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:
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:
|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|
|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).
|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|
|Sean May||JR||2005 UNC||992||9.2||57.14%||7.0|
Two Zags rank in the top 8 here, which demonstrates the dominance they often have over opponents in the lane.
|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
|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.
|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
|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.
|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|
|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):
Nigel Williams-Goss, the second best player left in this tourney:
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%|
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!