The trends are becoming rather obvious with Georgia Basketball.
What if the media was lying to you all this time about what is important about this Georgia Basketball Team? What if the post-game press conferences, media attention, and desire to fit narratives for the sake of marketing are actually filled with misinformation and distractions that are harmful to the Georgia Basketball Team? Would you believe it? It’s time to examine this season’s team and what actually works. Let’s uncover the rat poison and the hidden treasure troves.
The “Ant Man” Effect is Real when it comes to hype, but not results.
Anthony Edwards gets people in the door and talking about the program. He does not actually get the team to win games. The shooting splits, game logs, and advanced metrics actually support the claim that Anthony Edwards may be hindering this Georgia Basketball Team.
The narrative is that Anthony Edwards is the best player in the country and has to carry an untalented Georgia Basketball Team that will always be in the shadow of the Georgia Football Team. It is a convenient narrative for a sport that does not generate a dime for the UGA sports media. Games against Kentucky, Florida, and Auburn provide a brief change of pace from the 24/7/365 cycle of Georgia Football news, gatekeeping, and speculation that attracts the rack rate subscribers. Throw in the enormous amount of trust these outlets have built even though they have been wrong so frequently, it is tough to break through the desired and organized narrative.
Anthony Edwards when he is not an active distributor.
Georgia is 1-4 when Anthony Edwards has less than 3 assists in a game. Surprised? Don’t be. Even when the Assist Rate metric is considered, it does not look good. Georgia is 2-3 when Edwards has an Assists rate of under 20%.
When Edwards is a ballhog, Georgia does not tend to win. Where it gets really strange is when it comes to the Boxscore Plus/Minus metric.
When Edwards plays poorly or is less active offensively, Georgia performs rather well. In fact, in games where Anthony Edwards had a Boxscore Plus/Minus under 1, Georgia was 3-1 and those were games where Georgia notched their highest quality victories of the season.
Anthony Edwards is Inefficient on Offense
College Basketball is not like the NBA. Defense works differently, players have far more time to practice individually and as a team, scheme and strategy from coaches matter less, and there is greater diversity of thought when it comes to philosophies on the floor. College Basketball is a Team Sport, the NBA has become an individual sport with team results. Anthony Edwards may fit what Tom Crean wants to accomplish on the floor, but his actions are that of a college player who has prioritized being the #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The results of those actions have hurt his draft value and it is becoming less likely that his dream of being the #1 pick will be realized.
In College Basketball, assisted three point shots caused by inside-out action are generally how players make three point shots. Three point shots that are taken off the dribble and are contested are low quality shots that lead to run-outs and transition points for the other team. 83 of Edwards’ 145 jump shots were unassisted, 28.3% of his jump shots were made this season.
Edwards is a 6’5″ 225 pound player who can bull his way or beat his man to the rim and finish very efficiently. He can dribble-drive, post-up, and cut very well when he wants to do so. He’s 71.9% in the restricted arc (astoundingly good for a guard), but he chooses not to take these opportunities. Defenses are not closing the driving lanes away, Edwards wishes to put on a show and gets carried away about it. The UGA staff have a sabermetrician on the staff, Dice Yoshimoto, and the metrics support Edwards and others making changes. Taking suggestions from coaches is tough especially when the player knows that they are a once-in-a-generation player and 18 years old. It does not help when the media is telling him how great he is (even suggesting that he play more selfishly) and marvel in the fact that he would choose to attend Georgia (it offends their sensibilities).
In wins, Edwards takes nearly three less three point shot attempts and is 5.3% better from three point range. He is less efficient inside the perimeter, but he is also more unselfish. In some ways, his teammates step up their game to overcome the poor shot selection and pull out the win.
Edwards Excels with the Outdated, Poorly Descriptive Metrics that Boomers Consider Important
Per game and absolute metrics (totals) are very deceptive and do not tell the story of player’s efficiency or effectiveness. The player could be padding stats and the coaching staff may just be too afraid, lazy or incompetent to confront the issue.
