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Comparing the Departing PGs

Chris Paul, Raymond Felton and John Gilchrist have each announced their intentions to move on to the NBA, and while we're still waiting on something official from Jarrett Jack, I'm throwing him into the discussion anyway. I doubt Jack will end up returning to Atlanta (unless he's a Hawk or something).

Recent message board discussion/debate has left me wondering...which of these four guys possesses the best skill set? Which has the best pro prospects?

First, a look at the traditional numbers from this past season:


These numbers are self-explanatory. In looking at these, I give a slight edge to Chris Paul's numbers. Paul was important to the Deacs for scoring as well as dishing the ball to teammates, and he did both things very well. His assist-to-turnover ratio was the best among the departing PGs, and he also did a good job generating turnovers through steals.

Felton averaged the most assists per game, but that's not very surprising considering the guys around him. I was particularly impressed with the way Felton shot the three-ball this season, though his free throw shooting wasn't ideal. Felton had the highest raw number of assists among ACC players, but as indicated by an A:T ratio that isn't quite as good as Paul's or Gilchrist's, he commited his fair share of turnovers as well.

Jack's point guard-related numbers look the worst, but he moreso than the others was expected to provide scoring for his team. Even so, his shooting percentages were excellent, and as I've noted previously, made him an efficient points producer. Interestingly, Jack collected a lot fewer offensive rebounds than the other three guys. He grabbed 9 offensive boards, while the others each grabbed at least 22. Considering Jack's height (compared to the others), that strikes me as really strange. His A:T ratio is down from 2003-2004 (when it was 1.8), so he's probably a better passer than his '05 numbers suggest.

Gilchrist had the worst shooting percentages, but appears to have had a pretty steady hand. This is reflected in the low TO/G and solid A:T ratio.

This next table compares the players' averages on a per-40 minute basis rather than a per-game basis. I prefer this sort of comparison since it mitigates playing time biases (not that these guys got significantly different amounts of PT).

PlayerMin/GPts/40Rebs/40Ast/40Chris Paul33.418.35.47.9Ray Felton31.716.35.48.7Jarrett Jack34. Gilchrist32.

You can see basically the same trends as in the previous table. Paul and Jack were the most proficient scorers, Gilchrist the most proficient rebounder, and Felton the most proficient dime-dropper.

Now the fun part. This last table compares some of the new statistics I've been looking at this season. Most of the numbers explained here. What you haven't seen yet:

True Shot Percentage (TS%) -- A John Hollinger creation. Defined as

Points / (2 x (FGA + 0.44 x FTA))

Pass Rating -- The Assist Part of Dean Oliver's Points Produced formula divided by Individual Possessions. Credit to Ryan for this one. The 'Assist Part' of Oliver's formula estimates how many points a player produced through assists. Dividing that figure by individual possessions gives (obviously) a per-possession figure. The result is multiplied by 100 for easier comprehension.

PlayerO Rtg%PossMin/GAdjFG%TS%TO RtPass RtgFlr%PPFGAPaul12322.7%33.452.3%61.1%20.6%26.70.561.22Felton11322.2%31.756.1%59.6%27.4%32.70.501.19Jack11422.2%34.158.6%65.1%25.9%18.40.511.30Gilchrist11321.6%32.248.7%54.5%19.6%21.60.521.09

Again it's evident to me that Chris Paul has the best all-around numbers. A really impressive offensive rating, an excellent turnover rate (for a point guard), a good pass rating, efficiency from the's all here. I think it's worth noting that Paul is the only underclassman of the four.

Paul also did an excellent job getting to the free throw line (0.59 FTA/FGA; the highest ratio among the other three guys was 0.45), and when he got there, he made more than 80% of his attempts. Paul's ability to penetrate and draw contact is superior to the ability of these other guys to do the same.

You can really get a sense for Felton's propensity for turnovers by looking at his TO Rate. Felton turned the ball over on more than a quarter of his individual possessions, but that's still a number I could live with...the Heels certainly had no issues. Felton played on one of the most up-tempo teams in the conference (and in the country, for that matter), so he was bound to turn it over a fair amount. More possessions, more opportunities for errors.

He matched a bunch of turnovers with a bunch of assists, and as you can see by his Pass Rtg, he generated the most points via assists of any of the point guards. That is, after all, what you want out of a point guard--someone who makes lots of passes that are turned into points by teammates. If Felton lowers his turnover rate and gets better at the free throw line, he'll be one formidable player in the NBA.

I wonder if an NBA team will try Jarrett Jack at 2-guard. He's tall enough to make that transition, and he's shown that he's a good shooter. He is arguably the best shooter of the four departing ACC point guards. If I'm a pro franchise with an already-established PG, I'm not necessarily looking past Jack, because I wouldn't have any problems with playing him alongside my incumbent PG.

Gilchrist is the most interesting guy going into the draft, if only because his future seems the most uncertain. Gilchrist had a rocky year in College Park, earning a seat in Gary Williams's dog house and becoming the target of a lot of criticism from fans. Gilchrist has earned the "team cancer" label, and many Maryland fans aren't worried about life without him. But I'm thinking they probably should be (I'll get into that when I recap Maryland's season in the coming days).

Gilchrist's stats aren't gaudy, and they won't make you say "I'd definitely take John over Felton or Jack," but I am very impressed by both his turnover rate (sub-20%) and his assist-to-turnover ratio. Gilchrist's ORtg is still comparable to Jack's and Felton's despite his lower shooting percentages. If his shooting percentages were better, we'd be talking about an ORtg comparable to Paul's.

If I were looking at drafting these guys, this is the order in which I'd take them:

1) Chris Paul -- Simply a great player. It doesn't matter to me that he's undersized. Efficient scorer, good ball handler and passer.

2) Ray Felton -- Carolina was a better team when he was in the game, and while that impact is difficult to quantify, it has value. A good passer who could score more often if asked.

3) John Gilchrist -- Low turnover rate. Gilchrist shot 47.6% from the field in '03-'04 and I think that's a little closer to his "true" shooting ability than the percentage he posted this season.

4) Jarrett Jack -- Love his size, and his career assist-to-turnover ratio is about 1.6:1, clearly better than the 1.3:1 mark he posted this year. His FG% was probably an aberration, though. He'll be solid even at with lower FG% (and I don't expect his FT% to dip much), but not quite as valuable as the other three.