Admit it: you saw that header and went OH GOODY. And, "why can't it be basketball season RIGHT NOW?", followed by a prayer of thanks to all the baby angels for Tony Bennett. I know how you roll.
Well, you can't have actual basketball for another three-ish weeks, but you can have previews. I won't be doing full-fledged team previews anymore, so I've got an idea or two spinning in the hopper about how to preview the ACC instead. This is a basic look at the returning and departed players from the conference.
Using KenPom (what else?) O-ratings, I slapped together a number I'm calling Impact Score. It's.... not totally scientifically rigorous, but it's kinda neat anyway and useful enough. All it is, is this:
(O-rating - 100) * Minutes %age * (Possession %age / 0.2)
That assumes that the average player has an O-rating of 100, meaning he generates a point for every one of "his" possessions. Multiply the difference by the percentage of available minutes he played. Then multiply again by a proportion generated by his possession percentage, i.e., the percentage of his team's possessions that he ends while he's on the floor (say, by scoring, or turning the ball over.) This should be around 20%, what with there being five guys on the floor and all. Higher, and he's having a proportionally greater impact, and vice versa.
Example: A player with an O-rating of 110, who plays 20 minutes a game** and ends 22% of his team's possessions will have an Impact Score of 5.5.
It's not perfect, but it can be illustrative at times. C.J. Fair, widely considered a top player in the league, and voted to the first team last year, had an O-rating under 100, and thus a negative IS. Sure, he scored a ton - and he needed five zillion shots to do it. The guy was the quintessential volume scorer. It's no accident he went undrafted while Joe Harris got a guaranteed contract. IS suggests that Syracuse will be better off without Fair.
This is, by the way, purely for the offensive side of the ball, in case you hadn't noticed. Akil Mitchell is just incredibly pedestrian in this scoring system, but obviously, that wasn't the end of the court where he'll be missed. For this reason, I've added up each team's IS's but warn you that it's only mildly instructive to do so. It's really about the players.
**I realize 20 mpg is not precisely the same as 50% of available minutes. Just roll with it for simplicity's sake.
Here are the total scores for each team from 2013-14:
Notre Dame: 48.56
Boston College: 40.58
NC State: 32.57
North Carolina: 32.34
Florida State: 26.16
Wake Forest: 7.04
Georgia Tech: 2.86
Virginia Tech: -13.71
Obviously, that doesn't correlate too well with actual success, but it does work reasonably hand-in-hand with each team's O-rating. BC didn't finish in the same hemisphere as UVA in real life, but their KenPom O-rating was 30th in the country to UVA's 21st. So the similar team IS's make sense viewed in that lens.
Now for the teams in order of returning IS:
Notre Dame: 37.00
Boston College: 26.83
North Carolina: 26.31
Florida State: 9.54
NC State: 0.52
Georgia Tech: -9.97
Virginia Tech: -10.17
Wake Forest: -14.50
Yes, VT committed addition by subtraction, by losing a couple players to transfers, particularly Official Total Stiff, Trevor Thompson, who took his lousy shooting and turnover machinery to Ohio State. Elsewhere in the state, UVA is among the teams with the highest percentage of quality returning players. Only Carolina and Notre Dame fare better there - though teams like Duke and Louisville bring back enough talent to be called favorites.
For reference, before we go team by team, here's the top 20 players from 2013-14, whether returning or not (and for that matter, ignoring teams that are no longer here):
1. T.J. Warren (NCSt.) - 19.69
2. Marcus Paige (UNC) - 19.55
3. Pat Connaughton (ND) - 19.32
4. Rodney Hood (Duke) - 18.24
5. Olivier Hanlan (BC) - 16.22
6. Russ Smith (UL) - 15.82
7. Quinn Cook (Duke) - 15.59
8. Trevor Cooney (SU) - 15.39
9. Rion Brown (Mia.) - 15.25
10. Tyler Ennis (SU) - 14.73
11. Coron Williams (WF) - 14.72
12. Lamar Patterson (Pitt) - 14.55
13. Montrezl Harrell (UL) - 14.46
14. Jabari Parker (Duke) - 14.21
15. Talib Zanna (Pitt) - 14.06
16. Okaro White (FSU) - 13.49
17. K.J. McDaniels (CU) - 13.43
18. Jerian Grant (ND) - 13.36
19. Luke Hancock (UL) - 13.06
20. Amile Jefferson (Duke) - 12.97
21. Malcolm Brogdon (UVA) - 12.64
(ok i lied that's 21)
Remember, this isn't the 20 best players, it's the 20 most impactful, as a combination of offensive efficiency and high usage.
