Ohio State Basketball: Plus/Minus and Roster Utilization

By Ross Fulton on March 28, 2013 at 2:00p
64 Comments

Given the season, I interrupt my usual football breakdowns to take a look at the Ohio State basketball team.

Basketball is one sport where a discernible conflict can exist between the interests of the individual and the team. As Michael Lewis writes, baseball is essentially an individual sport within a team game. With football, play calling is generally controlled by coaches, and with 11 players any single player is highly dependent on one another.

In basketball, however, a player has sufficient freedom and control that tension between the individual and team's goals can arise. Basketball has traditionally measured and easily traceable statistics, such as shots and points. But merely because one player scores more points does not mean those additional points are marginally beneficial to the team.

As Lewis continues:

Taking a bad shot when you don’t need to is only the most obvious example. A point guard might selfishly give up an open shot for an assist. You can see it happen every night, when he’s racing down court for an open layup, and instead of taking it, he passes it back to a trailing teammate. The teammate usually finishes with some sensational dunk, but the likelihood of scoring nevertheless declined. “The marginal assist is worth more money to the point guard than the marginal point,” Morey says. Blocked shots — they look great, but unless you secure the ball afterward, you haven’t helped your team all that much . . . 

Basketball analysts thus sought some metric that would measure team contribution rather than individual success.

Enter the plus/minus metric.

Plus/minus simply measures a team's point differential when a player is on the floor as opposed to the bench. At its best, plus/minus simply creates an individual statistic that measures an individual's overall impact upon the team outcome. The goal is to measure the not easily discernible contributions and disentangle the potential conflict that exists between individual performance and team outcomes.

Plus/minus is not without its flaws. The most obvious example is that a player's plus/minus can artificially be raised by a teammate's contribution. Nevertheless, it is at least a rough attempt to measure a player's overall team contribution without focusing on individual metrics. 

The Paradox of the 2012 Buckeyes Basketball Team

Ohio State has won its last 10 games. In so doing it has risen to fifth in Ken Pom's rankings and, according Nate Silver, has a 40% chance to reach the Final Four. And yet the plus/minus statistics indicate that OSU may be operating suboptimally. In particular, the Buckeyes' starting lineup is clearly not their best grouping.

Here are the Buckeyes' plus/minus numbers from the streak:

Player minutes plus/minus
Craft 35.9 +13.8
Smith 25.4 +3.9
Thompson 25.9 +10.4
Thomas 35.8 +11.8
Williams 15.3 +2.2
Scott 24.1 +12.3
Ravenel 16.4 +5.4
Ross 15.1 +4.8

As can be seen, Ohio State's starting lineup contains two of the lower plus/minus totals of the players in its rotation in Amir Williams and Lenzelle Smith. Shannon Scott is playing effectively the same minutes as Smith and Sam Thompson. Yet Scott's plus/minus is two points above Thompson's and nearly triple Smith's. Indeed, OSU's winning streak coincides with a sustained uptick in Scott's minutes.

This is also noticeable on the floor. Scott's defensive effectiveness (particularly when combined with Craft) in addition to his passing ability, which allows Craft to play off the ball and become more of a scorer, and ability to push tempo for easy baskets, have been an instrumental factor in the Buckeyes' run. The Iowa State game only reinforced this trend, with Scott finishing with +8 and Smith at -7. LaQuinton Ross' plus/minus has also improved over the last 5 games, and his +9 against Iowa Stat was crucial to securing the victory.  

This suggests that the Buckeyes are not maximizing their potential output. Granted, OSU has limited options inside. Williams' plus/minus is low, but Evan Ravenel does not offer a significant upgrade. This does underscore, however, that OSU should play its 'small lineup' as frequently as possible. OSU likely did not utilize this combination enough against Iowa State, given that it produced the highest plus/minus. 

But the biggest takeaway is that even with additional minutes, Scott is being underutilized. The Buckeye with the second-highest plus/minus is averaging approximately 11 minutes less than Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas, the only Buckeyes with comparable ratios. The concern is those lost minutes will cost OSU as the competition stiffens. Indeed, the 15-point differential between Scott and Smith against Iowa State alone could have sidelined OSU.

Do you Mess with a good thing?

Thad Matta and his staff are assuredly aware of their players' relative effectiveness. OSU's lineup to end games is very different from the one that starts. It generally features Scott with Craft, Thomas, and two of the three of Thompson, Smith, and Ross if OSU is able to go small. Yet this gets to the concern — if the coaching staff also recognizes this as the Buckeyes' best lineup, are they performing at a submaximal level by failing to employ those players more frequently?

