Missing You, Missing Me: What Can History Tell Us About Life Without Buckets?

Streeter Lecka

I'm sure everything will be just fine. (No, I'm not.)

In trying to imagine what life without T.J. Warren might be like, I chased some painkillers with a fifth of liquor and wept uncontrollably while compiling the charts below. For the 2012-13 and 2011-12 seasons, I made a list of every player who departed the season after he averaged over 20 points per game with a usage rate that at least rounded to 30%. I hoped to find that those he left behind tended to miraculously band together to absorb the loss, thus avoiding a step back for his program in the year after he who carried the load's departure. Not surprisingly, I didn't find that at all. In fact, I'd be hesitant to cast any grand conclusions from the small sample of data, but by and large it's safe to posit that losing a guy who put in over 20 points per game does not bode well for the program's future.

Below are the load carriers from 2012-13. Six of the nine teams took a step back in the season after losing their high-usage scorer. The year after teams' combined record fell 27 games back compared to the teams from a year before in the standings, or an average of a three-game plummet for each program. A bubble team that barely squeaked into the NCAA tournament a year ago, N.C. State can obviously not afford a three-game turnaround on the wrong side of its record next year if it hopes to return to the tournament for a fourth-straight season.

Player, School

Ppg

Usg%

PER

W-L With Him

W-L Without Him

Erick Green, Va. Tech

25.0

32.4

31.6

13-19

9-22

Lamont Jones, Iona

22.6

31.1

22.3

20-14

22-11

Nate Wolters, S. Dakota

22.3

29.8

32.0

25-10

19-13

Isaiah Canaan, Murray St.

21.8

30.9

25.2

21-10

23-11

Shane Gibson, Sacred Hrt

21.6

33.1

22.9

9-20

5-26

Stan Okoye, VMI

21.5

32.7

26.3

14-17

22-13

Greg Gantt, Fla. Atlantic

21.2

30.8

21.1

14-18

10-22

Khalif Wyatt, Temple

20.5

32.2

24.6

24-10

9-22

Colt Ryan, Evansville

20.1

32.3

26.4

21-15

14-19

161-133 (.548 W%)

133-159 (.455 W%)

The drop off from the 2011-12 group is much less precipitous, but four of seven teams took a step back. Overall, the next year's teams were 7.5 games back of the previous year's squads, or an average fall of just over one game per program. That's less discouraging, but the Pack must at least hold serve, if not take a tiny step forward, to put their dancing shoes back on in 2014-15.

Player, School

Ppg

Usg%

PER

W-L With Him

W-L Without Him

Reggie Hamilton, Oakland

26.2

34.8

31.1

20-16

16-17

Damian Lillard, Weber St.

24.5

33.0

34.0

25-7

30-7

Terrell Stoglin, Maryland

21.6

33.9

24.2

17-15

25-13

Gerardo Suero, Albany

21.5

37.5

28.4

19-15

24-11

Kevin Murphy, Tn. Tech

20.6

32.3

20.8

19-14

12-17

Alex Young, IUPUI

20.4

33.4

27.7

14-18

6-26

J'Covan Brown, Texas

20.1

29.5

23.2

20-14

16-18

134-99 (.575 W%)

129-109 (.542)

The next chart, for comparison's sake, shows how Buckets stacks up with the other guys on the list. As you already knew, unlike some dudes on the list, Warren managed to get his points efficiently (going by John Hollinger's player efficiency rating) despite the heavy workload.

Player, School

Ppg

Usg%

PER

W-L With Him

W-L Without Him

Tony Buckets, N.C. State

24.9

35.5

31.3

22-14 (.611 W%)

??-??

Given Warren's efficiency, maybe we should narrow the scope of the list to just those players that managed to post a PER north of 30.

Player, School

Ppg

Usg%

PER

W-L With Him

W-L Without Him

Damian Lillard, Weber St.

24.5

33.0

34.0

25-7

30-7

Nate Wolters, S. Dakota

22.3

29.8

32.0

25-10

19-13

Erick Green, Va. Tech

25.0

32.4

31.6

13-19

9-22

Reggie Hamilton, Oakland

26.2

34.8

31.1

20-16

16-17

83-52 (.615 W%)

74-59 (.556)

Not surprisingly, the teams with efficient jackers of many shots had a much higher overall winning percentage than teams led by gentlemen for whom the definition of a good shot was lost upon. And it's no shocker that three of four teams that lost highly efficient load carriers regressed without them. Team "With Him" would finish eight games ahead of team "Without Him" in the standings; so, the next year's group was an average of two games worse than the year before. Again, N.C. State can't afford even a small step back.

Of course this little study comes with buckets of caveats, not least of which is the vast clown blogging history of its functioning alcoholic author. Moreover, there are so many factors at play that sway a team's overall success from year-to-year. Losing one player, no matter how big a part he was in a team's offense, doesn't tell the whole story. Who else departed? Were there injuries? Who joined the team? Did the schedule get tougher or easier? Was there a coaching change? Nonetheless, it's probably safe to say that N.C. State will have to defy the odds to remain a top 50 team and NCAA tournament participant in year-one After Buckets.

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