The Bottoms Line: Fun with Numbers – Offensive Rating and Usage Rate (Continued)

In the first installment of Fun with Numbers, we defined Offensive Rating and Usage Rate, then looked at how these two metrics can be meshed together to assess skill curves using a few simple rules of thumb.  This time around I wanted to point out a few other observations from looking at the ORtg’s and Usage Rates of other returning players.

In the interest of space, I’ll spare you the list, but I pulled a list of the Top 50 returning players in terms of Offensive Rating.  A few things that might surprise you:

— Washington placed the most players (4) on the list with Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, and Terrence Ross all making the cut.  Now many of them achieved this status in relatively limited minutes, but given UW’s pace of play, I find this a little surprising.  It also bodes well for the Huskies to remain toward the top of the Pac-12 despite having lost a few key players.  Look for breakout seasons from Wilcox and Ross.

— Four teams (Duke,Missouri,Ohio State,Wisconsin) placed three players on the list.  I briefly touched on players from three of these teams last time around, butMissouri is interesting to me for many of the same reasons as the aforementioned Huskies.  Under the direction of Mike Anderson, the Tigers embraced his uptempo style and played at the fastest pace of any major conference team.  In my head, efficiency and fast-paced basketball are not a natural marriage, but the Tigers were able to make it work.  Regardless, with Frank Haith now at the helm, that pace is likely to slow down given thatMiamiwas about 200 spots behind Mizzou in terms of possessions per game.  It will be interesting to watch what effect, if any, that has on the efficiency of guys like Marcus Denmon, Ricardo Ratliffe, and Laurence Bowers.

— Arizona forward Kevin Parrom will be asked to take on a larger role with Derrick Williams in Minnesota, and his 122.5 ORtg bodes well for his effectiveness.  His shooting percentages, 58.5 percent on two-pointers and 41.8 percent from deep, speak well to his offensive skill level.  Just another name to file away.

— While fellow freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones earned most of the headlines forKentucky, you cannot overlook how terrific Doron Lamb was in his first season.  He posted an ORtg over 121 despite a usage rate of 19.1, thanks in large part to his deadeye shooting from three-point range.  His absurd 48.6 percent from beyond the arc places him in the Top 50 for both eFG% and True Shooting Percentage.  As has become the norm, a new crop of five-star recruits will enter the fray forUKthis year, but they would be wise to ensure Lamb still gets a steady dose of shots as a sophomore.

– The inclusion of Jordan Hulls on this list will only further the love affair that has developed with Indiana fans.  It also begs the question of why his usage rate was sixth on the squad despite posting the top Offensive Rating among the team’s key rotation guys.  Like Lamb, his efficient shooting is the main reason for his lofty rating, but his assist rate doesn’t hurt either.  A key for the Hoosiers this year will be defining roles in the backcourt between Hulls and Verdell Jones.

— Outside of Kemba Walker, no one was more responsible for UConn’s championship run than Jeremy Lamb.  WithWalker on the floor, Lamb (and pretty much every other UConn player) benefited from opposing defenses that were hell bent on stopping Kemba at all costs.  Now that he’s gone, it will be interesting to watch what happens to Lamb’s efficiency rating, which at 115.5 was among some of the nation’s best.  Maintaining that level is probably unlikely, but a well-rounded offensive game and transition baskets generated from his strong defense should prevent a precipitous fall.

In an effort to pare down the list a bit more and weed out guys with more limited usage, I looked only at players with Usage Rates of at least 20.

