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Which Big 10 high usage player is the most efficient?

I have become obsessed with charting usage and offensive rating, with thanks to the Michigan State blog, The Only Colors. With possession percentage and offensive rating come courtesy of Statsheet.com, I charted the top 25 players in terms of possession percentage in the Big 10 so far this season.


First, let's go over some of the key advanced stats that will come into play, if you do not already know what they mean.

From KenPom's definition of key terms:

Percentage of possessions used (%Poss): A measure of personal possessions used while the player is on the court. Simply assigns credit or blame to a player when his actions end a possession, either by making a shot, missing a shot that isn’t rebounded by the offense, or committing a turnover.

Offensive rating (ORtg): A measure of personal offensive efficiency developed by Dean Oliver. The formula is very complicated, but accurate. For a detailed explanation, buy Basketball on Paper.

What the following chart will show is which players are using their possessions most efficiently. The higher up on the Y-Axis a player is, the more points per possession they create. Again, these are the top 25 Big 10 players in terms of possession percentage as of games completed December 31, 2010.

One important thing to note: There was no minutes played requirement for this chart. There was a 9 game minimum (although most players have played in 12 or 13 games) but there was not a minute requirement. That is why you will see some role players like Brandon Paul or Victor Olapido who play less than half the game but use a bunch of possessions when they are in the game.

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The first thing you have to notice is that the Big 10 Player who uses the highest percentage of possessions, Verdell Jones III, has the lowest offensive rating of the sample. Meanwhile, Christian Watford of Indiana has a 114.7 offensive rating. Jones only plays about 60% of the minutes but it would bode well for the Hoosiers to have Jones use less possessions, taking a back seat to Watford more often, as Watford is the more efficient player. 

When you look at some of the most efficient players of this sample. it is many expected names: John Shurna, Jared Sullinger, Jon Leuer and Demetri McCamey. One of the reasons their usage rate is not as high as some players is because they play so many minutes, increasing the number of possessions they are on the floor, thereby decreasing the percentage of possessions they use as a whole.

One player that surprised me was Jordan Taylor out of Wisconsin. He has the 2nd highest offensive rating in our sample and the 7th highest in the Big 10 as a whole (top 40 in the nation). Part of the reason his usage percentage is this high is because of his high assist rate (30.6%) (updated). Does he warrant becoming a more focal point of the offense or he is thriving in his role?

There is a big cluster of players centered around the 110-115 offensive rating. This is expected as this efficiency is deemed to be close to the average for a useful player. Anyone above that mark is exceptionally efficient and anyone below that is struggling a bit. Any players below 100 rating (Paul, Jones, Cartwright) should probably have their possessions cut.

Any other interesting things you saw? Any comments. questions, criticisms are welcome.

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