Get Him the Ball: Is Patric Young Underutilized?

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 3rd, 2012

The Florida Gators continue to win — victorious in its first six games of the season — but its center Patric Young is rarely the leading scorer. Young is viewed more as a defensive presence, but perhaps his offensive skill set has become overshadowed by the other options on the team. Against Marquette on Thursday, the big man started the game on the bench, but came in to score 10 points and grab 10 rebounds regardless. Despite his solid play (10.3 PPG; 7.8 RPG), is the center being utilized to his full potential on the offensive end?

Does Billy Donovan need to make sure his beast in the post is getting the ball more often? (Photo via John Raoux / AP)

Though Young’s physique suggests that he should be an All-American, his numbers have always left a little to be desired. Can’t he do more than just a tick over 10 points per outing? In his recent performance against Marquette, Young shot the ball just six times. Reviewing the entire season, he shot the ball as few as just four times in the Gators’ victory over Middle Tennessee State, with a maximum of 10 attempts against Savannah State. His numbers are not alarming by any stretch of the imagination, but could they increase if his teammates would distribute the ball more often into the low post?

We compared Young to some of the best big men in the SEC this season, and here is how he fared:

Offensive efficiency numbers for the SEC’s best big men.

Young possesses the smallest shot percentage of the five SEC big men we chose to compare him to, but he also has the lowest effective field goal percentage. This demonstrates one key issue for him, which is his inconsistency as a scorer. However, the 19.9% shots statistic is inflated slightly because he is creating additional shots on his own as evidenced by his 15.6% offensive rebounding rate. That figure currently ranks 45th in the country. When looking at some of the nation’s best big men, Young falls somewhere in the middle:

Offensive efficiency numbers of the nation’s best big men.

Young is a somewhat more efficient shooter than James Michael McAdoo or Gorgui Dieng, but in this grouping he shoots more often than only Dieng. Even players such as Kansas’ Jeff Withey, known more for his defensive abilities, are a central focus of the teams’ offensive sets. It is worth pointing out that Young’s struggle to get the ball in scoring positions is nothing new. During all of last season his shot percentage numbers were roughly equal to his percentages in the early going this year, but his offensive rating and effective field goal percentage were significantly higher. This could be affected by Young’s inability to establish a rhythm in the low post, but it is not as if the Gators don’t have confidence in their big man.

Young’s teammates are aware of his impact on the game. “We all know how important Patric is to this team,” forward Will Yeguete said. “He is like a brother to us and you always want to be there to support one of your brothers.” Florida coach Billy Donovan admits he has been tough on Young this year, but recognizes that he is responding well. “There are certain guys that when you get on them and challenge them, they pout, feel like they’re a victim, they don’t respond. I think Patric has always responded. I think when you hit Patric with the truth and he has a day to reflect on himself, he usually responds pretty well. That was encouraging to see.”

Young’s teammates certainly are not shy when it comes to shooting the ball. We all know Florida’s guards like to shoot. Both Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario have shot percentages well above Young’s, but the guards correspondingly have lower effective field goal percentages too. While Young’s teammates have shown their encouragement for him in the media, maybe he doesn’t need his teammates’ support to be more successful as an offensive threat. Maybe he just needs the damn ball.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

Brian Joyce (333 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.

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