Just for S&Gs, the bottom 10:
Madison Jones (WF): -9.65
Chris Bolden (GT): -7.26
Trevor Thompson (VT): -6.75
Joey Van Zegeren (VT): -5.97
Adonis Filer (CU): -5.39
Nate Britt (UNC): -5.08
Devin Wilson (VT): -4.81
Davon Reed (Mia.): -4.80
Kyle Washington (NCSt.): -4.41
Jarquez Smith (FSU): -3.87
All is not lost for these guys, of course. Some are in fact legitimately bad (or just not ACC-level) but Britt was a pretty hot-stuff recruit (they always are at UNC) and Wilson's game passed the eye test and he probably shouldn't be blamed for having been leaned on so hard by a horrendous team.
Key losses: Ryan Anderson (10.46), Joe Rahon (3.23)
Key returners: Olivier Hanlan (16.22), Lonnie Jackson (3.46), Patrick Heckmann (2.67), Eddie Odio (2.33), Garland Owens (2.28)
Losing Anderson to transfer (Arizona) hurts the Eagles, but they get back one of the conference's better scorers and certainly one of the most heavily-relied-upon players in the country in Hanlan, plus an assortment of useful supporting cast members.
Key losses: K.J. McDaniels (13.43), Adonis Filer (-5.39)
Key returners: Rod Hall (5.49), Damarcus Harrison (4.75), Landry Nnoko (4.29)
McDaniels is a huge loss, but it's balanced by also losing Adonis Filer, the fifth-lowest ranked player in the league; Filer transferred to Florida Atlantic. Clemson is left without a star player for now, but some good pieces remain, and freshman Donte Grantham should be an impact player.
Key losses: Rodney Hood (18.24), Jabari Parker (14.21), Andre Dawkins (8.61), Tyler Thornton (7.44)
Key returners: Quinn Cook (15.59), Amile Jefferson (12.97), Rasheed Sulaimon (10.59)
Duke loses enough players to fill out the starting lineup of an ACC contender, but nobody's feeling too sorry for them. Somehow they'll cope. Top freshmen who you'll get sick of hearing about include Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, and Justise Winslow, all one-and-done possibilities.
Key losses: Okaro White (13.49), Ian Miller (6.84), Robert Gilchrist (-3.72)
Key returners: Aaron Thomas (7.48), Boris Bojanovsky (5.04), Devon Bookert (3.33)
FSU is one of the more slammed teams by graduation, but their returning players are all pretty young with a lot of room to grow, and Gilchrist, while not a total stiff on offense, could be hacked with impunity. FSU isn't in terrible shape, but they'll be a remade team for sure.
Key losses: Daniel Miller (9.66), Trae Golden (5.63), Kammeon Holsey (2.96),
Key returners: Marcus Georges-Hunt (2.74), Corey Heyward (-3.40), Chris Bolden (-7.26)
This is one of the ugliest situations in the league. GT was already bad, and Georges-Hunt is the only returning player of much worth at all. They've taken some transfers, notably ex-Terp Charles Mitchell, and incoming freshman Tadric Jackson comes in with plenty of hype, but generally their returning players just aren't very good.
Key losses: Russ Smith (15.82), Luke Hancock (13.06), Stephan Van Treese (7.52)
Key returners: Montrezl Harrell (14.46), Wayne Blackshear (8.74), Terry Rozier (7.06), Chris Jones (6.07)
Harrell gets all the pub, but Louisville is rightly considered a top contender because of a pretty deep supporting cast that also returns. It's rare you can lose so much and still bring back so much too - and the incoming freshman class is very deep, with no fewer than five four-star players in it.
