Fun with small sample sizes

Andy Lyons

The 2012-13 Basketball season is only a couple weeks old, but its never too early to gush and gripe over the limited statistical results produced by the Wildcats!

Early season stats are fun. In baseball it's great to watch Joey Votto go deep on Opening Day and think "Hey! He's on pace for 162 homers this year!" Of course, no one actually believes that will hold up, but we can all dream!

Ken Pomeroy released his individual player ratings last week, the earliest he has done so in the history of his website, so I thought it might be fun to take the Wildcats' roster and look at some early season numbers that will almost certainly not hold up over the course of the entire year.

Before we do though, everyone should read and remember the Small Sample Size Oath linked to above:

I, (state your name), understand that the player stats are based on extremely limited information in mid-November. I understand that Erik Murphy is not the best college basketball player of all time and that Adreian Payne is not going to grab anything close to 43% of opponents’ missed shots nor 0% of his own team’s misses for a full season. Additionally, I understand that some of the numbers displayed on these pages are utterly meaningless at this point, like Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson’s free throw rate or anything on Jordan Vandenberg’s line. I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the responsible use of advanced stats for individuals in mid-November.

Remember folks: stats only lie if you don't use them correctly, and we are definitely about to use them incorrectly.

  • Jarrod Polson: 145.2 Offensive Rating

    Polson has been terrific in the early season, giving the Cats a needed PG option with the early season illness that hit Ryan Harrow. His ORtg is 12 points better than what Anthony Davis put up over a full season last year and is built mostly on the back of shooting 85.7% (6 of 7) on twos while avoiding turnovers (16.2 TO Rate).
  • Kyle Wiltjer: 142.7 Offensive Rating; 63.2 3pt FG%

    When Kyle shoots, he scores. Wilt has put together a strong offensive profile with his insane 3pt shooting, a miniscule 10.4 TO Rate, and a nifty-for-a-big-guy 18.5 assist rate. Really, the only thing he isn't doing well is hitting twos (4-11, 36.4%). That assist rate is triple what he did last year.
  • Nerlens Noel: 6.3 Steal%

    We're not used to this kind of thievery here in Cat land. The highest mark in the Calipari era is 2.9 set by John Wall and even Rajon Rondo "only" managed rates of 5.4 (#1 in the nation) and 4.0 in his two seasons.
  • Julius Mays: 21.3 Assist Rate

    Ladies and Gentlemen: your 2012-13 Wildcat Assist Leader! This is a great example of what a single game can do to early season numbers as Mays' 10 assist performance against Lafayette has vaulted him to this level. Truthfully, a 21.3 rate is not all that remarkable in absolute terms, but Mays is usually the guy bumping this number up for his teammates, not the other way around.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein: 10.7 Defensive Rebound%

    This number is remarkable for how low it is. A 7-footer with WCS's ability should be grabbing more defensive rebounds than this. It's not like he's competing with teammates either - as a team the Cats are a staggeringly bad 299th in the country, grabbing a mere 61.3% of possible defensive boards. They'll get better of course, but it's surprising to see Willie this low, even if it's early. Be sure to check out EagleTDL's fanpost for more.
  • Archie Goodwin: 25.4 Possession%, Alex Poythress 25.2 Possession%

    One of the preseason predictions questions I asked the other writers concerned how the offensive plays would be distributed amongst players: balanced like 2012, or concentrated in a couple guys like 2010 and 2011. The early answer is that Goodwin and Poythress are dominating possessions, though not at quite the same level as Wall/Cousins or Knight/Jones.
    Actually, these are numbers that I could see holding up throughout the season which in Poythress's case would be pretty spectacular. Alex has been remarkably efficient (120.7 Ortg) thanks to all those dunks and second chance points.
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