It’s tough to find a preview of Florida that doesn’t mention Patric Young and his inevitable breakout season. You also can’t read about Young without hearing about his appearance. The AP Style Book suggests you use “chiseled frame”, “NBA body”, or “bulging biceps” in any description of him, but some description of his physique is required.
I don’t know for a fact that the physique bias is real, but it does seem like Young benefits from such a thing in the opposite way that Reggie Johnson and Joshua Smith are penalized for their doughy appearance despite solid production. That’s the only way to explain the chorus of rational observers that are raving about Young’s upcoming season despite what can kindly be described as an ordinary statistical resume.
DraftExpress currently projects Young as the ninth pick in next year’s NBA draft. It’s not like the folks over there are drawing names out of hat to create their mock draft. They have a bunch of experience doing this stuff and are in tune to the interests of NBA personnel. Thus, I’m confident in stating that Young is more likely than not to play in the NBA despite his weak performance to-date. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll have a significant impact on Florida this season.
It’s not crazy to suggest that a guy projected to go ninth in the next draft will have a breakout season. But every time I read someone rave about Young this off-season, I have wondered how likely it was for someone with his production as a freshman to succeed as a sophomore. First, let’s lay out the concerning elements of Young’s statistical record.
As a freshman he used just 11.3% of the Gators’ offensive possessions. This ranked 73rd among 75 SEC regulars last season. He managed to beat out Ole Miss’s Steadman Short and Mississippi State’s Riley Bennock. And despite the chiseled frame, Young managed to gather just 8.8% of available offensive rebounds. Among the 263 D-I players listed at 6-9 last season, this ranked 129th or roughly average for players with Young’s height.
I was curious what kind of improvement has been recorded in either of those categories to get a feel for just what is possible with Young. Let’s look first at offensive rebounding. Since 2005, there have 629 players with an OR% within 0.5% of Young’s freshman figure that have played at least 40% of their team’s minutes the following season. Of those 629, 28 posted an OR% of at least 12 the next season. That’s a figure that would put you on the fringes of the top 100 nationally. The highest figure was the 14.6% put up by Lavoy Allen in 2009.
This analysis isn’t quite fair to Young, though, because it includes guys who clearly overachieved to get to around 9%. Even if Young is not a good rebounder, it’s hard to imagine him possibly doing worse than he did last season due to his height and strength. Still, if we exclude all of the players in this analysis that were 6-7 or shorter, the picture doesn’t get much better. I don’t have player heights for ’06, but since 2007, 19 of 315 big men with Young’s size and offensive rebounding stats became an impact rebounder the following season.
In terms of usage rate, Young is also on shaky ground. Over the same span, there have been 255 returning players that have used less than 12.3% of his team’s possessions while he was on the floor. Just 30 of them used at least 17% of his team possessions the following season, and just four used at least 20%.
One encouraging sign for Gator fans was that he was more active in both categories at the U19 World Championships this summer. I’m not sure how much relevance this has to the upcoming season. Keep in mind Levon Kendall once scored 40 against Team USA in the U21 World Championships and it wasn’t a sign of things to come on the collegiate level. But it is encouraging.
I don’t know if Young will show massive improvement on the offensive end as a sophomore. The stats say no and the scouts say yes, and I’d bet the truth will be in the middle. The only thing I’m confident about is that if Young was 20 pounds heavier, fewer people would have put him on their preseason Wooden Award ballot.