The sports media is communicating largely with an older generation, a simpler generation that does not analyze, but rather trusts their eyes. There is a Luddite sort of a lack of wisdom among them that does not allow them to see or wish to acknowledge that there is much more about the game that they do not understand. Their job is to hype, simplify, and hope you forget.
Lowest Common Denominator. Cheap awful beer, car insurance, overproduced automobiles, terrible “pizza”, pills to make the problems go away, and terrible financial products because you do not know math. Those are the advertisements. Are you the target audience? Are you able to think for yourself?
Even these Per Game metrics are viewed to go over the heads of the audience. Breaking out the shot attempts is just too much math and analysis for the simple-minded. 18.7 points per game is enough said to the Lowest Common Denominator audience, they were overly excited about an inefficiently earned 23 points against a rather weak Kentucky Basketball Team.
Presenting more accurate metrics and analysis is still heretical, but here are the real facts.
A 104.3 Offensive Rating is very inefficient for a supposed top pick in the NBA Draft. His usage rate is 29.6% and yet he only has a 51.3% True Shooting percentage and against quality opponents this falls below 50%. Against higher quality teams, Edwards becomes more selfish as his Assists rate falls and he still cannot get himself to the Free Throw Line enough.
There are more efficient shooting options on offense than Edwards. Edwards’ shot selection plays a large role in why he is better off making significant adjustments or setting up his teammates.
Edwards is scoring his points in the toughest and most inefficient fashion possible. Volume scoring does not mean quality scoring, but this is lost with the media and the fanbase.
It is no secret that the two players who generate the most unassisted jump shots have the lowest True Shooting and effective Field Goal percentages on the team. Tyree Crump and Anthony Edwards take the most shots that are outside of the scope and spirit of the offense and they are brutally inefficient.
Hyped Players don’t fare well at Georgia, but the supporting cast usually accomplish great things after they leave.
Dominique Wilkins, Mike Mercer, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went through similar circumstances at Georgia. They all never played in the NCAA Tournament. However, their teammates did. Wilkins left Georgia for the NBA in 1982 and the 1982-83 Georgia Basketball Team went to the Final Four. Mike Mercer was suspended, injured, and dismissed from the Georgia Basketball Team during the 2007-08 Season, this squad that lacked depth due to injuries and dismissals was rather talented and found a way to win the 2008 SEC Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spent two years at Georgia under Mark Fox and the results were the same 15-17 record. Caldwell-Pope would be the 8th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Georgia Bulldogs would have a 20 win season the following season and then reach the NCAA Tournament in the 2014-15 Season with much of the same roster that Caldwell-Pope played with in the 2012-13 Season (he was SEC Player of the Year).
The best teams win in College Basketball, not the collection of the best players. There is a massive difference, but the recruiting media would like you to 1) not know that and 2) deny that the past 4 1/2 seasons of College Basketball have been a massive departure from the expectations that they have set. The boomers keep giving them their money, it is like the way Prosperity Theology preachers prey on lower income individuals. There is an undeserved trust and blindness that is at a strangely religious level.
Edwards is strangely building the confidence of his teammates in an unintentional fashion.
With Edwards’ struggles with shot selection and inconsistent defense, his teammates have been empowered to carry the load. Many of these players were not thought to make the immediate impact that they would be making now from the media’s perspective, but they are. How much of an impact? Look who is on a mock draft for the 2021 NBA Draft already.
Rayshaun Hammonds may have fallen off NBA Draft boards due to his inconsistency, but Toumani Camara is here. When will the others start making these NBA Draft boards?
Watch enough Georgia games and the obvious becomes very clear, The Pips are more than capable of playing without Anthony Edwards. It is up to Anthony Edwards to mesh with his teammates and become part of the force or else history repeats itself.
If Edwards meshes, this team is extremely dangerous.
Toumani Camara’s Emergence
Toumani Camara was tasked with defending Ashton Hagans for a good amount of the night against Kentucky, he was able to hold Hagans down while Anthony Edwards was letting Immanuel Quickley have wide open three point attempts and letting Tyrese Maxey blow by him. It is big play or bust with Edwards, the same cannot be said about Camara. Camara is a work-in-progress especially with his shooting capabilities, but he is taking better quality shots and not making them.
