By which I mean basketball. Now that the myriad deadlines have passed relating to the NBA draft and we know definitively who's in and who's out, it's possible to have a look at how next year's teams will stack up against each other. Besides the graduating seniors, five ACC underclassmen also declared for the draft: Reggie Jackson (BC), Kyrie Irving (Duke), Chris Singleton (FSU), Iman Shumpert (GT), and Jordan Williams (Md.)
This post uses the PORPAG stat as derived by some sharp Michigan State folks and the somewhat less scientifically rigorous EPORPAG stat (but I like it anyway) that I derived myself (that's why.) As a refresher, the formulas are:
(O-rating - 88) * Poss.% * Min% * 0.65 = PORPAG
PORPAG * ( ( (Blk% / 2) + Stl%) / 2.45 ) = EPORPAG
88 and 2.45 are replacement-player constants; 0.65 is a pace factor for the ACC. The result of each is a number that approximates how many more points per game a particular player is worth to his team than a replacement-level schmo. PORPAG is offense-only and EPORPAG makes some attempt at including defense in the equation. For explanations of why all this is so, click the links above.
Also, I only ever calculated these for players who played over 30% of their team's minutes on the season. Anything less was going to end up with a bunch of small numbers that'd be basically the same whether the player is Michael Jordan or you.
So anyway. Team by team, here's who lost what and what's left for next year:
We all knew they were gonna be slammed by graduation. They lost four excellent seniors and the conference's top offensive player, Reggie Jackson. Jackson's PORPAG was 4.80 on the season, the best in the ACC. (The reason BC wasn't totally awesome was because he and Joe Trapani were the only two players on the team whose EPORPAGs were higher than their PORPAGs, which is supposed to happen. In other words, basically the whole team played worse than replacement-level defense.) Next year, BC will carry over five players. Five. One freshman starter, two bench bodies at the back of the rotation, one transfer, and one walk-on. They'll add six new freshman, but, look, if this team is anywhere near .500 in the conference their coach should be made King of Massachusetts.
EPORPAG's favorite player in the ACC was a surprise: Clemson's Jerai Grant, who was a perfectly good scorer on the offensive end and did a lot of work on defense to give him an EPORPAG of 8.02. Next-best was GT's Shumpert at 5.84. Fortunately for the rest of us, Grant's gone. Clemson is one of five ACC teams to lose only two players, but as far as EPORPAG goes, they're the only one of those five to lose their top two guys. (And of the two more ACC teams that only lose one, neither is their best.) Clemson has some good building blocks remaining and is certainly in better shape than BC, but it's gonna be kind of a transition year.
Aw, you know how it is. They're the Yankees. They lost Irving, as well as Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler (but Singler isn't even that amazing a defender) but they just picked whatever talent they wanted for their freshman class so it doesn't matter.
The reason I like EPORPAG is that I think it passes the eye test for the most part, and one of the eye-test players is FSU's Singleton. His EPORPAG is well over twice his offense-only PORPAG, which is about what people think of his game. Even with him gone, FSU will have a great defense, and I'll tell you right now, Bernard James will take center stage next year and open a lot of eyes. James is the best returning player in the league in EPORPAG because he's an outstanding shot-blocker and gets steals at the rate of a guard. He got some press this past year for his background as an Air Force NCO, but he'll get legitimate coverage for his basketball skills this season.
This team was crap last year because they had Iman Shumpert, Glen Rice, and a lot of basically replacement-level dudes. Shumpert is gone and now it's Rice and the Replacement-Levels. They're very young, though, so there's a lot of room for growth. The only scholarship junior was Shumpert. Lot of uncertainty here, with the mostly-undeveloped team and new coach.
Uncertainty here, too, but the bad kind. With three seniors plus Jordan Williams leaving, the roster is very light on returning contributors. Maryland's second-best 2011 recruit, Sterling Gibbs, has asked for his release, making it absolutely imperative they hang on to Nick Faust, their best. There will be some lesser-used guys playing bigger roles, and we'll find out if Terrell Stoglin is capable of carrying the team as the focal point. None of the upperclassmen are anything but role players, so their large sophomore class will have to take charge.
Could be a scary team. They lose just one contributor, and they have the highest returning combined PORPAG and EPORPAG in the league. Yes, higher than Duke and UNC. I don't think they'll be better than those two, but honestly if they can't get to the tournament with that bunch, then their coaching hire is a failure. We've seen what Jim Larranaga can do, so I doubt very much that'll be the case.
These guys were by far the biggest beneficiaries of draft decisions. They only lost little-used senior Justin Knox to graduation; Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes defied conventional logic and returned to school. Those two were easily the team's PORPAG leaders last year. Not that there isn't talent behind them (naturally, UNC has two five-star freshmen coming in) but those two decisions mean UNC will legitimately be considered a contender instead of just because they're UNC.
The Wolfies return more 30%-of-minutes players than anyone else with seven, and all but one was a freshman or sophomore. Or they did until Ryan Harrow asked for a transfer. Despite crappy results in the win column last year, NC State's guys put up quality tempo-free numbers for their ages. (Key is "for their ages" - they didn't have any big numbers, just a lot of decent ones.) Still, with a much better coach on the sidelines they should see plenty of improvement, and if they can get over the loss of point guard Harrow, there should be a good core to rebuild around.
Well, you know how it is. Actually, if you go by just PORPAG and whatnot, this team overachieved amazingly last season. The best offensive player was Joe Harris at a PORPAG of 1.59; Mu Farrakhan was just a shade less at 1.58. Those are above-average but pretty pedestrian numbers; NC State's "decent for their ages" guys were led by Scott Wood at 2.26. But Harris was the fourth-best freshman in the league last year, or at least had the fourth-highest PORPAG, and KT Harrell was eighth, making UVA just one of three teams with two of the top ten freshmen. Mike Scott, of course, is the wild card. Had he played the whole season at the minutes pace he started on, he'd have had a PORPAG of 3.42 - good enough to be the best returning player in the league.
It's awfully hard to tell what this team should look like because Seth Greenberg doesn't seem to know you can freely substitute in and out, unlike, say, soccer. Three pretty huge contributors depart, and only Erick Green and Victor Davila remain among players that Greenberg actually used. They'll get a couple quality players back from injury and add a decent freshman class to the equation, so as with UVA, the Hokies will probably outperform the PORPAG tally I'm about to do.
God this team was bad. I can't remember any time since I became a UVA fan that an ACC team that we called bad was actually, legitimately shitty and unable to beat even other bad opponents, as opposed to merely not really good enough to win the conference. (That makes it even more awesomer that we lost to them!) Will they be better? Yes. Competitive? Probably not.
That was the summary; here's the tally I mentioned. These two lists rank the ACC teams by the total PORPAG and EPORPAG of their returning players:
PORPAG (offense only):
This is a reasonably accurate picture of how things will look. For common sense reasons, the actual predicted order should look a little different. UVA, VT, and mayyybe GT will outperform those rankings; NC State and Wake will probably underperform them, and so will Miami just because they won't really be the conference's best or second-best team. But I'll be keeping these lists in mind when it comes time to prognosticate the 2011-12 hoops season.