Player Team ORtg Usage Rate
Ashton Gibbs Pittsburgh 127.9 21.0
Marcus Denmon Missouri 127.1 20.6
Jordan Taylor Wisconsin 126.9 27.4
John Jenkins Vanderbilt 123.5 22.7
C.J. Wilcox Washington 121.7 20.1
Jared Sullinger Ohio St. 120.4 27.0
Tyler Zeller North Carolina 120.1 23.0
Tim Abromaitis Notre Dame 117.0 21.1
Reggie Johnson Miami FL 115.6 24.1
Deshaun Thomas Ohio St. 115.0 27.3
Laurence Bowers Missouri 114.7 22.0
John Shurna Northwestern 114.1 24.1
Tony Mitchell Alabama 113.8 23.8
Malcolm Grant Miami FL 113.4 23.4
William Buford Ohio St. 113.2 23.2
Festus Ezeli Vanderbilt 112.8 26.9
Richard Howell North Carolina St. 112.8 22.0
Dion Dixon Cincinnati 112.7 22.4
Sean Kilpatrick Cincinnati 112.4 24.2
Erving Walker Florida 112.2 23.8
Kourtney Roberson Texas A&M 111.9 22.9
Kenny Boynton Florida 111.8 22.4
Gilvydas Biruta Rutgers 110.5 23.4
Michael Dixon Missouri 110.4 24.2
Trevor Mbakwe Minnesota 110.4 23.2
Mike Scott Virginia 110.4 28.1
Joshua Smith UCLA 110.2 26.3
Harper Kamp California 109.3 22.0
Jordan Morgan Michigan 109.0 20.9
Yancy Gates Cincinnati 108.8 22.9
Tim Hardaway Michigan 108.8 24.1
J’Covan Brown Texas 108.8 24.5
Thomas Robinson Kansas 108.7 26.7
Christian Watford Indiana 108.7 28.2
Quincy Acy Baylor 108.6 21.6
Kris Joseph Syracuse 108.5 22.6
Perry Jones Baylor 108.4 21.6
Josh Owens Stanford 108.2 22.5
Brandon Wood Michigan St. 108.0 26.5
Dion Waiters Syracuse 107.6 21.3

Some quick thoughts from the above list:

— Cincinnati and Missouri each placed three players on this list.  I touched on Mizzou earlier, but I really like Cincinnati as well.  They snuck up on teams last season, and while that won’t happen again, they have a solid (and efficient) nucleus in guards Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick along with big man Yancy Gates.

— Both Jordan Morgan and Tim Hardaway, Jr. made this list, but this season will be a true test of how important Darius Morris was at the point.  He consistently fed Morgan the ball for dunks and layups, so without a playmaker like Morris (who was also Morgan’s roommate) in the mix, Morgan may suffer from an efficiency standpoint.  Hardaway appears better equipped to deal with the loss of Morris, and I look for him to post solid numbers in his sophomore campaign.

— Pitt guard Ashton Gibbs is the highest rated player on the list at 127.9.  His shooting percentages are phenomenal, and for a team replacing a few key contributors, his presence will be a steadying influence on the Panthers.

— Following some huge losses for Notre Dame, look for Tim Abromaitis to fall off a bit as more of the scoring burden will fall on him.  He’s an accomplished shooter, and his size gives him another asset on offense.  But what happens with Ben Hansbrough and his 26.8 assist rate gone?

— Expect to find Kansas’ Thomas Robinson on virtually every list of breakout players heading into the season.  There is significant opportunity to double his 31.6 percent of minutes played, and his efficiency numbers are terrific.  With both a high rebound rate and a shooting percentage over 60 percent, things are lined up for a big junior year for T-Rob.  There’s also the fact thatKansashas virtually no returning players, just in case you needed more evidence.

— A couple less-heralded breakout candidates are Richard Howell (North Carolina St.) and Kourtney Roberson (Texas A&M).  Howell logged just over 44 percent of his team’s minutes last year but posted the highest efficiency rating of any player with a usage rate over 13 percent.  He posted the sixth-best offensive rebound percentage in the nation and will be a bigger part of the inside attach with Tracy Smith gone.  Roberson played in only 31 percent of A&M’s minutes as a freshman but was brutally efficient while on the floor.  Like Howell, he attacked the glass, which led to a solid field goal percentage, and in Roberson’s case, the departure of Nathan Walkup opens the door for more playing time.  I also like Dion Waiters of Syracuse, but there are so many talented guards and wing players on the Orange that his role isn’t likely to increase significantly.

— Among a few underrated players on this list is Harper Kamp of Cal.  Coming off of a knee injury that cost him the 2009-10 season, the 6-foot-8 forward posted an Offensive Rating of 109.3.  His shooting numbers are solid, and he also proved adept at drawing fouls (nearly five per game) and converting at a superb rate once he got there.  He’ll team with Richard Solomon (who I am also high on) to form an efficient starting frontcourt for the Bears.

I took a similar look at the worst players from an offensive rating standpoint, and a few things stuck out:

— A whopping six LSU players are among the bottom 50, which should ensure Trent Johnson’s seat doesn’t get cold.

