All Pac-12 Team and Player of the YearPosted by RJ Abeytia on March 10th, 2017
We’ve been treating freshmen and non-freshmen in the Pac-12 like opposing sides of the bracket in breaking down our season-ending honors, but with the conference itself announcing its award winners and all-league honors, it’s time to let fly with our All-Pac team and picks for awards, with all players finally in the pool and up for honors.
|Adam Butler||Lonzo Ball, UCLA||Dillon Brooks, Oregon||Jordan Bell, Oregon||Lauri Markannen, Arizona||T.J. Leaf, UCLA|
|Gus Morris||Lonzo Ball, UCLA||Dillon Brooks, Oregon||Markelle Fultz, Washington||Lauri Markannen, Arizona||T.J. Leaf, UCLA|
|R.J Abeytia||Lonzo Ball, UCLA||Dillon Brooks, Oregon||Jordan Bell, Oregon||Lauri Markannen, Arizona||T.J. Leaf, UCLA|
What we lack in creativity, we make up in substance. It’s hard to argue with any of the choices here, although the point of contention is of course the inclusion of Washington’s Markelle Fultz. It’s hard to knock a guy who is a likely top-two pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, and it’s even harder to compare him with a player like Oregon’s Jordan Bell, who occupies such a contrasting space in terms of role, skill set, position and usage. For consistency’s sake, let’s look at the twin criteria of Net Efficiency Differential combined with Relative Defensive Efficiency. Fultz finished with a negative differential (-4.7) in conference play, while Bell finished with a staggering +33.2 differential. Of course, that’s tremendously impacted by the noted factors above, especially usage. Bell logged an 18.2 percent usage rate in conference play while Fultz carried a massive load for the Huskies at 33.2 percent.
Bell was the best defensive player on the best defensive team, however, while Fultz was not a great defender and was actually a bit worse than his team’s overall defensive efficiency rate. None of this is to knock Fultz’s future, which is indisputably bright, but these awards are about performance, not potential, and Bell gets the nod here. Sorry, Gus.
Pac-12 Player of the Year
- Butler: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
- Morris: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
- Abeytia: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
The Pac-12 awarded this honor to Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, and when you assess this level of player you really start to split hairs — no decision can be considered wrong. Brooks finished with a +24.5 net differential; Ball posted a +31.4. Brooks’ Player Efficiency Rating was 31.0; Ball’s was 27.2. Brooks’ true shooting percentage was 65 percent; Ball’s was 68 percent. Brooks logged a larger usage rate at 32 percent to 19 percent, but in a way that only underscores Ball’s greatness. Factor in the freshman’s 32 percent assist rate and it’s clear he played at least as big a role in UCLA’s success as Brooks.
It may be a bit of a red herring to start parsing the quality of each team, but both players actually defended at an individual level better than their teams. Ultimately, though, I’m joining my colleagues in voting for Ball. He galvanized his team, took players like Bryce Alford to another level, and raised the bar for a dormant power. Brooks is an amazing player, but Ball was truly transcendent. In a race this close, that’s the difference. Lonzo Ball is the RTC Pac-12 POY.