Key losses: Rion Brown (15.25), Erik Swoope (5.43), James Kelly (3.83)
Key returners: Manu Lecomte (1.44)
The cupboard's going to be about as bare as that implies. Of a nine-man rotation, Miami lost six, including Kelly to a transfer to Marshall. The Canes will have to lean heavily on an incoming class that includes a pair of touted guards in James Palmer and Ja'Quan Newton, and they'll have K-State transfer Angel Rodriguez getting eligible as well. Rodriguez is probably the main reason the Canes aren't pegged even lower than they are by the experts.
Key losses: James Michael McAdoo (3.70), Leslie McDonald (2.33)
Key returners: Marcus Paige (19.55), Brice Johnson (8.37), Kennedy Meeks (5.62), Nate Britt (-5.08)
UNC is the team least affected by attrition in our little analysis here; the losses of McDonald and the wildly overrated McAdoo shouldn't hurt them much, if at all. Marcus Paige is a preseason favorite for POY, and the Heels have their usual crop of ridiculously talented freshmen coming in. That includes top-20 five-stars Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson, and if UNC can't get Nate Britt going, four-star PG Joel Berry can give him a push.
Key losses: T.J. Warren (19.69), Jordan Vandenberg (7.70)
Key returners: Ralston Turner (7.44), Lennard Freeman (3.54), Kyle Washington (-4.41)
Trying to replace Warren will be a unique challenge, but this should be a more well-rounded team this year. It was awfully damn young last year, and the four-star freshman twins Caleb and Cody Martin have Pack fans pretty excited. NC State could defy the idea that losing a ton of impactful minutes means a drop in production and success.
Key losses: Eric Atkins (11.33)
Key returners: Pat Connaughton (19.32), Jerian Grant (13.36), Demetrius Jackson (3.14)
It's astounding, the fact that Grant has such a high IS even after missing a huge chunk of the season with academic issues. It's also fairly misleading; he was absolutely crushing it on offense, but, obviously against the weaker part of the schedule, and would've almost certainly come back to earth. (Especially with two games against UVA.) Still, that's probably an accurate score, considering he probably won't pile up an O-rating of 132 over a full season, but will also play a lot of minute. So it balances out.
Key losses: Lamar Patterson (14.55), Talib Zanna (14.06)
Key returners: James Robinson (11.26), Michael Young (4.48), Durand Johnson (4.27), Cameron Wright (3.28)
Pitt only loses two players - but they're doozies. This is another team that will have to overhaul itself, big time, but also has the tools to do it. Several players were quietly putting up very efficient seasons, but were overshadowed by Pitt's big three. Now that the big three is down to one, there's a lot of opportunity, and little reason to think Pitt will take a major tumble.
Key losses: Tyler Ennis (14.73), Jerami Grant (12.37), C.J. Fair (-1.37)
Key returners: Trevor Cooney (15.39), Rakeem Christmas (10.02), Michael Gbinije (3.12)
People look at Syracuse's losses and think "three key players out the door" - I say, two. Fair can join UNC's McAdoo in the overrated bin. Ennis will be a significant loss, as will Grant; the latter should be somewhat replaceable by top-20 recruit Chris McCullough.
Key losses: Joe Harris (10.68)
Key returners: Malcolm Brogdon (12.64), London Perrantes (8.07), Anthony Gill (6.61)
You know all this already, I just wanted to put this down on the same page as everything else for a frame of reference. In case you're wondering, nobody else on the team rated over 1.70, which was Tobey.
Key losses: C.J. Barksdale (5.20), Marshall Wood (-2.27), Trevor Thompson (-6.75)
Key returners: Will Johnston (1.21), Devin Wilson (-4.81), Joey van Zegeren (-5.97)
Because of Buzz Williams, who represents one of the biggest coaching upgrades in the ACC in a long time, VT is a wild card. But still probably not very good, despite being the only team to add by subtraction - a really tough feat, requiring one to start from a position of horrendous weakness. Some players such as Wilson can probably be counted on to improve, and it's likely Tech won't be the slack-jawed disaster of last season. That just means the conference's cellar will be shored up a little.