Other considerations are certainly at play for Matta. OSU is 10-0 with its current starting lineup. As Scoonie Penn and others have essentially said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. There are also internal dynamics to consider. Smith is a two-year starter. Matta must balance team chemistry and does not want to impede the team's upward trajectory. 

Yet the purpose of plus/minus is to attempt to capture such intangibles. And better maximizing the Buckeyes' plus/minus can be done at the margins without wholesale changes. As noted, one such change would be playing its small lineup whenever possible. This allows both Scott and Ross to be on the floor and without Ross being forced to play the 3. Ohio State may not be able to employ this line-up tonight against Arizona with Freshman Center Kaleb Tarczewski. As noted by Andy Glockner, though, OSU should implement this look whenever the Wildcats' 7-footer is not on the floor. And Glockner notes that OSU could also employ this line-up with Tarczewski in to create mismatches.    

Short of that, OSU seemingly needs to free up more minutes for Scott. He does not need to start to do so. Simply bringing him in immediately after the under-16 minute timeout could elevate his playing time closer to 30 minutes. Such a substitution pattern could better allow OSU to utilize those who have been playing most effectively. 

64 Comments

Comments

dubjayfootball90's picture

I think this all the time:
 

Blocked shots — they look great, but unless you secure the ball afterward, you haven’t helped your team all that much

I hate when players who get the full palm on the ball and basically just throw the ball out of bounds instead of just grabbing.... The team who just shot gets the ball right back and can still score.... GRAB IT!!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

NEWBrutus's picture

Bill Russel. 
I saw many interviews/stories where he lamented how guys just swat the ball out of bounds and show boat.  When you watch the highlights, he controls the ball afterwards.
 

Jack Fu's picture

That's one of the reasons Withey is so good. He doesn't just block shots; when he blocks shots, Kansas gains possession like 73% of the time.

sb97's picture

I don't fully agree with the idea that Blocked shots don't help that much.  A great shot blocker can take the other team completely out of their offense.  That was what I always liked about Oden.  Watching someone start to drive, see Oden, then hightail it out of the lane.  Of course Oden was a special player and not many could affect a game like he did so my point is probably moot and a waste of pixels :)

ralphie's picture

I think the point isn't that they don't help much (stop a shot, alter a shot, mental impact on the opposition, etc), but that they get so much more credit than things like taking a charge or denying your man the ball in the post to begin with. 
its easy to find blocked shots stats for any player, but you rarely see charges and ball denial stats anywhere.  And with a charge, its a turnover 100% of the time! 
 

45buckshot's picture

I don't know if anyone remembers him, but Kenny Johnson did this as well. B1g teams were terrified of him by the time he graduated. He would just take a step towards someone and they would give up the shot... Scoonie and KJ are still 2 of my favorite all-time bball buckeyes :)

Veni, vidi, vici

UM3

gumtape's picture

I remember Ken Johnson. A 6'10" piano playing shot blocking machine. Anybody that forces the opposition to game plan for is a difference maker.

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

45buckshot's picture

+1 agreed ;)

Veni, vidi, vici

UM3

mclovin's picture

I think it, too, but I think that saying you haven't helped your team all that much is not giving a blocked shot, regardless of where the ball ends up, the credit it deserves.  A blocked shot is immediately effective in that it stops a ball from going into the basket.  It is also potentially disruptive for future shots altered because of a previous block.  Having the threat of a shot blocker in the paint also deters team from driving to the basket which typically breaks down a defense.  There's a reason why people like Nerlens Noel and Anthony Davis are so highly regarded. 

yrro's picture

It also doesn't reset the shot clock, making it at least as valuable as preventing something from driving the lane when they wanted to.

Jack Fu's picture

Well if you think about it, when there's a blocked shot where the offensive team retains the ball, basically nothing has happened. The offensive team gets a missed FG added to the stat sheet and the possession continues. It's functionally indistinguishable from an offensive rebound. The possession just continues. As such, the block didn't really help that much. Sure, it could have been worse (the shot could have gone in), but we're still playing defense just like we were a second before.
If the blocked shot results in the defensive team obtaining the ball, that ends the offensive team's possession. That's a stop; that's one dry possession for the offensive team, in a game of limited possessions.
The shotblocker is in a pretty unique situation: they're not only ensuring that the shot doesn't fall, but they also have a lot of control over where the ball ends up. If it ends up in the offense's hands, very little, if anything, about the possession has changed. If the defensive team gets it, that possession is over. Two very different things. That's one the primary reasons Jeff Withey's shotblocking ability is so valuable: Kansas recovers his blocks a lot.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

You cant disregard the psychological effect a blocked shot has either. Someone who gets their shit swatted will definitely think twice about driving the lane. Greg used to block so many, that point guards would drive the lane, see him and suddenly do a "oh SHIT!" reversal and try passing the ball away which would sometimes end up in a turnover or a disrupted possession.
 
