From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.
We knew Mark Lyons was going to be watched under a microscope the moment it was made public he’d transfer. There have been just a handful of grad transfers and he’s amongst the highest profile school swappers of that nature. All of this you know. What we did not know is whether Lyons would fit in with his teammates; whether bringing in a player of his caliber and hubris would be cancerous or auspicious; whether Mark Lyons could be a point guard? Much had been made of the third Lyons conundrum this week as the argument was made that the senior was struggling. Following his performance in Lubbock, he found himself with an underwhelming 0.8 A/T ratio. Not good. But knowing this fact, not once did it dawn on me that Lyons might be struggling, despite subsequently reading three different articles (third was an ESPN insider) regarding his struggles. I disagreed and proposed why he wasn’t struggling. Turnovers are a concern but that alone does not a point guard ruin.
Then this week’s Burning Question was proposed: Who is the best point guard in the Pac-12? So I sat down to begin my research, punched my password into KenPom and pulled up the Pac-12 cumulative stats; and then I realized I had no idea what I was looking for. Assist to turnover ratios? Assist rates? Turnover rates? Points scored or the lack thereof? It began grinding at me that I had no idea how to quantify a point guard. After all, we live in the era of Nate Silver so everything must be quantified. But as I burrowed further and further down the rabbit hole of advanced stats, looking into each of the conference’s point guards, I could find no continuity to the statistics. Dinwiddie led in ORtg and eFG%; Larry Drew II in assist rate; Ahmad Starks in turnover rate; Dominic Artis in steal percentage. Conversely, Dinwiddie and Starks don’t rack up many assists, Drew barely scores, and Artis does a little of a lot. And I hadn’t even begun to look at Justin Cobbs, Chasson Randle, Jahii Carson, Jio Fontan, or Lyons. Just on name recognition, I’m taking one of that second crew (I’d eventually pick Randle just because I really like his game). Alas, the BQ and my early week reading-and-rebutting had me stewing on Lyons and what makes a point guard. His oh-for-the-game, 4/2/2 and three turnover performance against Southern Miss on Tuesday then did nothing to help his cause. Or did it? Lyons played 29 minutes in that game and all of the critical ones. Statistically speaking, Mark Lyons struggled. But he continued to play, Sean Miller opting to keep the senior on the floor. It was in this tiny but all-important fact that I think I found my answer.