2011-2012 Season

Value Add Formula: A Closer Look at the Big Ten

x350[1]Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn brought some mainstream attention to John Pudner’s Value Add formula last week. The formula measures the precise offensive value added by any specific player – or more specifically the drop off involved in replacing one player with a generic ninth or tenth man off of the bench. (Detailed explanation here.)

Baseball fans probably realize this is somewhat similar to the wins above replacement metric utilized in baseball. Longtime readers of this blog will also probably notice the similarities between Pudner’s system and KJ’s PORPAG system.

Pudner compiled an entire dataset of all 2500 returning players in college and Winn made several observations regarding the Big Ten. Some that Big Ten fans are all too familiar with (Jordan Taylor is really good) but also just how large of an impact fifth year transfers Sam Maniscalco (Bradley to Illinois) and Brandon Wood (Valparaiso to Michigan State) should have on their respective teams that otherwise have some major question marks.

There’s been plenty of analysis of Marquette, the Big East, New York centric and Chicago based teams but here are a couple thoughts on Michigan and next year’s Big Ten.

Michigan has two players – Hardaway and Novak – that rank in the top-100 of returning players and Morgan comes in at 160th. Smotrycz, Vogrich, Douglass and Horford fail to rank in the top-500.

Rnk First Last Feet Inches Value Add BCS
47 Tim Hardaway 6 5 3.49%
77 Zack Novak 6 5 3.06%
160 Jordan Morgan 6 8 2.39%
616 Evan Smotrycz 6 9 0.83%
633 Matt Vogrich 6 4 0.80%
673 Stu Douglass 6 3 0.72%
947 Jon Horford 6 9 0.32%

Obviously Michigan loses a lot from Darius Morris’s departure but I am a bit more surprised at how well Novak and Morgan performed in this metric. Because Novak played such a large percentage of Michigan’s minutes, I’m going to guess that his number is somewhat just a residual of how Michigan performed on the year.

Hardaway is the player on Michigan’s roster most expected to dramatically increase his production, especially when compared to last season’s numbers including his slow start. It’s tough to see Novak or Douglass making a major jump in production, but Smotrycz, Morgan and Horford all seem like worthy candidates to increase their production.

I filtered Big Ten schools out of the data set to see if anything jumps out, here’s the top 10 returning players in the conference:

Rank First Last Feet Inches Team Value Add BCS
1 Jordan Taylor 6 1 Wisconsin 9.46%
2 Jared Sullinger 6 9 Ohio St. 6.44%
14 John Shurna 6 8 Northwestern 4.46%
25 William Buford 6 5 Ohio St. 4.09%
36 Jordan Hulls 6 0 Indiana 3.60%
41 Draymond Green 6 6 Michigan St. 3.54%
43 Trevor Mbakwe 6 8 Minnesota 3.52%
47 Tim Hardaway 6 5 Michigan 3.49%
54 Josh Gasser 6 4 Wisconsin 3.33%
72 Christian Watford 6 9 Indiana 3.13%

There aren’t many surprises there and it’s tough to argue at the top, where Jordan Taylor and Jared Sullinger are arguably two of the top players in the country, not just the league. Hulls is a devastatingly efficient offensive player so his ranking makes some sense, but perhaps it’s time to be a little more bullish on next year’s Hoosiers with Hulls, Watford and Zeller. Indiana returns the fourth most value add behind Ohio State, Wisconsin and Northwestern. Josh Gasser is the one in the top-10 that really stands out as a surprise – maybe he should have been included on our breakout players list last week.

You can find all of the Big Ten individual returnee data for every team filtered out on this page. (Note: Transfers into the conference aren’t included in this list.)

When looking at data on a team-by-team basis there are a couple of teams that stand out as exceptionally positive or negative. Ohio State and Wisconsin at the top of the list is no surprise but the numbers infer that we should perhaps be a little more bullish on Northwestern and Indiana. The numbers look surprisingly grim for Iowa, a team that conventional wisdom suggests is on the verge of improvement, as just Gatens and Basabe register as valuable returners. The big question for Iowa is whether players like Bryce Cartwright, Eric May, Roy Marble and Zach McCabe can make large jumps in their development. No one expected much from Penn State or Nebraska, so it’s not surprising to see them at the bottom of the list.

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