I love when players get their Hakeem and Bill Russell on and keep it in bounds, but I'm fine with swatting something into the 4th row and sending a message not to try it again.
 
 

Maestro's picture

If you can swat the ball into the 3rd row you could just as easily tip it to yourself or just freaking grab it out of midair.  Kills me.

vacuuming sucks

mclovin's picture

Functionally it is distinguishable. Shot taken and rebounded means new 35.  Block shot means continuation of the previous 35.   

Jack Fu's picture

WOW I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT YOU'RE RIGHT SWAT THEM ALL INTO THE THIRD ROW

81Alum's picture

While I agree, I think people are forgetting the shot clock, especially when it's 5 seconds or less. Even if you don't grab the block, forcing the other team to reset its offense with limited time on the shot clock is pretty effective.

NEWBrutus's picture

Look at you! A multi-sport mathlete of sorts.
Was just commenting on another site about Scott's +/-.  I picked four games (ISU, @Ind, +MSU & Wisc in the B1G tournament). 
ISU: +10
WISC: +9
MSU: +7
Indiana: +16
I agree completely with what you are saying.  He should be playing more!  Unfortunately matchups, specifically for our ability to defend and on the defensive glass, often times dictate that either Rav or Williams be in the game.  Thomas is an "OK" defender, but he would not be able to matchup well with the likes of a Nix (MSU) or Plumlee (Duke), or Withey (KU).  Sometimes it is a sacrifice which must be made. 
The other things which would be interesting (and ridiculously time consuming) is to see what the difference in effective FG% and TO percentage with Scott & Craft on the floor together vs. Craft and Smith.  That might be even more telling than the +/-.  If I only had hundreds of spare hours to pour over box scores. 
By the way great work, this is a time consuming task to do this for each player as it looks like you have to scour the play by play for each game.  It was bad enough doing it just for Scott.  I would have to think that somebody on Ohio State's staff is tracking this on some level. 
Outstading!

Ross Fulton's picture

Agreed. There is only so much you can do inside. In either case, OSU isn't going to get a lot from the center position.

 

Even if OSU does have to play a big, though, that does not change that Scott needs his minutes closer to 30 than 20. The plus/minus just confirms that Scott changes the complexion of the team's performance. And I agree with you re FG% and TO. To me, Scott is the more natural point guard. He therefore gets the offense in better rhythm. And it allows Craft to play off the ball and look for his shot more. He also gets OSU more easy transition points.

 

I can't take credit for compiling (most) of the stats though.  Hats off to Jason for that one.

Maestro's picture

I have to assume that Thad knows those stats regarding Williams and Smith.  I am boggled beyond belief that they still start, but I am chalking it up to "if it ain't broke don't fix it."

vacuuming sucks

ralphie's picture

Perhaps he realizes that b/c someone has that +/- in 20 minutes, doens't mean that will hold true for 30 minutes
Maybe Scott could maintain that level of performance, but maybe he is able to play so hard for those 20 minutes he is better than if he had to pace himself more over 30 minutes.

ralphie's picture

Another possibility is that Scott is able to be more successful playing behind Smith because he becomes the change of pace that defense is not ready for, and by the time they start to adjust to his speed, Smith is back in there. 
Similar to the idea that a post player might have a specific move (say jump hook from right block) that is the most effective statistically on the team.  Does that mean the team should only shoot that shot?  Or is that shot effective because of all the other shots that open that one up for him?
 
 

Statutoryglory's picture

Scott's minutes should come directly from Lenzelle's.  Scott should be at 30 and Lenzelle at 18-20.  

LuckyDAWG685's picture

I knew I was on to something by saying this whole year that Smith shouldn't be starting!  He shouldn't even be playing.  I don't think he has hit a 3 all tournament.

