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A Statistical Breakdown of ACC Point Guards (Part III)

Part III of an in-depth statistical look at ACC point guards

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports


Part I - Introduction, Methodology and Raw Number Analysis

Part II - Pace Adjusted Analysis, Possible Questions/Concerns on Methodology, Footnotes


Alright, we have done the heavy lifting in Parts I & II of this with the statistics and charts, but what the hell does it all mean?

Clearly there are a lot of different ways to measure a point guard statistically, which we attempted to do in the earlier articles. There are a couple of overarching conclusions that I reached based on the data:

Dennis Smith, Jr. is hands-down the best point guard in the ACC

No matter what method you use, statistics, or otherwise, if you have watched Dennis Smith, Jr. play this year for more than a couple of minutes, then you know that he is a special talent. He already leads the point guards in the league in assists and steals, and is second in points. He needs to work on his turnovers, but his innate ability to use his athleticism to score the ball and generate chances for others is something that can’t be taught. Statistics point this out pretty well, and you should go watch him play.

Statistics don’t do a good job of measuring PG’s on slow-paced teams

I harped on this a lot in each of the first two articles, but London Perrantes and Quentin Snider are victims of #Pacism. No matter what stats we used, they just didn’t rank very highly in the ACC chart. This is a pretty clear example of needing to watch basketball to see what each brings to the team.

Am I saying that Perrantes is a better fit on UVA than Dennis Smith, Jr. would be? Not necessarily. Smith, Jr is almost certainly a better basketball player overall than Perrantes, but I can’t say that he would help UVA more than what Perrantes is doing now.

The same goes for Snider. It’s clear that he is comfortable running a slow offense, while ramping it up on the defensive side of things.

Stats are really good for a lot of things, but they do not capture what these two guys bring to their team from a "fit" or a talent standpoint because of their style of play.

Bryant Crawford is a pretty damn good point guard

This is the crux of what started the entire article—-the play of Bryant Crawford for Wake Forest. He can be maddening at times, whether it be his long threes early in the shot clock, the theatrics towards fans and other players, or the turnovers, but in the eyes of the statistics, Crawford is a top five guard in the ACC, and it's hard to say otherwise.

He is asked to do a lot (25% usage rate) as a sophomore, and he will probably be the first to admit that he doesn’t have nearly the talent level that Smith. Jr. has (very few do). Of course he can work on his turnovers and his shot selection, but I think this proves that they are not nearly as bad as a lot of Wake fans think they are. His assist rate is the best in the ACC, and that is seemingly bypassed a lot by those who are eager to point fingers.

This is also part of who he is. You don't get a guy who just pulls up and hits a cold-blooded three from 22 feet to win a game without some cajones. That doesn't turn off during the game. He demands the ball when the game is on the line and has no problem taking the heat, win or lose. That's what I want in a point guard, a cold-blooded killer, and I'm pretty sure that's what Randolph Childress is encouraging day in and day out from him as well.

He is doing all this as a sophomore, and one who was the 16th ranked point guard in the 2015 class. That’s either: good talent evaluation by Coach Manning, great work by Crawford to get better (assuming he was evaluated properly by the recruiting sites), pretty decent development since he got here, or a combination of the three. I’m really happy to have him on our team and expect that he will continue to get better and prove his naysayers on here, and in the real world, wrong.

There is a pretty large drop-off at the bottom of the conference

This is not a "man Justin Moore and Shelton Mitchell suck " point (after all, Wake went hard after the latter, and got him to recruit before he de-committed and went to Vandy), but more of a "it’s really hard to be a good PG in the ACC" point.

Justin Moore has a long way to go to become an "average" point guard in the ACC, and the numbers back that up. A lot of it is the fact that he is a freshman and leading a team under a new head coach, but an 82.7 offensive rating is absolutely abysmal for an ACC guard. Not to mention the 28% turnover rate.

He has a good assist rate, which leads me to believe that he has pretty decent court vision, but the game needs to slow down for him.


We are somewhat back to where we began. It’s really hard to compare point guards like Quentin Snider and Joel Berry. If Snider played for UNC and Berry played for Louisville would they have the same stats? Who the hell knows. Stats don’t really provide a very good blueprint for how to do that.

