Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Player Awards

This year, for the first time, I'm going to go down to three teams, because there were a ton of highly deserving players in conference this season. Actually, the player spread didn't have a lot of middle this year - there were several players at the top, and several players who did very little besides play roles. As I was writing team previews this year, I kept finding myself saying things like "they only have 3 or 4 good players, and everyone else is very, very much behind." So, without further ado, here's how my first team stacked up:

5) Jeff Teague - Wake Forest
Teague started off hot, fading a little down the stretch, but still finished with extremely strong overall numbers. He scored nearly 20 a game, dished out just over three assists, and did a fantastic job getting to the line (where he shot over 80%). Teague ended up posting a strong 116 offensive rating while using over 25% of the Deacs' possessions. On a more intangible level, Teague was the guy who gave Wake Forest its attitude and its edge. He was the best player on one of the three best teams in the conference, and he deserves first-team recognition.

4) Gerald Henderson - Duke
Henderson was the highest usage player of anyone in the ACC, using just shy of 30% of Duke's possessions while he was in the game. Like Teague, he had his peaks and valleys. When he's on, he just might be the best player in the league. There were games this year where he was unstoppable on offense. When he's off, he had a tendency to dominate the ball and get jumper happy. His offensive rating faded down the stretch - at 111.43, it's the lowest of the 5 first-teamers. Henderson's raw stats were quite strong - almost 20 and 6 per game, while turning the ball over just 16% of his possessions. Not that this counts in the award calculation, but he's also the most vicious dunker in the ACC.

3) Tyler Hansbrough - UNC
The only post player and only repeat member of this first team. Hansbrough had less impressive numbers this year than last, dropping in his field goal percentage, recording fewer double doubles, eschewing the offensive glass, and getting to the line with less frequency. I think he tried too hard to showcase a perimeter game and spent too little time doing what he does best - putting guys on his back on the blocks and scoring over, around, and through them. Still, he scored nearly 20 points a game, rarely turned the ball over (just 11.9%), and posted the second best offensive rating in the league at 126.85.

2) Tywon Lawson - UNC
Lawson was ridiculously effective on offense. He put up a 130 offensive rating on the season, combining excellent shooting (55%/45%/86%, at a total of 1.29 PPWS - best in the ACC by a wide margin) with great ball control (2.68 A/TO ratio and assists on a full third of his teammates scores, best in the league) and almost nothing negative on the offensive end. His usage is the lowest of anyone on any of the all-ACC teams, but he very clearly paces the Heels and is the key to their success. Three of his four worst performances came in UNC's three conference losses, including his only two games with offensive ratings under 100. The only thing that keeps him out of his top spot is his defense. Matadors make more of an effort to stay in front of the bull than he does with opposing point guards. Opponents have lit him up all season long. Lawson completely dominates one half of the court, but is entirely disinterested on the other. That leaves him short of POY.

1) Toney Douglas - Florida State
Everyone in the league has up and down games, but Toney Douglas managed to turn even his down games into successes. He's the only player in the league not to have multiple games with offensive ratings below 100 (80, against Duke, in the first game of the year), and only had two games below 110. Douglas did this all while being extremely high usage in every single game. He had just one game where he used fewer than 25% of FSU's possessions (a "low" 23% at Virginia) and six over 30%. For as much as he controlled the ball, he never turned it over - just 11% of his possessions (a far more impressive number for a lead guard than a post player). He led the ACC in scoring by a wide margin, and produced 30 more points than his nearest competition. Plus, he might be the best on-ball perimeter defender in the conference. Toney Douglas was a star in every game he played. He was also the best player in the ACC this season.

Second Team

6) Jack McClinton - Miami

McClinton might be the most dangerous offensive player in the conference. He had the best combination of usage and offensive rating in the conference - in any 100 team possessions, he would produce more points than any other player. McClinton was the only non Tar Heel with any meaningful production who had an offensive rating above 120. The only thing keeping him off first team is his defense, which was not quite Lawson-level bad, but still highly lacking.

7) Trevor Booker - Clemson
Booker was a beast on the defensive glass this year, pulling down nearly a quarter of opponent misses all by his lonesome. For a relatively short post player, he was also an excellent shot blocker. Booker also excelled on the offensive end of the court after a slow start to conference play. He had a stretch of seven games where he averaged a 140 offensive rating. Booker had a tendency to disappear at times - 7 games where his usage was below 20%. He needs to have a mindset to want to dominate every game, because most often, he can.

8) James Johnson - Wake Forest
Of all the big men in conference, Johnson is the best NBA prospect. He's a 6'9" forward with a guard's ball control and a nose for the ball off the glass. He can score facing up, with his back to the basket, and occasionally on the perimeter (although his 3pt shooting is still poor). Johnson scored over 15 points a game on the year on the back of stellar 63% 2pt shooting. He put up an offensive rating of 117 for the conference season, and carried Wake in some of their key wins, especially the Clemson sweep.

9) Kyle Singler - Duke
Singler is Duke's most versatile player, and among the most versatile in the league. He was the team's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, putting up a 113 offensive rating while using 25% of possessions. After a rough three-game stretch against Virginia, Clemson, and Miami, Singler finished strong, playing key roles in the victories over FSU and Virginia Tech. He has a tendency to be turnover prone (they come in bunches - 9 games with 0 or 1, 5 games with 4 or more); if he can control that, he can really dominate.

10) AD Vassallo - Virginia Tech
As recently as three games ago, I would have put Malcolm Delaney in this spot. But in the second half of the season, Vassallo played far stronger. Against Duke and UNC, he scored 51 points, hitting 22 of 38 shots (including 7 of 16 threes). Plus, I have a soft spot for seniors. Vassallo was a solid 36% from beyond the arc on 100 attempts, scored just over 19 a game, and put up a very solid 116 offensive rating.

Third Team

11) Greivis Vasquez - Maryland
12) Wayne Ellington - UNC
13) Tyrese Rice - Boston College
14) Malcolm Delaney - Virginia Tech
15) Jon Scheyer - Duke

Honorable Mention: Danny Green, KC Rivers, Sylven Landesberg, Gani Lawal, Rakim Sanders.


Jane Elizabeth said...

I am not sure whether the issue with Lawson is not more one of height than effort on defense. I think he is about 5' 10".

Second, UNC plays a strange man to man scheme in which players do not switch off and it is much more difficult to peg certain players as responsible for opponents' scoring.

Roy Williams has even somehow convinced himself that Bobby Frasor is some sort of lockdown defender, so good, that shooting 25% from the field is irrelevant.

Paul Rugani said...

That may be true. Regardless, he doesn't play even average defense.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a game in here -- the last game of the regular season? You have no comments or statistics on that one?

Paul Rugani said...

You know, I honestly forgot that I hadn't put up a post on the UNC game. I chalk it up to a heavy work week. I have the box, etc. ready. Here's what I'll do - if the finals tomorrow turns out to be Duke-UNC, I'll do it as part of the preview. If it's any other matchup, I'll do the post after the finals. Sorry I missed it until now - as you perhaps rhetorically suggest, I have both stats and comments.