Buckeye Nuthouse Member 2011-13 season
Block "O" 2012 season

Squirrel Master's picture

over exaggeration. He is 4-10 in the tourney for 3pt. 40% isn't bad. Now the rest of the stats, I do concur he is not playing great. I still believe if it ain't broke, don't mess with it.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Jack Fu's picture

I would argue that Smith's two primary (and some might say "only") attributes are spot-up three-point shooting and defensive rebounding. There's a lot of things you can rag on Smith for. Three-point shooting is not among them.

sirclovis's picture

I would argue that Smith's two primary (and some might say "only") attributes are spot-up three-point shooting and defensive rebounding. 

I would like to add his ability to get offensive rebounds and put-backs. Though a lot of those put-backs were his own...
Despite his deficiencies this season, I still feel that he does a lot of dirty work and is a gritty player that helps this team win.

Ross Fulton's picture

Smith certainly has a spot on this team. He does bring some rebounding and can guard a longer 2. I would argue that with a clean slate where he hadn't started last year, though, he wouldn't be starting now.

umbyosu's picture

For the Basketball Breakdowns, we need a picture of Fred Taylor diagramming a play on a chalkboard.  But thanks as always for the breakdowns, Ross!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

This is fantastic.  I am curious as to your actual opinion on Lenzelle Smith.  He's been a weird player this year.  Statwise, he looks good, but not so much with this plus/minus analysis.  I seem to be in the minority that feels that Smith's contributions have been exactly what he should contribute.  He's not a sharp shooter, but he's willed us to win a few games, not to mention he is an excellent rebounder and decent defender on a team where he is supposed to play second or even third fiddle on offense.

Read my entire screen name....

Earle's picture

The Amir haters are going to have a field day with this.

Italics are for emphasis.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

So are the Smith haters...
 
edit: too late, they have arrived.

Read my entire screen name....

BuckeyeMark's picture

How does this take into account the other four players you are on the floor with?  If a team has a monster scoring threat when he comes off the floor to rest the team's second scoring threat may suffer increased defensive pressure/focus and so his numbers go down.  yes?  I'm not a math whiz by any means but this metric seems to be really dependent on which five you're out there with.

marvorama's picture

You've pointed out the fundamental flaw with the raw Plus/Minus stat: that it doesn't take the quality of players you're on the court with into account.  Basketball stat-heads have more recently taken to Adjusted Plus/Minus, which attempts to solve this problem.  Here's an overview article on it [ESPN].
As with any other advanced stat, you can find articles that go very deep into its analysis.  The ESPN article above links to some of these, if you wish to read more.

Ross Fulton's picture

Yep, there are ways to tweak the stat. Plus/minus is a pretty broad brush stroke. The idea is that over the course of a season, who you play with on your team will balance out to the extent that it should reduce this variable.

It's not a perfect stat but it is at least an attempt to measure overall team contribution.

Michael Citro's picture

The useful aspect with Ohio State is that Deshaun Thomas does not sit very often (nor does Craft), so the +/- tends to trend as accurately as possible.

Earle's picture

I would also argue that the "marginal assist" (as Lewis puts it) that results in the spectacular dunk is actually more valuable than the otherwise uncontested layup, in that it can energize the dunker, the team, and the crowd (if you are the home team), and demoralize the opponent and the crowd (for visitors).  

Italics are for emphasis.

slippy's picture

I would argue that "energizing" the player/crowd has a trivial effect on the outcome of the game.
 
It's all back to the 'momentum' myth - or 'riding the hot hand' as they like to say in basketball.  They aren't actually things.

marvorama's picture

Well put.  There are even studies that show that the "momentum" phenomenon in basketball doesn't exist; or, it might even work exactly opposite than conventional wisdom:
 
http://harvardsportsanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/momentum-in-colleg...
 
Granted, "momentum" may be an impossible thing to quantify, and thus study, but there are implications beyond basketball and sports (the gambler's fallacy, for example, that "my luck's about to turn around").

Earle's picture

You'll never convince me that psychology does not play a part in sporting events. As to the studies, I tend to side with Disraeli on the subject of statistics.

Italics are for emphasis.

Michael Citro's picture

I don't know if momentum can be quantified, but I believe it exists. We tend to call it "runs" in basketball, but it's the same basic thing. Ohio State had it Sunday and then Iowa State stole it back. If you're on a 13-0 run, you've got momentum. It can be stopped, and even reversed.

