics despite being almost polar opposites offensively. Burton was one of the top scorers inside the arc while Napier was one of the worst while the opposite was true from beyond the arc.

Among top prospects, Elfrid Payton edges Tyler Ennis by virtue of his scoring numbers, while Vasilije Micic unsurprisingly finishes last, as international players typically do in these studies. Keith Appling and Aaron Craft are the low men among college players, as neither was overwhelmingly productive as a senior even if they were nothing short of essential to their team's success all year.

No player finishes below the built-in league-wide average of 15 for the first time in a few years.

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4.1 Rebounds
6.2 Assists
17.3 PER
18.4 Points
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17.9 PER
23.1 Points
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4.3 Assists
19.7 PER
14.5 Points
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20.3 PER
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14.3 PER
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18.4 PER
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9.8 PER
16.8 Points
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12.2 PER
8.7 Points
1.5 Rebounds
5.9 Assists
11.0 PER
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2.0 Rebounds
2.5 Assists
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20.6 Points
6.0 Rebounds
3.5 Assists
26.4 PER
13.3 Points
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6.7 Assists
20.5 PER
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3.0 Rebounds
2.4 Assists
11.2 PER
1.0 Points
1.0 Rebounds
1.0 Assists
4.2 PER
10.7 Points
4.7 Rebounds
9.4 Assists
15.0 PER
11.0 Points
1.9 Rebounds
4.6 Assists
16.2 PER
18.8 Points
4.3 Rebounds
4.5 Assists
17.9 PER
24.2 Points
4.4 Rebounds
6.8 Assists
19.5 PER
25.7 Points
5.1 Rebounds
5.1 Assists
22.2 PER
12.8 Points
4.8 Rebounds
5.9 Assists
12.8 PER
5.8 Points
2.4 Rebounds
1.1 Assists
16.8 PER
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3.6 Rebounds
1.1 Assists
9.0 PER
1.0 Points
0.0 Rebounds
3.7 Assists
2.0 PER
3.1 Points
2.8 Rebounds
3.7 Assists
6.9 PER
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5.1 Rebounds
4.4 Assists
16.0 PER
17.0 Points
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