Final Four & Historical Champion Player Ratings – with some NBA Comps thrown in!

It’s been a crazy week. A storm earlier in the week took out our internet, right before I went on a camping trip with my oldest son. Got back home late last night – still no internet. I didn’t get an article pre-written, & I’m jumping through some last minute hoops to get this up before the Final Four games begin. In other words, I’m winging it – while hoping my spreadsheet will upload correctly. Here it is – cross your fingers:

 2017Final4&PastChampsPlayerRatingsPOST

Yes, I know, there is a ton to digest there – let me help sort it out a little.

Why are all the past NCAA players included?

Honestly, because I can – & no one else would do it. Trying to add some perspective on the possible impact of the players left in the tourney by offering the ratings of the past great (or not so great) champions we remember.

First thing you will notice – Sindarius Thornwell currently sits #1. That is NOT a typo, that’s how incredibly he has preformed this season. This is in no way saying he will have a better NBA career than many of the past players he is listed in front of (he is a year – or two or three – older than many were during their great runs, & age is HUGE for NBA prospects) – but it is saying he has been a dominant player this season all things considered. If he leads South Carolina to the championship – it is about certain he will end up with the highest seasonal HnI rating of ANY champion in the last 22 years. That’s how good he has been – and it’s a complete shame that most “experts” have been in the dark on him pretty much the whole season. They’re woke now.

So, if you dig deeper into the spreadsheet, here are how the current & past players rank in specific rating skillsets:

Scoring Production
Player Cla Team MP Pts/40 TS% Sco
Marreese Speights FR 2007 Florida 189 28.4 0.670 12.1
Sindarius Thornwell SR South Carolina 1014 25.6 0.586 10.2
Richard Hamilton JR 1999 Connecticut 1091 26.8 0.555 9.8
Morris Peterson SR 2000 Michigan St. 1136 23.1 0.590 8.7
Zach Collins FR Gonzaga 636 23.1 0.696 8.5
Tony Delk SR 1996 Kentucky 947 27.0 0.616 8.4
Jahlil Okafor FR 2015 Duke 1143 23.0 0.635 8.4

If we ignore Speights & his limited minutes as a frosh – Sindarius is the most impactful scorer on the list. Remember, he puts up that production on an elite defensive team with an average pace at best. His production in that respect looks even more impressive than at first glance. Putting him in a lineup of average past champ players would, in theory, improve that lineup by 10.2 points per 70 possessions just as a result of his scoring impact (the Sco column).

2pt Production
Player Cla Team MP 2ptFG/40 2pt% 2pt
Marreese Speights FR 2007 Florida 189 12.1 67.06% 14.6
Jahlil Okafor FR 2015 Duke 1143 9.8 66.43% 12.3
Nazr Mohammed JR 1998 Kentucky 819 9.3 59.75% 8.9
Emeka Okafor JR 2004 Connecticut 1166 9.0 59.86% 8.1
Joakim Noah SO 2006 Florida 972 8.3 62.93% 8.1
Przemek Karnowski SR Gonzaga 848 9.0 60.25% 7.8
Sean May JR 2005 UNC 992 9.2 57.14% 7.0
Zach Collins FR Gonzaga 636 7.3 67.84% 6.8

Two Zags rank in the top 8 here, which demonstrates the dominance they often have over opponents in the lane.

3pt Production
Player Cla Team MP 3ptFG/40 3pt% 3pt
Lee Humphrey JR 2006 Florida 1138 4.0 46.12% 7.7
Jason Williams SO 2001 Duke 1239 4.3 42.72% 6.9
Lee Humphrey SR 2007 Florida 1215 3.7 45.93% 6.6
Rashad Anderson SO 2004 Connecticut 864 4.0 41.04% 6.5
Tony Delk SR 1996 Kentucky 947 3.9 44.29% 6.5
Cameron Mills SR 1998 Kentucky 427 3.6 43.68% 6.3
Morris Peterson SR 2000 Michigan St. 1136 3.0 42.50% 5.6
Shane Battier SR 2001 Duke 1364 3.6 41.89% 5.3
Kris Jenkins JR 2016 Villanova 1134 3.5 38.61% 5.0
Kyle Wiltjer FR 2012 Kentucky 462 3.0 43.21% 4.9
Ben Gordon JR 2004 Connecticut 1346 3.1 43.33% 4.8
Rashad McCants JR 2005 UNC 856 3.3 42.26% 4.7
Rakym Felder FR South Carolina 519 2.6 43.59% 4.4

Had to dig a little deeper to get to a current guy here.

Free Throw Production
Player Cla Team MP FT/40 FT% FT
Sindarius Thornwell SR South Carolina 1014 8.3 83.00% 6.2
Tyler Hansbrough SR 2009 UNC 1029 9.7 84.12% 6.1
Russ Smith JR 2013 Louisville 1211 7.3 80.43% 5.3
Kemba Walker JR 2011 Connecticut 1543 6.7 81.90% 4.6
Richard Hamilton JR 1999 Connecticut 1091 6.2 83.33% 4.2
Chris Silva SO South Carolina 744 6.8 75.15% 4.1

Where Sindarius does much of his damage – at the line. His teammate Chris Silva is no slouch himself – South Carolina must generate points by getting to the line tooffset their general lack of team shooting.