As a participant in team sports, you can feel it. It's a period where nothing seems to go right for your team. You're running your offense, you're thinking ahead, trying to execute, getting open shots and all of that, and for whatever reason (confidence, most likely) things just aren't working out. Meanwhile, everything seems to be easier for the opponent.

It's an odd phenomenon.

WiliestBuckeye's picture

Very interesting stuff, but as you allude to in the article, sports statistics rarely tell the full story. If they did, the games wouldn't be interesting. Team chemistry, matchups, how certain players play together, planning for the future, momentum, energy level, etc. are all things that a coach must take into account when creating a line up. I think Thad knows what he is doing in that regard, and this article makes the choices about who plays when far easier than they actually are. I agree that Scott should be playing more though.

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Ross Fulton's picture

I would actually take the opposite tact and say that most people undervalue statistics. A game is a repeated simulation where the rules are defined. As such there are only so many outcomes.

The 'intangibles' you announced should be captured by plus/minus. I.e. if team chemistry was helped so much by Smith and Amir starting, it should be reflected in their over plus/minus. 

Again, my realistic critique is at the margin. I am not saying change the starting lineup. But Scott should also not be on the bench until the 13 minute mark of a half, as he was in the second half against Iowa St.

yrro's picture

Indeed, not to mention just random luck. Some of the best stats analysts in the game still admit that who wins any single game is almost entirely governed by luck, from a numbers standpoint.

Statutoryglory's picture

In a situation where almost every NBA game falls in a 2-3 basket margin, I would agree with you.  Among top NCAA teams this probably holds too.

sirclovis's picture

Great write up! This essentially backs up the point that OSU should have Craft, Scott, Thompson, and Deshuan on the court as much as possible.  That fifth playing spot should be determined by the type of team OSU is playing. As of late, I like LQ to fill into that last spot and go with a small lineup (despite this lineup's average height being 6'5) because of all the firepower.

sb97's picture

Something to keep in mind when talking about giving Scott more minutes...  In his two tournament games he has picked up 3 and then 4 fouls.  Part of him staying on the floor will be staying out of foul trouble.  This is his first year as a main contributor in the tournament.  He probably needs to adjust to the officiating outside of the Big Ten.

Ross Fulton's picture

Valid point. Obviously the technical caused a problem Sunday. Although I personally do not think that a guard needs to be sent to the bench for the rest of a half when he gets two fouls. Especially one that is only playing 25 minutes at most.

awwwwwwop's picture

Thad did put Scott back in with two fouls on Sunday with about 5-6 minutes left in the half if I remember correctly, and OSU went on a little run.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

mclovin's picture

I wonder how much of Craft's high+/- is attributed to always being on the floor when Scott is and how much of Smith's low +/- is because he is not on the floor with Scott. 

ralphie's picture

That's why +/- is kinda a jank stat.  It doesn't address the other 9 guys on the court at all. 

oregonianbuckeye's picture

For the record, I love Scott. I love watching his tenacity on defense, and how he pushes the ball offensively (better than Craft in this in my opinion). However, he is a matchup guy this year. Teams that zone, or that have big guards give him trouble. 
One component of +/- that isn't discussed enough is what opposing lineups look like when the player is in. For example, if L plays the first 5 minutes of each half, he's playing against the starters. Scott and Q, however, tend to play more minutes against other bench guys (or non-starters). This is why if you look at NBA +/- statistics, guys that come off the bench often have higher than anticipated +/- stats. So the stat appears to compare guys on the same team equally, while conditions could in fact be quite different when they are on the court. While I do think that it is a useful stat, it should come with a grain of salt. Another consideration, although I hesitate to type it, is that Scott almost never plays with Amir. That probably gives Scott, Q and Rav a boost! I kid, sort of ...

RedStorm45's picture

I like Rav, D.T., Q, AC, and Scott.  Having Q and D.T. helps from a height/length position on defense at the 4 spot as well as 2 shooters who can spread the floor.  The downside is Thompson isn't on the floor, who has quietly improved all season.  He was awful from 3 the first 17 or so games and has drastically turned it around.  However, if he defends like he did against ISU, just give me Q instead.
I still don't see why the staff trusts Lenzelle.  He's just generally bad.  His double digit games mostly came against Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, <insert bad team here>.  He is good for a contested 3 now and then, but mostly he just jacks up shots early in the shot clock.  I think he's overrated on defense.
The only problem (and Craft is correcting this recently) with A.C. and Scott at the same time is you're giving up scoring from the 1 AND 2 spot.  Neither guy is an efficient scorer.  Both are average to awful shooting the 3 ball.  That's why the lineup above works because Q and D.T. give them 2 options outside.  Also, Scott is just not very good at converting in the lane.  Watch the fast breaks - he doesn't even look to score.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Smith put up 20+ points against NEB and NW and was one of the only players to show up in those games.  He was the main reason we won those games.  So despite him "being generally bad," having him  on the team gave us, in the least, an extra 2 wins this year.  He "jacks" up shots early in the shot clock because he's a decent 3 point shooter and the staff tells these guys that when you have your shot, take it.  For every bit of points Q scores, he gives up with a defensive lapse or a turnover.  Q is a high rish, high reward guy, Smith is the conservative play, solid all around, won't win you many games, but won't lose you any.