The same goes for somebody like Ky Bowman and John Gillon. Clearly Gillon is better at protecting the ball and dishing out assists, but Bowman is a shoot first point guard.

What I will do instead is rank them within their own tiers of "type" of point guard to be fair.

Do Everything (and do it well)

  1. Dennis Smith, Jr.
As mentioned several times, Smith, Jr. is pretty much in a class of his own, Joel Berry can get somewhere near him overall, but it's disingenuous to put him in a group with anybody else.

Combo/Shoot-First Guards

  1. Joel Berry
  2. Grayson Allen
  3. Jamel Artis
  4. Bryant Crawford
  5. Xavier Rathan-Mayes
  6. Matt Farrell
  7. Ja’Quan Newton
  8. Ky Bowman
The Blue Bloods make the top two of the "shoot first" guards. Joel Berry and Grayson Allen are a very good example of what you can get from a point guard who distributes the ball, but also shoot efficiently from the floor. I feel very confident that these two are the best in this category.

If we were making a list of just SHOOTING point guards and not really taking anything else into consideration then Jamel Artis would blow everybody else away. He was really hard to compare to anybody on the list because he shoots the ball so much and is 6-7.  That places him in a strange place as well. His offensive rating at 27% usage is insane though, and that lands him in the third place, right ahead of Bryant Crawford.

If you wanted to start making a team out of the first four guys in this group then you could field a pretty damn good team with: Berry at the PG, Crawford at the SG, Allen at the SF, and Artis at the 4. That would be an interesting team to watch.

KenPom has a similarity list, and the most similar players to Bryant Crawford are: Melo Trimble (Maryland, last year), and Lorenzo Brown (N,C. State, 2012) That's pretty good company for him, and provides a good look at the type of development he still has to go through.

One really interesting thing to see with XRM is the development between his freshman year and his junior year. He went from shooting the ball on 29% of his team's possessions, to 22% last year, to 20% this year. He is almost on the verge of moving into the final group of PG's in the way he is a pass-first guard instead of shoot-first. I would have never imagined that seeing him in high school or his first year in the ACC.

I really liked what I saw out of Ky Bowman the other night, and his last place ranking here is more of a product of a loaded ACC than anything he is doing wrong as a freshman.

Protect the Ball/Command the Game

  1. London Perrantes
  2. John Gillon
  3. Quentin Snider
  4. Justin Robinson
  5. Shelton Mitchell
  6. Justin Moore

One of the biggest surprises in my research was the play of John Gillon. He is second in the ACC in assist rate, leads the ACC in steal rate (53rd nationally), and somehow has only a 17 TORate to go along with all of that. There is a decent case from a statistics standpoint for putting him at the top of this list, but Perrantes can go get the ball on rebounds. This has more to do with my belief that Perrantes is stuck in his offense (PACISM), but Gillon has a legitimate claim to the top of this list.

Aside from that, Justin Robinson was one of the biggest questions I had. He could in theory go into the category above for his shooting ability, and is really more of an even-keel player than belonging in either group. He has done very well for Virginia Tech and Buzz Williams should be happy to have him. Interesting to note that he was right around Crawford in the 2015 recruiting class, and they have somewhat similar numbers. Crawford's ability to distribute the ball, grab rebounds, and protect the ball (SHOCKER) is the difference in the two right now.

Wrapping Up

I’m sure there will be some differences of opinion about the grouping(s) and probably the ranking(s) too, but taking everything into account this is what I interpreted from the data thus far.

Once again, this doesn’t necessarily take into consideration the fit of the player with the team. Would FSU take Matt Farrell over XRM? I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure both teams like who they have right now.

At the end of the day it’s probably more useful to just separate the types of point guards in the ACC and go from there. This exercise showed that it is extremely difficult to rank players who do different things against each other. Do you want a high volume usage player who may turn it over a bit more, or a floor general who defers for the last shot? It fully depends on the makeup of your team.

The talent level in the ACC point guard pool is exceptionally high, and I know that I am very happy to have Bryant Crawford at Wake Forest to run the team that we have. He is underrated by Wake Forest fans based on strong anecdotal evidence (myself included), and we tend to just take what he does well for granted. I expect him to continue to grow and become a very good player over the rest of this year and into next year.