— Iowa had the next most players with four, although some of that could be attributed to learning Fran McCaffery’s offensive system.  It may also point out that the players he inherited at Iowa were ill-equipped to play his tempo.
Without Iman Shumpert, Mfon Udofia is essentially Georgia Tech’s only option at the point.  New coach Brian Gregory’s style is much more deliberate, which may eventually mask some of the team’s weaknesses, but placing three players on this list, including their de facto point guard, doesn’t bode well for the Jackets this year.

— The presence of three Rutgers players on this list doesn’t leave me brimming with confidence about my pick of the Scarlet Knights as a potential surprise team in the Big East.  Much like Iowa, there were some growing pains with Mike Rice’s system in year one, which contributed to some of these ugly numbers.  His hard-nosed approach on defense should help to offset some of that, but if the team can’t become more efficient, long-term success won’t be sustainable.

— One player I’ll be watching closely here is Terone Johnson, who is poised to take on a much larger role now that E’Twaun Moore has graduated.  Johnson’s shooting and consequently his efficiency were poor as a freshman, which can partly be attributed to his adjustment to the speed of the college game.  More than that, with Moore and JaJuan Johnson having the offense run through them, it was difficult for Terone to truly embrace and understand his role without getting consistent offensive opportunities.  That will obviously change this year, and the Boilers need him to step up and provide backcourt scoring.

By restricting the worst players to just those with Usage Rates over 20, the following guys emerged (or maybe submerged):

Player Team ORtg Usage Rate
Mike Poole Rutgers 84.8 21.9
Xavier Gibson Florida St. 86.6 22.4
Jeremy Jacob Oregon 86.9 26.3
Bruce Ellington South Carolina 87.7 27.6
Dorenzo Hudson Virginia Tech 88.6 21.3
Jawanza Poland South Florida 88.7 23.6
Rob Chubb Auburn 89.0 23.6
Mfon Udofia Georgia Tech 89.4 20.0
Jeff Peterson Florida St. 89.5 20.2
Malcolm White Louisiana St. 89.6 20.7
Garrett Green Louisiana St. 89.6 23.2
Markel Brown Oklahoma St. 90.2 20.1
Ralston Turner Louisiana St. 91.0 24.5
Deniz Kilicli West Virginia 91.3 26.3
Bryce Cartwright Iowa 91.6 26.2
Tony Freeland DePaul 91.6 24.2
Herb Pope Seton Hall 91.7 24.2
Julysses Nobles Arkansas 91.9 22.9
J.T. Terrell Wake Forest 92.0 26.8
Andre Stringer Louisiana St. 92.3 23.2
Dane Miller Rutgers 92.7 22.4
Josh Watkins Utah 92.9 30.2
Carl Blair Oklahoma 92.9 21.8
Roberto Nelson Oregon St. 93.5 25.3
C.J. Harris Wake Forest 93.6 20.3
Milton Jennings Clemson 93.9 25.6
Brandon Young DePaul 94.0 25.0
Storm Warren Louisiana St. 94.2 21.3
Ian Miller Florida St. 94.4 21.4
Carrick Felix Arizona St. 94.4 21.1
Verdell Jones Indiana 94.8 28.5
C.J. Leslie North Carolina St. 95.1 27.0
Faisal Aden Washington St. 95.1 27.2
Kenny Gabriel Auburn 95.5 23.0
Kim English Missouri 95.8 21.4
Toney McCray Nebraska 96.0 22.8
Lorenzo Brown North Carolina St. 96.2 21.1
Augustus Gilchrist South Florida 96.3 28.3
Andrew Fitzgerald Oklahoma 96.4 24.6
Rakeem Buckles Louisville 96.9 23.4

Not a ton of new ground to cover here, but a couple things stick out:

— I included recent Florida State transfer Jeff Peterson in the list despite the fact that his efficiency numbers are a product of his efforts last season at Arkansas.  Still, that gives the Noles three players in the bottom 40.  Not good news for a team that tends to struggle offensively and lost two of their top players.

— When you look at Milton Jennings’ raw numbers compared to his playing time, expanded minutes would seem to make him a potential breakout candidate.  His usage rate was the highest on the team, but his Offensive Rating was among the worst.  Part of the issue was his insistence on shooting three-pointers (82 on the season) despite an awful conversion rate from beyond the arc.  Jennings’ rebounding percentages look solid, and his ability to play to his strengths on offense will determine his long-term success.