Camara’s shooting struggles from the field and at the Free Throw Line are going to be points of emphasis for the versatile 6’8″ 215 pound player out of Belgium during the offseason. Camara has been finding his way through this season both offensively and defensively.
Prior to the Kentucky game, Camara had four straight games with a positive Defensive Boxscore Plus/Minus. He has been more active on the defensive glass, played disruptively on defense, and is starting to draw the toughest perimeter matchups on defense. Camara is being used in the post and on the perimeter on defense.
To the general public and media, he is seen as a non-factor. Why should they care about Camara, he only averages 5.9 points per game?
Against all competition, including Division II opponent Chaminade (this skews metrics a bit more favorably), these are Camara’s advanced metrics. There is a lot to like here.
Freshmen typically struggle on defense, not Camara, who sports a 96.6 Defensive Rating. Offensively, Camara is still behind as a shooter, but he is still able to be above-average with his Offensive Rating at 103.5. Prior to the Kentucky game, Camara was second on the team in putback attempts and while he was inefficient with a 28.6% Putback Rate in the restricted arc, he is undersized. Once Camara puts on another 10 pounds of muscle, it will make a significant difference.
In one measurement of Defensive Boxscore Plus/Minus among scholarship level players on the Georgia team, Camara trails only Seniors Jordan Harris and Donnell Gresham Jr. and in another measurement he trails only Rodney Howard. He is a freshman who plays in the post and on the perimeter, he is doing it all and he is morphing into a defensive ace showing shades of UNLV legend Stacey Augmon on the floor.
His progress as a defensive rebounder is unappreciated. He has sported a 15% defensive rebounding rate in 4 out of his last 6 games. Contrast that with the prior 7 games against Division I competition, where he had only 2 such performances.
Since leaving Maui, Camara has sported a 3% block rate or higher in every game.
Sahvir Wheeler – The Necessary Distributor
When Wheeler has 6 or more assists in a game, Georgia is 7-0. When Wheeler does not reach 6 assists in a game, Georgia is 2-4. This should be enough, right? There’s more.
When Wheeler has an offensive rating above 100, Georgia is 8-1. Sahvir Wheeler’s ability to be efficient on offense and distribute plays a large role in how Georgia fares.
Tom Crean needs Wheeler and Edwards to get 11 assists or more in a game between them to win. Crean needs them both to be strong distributors and set their teammates up to score, the results will bear themselves out accordingly.
“Sahvir is a Little Guy Who Cannot Score at the Rim”
The media needs to keep saying this myth because it is funnier each time they are proven wrong.
Wheeler struggles as a shooter, he is at his best off the dribble and inside the perimeter. Anything can happen off this action. Once he gets into the perimeter, the probability of a made Field Goal or a foul committed by the opposing defense rises considerably. His options are great: He can kick out to an open three point shooter in rhythm, attack the basket himself, stop and take a 12 foot jump shot or find a cutter along the baseline.
Wheeler’s bugaboo is the turnover bug. His turnovers are almost never forced, they are always self-inflicted. Too much flair, too aggressive, the wrong type of pass, and the times when he is too unselfish to take it to the rim himself.
Wheeler is 30th in the country in assist rate (35.6%). My how the world has changed since Mark Fox left.
The Disappearing and Reappearing Donnell Gresham Jr.
Donnell Gresham Jr. actually leads the team in offensive efficiency rating (125.7), it is surprising to casual followers and the media, but it is true. Gresham’s contributions are felt without having score, but the problem is that he is so de-emphasized and his teammates do not look to set him up enough on the corners to shoot three point shots. Gresham is deadly on the corners and getting involved to take open shots there would result in greater respect for baseline cuts, greater spacing, and more scoring.
Gresham gives Georgia a lot that falls under the radar:
- Offensive rebounding (8.7% offensive rebounding rate, he’s a 6’3″ backcourt player)
- Free Throw Rate: 45.8% Free Throw Rate
- Free Throw Shooting: 88.9%
- Steals: He has a 3.1% steals rate, which is second on the team behind Jordan Harris.
- Defends without fouling.