Read my entire screen name....

RedStorm45's picture

Cool, he shows up against the worst competition.
Outside of his 6-11 performance from 3 in Evanston, he is 6-24 behind the arc during the 10-game win streak.  Awesome, no?  He's not even getting to the line, attempting 9 free throws the last 10 games, 4 of which were at Northwestern.  His rebounding, which was praised so much early on, is below 5 a game (he was up near 6 boards a game and a top 10 rebounder in the conference previously in the season).
I don't have issues with early shots, but he takes CONTESTED, often fadeaway threes for virtually no reason.  And he shots 43% from the field, not exactly a great shooter.
I'd rather have Q or Scott.  No questions asked.

ralphie's picture

Here is why I think he gets minutes
1.  Experience. 
He is used to playing big minutes in important games.  That typically matters to coaches.
2.  He is in the top 5 for the team in every single category except blocked shots -
3 in scoring
2 in rebounding
3 in assist
5 in steals
3 in turnovers per game (tied with Scott despite playing 6-7 more minutes). 
He also has the 4th highest FG% among the wing players (thompsons is a bit more elevated since he gets so many dunks, but he has really improved that last 10-2 games)
5th best FT%
4th in 3 point shooting (and consider Amadeo is above him due to garbage time)
How many other guys on the team have that versatile of a game?   Thompson is already playing about the same number of minutes, Scott's jumper and FT are a hot mess most of the time, and Ross is a pretty terrible defender.  
 
 
 

RedStorm45's picture

I just have to assume those saying Ross is terrible at defense didn't watch the B1G Tourney or the two games in Dayton.

ralphie's picture

I just have to assume those saying Ross isn't terrible at defense have only watched the B1G Tourney and the two games in Dayton.
Hopefully he is turning a corner and average defense is now something that can be regularly expected, but can any OSU fan honestly say, "OSU really needs a stop here, we better get Ross out there!"
 
 
 

ralphie's picture

I hear what you are saying but the numbers for Ross and Smith really aren't that much different from the 3 point line.
Ross - 38.3
Smith - 37.5
I do agree completely that Smith takes way too many contested 3s, if he would take away 1 of those every game or two he would look like a much better 3 point shooter
 

DetroitBuckeye's picture

Being a huge hockey fan I have always wondered why the plus/minus stat wasn't applied to other sports, specifically basketball.  It is a great measure of how a players defense helps a team other than just steals or blocks.  It also shows how underrated aaron craft is imo.

 
bnation's picture

There's just not enough data points for +/- to work out in college BB.  I think it may work better in the NBA or in the NHL, but college ball is too random.  Check out this article on Kenpom: http://kenpom.com/blog/index.php/weblog/entry/a_treatise_on_plus_minus/.
 
 

ralphie's picture

A few years ago Anderson Varejao was #2 in the entire NBA in +/- ahead of every single player except lebron for the entire season.
I think it is mostly useless in terms of straight up comparisons between player X and player Y, but can have some use when comparing a player to the perception of that player.
 
 

PDoggett73's picture

I think we should be looking at it the other way around. I think Scott benefits a ton from Craft being on the floor with him. I'll admit I haven't watched as much basketball this year as I normally do but when I've seen Scott on the court with the ball in his hands he has not been a good decision maker at all. I think craft out there lessens some of that decision making burden. He really doesn't have a great jump shot and takes bad shots. I don't think he would be ready to play big minutes at pg especially if craft is not on the floor. He is great at defense and good in transition. I think Matta is using him well as an energy boost off the bench. 

NEWBrutus's picture

After all of this discussion and well reasoned logic about Scott deserving more minutes....
He was basically a minimal factor last night, and LSJr was a key part in the win.  Go figure.