Finally, I pulled a list of all returning players with usage rates of 25 or greater, which gave me the 41 names below.

Player Team ORtg Usage Rate
JaMychal Green Alabama 105.6 30.9
Josh Watkins Utah 92.9 30.2
Renardo Sidney Mississippi St. 98.9 29.5
Verdell Jones Indiana 94.8 28.5
Augustus Gilchrist South Florida 96.3 28.3
Christian Watford Indiana 108.7 28.2
Mike Scott Virginia 110.4 28.1
Khris Middleton Texas A&M 107.5 27.9
Terrence Jones Kentucky 104.6 27.9
Maalik Wayns Villanova 103.8 27.7
Bruce Ellington South Carolina 87.7 27.6
Dee Bost Mississippi St. 100.4 27.6
Jordan Taylor Wisconsin 126.9 27.4
Deshaun Thomas Ohio St. 115.0 27.3
Faisal Aden Washington St. 95.1 27.2
Jared Sullinger Ohio St. 120.4 27.0
C.J. Leslie North Carolina St. 95.1 27.0
Festus Ezeli Vanderbilt 112.8 26.9
Terrell Stoglin Maryland 105.2 26.9
Marshawn Powell Arkansas 100.5 26.8
J.T. Terrell Wake Forest 92.0 26.8
Thomas Robinson Kansas 108.7 26.7
Brandon Wood Michigan St. 108.0 26.5
Dundrecous Nelson Mississippi 100.3 26.5
Cleveland Melvin DePaul 103.9 26.4
Joshua Smith UCLA 110.2 26.3
Jeremy Jacob Oregon 86.9 26.3
Deniz Kilicli West Virginia 91.3 26.3
Bryce Cartwright Iowa 91.6 26.2
Jeffery Taylor Vanderbilt 104.7 25.7
Draymond Green Michigan St. 106.8 25.7
Darius Johnson-Odom Marquette 106.8 25.6
Jorge Gutierrez California 102.6 25.6
Milton Jennings Clemson 93.9 25.6
Darryl Bryant West Virginia 101.2 25.6
Glen Rice Georgia Tech 99.0 25.5
Trent Lockett Arizona St. 102.5 25.4
Roberto Nelson Oregon St. 93.5 25.3
J.P. Olukemi Oklahoma St. 106.0 25.1
Harrison Barnes North Carolina 105.8 25.0
Brandon Young DePaul 94.0 25.0

A few brief thoughts:

— Verdell Jones and Christian Watford give Indiana two of the top six Usage Rates.  In Watford’s case, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the improvement in his offensive game and his ability to draw fouls.  He also makes the most of his opportunities when he gets to the stripe, connecting on 84 percent of his 166 attempts last year.  I touched on Jones in the first installment of this series, and while he is also adept at drawing fouls, the results aren’t as positive due to his pedestrian conversion rate from the line.  Turnovers also widen the gap between them, with Jones far more apt to use possessions by losing the ball.

— I was surprised to see Alabama’s JaMychal Green atop the list with a 30.9 usage rate.  Part of that can be attributed to his 19.7 turnover rate, but he also took 28.5 percent of his team’s shots while he was on the floor.  The turnovers held down his overall efficiency numbers, but he still posted a respectable 105.6 rating.

— The much-maligned Renardo Sidney posted a predictably high usage rate after taking nearly one-third of his team’s shots while he was on the floor.  He also posted a turnover rate near 20, but for all the negatives about his game, Sidney did show some signs of improvement late in the season.  That said, a taste of success could have a negative impact if Sidney views that success as a license to do whatever he wants on the offensive end.  At the very least, it will be another test of Sidney’s maturity.

— As a freshman, Terrence Jones had the highest usage rate of any Kentucky player.  His return to Lexington was among the bigger surprises of the offseason, and with a monster recruiting class, it seems unlikely Jones will see the same slice of the possession pie.  In the end, that could be good news for Jones’ efficiency if he continues to draw fouls at a high rate and take care of the ball while cutting back on his three-point shooting.

— It’s amazing what a wide range of Offensive Ratings span this group, as 40 points separate Jeremy Jacob of Oregon and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.  Part of this can be attributed to the preponderance of youthful players who are unable to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, but it also speaks to coaches who are putting players in roles where they are unable to excel and help the team.

In the next installment, I plan to delve into some of the advanced shooting metrics like Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG) and True Shooting Percentage.

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About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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