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February 19, 2003 Columns No Comments


Who’s the Best Point Guard? Part II – The Results

by Jed Tai

Part I | Part II

Who’s the best point guard in America?

Last week, we explored the method based on statistics. This week, we display the results.

Before we make the big announcement, we need to note that several changes were made to the player roster before the stats were tabulated. With schools like Utah, Tennessee, and Dayton entering the national scene, their point guards were included. And thanks to the suggestions of several readers (including fellow Hoopville writer, Phil Kasiecki) additions such as Delaware’s Mike Slattery, Providence’s Donnie McGrath, and Texas A&M’s Bernard King also made the list, making the final number of players included equal to 70 – the most we have ever had in our study.

So, without further ado – here are this year’s results:

                           P40 FG% 3P% FT% A40 ATO S40 RATING
1.  Green, St. Bonaventure  88  70  82  95  85  62  87 82.352
2.  Banks, UNLV             85  94  74  79  64  43 100 74.205
3.  Ford, Texas             68  73  60  85  85  59  72 73.588
4.  Ridnour, Oregon         86  81  76  91  72  53  60 72.764
5.  Thomas, Notre Dame      78  72  78  93  77  53  59 72.205
--------------------------------------------------------------
6.  Miles, Kansas           43  71  52  89  92  62  81 72.029
7.  Blake, Maryland         56  78  88  82  84  63  56 70.735
8.  Gaines, Louisville      86  85  79  86  64  58  57 70.676
9.  King, Texas A&M         85  84  75  79  74  57  44 70.441
10. Bailey, UIC             50  84  62  70 100  72  35 70.205
--------------------------------------------------------------
11. Kohn, South Florida     43  73  91  75  77  81  68 69.676
12. Stepp, Gonzaga          76  80  92  85  68  54  54 69.147
13. Nelson, St. Joseph's    82  79  70  78  60  48  79 68.852
14. Sparks, W. Kentucky     58  71  75  74  73  57  79 68.529
15. Bell, Boston College    97  80  85  91  43  51  70 68.147
--------------------------------------------------------------
16. Hatten, St. John's     100  80  59  78  45  35  89 67.117
17. Hinrich, Kansas         84  92  99  73  44  61  65 66.441
18. Bailey, Loyola (IL)     85  64  57  87  63  46  58 66.117
19. Duhon, Duke             38  63  52  66  84  74  67 65.852
20. McNamara, Syracuse      61  73  75 100  55  60  72 65.676
--------------------------------------------------------------
21. Dobie, Long Island      78  76  57  82  74  40  45 65.382
22. Slattery, Delaware      50  74  75  81  69  68  58 65.029
23. Bright, LSU             49  83  79  80  61  64  74 64.911
24. Diener, Marquette       49  69  68  94  64  84  48 64.676
25. Barrett, Seton Hall     75  84  85  87  60  50  44 64.529
--------------------------------------------------------------
26. Wright, Georgia         39  69  61  81  67  97  48 63.852
27. McKinney, Creighton     37  91  80  86  64  77  57 63.794
28. Williams, Oklahoma St   76  80  80  81  45  38  86 63.676
29. White, Oklahoma         44  77  82  76  55 100  52 63.647
30. Prasse-Freeman, Harvard 35  72  83  79  89  62  34 63.588
--------------------------------------------------------------
31. Gardner, Arizona        67  73  75  80  59  50  63 63.529
32. Hawkins, Kentucky       35  75  95  76  79  56  54 63.323
33. Hill, Michigan State    72  81  92  83  51  45  63 63.205
34. Santee, TCU             76  82  79  76  61  50  40 63.000
35. Felton, N. Carolina     52  69  84  75  70  54  54 62.794
--------------------------------------------------------------
36. Knight, Pittsburgh      46  62  57  46  77  59  73 62.588
37. Scott, Clemson          66  73  76  76  62  67  36 62.441
38. Deane, Purdue           98  82  73  82  35  37  68 62.264
39. Price, Oklahoma         90  86  89 100  37  45  47 62.058
40. Clemons, Missouri       76  75  84  82  54  37  57 61.941
--------------------------------------------------------------
41. Little, VMI             42  64  56  66  82  43  67 61.823
42. Jack, Georgia Tech      45  83  70  72  76  46  54 61.676
43. Moore, Washington St    87  66  70  78  51  36  58 61.617
44. Barea, Northeastern     80  74  67  85  49  41  60 61.529
45. McGrath, Providence     45  68  76  85  61  84  30 59.941
--------------------------------------------------------------
46. Brown, Illinois         52  80  76  63  56  76  45 59.705
47. Harris, Wisconsin       63  92  93  83  33  56  67 58.970
48. Brown, Connecticut      43  78  14  60  80  69  39 58.970
49. Gray, Wake Forest       61  73  53  72  59  46  57 58.823
50. Zimmerman, Miss. St     45  92  54  74  62  43  65 58.500
--------------------------------------------------------------
51. Hamilton, Florida       38 100  78  80  50  66  59 58.441
52. Roberson, Florida       85  82  93  89  29  33  55 57.117
53. Williams, Illinois      37  75  77  51  66  65  48 57.088
54. Darby, Ohio State       74  70  75  85  43  34  50 56.264
55. Horton, Michigan        68  69  74  80  48  36  45 55.500
--------------------------------------------------------------
56. Finn, Xavier            37  83 100  74  48  64  47 55.352
57. Sidney, Boston College  62  87  41  48  55  50  49 55.264
58. Miller, Butler          59  86  99  83  40  46  40 54.764
59. Watson, Tennessee       40  84  81  70  59  53  37 54.705
60. Marshall, Dayton        52  75  75  68  54  67  23 54.647
--------------------------------------------------------------
61. Coverdale, Indiana      54  68  70  87  51  54  32 54.558
62. Williams, Alabama       67  69  67  90  46  36  36 53.852
63. Drisdom, Utah           31  80  94  83  59  40  44 53.647
64. Midgley, Cal            58  96 100  74  46  33  31 52.941
--------------------------------------------------------------
65. Fitch, Kentucky         66  85  86  82  31  41  43 52.352
66. Ingram, St. John's      52  76  90  67  37  32  50 49.323
67. Barnes, Stanford        67  68  73  85  40  33  18 48.852
68. Downey, Wake Forest     49  62  66  94  43  41  19 47.382
69. Nelson, Florida         44  54  66  89  35  39  32 44.705
70. McKnight, Purdue        32  72   0  74  41  54  37 42.794
--------------------------------------------------------------