Media see 6.7 points per game and shrug. A Natural Language Generation algorithm could produce more informative content than what the media produces.
When Gresham is involved in the offense, he is very efficient and his teammates have to set him up to unleash the shooter that he is. Notice the difference between when Gresham is involved and not involved. It plays itself out in the offensive efficiency and the win-loss record. When Gresham plays better than his average offensive efficiency, Georgia is 6-0. When Gresham plays worse, Georgia is 3-4.
It gets stranger. Did you know that in every game Gresham has made a three point shot the Dawgs won? It’s true!
In Georgia wins, Gresham has done the following:
- Attempted more three point shots.
- Has been more active on the glass.
- Is more active in distributing the basketball.
- Sets up more second chance opportunities.
- Attempted more Free Throws.
Tyree Crump is too Inefficient
Tyree Crump took a lot of bad advice and never changed. He went from a more balanced guard who was able to attack the rim and distribute to trying to be a three point shooting specialist. He is touted as the best three point shooter on the team, but this is simply a myth that people want to believe like Jeffrey Epstein committing suicide. If you say it enough, maybe it will be true. However, the Goebbelsian effort of the media and a fan base that wants to see a homegrown player succeed is being exposed like all of the unusual things covering up what Jeffrey Epstein did and how he was murdered.
The Georgia fan base has their priorities out of order and seeing Georgia players on the floor over results is what they want, of course, this is a stupid way to build a team. It is also a dumb way to hire specialized talent in the 21st century. Mark Fox actually had a roster filled with talent from Georgia and he was able to get nothing out of them because he had no recruiting strategy and his on-the-court system was and is still ineffective. It does not stop the Jeff Dantzlers of the world from spouting lies about the program and what it takes to succeed at Georgia. Playing 7 or 8 “best players”, running the Harrick Offense, and recruiting only players from the State of Georgia is not a path to success just like having a white quarterback who sparingly throws the ball, an offense that runs the ball frequently, plays “tough defense”, and is comprised of players from Middle and South Georgia is not the path to success in Football.
Preaching the nostalgia of lies and limiting the future to recreate a revisionist past is demagoguery.
Tyree Crump is inefficient and his minutes are simply unjustified.
83.8% of Crump’s shots are from three point range. He shoots at a 30.7% rate from three point range this season and in his career at Georgia is a 33% three point shooter. Crump is average, at best.
Missed three point shots lead to secondary break opportunities for opponents due to the long rebounds. Crump taking bad shots so frequently has hurt the team’s defense and it is not terribly surprising that Crump struggles defensively. Crump’s defense comes a far second to his interest in taking the next three point shot from the wing. His shot mechanics are very inconsistent and he is at his best from three point range when he is set up on an inside-out opportunity. However, these are not the shots he is taking.
Among the regular rotation of 11 players, Crump has the worst defensive efficiency rating on the team. His offensive efficiency is considered average at 102.
He still plays 24.6 minutes per game despite his lack of productivity and inefficiency. His teammates will soon eat into his minutes because he is becoming a liability and there are players making positive headway on both ends of the floor.
He’s not getting better, he’s just getting worse.
The Rise of Christian Brown
Christian Brown has moved in the opposite direction as Tyree Crump. Brown has been gaining confidence in his abilities on both ends of the floor. He has fallen under-the-radar, but his contributions have raised eyebrows only among those who have actually watched all of the games. Brown’s slow rise coincides with Camara’s, but since Brown does not start, he has not caught as much attention.
Brown may have a weak offensive rating this far into the season, but there’s more to him than what meets the eye when it comes to the metrics this season. Brown is very efficient in the restricted arc and has shown an ability to hit a few three point shots with his Jamal Crawford inspired arc on his shot. Brown’s inability to hit Free Throws has taken away from his ability to draw fouls, he has a 79.4% Free Throw Rate. How Brown gets there is really simple, he fights on the offensive glass, tries to get second chance points, and attacks the rim.
His confidence as a ball handler and shooter will dictate how far he can go this season on the offensive end. Brown’s time on the floor is largely as Rayshaun Hammonds’ understudy to spell Hammonds when foul trouble or potential foul trouble may strike.