Rebound Rating
Player Cla Team MP Rb/40 Reb
Brian Zoubek SR 2010 Duke 746 16.6 8.2
Marreese Speights FR 2007 Florida 189 18.0 7.6
Sean May JR 2005 UNC 992 16.0 5.6
Kennedy Meeks SR North Carolina 921 15.4 5.3
Cole Aldrich FR 2008 Kansas 330 14.4 5.0
Emeka Okafor JR 2004 Connecticut 1166 14.2 4.9
Tony Bradley FR North Carolina 525 13.9 4.8

This is where North Carolina must continue to dominate to have a chance to claim that championship.

Ball Handling & Passing
Player Cla Team MP Ast/40 TO/40 BH
Ty Lawson JR 2009 UNC 1048 8.8 2.5 7.0
Anthony Epps JR 1996 Kentucky 818 8.6 2.6 6.8
Steve Blake JR 2002 Maryland 1153 9.9 4.0 6.5
Taliek Brown SR 2004 Connecticut 1188 8.5 3.2 6.4
Marcus Williams FR 2004 Connecticut 226 12.2 6.7 6.4
Mateen Cleaves SR 2000 Michigan St. 820 8.7 4.6 5.8
Tyus Jones FR 2015 Duke 1322 6.6 2.3 5.3
Peyton Siva SR 2013 Louisville 1247 7.3 3.4 5.1
Jon Scheyer SR 2010 Duke 1470 5.3 1.8 4.5
Raymond Felton JR 2005 UNC 1142 8.7 4.5 4.5
Chris Duhon FR 2001 Duke 1086 6.4 2.2 4.4
Theo Pinson JR North Carolina 442 6.3 2.6 3.9

There is no great “true” pass first point guard in this Final 4.

Defensive Stops
Player Cla Team MP Stl/40 Blk/40 PF/40
Anthony Davis FR 2012 Kentucky 1281 1.7 5.8 2.4
Emeka Okafor JR 2004 Connecticut 1166 1.2 5.0 2.9
Joakim Noah SO 2006 Florida 972 1.8 3.9 3.5
Gorgui Dieng JR 2013 Louisville 1026 1.7 3.2 3.3
Shane Battier SR 2001 Duke 1364 2.4 2.6 2.3
Nazr Mohammed JR 1998 Kentucky 819 1.8 3.7 4.4
Jeremy McNeil JR 2003 Syracuse 657 0.5 6.1 6.8
E.J. Harrison SR 1999 Connecticut 210 3.4 0.6 3.4
Jordan Bell JR Oregon 1089 1.8 3.0 2.5
Amida Brimah FR 2014 Connecticut 649 0.2 5.7 7.1
Mario Chalmers JR 2008 Kansas 1170 3.3 0.8 3.4
Cole Aldrich FR 2008 Kansas 330 1.3 4.1 5.8
Sindarius Thornwell SR South Carolina 1014 2.6 1.1 2.7

Jordan Bell creates havoc as a rim protector and defender. Coach Martin has said often that his team’s elite defense starts with Sindarius Thornwell – and his defensive stops production bears that out.

“_____ is the the NCAA top 30 teams as ______ was to the NBA”

Included in the spreadsheet, which was no small undertaking, are historic NBA player comps. I took every rotation guy in this Final 4, & ran his rating skillset breakdowns in 18 categories to the average of the Top 30 NCAA teams. I then compared those results to EVERY NBA player season (> 500 minutes) since 1980. That’s almost half a million combinations. I included the top 10 historic NBA comps for every rotation guy on page 4 of the worksheet, with the top comp season on the main sheet 1.

Note that Superstar players or very poor players (relative to their peers obviously) will have lower Comp%’s – where 100% would be a perfect comp match they very well may be low 80s to even mid 70s. Much of the over 110 thousand player seasons were mediocre at best – so players WAY above or below that mediocre threshold just won’t have nearly as many “close” comps.

All that being said – while Sindarius Thornwell isn’t exactly a perfect match for Kevin Durant (his top 3 matches are prime KD seasons with OKC), his relative IMPACT he has on his team would be more similar to what KD had on OKC than any other historic NBA player had on theirs. Just looking at the strength of Sindarius’ comp list screams college superstar, even if he isn’t incredibly similar to any single past NBA player (78.4% comp% down to 75% at #10):

NBA Comp Year Age Tm
Kevin Durant 2014 25 OKC
Kevin Durant 2013 24 OKC
Kevin Durant 2015 26 OKC
Kevin Love 2014 25 MIN
LeBron James 2009 24 CLE
Kawhi Leonard 2016 24 SAS
Tracy McGrady 2003 23 ORL
Kevin Durant 2016 27 OKC
Paul Pierce 2003 25 BOS
Scottie Pippen* 1995 29 CHI

Nigel Williams-Goss, the second best player left in this tourney:

Anfernee Hardaway 1996 24 ORL
Terrell Brandon 1996 25 CLE
LeBron James 2005 20 CLE
Terrell Brandon 1997 26 CLE
Terrell Brandon 1995 24 CLE
Rod Strickland 1995 28 POR
Jason Kidd 2003 29 NJN
Gary Payton* 2000 31 SEA
Clyde Drexler* 1992 29 POR
Tim Hardaway 1991 24 GSW

Now, Nigel is much more similar to the players on his list, 90.7 comp% down to 86.9%

Here’s the top NBA comp for every rotation guy you’ll see later today. I listed the players by mpg for their team, & included the HnI for both them (college HnI, 100 D1 average) & their comp (NBA HnI, 100 NBA average). All the other pertinent stats are in the spreadsheet if you so desire to see more).