This year’s winner? None other than mighty mite Marques Green of St. Bonaventure, who continues the Bonnies’ recent tradition of small point guards (Shandue McNeil, Tim Winn). The diminutive junior point guard registered high marks both scoring and assists-wise, and beefed up his scores on the defensive end with the second best steals score. In fact, he finished in the top five in four different categories – there really wasn’t a category where he struggled to score high marks in. And his margin of lead over the rest of the pack is one of the highest we’ve seen since we started this study years ago.

Now does this mean that Green really is the best point guard in the land? Certainly that’s arguable, but at the very least it does show that he’s someone to look out for who isn’t on the national radar screen. And while it’s true that Green racks up stats for a mediocre Atlantic-10 team, he did fare well in all categories that we measured. And did it in a way that ranked him above his peers – despite his 5-7 height (the shortest player in our study).

Right after Green is another relative unknown, Marcus Banks of UNLV. While Banks doesn’t make your local newspaper either, there’s no question that he’s made a big difference for Charlie Spoonhour’s Runnin’ Rebels since he transferred there from junior college, and has put together a fantastic senior season. Banks’ large margin in the steals category may have made the difference in his high ranking, as well as his high scoring and shooting percentage marks – which made up for his relatively low assist/turnover ratio. However, his rank could be debated as UNLV plays in a “weaker” conference – which may allow him the opportunity to pad his numbers.

But starting at #3, many of the names known to most around the country start appearing. Ford, Ridnour, Thomas, Miles, and Blake — players from major conferences, all of whom their fans and followers would argue is the top point guard in the land. In years past, many of the big names didn’t rank near the top. But this year, they all showed that they indeed are worthy of being the cream of the crop. And with so few points differentiating between them all, it’s not clear if one is better or worse than the other according to our study. Each point guard brings a different set of skills to the table, and it shows up in the ratings.

Rounding out the Top Ten are a couple of converted shooting guards – Reece Gaines of Louisville, and Bernard King of Texas A&M – and the nation’s current assist leader, Martell Bailey of Illinois-Chicago. In Gaines and King, you have two players who are showing that it is indeed possible to make the conversion from scorer to distributor – without giving up too much of the scoring part. Both are fantastic all-around players who should generate buzz come NBA Draft time.