Key losses: Coron Williams (14.72), Travis McKie (8.17)
Key returners: Codi Miller-McIntyre (0.94), Devin Thomas (-3.52), Madison Jones (-9.65)
By that list of losses, you'd think Wake wasn't half bad last year; they were way more than half bad because Coron Williams was the best player nobody ever heard of, and nobody ever heard of him because he was criminally underused. With a competent coach and a respectable recruiting class, Wake might well be improved this year, but they also still have the official worst player in the conference. Jones has to cut down on the almost 40% turnover rate to lose that title.
You've already seen last year's best and worst; let's split that up now into the conference's top 20 returners and top 20 departers - and the bottom 10 too.
Top 20 losses:
1. T.J. Warren (NCSt.) - 19.69
2. Rodney Hood (Duke) - 18.24
3. Russ Smith (UL) - 15.82
4. Rion Brown (Mia.) - 15.25
5. Tyler Ennis (SU) - 14.73
6. Coron Williams (WF) - 14.72
7. Lamar Patterson (Pitt) - 14.55
8. Jabari Parker (Duke) - 14.21
9. Talib Zanna (Pitt) - 14.06
10. Okaro White (FSU) -13.49
11. K.J. McDaniels (CU) - 13.43
12. Luke Hancock (UL) - 13.06
13. Jerami Grant (SU) - 12.37
14. Eric Atkins (ND) - 11.33
15. Joe Harris (UVA) - 10.68
16. Ryan Anderson (BC) - 10.46
17. Daniel Miller (GT) - 9.66
18. Andre Dawkins (Duke) - 8.61
19. Travis McKie (WF) - 8.17
20. Jordan Vandenberg (NCSt.) - 7.70
Top 20 returnees:
1. Marcus Paige (UNC) - 19.55
2. Pat Connaughton (ND) - 19.32
3. Olivier Hanlan (BC) - 16.22
4. Quinn Cook (Duke) - 15.59
5. Trevor Cooney (SU) - 15.39
6. Montrezl Harrell (UL) - 14.46
7. Jerian Grant (ND) - 13.36
8. Amile Jefferson (Duke) - 12.97
9. Malcolm Brogdon (UVA) - 12.64
10. James Robinson (Pitt) - 11.26
11. Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) - 10.59
12. Rakeem Christmas (SU) - 10.02
13. Wayne Blackshear (UL) - 8.74
14. Brice Johnson (UNC) - 8.37
15. London Perrantes (UVA) - 8.07
16. Aaron Thomas (FSU) - 7.48
17. Ralston Turner (NCSt.) - 7.44
18. Terry Rozier (UL) - 7.06
19. Anthony Gill (UVA) - 6.61
20. Chris Jones (UL) - 6.07
Bottom 10 losses:
1. Trevor Thompson (VT): -6.75
2. Adonis Filer (CU): -5.39
3. Robert Gilchrist (FSU): -3.72
4. Arnaud William Adala Moto (WF): -2.83
5. Garrius Adams (Mia.): -2.66
6. Jason Morris (GT): -2.56
7. Ibrahim Djambo (CU): -2.40
8. Marshall Wood (VT): -2.27
9. Solomon Poole (GT): -2.17
10. Teven Jones (UVA): -2.03
Bottom 10 returnees:
1. Madison Jones (WF): -9.65
2. Chris Bolden (GT): -7.26
3. Joey van Zegeren (VT): -5.97
4. Nate Britt (UNC): -5.08
5. Devin Wilson (VT): -4.81
6. Davon Reed (Mia.): -4.80
7. Kyle Washington (NCSt.): -4.41
8. Jarquez Smith (FSU): -3.87
9. Josh Smith (CU): -3.86
10. Devin Thomas (WF): -3.52
A final imploration once again applies, to not take this as fully predictive, since it's strictly an offense-only tool. But it's a fun exercise, and in some cases, awfully illuminating.
Next week, what you've really been waiting for: our own players themselves. Short version: Everyone is amazing, and Tony Bennett is amazingest.