It’s getting to that time of year where people start talking about All-American teams and player of the year honors. There always seems to be that one guy that is having a large impact but fails to get the proper recognition because his team plays at a very slow pace and thus said player is unable to accumulate the shiny counting stats that other big-time players use to get the media’s attention. The first player that appealed to me like this was Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert in 2007. He was somewhat minutes-challenged, but his advanced stats were extremely impressive when he was on the floor.
Last season, you’ll recall Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor filled this role. It wasn’t until he hit people over the head with his performance against Ohio State on January 9 that folks began to take his play seriously. Taylor hasn’t been able to maintain the blistering statistical pace that he did last season, but fortunately for tempo-free lovers, someone has taken his place.
According to bbstate.com, through Tuesday’s games, Virginia forward Mike Scott ranked 131st in the nation with 16.0 points per game and 47th with 9.0 rebounds per game. On Monday night, he went for 17 points and nine rebounds against LSU in a 57-52, 60-possession contest. The pace-contaminated numbers aren’t inspiring, and even though a few folks covering the ACC are giving Scott his due acclaim, I expect he’s less known nationally than he should be. Even if he maintains his current production through conference play, it will be a struggle for him to get consideration for ACC player of the year.
However, accounting for the brutally slow tempo UVa plays at, Scott provides one of the best scoring and rebounding combinations in the country and anchors one of the nation’s best defenses on top of that. Pick your favorite big-man player of the year candidate for comparison and drink the tempo-free nectar. (All stats through Tuesday’s games.)
ORtg %Poss OR% DR% A% Scott 125 27 14 26 16 T-Rob 110 28 12 32 13 Sully 126 26 11 34 8 A Davis 129 18 12 26 6 C Zeller 129 22 12 17 7 D Green 103 28 9 24 20 Henson 113 23 10 24 10
This is a good time to mention that from an individual level, offensive rebounds are more valuable than defensive rebounds because when a player grabs a defensive board he is more likely to be taking away a rebound from a teammate. This is especially true for Scott’s offensive rebounds since UVa typically only sends two players to the offensive glass. I put assist rate in the comparison also, because Scott is no slouch in that department, either. Draymond Green gets praise for his passing, and rightfully so, but statistically at least, Scott isn’t far behind, setting up one in every six of his teammates’ buckets.
Obviously, the difference between Scott and the others is that (a) his team is not as good and (b) Virginia has played mainly a collection of atrocious defenses thus far. But hey, if reputable people are going to rave about Doug McDermott, then Scott should be getting some national love, too.
Keep in mind, that without Scott on the floor most of last season, the Cavaliers were significantly worse on both sides of the ball. The improvement this season isn’t all due to Scott – the players around him have improved with another year of experience and Malcolm Brogdon has made a small impact as a freshman – but Scott’s numbers indicate he can take credit for much of the difference. It’ll take some good play in the three games UVa has against Duke and UNC for him to get the mainstream publicity he deserves, but tempo-free fanatics have already noticed.