Given our steadfast commitment to being the best damn Dayton blog this side of the Great Miami River, we’ve once again cast the net to find someone new to entertain you with ramblings of UD basketball, and came up with Matt Rhein. Matt has been entertaining twitter users with his nerdy stat stuff for years, so I asked him if he would be kind enough to share his findings with the audience of the BBR, and he gracefully obliged. I left the training wheels on, but let him navigate on his own to write this column as his very first on the BBR. Enjoy. – Sully
After a summer filled with plaudits, being featured on mock drafts, and a preseason A10 First Team selection, most Dayton fans would be forgiven for assuming that redshirt sophomore Obi Toppin had the team high in points per possession for field goals at the rim last season. Points per possession, or PPP for you simpletons, is a stat that can help describe how efficient a player is on offense. Using the computer programming program r/ package Luke Benz created here to gather ESPN play by play data, we can calculate how efficient each Flyer was when shooting at the rim; for a 2-point jump shot, or for a 3 pointer. When we get the data back, surprisingly it is not Obi Toppin that has the highest points per possession at the rim for the Flyers, but rather one Ryan “Chip” Mikesell.
Last season Ryan Mikesell had a PPP of 1.71 for field goal attempts at the rim (ahead of human highlight reel Obi Toppin’s 1.60). While certainly not the first, second, or possibly third option for the Flyers on offense last season (a 17.1% usage rate, which measures the percentage of plays a player was used by a team on offense. The A10 average was 18.38%), when Ryan Mikesell did shoot the ball he was extremely efficient. In addition to his impressive points per possession numbers, Mikesell was third among returning A10 players in True Shooting % (which measures the efficiency a player shoots with) at 63.4% and 8th among returning A10 players in Effective Field Goal % at 60.4%. Chip’s contributions are not limited to the offensive side of the ball. He is among only 18 A10 players last season that had an above league average Offensive and Defensive Box Plus/Minus (this measures how many points a team scores and allows per 100 possessions) with a 4.60 OBPM and 2.70 DBPM.
One of the few criticisms you could have had for Mikesell last season was his shot selection. We know he has been able to score efficiently at the rim, but he only took 27.3% of his total field goal attempts at the rim last season. Compare that to the 21.6% from 2-point field goal jump shots averaging 0.92 points per possession and 51.1% of field goal attempts from 3-pointers where he averaged 1.02 points per possession. Given that he has never shot higher than 33% from behind the 3-point line, we can assume it is not a skill that Ryan Mikesell will be able to improve for this season. In order to get the most from Chip, Anthony Grant and his staff should emphasize that to Mikesell that his best work comes near the rim. While he may need to take a few jumpers to keep teams honest, the percentage of the type of shots needs to be skewed much higher to those at the rim for Chip.
Shot selection has been a hot topic in basketball over the summer. Basketball’s most infamous Twitter egg, Kevin Durant, flexed his twitter fingers and joined the legions of middle aged men who think “basketball was better in the 90’s” by lamenting the death of the mid-range shot and pointing the ugly end of the stick for this murder at a faceless analytics boogie-man. What Durant and many who rail against “analytics” in basketball seem to miss is that if player is able to be successful scoring from the mid-range jump shot, no one in analytics would oppose taking that shot. While I am a great admirer of Ryan Mikesell, from mid-range distance… Kevin Durant he is not.
Mikesell actually was the most efficient Flyer taking midrange jump shots last season, averaging 0.92 points per possession from them. Given that the highest PPP on the UD squad last season was below 1 point, it seems fairly obvious how inefficient these shots are for the Flyers. Our guy Chip doesn’t rely too heavily on his mid-range game, with these shots only taking up 21% of his total attempts. Compare this to teammate Jhery Matos, who took 38.5% of his limited shots last season from the mid-range but only averaged 0.20 points per possession from those shots. Yikes!
Many people associate the 3 point shot with the analytics movement. Yet it is not always an efficient shot, especially for certain college teams. Last year, Dayton was one of those teams. The Flyers shot 33.2% from 3-point land, which was 231st in the county, and averaged an even 1 point per possession from 3-point attempts. To put it plainly, last year’s Dayton team was not very good shooting threes. Our guy Chip shot 33.9%, averaging 1.02 points per possession from beyond the line which put him right near the averages for the team. If some of the newcomers to the Flyer’s roster cannot help improve the long range shooting, opponents could pack the paint and dare Dayton to beat them from outside.
Teams matching up with our Flyers this season will likely game plan to contain Obi Toppin, that much is obvious. The focus on Obi can help to get his teammates more room on the court and hopefully more open looks at high percentage shots. Last season Ryan Mikesell was one of the most efficient scorers of the basketball for Dayton when he attacked the basket. With the increased attention Obi Toppin will get, the Flyers will need another efficient scoring season from Mikesell to help reach the lofty goals set for this season.
This week we’ll be coming out with a podcast episode on predictions for the season, as well as the traditional recon for the Indiana State Sycamores who will be our house guests on Saturday evening.
Until then, wear red and be LOWD.