Against major opponents, Brown has shined as a disruptive defender. He is forcing a 2.8% steals rate against multi-bid conference competition.
Fouls and turnovers have cut into his time on the floor, but in the past five games, Brown has been much better with turnovers and the fouls situation is still something he needs to improve. Brown’s turnovers were often offensive fouls with and without the ball during much of the season.
Brown’s last five games could be a harbinger of good things to come and could earn the freshman more minutes. Brown was not as active on the glass nor as defensively disruptive, but he was more of an offensive impact player. Brown’s challenge is to be impactful on both ends while avoiding the issues that would result in him getting benched.
Brown’s rise on the offensive end is absolutely real. Georgia is 4-0 when Christian Brown has a positive Boxscore Plus/Minus. Positive contributions from Brown are not from a zero sum perspective, he truly grows the pie when he contributes.
Brown is going to be a player to watch this season as his growth may make a major impact in conference play.
As Hammonds Goes, Georgia Goes
Rayshaun Hammonds’ ability to avoid foul trouble may dictate the team’s success. Hammonds’ foul situation is going to be the most important number to watch in every game this season, but what is more indicative is how the foul situation impacts the minutes he plays.
In wins, Hammonds played less minutes because the game was in-hand for the Georgia Bulldogs. However, in losses, it was usually due to foul trouble. When Hammonds plays more than 25 minutes, the Dawgs are 6-0. When he plays 25 minutes or less, the Dawgs are 3-4. It is a massive difference.
Hammonds averages a double-double in Georgia’s wins this season. He is also able to get to the rim and score efficiently. Hammonds is just more involved offensively and defensively.
Hammonds has taken a step backward as a shooter.
Hammonds is still efficient in the restricted arc, in fact, he is better than last season in the restricted by 1.4%. However, the three point shooting and Free Throw shooting have taken a tumble back to his conversion rates as a freshman. Hammonds was a reliable Free Throw shooter and now he is not, which is paired with a struggles to get to the Free Throw Line compared to past seasons. Hammonds’ efficiency is coming from his ability to score in the restricted arc and get second chance putbacks. Georgia has 56 putback attempts this season on 896 shots, Hammonds has 16 of those putback attempts.
Team Trends to Watch
- Georgia’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency as the season has moved along has remained generally flat.
- Georgia’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency has been improving as seen below.
Georgia has not played a game with an adjusted defensive efficiency above 100, since November 26, which was the game against Michigan State.
From a rebounding perspective.
- Georgia has been slightly improving with defensive rebounding rates, even though the defensive rebounding efforts against SMU, Kentucky, and Memphis were the three worst of the season. The linear regression line is still sloping upwards, for now.
- Georgia has been declining with offensive rebounding rates.
Georgia is a better team when the team is able to have a higher offensive rebounding rate.
The team has been having a tougher time with offensive rebounding and shot selection has played a large role.
From a shooting perspective.
When Georgia is three point shooting happy, Georgia tends to lose.
Ball movement matters for Georgia.
When Georgia has 15 or more assists in a game, the team is undefeated. With less than 15 assists, the team is 1-4 against Division I competition. Georgia cannot win with Hero Ball, nobody can win playing Hero Ball. Hero Ball is just one of the reasons why Mark Fox was fired. Andy Kennedy, Avery Johnson, and Johnny Jones all featured Hero Ball and they are no longer coaching in the conference as well.
Georgia’s Keys to Victory per Metrics
- An Assist Rate above 55%
- Less Mid-Range Shots as Georgia is a 31.7% team in this range, reducing this to below 20% of shot distribution.
- Attack the rim more with more than 45% of shots, Georgia converts 71.6% of the time.
- Attempt less three point shots and better quality three point shots.
- Rayshaun Hammonds needs to avoid foul trouble and be active on the glass.
- Less shots from Crump and more corner three point shots from Gresham off a paint touch.
- Sahvir Wheeler needs to get more than 6 assists in a game.
- Anthony Edwards needs to be a dribble driver with options just like Sahvir Wheeler.
- Anthony Edwards also needs to be set up from three point range from inside-out ball movement.