Burning Questions: Pac-12’s Best Big Man?

Posted by Andrew Murawa on January 15th, 2016

Last week we offered up a discussion on the best point guard in the Pac-12. Today, we turn from the little men to the big ones, as we discuss the best players in the conference at the positions of power forward and center. Below, our writers weigh in on the subject.

Jakob Poeltl: The Pac's Best Big (Utah Basketball)

Jakob Poeltl: The PAC’s Best Big (Utah Basketball)

Mike Lemaire: Unlike the point guard question where a case can be made for multiple guys, this honor without question goes to Utah’s Jakob Poeltl. He has long been an obvious lottery pick thanks to his remarkable skill and size, but he refined his offensive game during the offseason and it is now paying big dividends. He is among the national leaders in effective field goal percentage (34th) and true shot percentage (39th) while doubling his assist rate (14.2%), cutting down on his turnover rate (15.6%) and significantly improving his free-throw shooting (from 43% to 68%). In fact, inconsistency at the charity stripe is one of Poeltl’s few offensive flaws and it is clear he is working to iron out that imperfection. Lest we forget, Poeltl is also still an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor (top 150 nationally in both) and is a game-changing shot-blocker (6.1%). One could argue that Cal’s Ivan Rabb has more long-term upside, but considering Poeltl has less help on the perimeter, his success is impressive to ignore.

Andrew Murawa: It is awfully hard to argue against Poeltl, as he’s in the argument with Oregon State’s Gary Payton II for the title of best player in the conference. But if we were all just going to sing the praises of Utah’s talented big man, this post would quickly get boring. Instead, I’m taking a journey east to go with Colorado senior center Josh Scott. He’s giving away a couple inches, a few pounds and significant possession, shot and field goal percentages to Poeltl. But like the sophomore Ute, he’s adept in the post with both hands and can score over either shoulder; he’s a capable passer; he’s 12 percentage points better than Poeltl from the stripe; and he averages about half the number of turnovers. Moreover, while Poeltl is rightly known as an elite shot-blocker, Scott is nearly Poeltl’s equal in redirecting opponents’ attempts. The right answer here is Poeltl and he’s going to be a terrific player at the next level, but Scott ain’t far behind.

Adam Butler: Defending Arizona’s Ryan Anderson in this answer would have been a lot easier a week ago. Before that time, he was the Wildcats’ major differentiator, a lunch-pail type guy, the rock on a young Arizona team that appeared to be gelling as well as if not better than any team in the conference. Suffice it to say that he didn’t have the best homecoming in Los Angeles, looking lost on defense and then seeming to pout about it. He played “just” 31-minutes in a 60-minute contest. Alas, two games doesn’t a great-season-to-date ruin. Anderson remains the player any team would want to have, a guy who gets his (double-doubles) without having to be the centerpiece of the offense. We lamented his defense at UCLA, but he still wound up with 15 rebounds. Sometimes a player’s effectiveness can be proven in the success of those around him, so consider the budding talent of Dusan Ristic. Arizona’s offensively adept backup center – who filled in nicely for the injured Kaleb Tarczewski – has been allowed to play his most natural position (center). Anderson plays a very traditional four, letting his twin towers do their thing while he does his (which is just posting the conference’s second best defensive rebounding percentage, second best foul rate, and fourth best offensive rebounding percentage). Furthermore, while the Wildcats might struggle defensively right now, they remain the nations TOP DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING TEAM. Ryan Anderson, we salute you.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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