Advanced stats say Klay, Team USA indeed playing well

Being the stat geek that I am, I wasn't willing to take people's word for it that Team USA and Klay Thompson were playing well in the FIBA U19 tournament in New Zealand. Given that advanced stats aren't readily available, I spent about an hour compiling and computing Four Factors stats for the team and individual stats for Klay and DeAngelo Casto to get a read on just how each was performing.

In two words, very well, thank you very much.

First, Team USA (if you're new around here and have no clue what these stats mean, read this):

Poss/game: 78.6
TEAM USA OPPONENTS
Efficiency 110.5 78.8
Effective FG% 52.2% 40.7%
Offensive Reb. % 39.3% 27.3%
Turnover % 16.4% 22.7%
Free Throw % 25.1% 24.8%

 

Quick observations:

  • This team is playing at an insanely fast pace. That 78.6 figure would have been second in the nation in college basketball last season -- they play 40-minute games in international competition, too. This isn't real surprising, given all the athletic bodies (and depth) Jamie Dixon has to work with.
  • Their shooting has been excellent, as has their offensive rebounding and ability to take care of the basketball. The encouraging thing about this is that it shows this team isn't getting by on mere athletic ability -- they're actually excelling at different facets of the game.
  • Their ability to get to the line has been shockingly poor. For comparison's sake, the Cougs' free throw rate last year -- which we continually harped on throughout the season -- was 27.0. Having not seen the games, it's pretty tough to come up with legitimate explanations, especially without having free throw rate stats for the rest of the teams in the tournament. Their opponents' low free throw rate might suggest that the referees just aren't calling a lot of fouls, but that's just conjecture.

    I tend to think it's that the U.S. is just taking a lot of shots, given that they're leading the tournament in field goal attempts per game and 3-point attempts per game. Here's to hoping a cold shooting night doesn't do them in at some point.

Now, onto Klay. Here's a snapshot of his play:

Tourney 2008-09
Minute % 56.5% 82.1%
Shot % 15.8% 27.9%
Effective FG% 56.4% 51.1%
Offensive Reb. % 7.1% 3.3%
Defensive Reb. % 16.4% 12.7%
Free Throw Rate 15.38 8.2
Assist % 14.2% 14.5%
Steal % 1.5% 1.9%
Block % 0.7% 2.2%

 

Quick observations:

  • Klay has emerged as Team USA's best outside shooting threat. That outstanding eFG% is fueled largely by a 10-for-20 mark from 3-point range. While Klay is only averaging 7.7 points, he's doing it efficiently. I didn't have the time or inclination to calculate offensive rating, but if I had, I bet it would be in the 120 range, which is excellent.
  • Vince Grippi said today that he found Klay's rebounding totals a bit surprising, but it's really not that out of line with what you'd expect when looking at his rate statistics from last season.

    That 3.7% jump in defensive rebounding percentage is nothing to sneeze at, but it's not so huge as to be considered a total anamoly. Klay demonstrated himself to be an excellent rebounding guard last season, and when you combine his rates with the higher pace of play for Team USA -- the Cougs typically played at under 60 possessions per game last year -- you get the higher rebounding totals.

    His jump in offensive rebounding rate is huge, however. But it doesn't really surprise me. As a guard in Tony Bennett's system, your primary job is to get back on defense, meaning offensive rebounding opportunities will be few and far in between. At the pace Team USA is playing, Dixon clearly has given Klay the green light to crash the glass with abandon. What's awesome about that is that you'll likely see Ken Bone give Klay the same kind of freedom next year. Exciting stuff.
  • Despite only taking six free throws in six games, his free throw rate doesn't come off as bad as you might expect, simply because he's taking fewer shots. That number is still pitiful, however.

And, finally, here's Casto:

Tourney 2008-09
Minute % 27.0% 40.0%
Shot % 11.8% 14.4%
Effective FG% 71.4% 55.8%
Offensive Reb. % 9.9% 10.8%
Defensive Reb. % 11.4% 20.7%
Free Throw Rate 57.14 62.1
Assist % 3.4% 6.4%
Steal % 0.0% 1.8%
Block % 4.1% 8.9%

 

Kind of a good news/bad news theme here:

  • Good news: Casto was still being efficient with his scoring, and still was grabbing a fair amount of offensive rebounds. He also was getting to the line a lot, although he's still got to work on getting consistent from there (5-of-8).
  • Bad news: Those defensive rebounding and block marks are really subpar for him. If the knee had been bothering him throughout the tournament, that could explain it.

I didn't have time to work up Brock Motum's numbers; if the Aussies and Americans both win tonight, I'll try to do that tomorrow so you can get a picture of just what he's doing. Also, I'll try to work up four factors stats for all of the final four teams (assuming Team USA is still in it) to preview the medal round.

And don't forget: You can watch both Australia and Team USA tonight via FIBATV if you want to pony up $8. By my calculations, Australia plays at 9 p.m. and the Americans play at 1:30 a.m. tonight/Friday morning. I'll probably even throw up a combined game thread at about 8:45 p.m. to talk about the two games, which you also can follow via live stats if you're poor like me.

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