The Best Scoring Wings in the ACCPosted by KCarpenter on March 2nd, 2012
When we talk about the All-ACC First Team, conventional wisdom holds that a few things are certain. Tyler Zeller and Mike Scott are iron-clad locks. To a lesser extent, John Henson seems fairly likely to make the team as well. That leaves two guard spots. On some level, it seems insane that Kendall Marshall‘s probable third place finish in the conference books for the single-season assist record, but his lack of dominant scoring, defense, and a general unwillingness to place so many Tar Heels on the first team probably hurts Marshall’s chances. The worst thing about this is that the negatives against Marshall probably hurt most of the other point guards in the league as well. As good as Lorenzo Brown has been, if Marshall isn’t going to make the first team, Brown’s chances aren’t looking so great either. For now, let’s set aside true point guards.
So, for better or worse, the two guard spots on this team are probably going to go to a pair of dominant wing scorers. Among the candidates, listed in order by points per game, we have Terrell Stoglin, Harrison Barnes, C.J. Harris, Travis McKie, Erick Green, Austin Rivers, Michael Snaer, and Seth Curry. So how do we pick two? These are individual awards, so I don’t feel particularly obligated to award team success, though I know that typically the voters for these honors use that criterion rather heavily. For now though, let’s pretend that Stoglin, Harris, McKie, and Green all have an equal shot.
All of these candidates are here because they can score. Stoglin has the gaudiest per game totals, but how does he stack up in terms of scoring efficiency? If we look at offensive efficiency rating, the leader board changes dramatically, almost flipping. Going from most efficient to least efficient, we have Curry, Harris, Green, Barnes, Stoglin, Snaer, Rivers and McKie. Two names jump out from the bottom of both of these lists: Snaer and Rivers. Both these players are often listed as front-runners for the final two spots yet aren’t particularly consistent, efficient, or prolific scorers. The power of the highlight reel and the mythic significance of the buzzer-beater are the driving forces for the candidacy of both. This is kind of a bummer because it ignores the fact that they really haven’t been as good as the other candidates.
At the top of both lists, two names stick out: Barnes, and more surprisingly, Harris. These two players have walked the line of prolific and efficient scoring with aplomb. In terms of categories outside of scoring, Harris is second in terms of assists (per game and percentage) after Green among these candidates. Barnes is second in rebounding behind McKie (per game and percentage). When push comes to shove, I think these two are the most deserving candidates for the spots (assuming they are going to scoring wings). It’s unfortunate that they both have some serious factors working against them. Barnes is likely to be punished by voters who feel like North Carolina is already well-represented while Harris is likely to suffer because of his team’s record and under-the-radar reputation. That sucks, but that’s how voters tend to vote.
Another candidate who deserves a closer look by voters is Green. Green’s per game statistics are comparable to Rivers in terms of points an rebounding. Green, however, has more assists and steals as well as fewer turnovers than Rivers. His offensive efficiency is significantly higher than Duke freshman as well. By just about any statistical measure, Green has had the better season. Yet Rivers plays for Duke, a winning team, and hit a big shot on national television while Green’s team routinely struggles. If Green gets more votes than Rivers I will be stunned.
So there you go. For the two remaining spots I like some combination of Barnes, Harris, and Green. Barnes will probably get a mostly fair consideration by ACC voters as a high profile media darling, but Harris and Green are likely to be overlooked. It’s not really particularly fair or logical, but that’s the way it is. There are lots of good players in the ACC and honestly, it’s hard to fault awarding Austin Rivers or Michael Snaer for playing well, but it’s annoying that celebrity, reputation, and team record factor so much into awards for individual excellence.