Going down the list, it’s interesting to see where some of the other big names place. Kansas could brag they have the finest backcourt in the land, and Kirk Hinrich at #17 certainly does nothing to disprove that. Chris Duhon of Duke ranks #19; and while he hasn’t quite lived up to All-American billing this year, he’s still putting together a good season despite his struggles with his shot. At #20, we have this year’s top freshman in the ratings – Gerry McNamara of Syracuse, who arguably wouldn’t have started at the point had Billy Edelin been eligible from day one. He’s put together quite a first year.

Moving lower down the list, at #31 is Arizona’s Jason Gardner – a point guard many feel ranks with the Fords, Thomases, and Ridnours of the world. But in this study, he simply didn’t rate well in the two assist-related categories, although his numbers in the other stats were solid. Pittsburgh’s Brandin Knight (#36) dropped due to his low numbers offensively, especially his poor proficiency at the charity stripe. Converted point guards like Hollis Price (Oklahoma) and Willie Deane (Purdue) simply don’t make the cut. Freshman points such as Dee Brown (Illinois) and Daniel Horton (Michigan) still have a lot to learn. And sadly, Florida senior Brett Nelson almost ranks last in our rating system – and would have ranked last if Brandon McKnight (Purdue) had hit a single three-pointer. Nelson was a kid who was garnering All-America last year and was once hailed as the next Jerry West. How far he has fallen.

Here are the top 5 performers in each individual category:

Points per 40 Minutes
---------------------
1. Marcus Hatten, St. John's          25.97
2. Willie Deane, Purdue               25.56
3. Troy Bell, Boston College          25.23
4. Hollis Price, Oklahoma             23.37
5. Marques Green, St. Bonaventure     22.93

Field Goal Percentage
---------------------
1. Justin Hamilton, Florida           .549
2. Richard Midgley, California        .528
3. Marcus Banks, UNLV                 .518
4. Devin Harris, Wisconsin            .5078
5. Derrick Zimmerman, Mississippi St  .5076

3-pt Field Goal Percentage
--------------------------
1. Richard Midgley, California        .462
2. Dedrick Finn, Xavier               .461
3. Kirk Hinrich, Kansas               .4569
4. Brandon Miller, Butler             .4568
5. Cliff Hawkins, Kentucky            .438

Free Throw Percentage
---------------------
1. Hollis Price, Oklahoma             .940
2. Gerry McNamara, Syracuse           .938
3. Marques Green, St. Bonaventure     .894
4. Taron Downey, Wake Forest          .886
5. Travis Diener, Marquette           .886

Assists per 40 Minutes
----------------------
1. Martell Bailey, Illinois-Chicago  10.25
2. Aaron Miles, Kansas                9.41
3. Elliott Prasse-Freeman, Harvard    9.13
4. Marques Green, St. Bonaventure     8.76
5. T.J. Ford, Texas                   8.73

Assist-Turnover Ratio
---------------------
1. Quannas White, Oklahoma            3.41
2. Rashad Wright, Georgia             3.31
3. Donnie McGrath, Providence         2.86
4. Travis Diener, Marquette           2.85
5. Reggie Kohn, South Florida         2.75

Steals per 40 Minutes
---------------------
1. Marcus Banks, UNLV                 3.64
2. Marcus Hatten, St. John's          3.22
3. Marques Green, St. Bonaventure     3.15
4. Victor Williams, Oklahoma St       3.11
5. Aaron Miles, Kansas                2.94

Of course, this is just one way of comparing the nation’s best point guards to each other, and is by no means the only method. I have had suggestions in the past to modify the method by either adding in factors to normalize for team style of play or strength of schedule (i.e. Sagarin Ratings). Also, perhaps different weights should be given to the categories. Have any suggestions, comments, or think I left out anybody worthy of inclusion? Be sure to drop me your suggestions!

Before we go, a look at previous year’s winners:

2002 – Kirk Hinrich, Kansas

2001 – Greedy Daniels, TCU

2000 – Pepe Sanchez, Temple

1999 – Arthur Lee, Stanford

And finally, as I always say, with anything done with stats, take it with a grain of salt. It’s just one way of looking at things. But a good way, in my opinion.

Thanks go to James Oliver III for his help with the ratings section

Part I | Part II

     

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