Throughout the season, I've had a lot of discussions with friends about whether Georgetown would be better off playing small ball with one post player than the standard two because the Hoyas don't have a front court player that can stretch the floor with a midrange shot. Against Creighton, Georgetown went small and was able to achieve a lot of success against a very good team. Today I had some time to run data on Georgetown's line-ups beginning with the first Big East game (excluding Josh Smith line-ups) to evaluate the hypothesis that Georgetown is better playing small.
- Net field goal percentage is almost a wash. Georgetown is more efficient in scoring with the big line-up, but the small line-up is better defensively.
- As expected, Georgetown is a more efficient rebounding team with an additional frontcourt player.
- Also as expected, the team is much more likely to turn the ball over with a two big line-up.
- The result is that the traditional two-big line-up is 2.6 points per 100 possessions better than the small line-up. This may not seem like a lot, but on an adjusted basis (these stats are not), that's the difference between the number 49 rated team on Kenpom and the 34th.
Let's dig deeper though and compare the different combinations of Hopkins, Lubick and Moses. For the purpose of this analysis, all net numbers are relative to the cumulative Georgetown statistics in the data set:
|HOP / LUB||207||-1.59%||1.77%||3.28%||0.96%||3.39%||-2.9||5.8||-8.7|
|HOP / MOS||76||1.16%||-3.85%||-1.71%||4.88%||-1.55%||3.0||-10.4||13.4|
|LUB / MOS||125||3.80%||-3.88%||4.04%||2.82%||3.84%||5.1||-8.0||13.1|
- Even though the Hopkins / Lubick line-up has the most posessions, the Moses pairings are much more efficient. There may be some bias in that the Hopkins / Lubick line starts the game and so a larger portion of their sample is against stronger competition.
- The Moses line-ups are much more efficientl defensively as evidenced by the -3.85% and -3.88% net TS% for those line-ups.
- The Nate line-ups have the strongest offensive rebounding, while the Moses line-ups are the strongest for defensive rebounding.
- Late in halves, Coach Thompson will often sub in Nate for offensive posessions. However, the team is more likely to turn over the ball in the Nate combinations (+3.39% & +3.84%), so extra care should be given in play design to put Nate in low turnover risk situations.
So it appears that for the traditional two-big line-ups, Coach Thompson may want to consider leaning more heavily on the Moses combinations. But since our frontcourt has a tendency to accumulate fouls, let's also take a look at how each of the bigs perform in small-ball line-ups as well:
|POSS||TS%||OPP TS%||ORB%||DRB%||TO%||Draw Foul%||OFF||DEF||NET|
- Hopkins is the stand-out player in the single big line-ups. Without a complementary frontcourt player, he can hold his own his own on the boards, especially on the offensive glass. In doing so, Mikael negates the greatest cost of going small and so the team can benefit from more efficient shooting and a lower turnover rate.
- The offense sputters with Nate as the only big. Shooting percentages decline at the rim (-8.55%), on 2-point jumpshots (-6.35%) and beyond the arc (-13.02%). In addition, there is only a small decline in the turnover rate (-1.34%) and a significant decline in offensive rebounding (-7.78%). For Nate to be successful, he needs to be paired with another frontcourt player.
- While Moses was the star of the 2-man big line-ups, his weaknesses are more exposed when he's the only frontcourt player on the floor. On offense, Moses doesn't use many posessions and so the team is more efficient in shooting and ballhandling because the usage rate of more skilled offensive players increases. However, some of the efficiency is muted by the decline in offensive rebounding. On defense, the large decline in rebounding percent is the primary factor behind the decline in efficiency.
- I included the rate of fouls drawn for this table because the marginal was different for each of the three players. I have much more marginal data prepared, so please let me know if there's anything in particular that you would like to see.
So hopefully on Saturday, we're going to see more Lubick-Moses pairings and small ball line-ups featuring Mikael. In a close game, the most efficient line-up selections could be the difference.
Let me know if there's any other data that you would like to see in the comments and I'll try my best to put together some more information throughout the day.