HnI Player Cla Team Top NBA Comp Year Age Tm HnI Comp%
168.5 Nigel Williams-Goss JR Gonzaga Anfernee Hardaway 1996 24 ORL 137 90.7%
128.1 Josh Perkins SO Gonzaga Matt Maloney 1997 25 HOU 96 89.5%
130.2 Jordan Mathews SR Gonzaga J.R. Smith 2016 30 CLE 99 93.0%
138.9 Johnathan Williams JR Gonzaga Emeka Okafor 2008 25 CHA 105 94.1%
121.1 Silas Melson JR Gonzaga Jared Dudley 2014 28 LAC 84 95.2%
151.4 Przemek Karnowski SR Gonzaga Shaquille O’Neal* 2007 34 MIA 119 87.6%
158.4 Zach Collins FR Gonzaga Hassan Whiteside 2015 25 MIA 129 84.8%
135.3 Killian Tillie FR Gonzaga Derrick Coleman 2003 35 PHI 101 89.5%
150.0 Justin Jackson JR North Carolina Ray Allen 2005 29 SEA 122 89.8%
144.1 Joel Berry JR North Carolina Tim Hardaway 2001 34 MIA 112 91.4%
163.8 Kennedy Meeks SR North Carolina Al Jefferson 2008 23 MIN 126 87.2%
128.8 Theo Pinson JR North Carolina Haywoode Workman 1999 33 MIL 100 91.1%
148.0 Isaiah Hicks SR North Carolina Rik Smits 1995 28 IND 119 90.9%
113.1 Nate Britt SR North Carolina Ronnie Price 2015 31 LAL 83 92.4%
150.9 Tony Bradley FR North Carolina Enes Kanter 2016 23 OKC 119 86.6%
138.2 Luke Maye SO North Carolina Jared Sullinger 2014 21 BOS 105 89.8%
83.9 Seventh Woods FR North Carolina Del Beshore 1980 23 CHI 65 79.4%
126.4 Dylan Ennis SR Oregon Metta World Peace 2010 30 LAL 98 94.7%
127.6 Tyler Dorsey SO Oregon Gerald Green 2014 28 PHO 104 94.3%
157.0 Jordan Bell JR Oregon Andrew Bynum 2008 20 LAL 125 89.8%
122.9 Payton Pritchard FR Oregon Chris Duhon 2005 22 CHI 94 94.8%
153.4 Dillon Brooks JR Oregon Kyrie Irving 2013 20 CLE 125 88.7%
108.7 Casey Benson JR Oregon DeShawn Stevenson 2009 27 WAS 75 93.4%
102.1 Kavell Bigby-Williams JR Oregon Jamaal Magloire 2007 28 POR 88 86.7%
88.9 Keith Smith FR Oregon Boris Diaw 2005 22 ATL 80 89.1%
210.1 Sindarius Thornwell SR South Carolina Kevin Durant 2014 25 OKC 162 78.4%
119.4 Duane Notice SR South Carolina Daniel Gibson 2008 21 CLE 91 93.7%
136.7 PJ Dozier SO South Carolina Kobe Bryant 2015 36 LAL 109 87.1%
107.9 Maik Kotsar FR South Carolina Olden Polynice 2001 36 UTA 85 91.5%
140.8 Chris Silva SO South Carolina Alonzo Mourning* 1998 27 MIA 130 81.7%
83.3 Hassani Gravett SO South Carolina Dante Exum 2015 19 UTA 73 89.7%
104.9 Justin McKie SR South Carolina Anthony Peeler 2005 35 WAS 79 93.5%
116.5 Rakym Felder FR South Carolina Greg Sutton 1996 28 PHI 85 89.0%
58.8 Sedee Keita FR South Carolina Ron Cavenall 1985 25 NYK 58 84.4%
The Predictions:

On sheet #2 of the spreadsheet I included the general team ratings of the past 21 NCAA champs with the current Final 4 teams, as well as the optimized player minutes ratings of the current Final 4. Using the optimized ratings (accounting for injured players, more star player PT due to more tv timeouts, & tighter “going for it all” rotations) – here’s the predicted final scores:

Gonzaga 70.2, South Carolina 67.3

North Carolina 79.5, Oregon 73.5

If you enjoyed my very unique take on the Final 4 players – PLEASE spread the word (Twitter, Reddit, etc.). I better post this while I still have an internet window. Thanks!

Dan

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