2015 Purdue Basketball Preview: Predicting the Statlines
Brace yourselves, fellow Purdue basketball junkies. We are on the precipice of the most anticipated Boilermaker basketball season since JaJuan and E'Twaun were on campus, complete with far off dreams of a Big Ten championship and an Elite Eight (dare we say Final Four) appearance being not completely unrealistic. It also means we get to stop pretending to care about football!
Purdue's first game is in Mackey Arena on November 13, against the mighty Aggies of North Carolina A&T University. During the next two weeks, I'll be putting out daily individual player previews, featuring a reflection of their 2014-2015 season, their undisputed strength and biggest weakness, GIF of the year, nickname, predicted statline, unsolicited advice, and a Best/Worst prediction that may or may not get a little weird.
But I wanted to tease those posts a little bit by giving you my prediction of this 2015-2016 team's box score. Below is what I came up with, and I'll update this page with links to include each player's individual prediction page (when it's posted), so keep an eye out for the next two weeks.
ASSUMPTIONS: Though this will undoubtedly change sometime within the next two weeks, I'll be working under the assumption that nobody (read: Cline and Smotherman) takes a redshirt year, and the team totals are as stated. Remember, that means last year’s team was 10 players deep, while this year’s team could be 13 players deep.
METHODS: I projected each players' stats Per-40 minutes (loosely working from last year's rates), projected the minutes each player would get based on the most common lineups I thought Coach Painter would play, and scaled each category to my projected minutes per game.
I also assumed that this team would play 68.6 possessions per game, which would have been good for 100th fastest in the country last year. Last year, the team averaged 67.7 possessions per game, 148th fastest in the nation. I'm solely attributing this increase to the shorter shot clock. The Boilers should still be committed to a slower, bullyball pace that gets most other squads off their usual run-and-gun style.
[table id=15 /]
Now, compare that to last year's numbers:
[table id=14 /]
I won't include too much commentary on some of the individual increases/decreases here, as I'll expand on them within each individual post. Here are a few team-wide notes on the differences you might spot right away:
- Massive team-wide scoring increase. This change can be boiled down to one word: efficiency. Last year, the team shot a collective 32.7% from beyond the arc and a paltry 50.8% on all shots inside the arc, plus 68.3% from the line. I'm banking on all of those numbers to go up, and you'll be able to see the individuals who I think will make that jump by taking a look at the 2015-2016 prediction table. I really do think offense will define this team, given the amount of unreal talent and depth available to Coach Painter.
- Rebounds have increased. Reason: Purdue added the best rebounding freshman in the country this summer, and paired him with two 7-foot behemoths. Read the individual previews to see if I'm talking about Swanigan or Cline.
- Assists improved, which means the percentage of baskets that were assisted should significantly increase. The primary reason, again, is because I think the shooters on this team will get plenty of opportunities to show off their touch behind the arc, and I think the players we have to facilitate out of the high post (spoiler: Biggie, Vince) are some of the best passing forwards in college basketball. We'll also hopefully see a decrease in sloppy entry passes, causing a slight uptick in assists that way as well.
- Fifth in the country in blocks seems right for a team that boasts AJ Hammons (my B10 DPOY pick), the 7'5" wingspan of Biggie Swanigan, and an ent that looks like Ivan Drago. I don't think Purdue's defensive efficiency will be as good as the Baby Boilers era, given the slower wing defenders, but nobody is getting a shot off in the paint against Purdue.
- Turnovers are decreased because, like I said with assists, I think Purdue makes a drastic improvement on their entry passing. Whether this is because the wings turn the ball over less, or because most entry passes will come from the elbow facilitators, it will result in a decreased turnover percentage and increased points-per-possession scoring efficiency.
- Purdue might have a slight increase in the number of personal fouls per game, because the big men will be looking to swat away every shot and fouls will inevitably be called. Thankfully, Coach Painter has the depth to compensate for this possibility, and has shown a true dedication for aggressive defense (as evidenced by a summer full of no-fouls scrimmages). This team will be a pain to deal with, and will be the antidote to all of this new-fangled Spursian ball movement nonsense.
One final scoring efficiency note:
2015-2016 prediction: 1.07 points per possession, good for 34th in the country last year.
(2014-2015 Boilers: 1.03 points per possession, 93rd in the country.)
Keep your eyes peeled for the individual player previews, and give me your predictions (or yell at me and tell me why I'm wrong) in the comments below.
Big thanks to TeamRankings.com and Sports-Reference.com (run by our very own SID Chris Forman's brother, Sean) for the pace-adjusted numbers. They're both the best.