Welcome to a new and briefly-lived feature on the site, where I will argue with myself. Our first topic: Trevor Lacey. He left NC State, but just how much will that affect the upcoming basketball season? This take has been offered up by myself. This is my rebuttal to myself.
My esteemed colleague has made his case as to why Trevor Lacey's absence this upcoming season will not be a huge loss. He astutely noted to that Lacey's shooting inside the arc against top-100 teams was not good, that his efficiency suffered against the better teams on the schedule. That's undeniable, which I cannot deny.
Let me start with this: Trevor Lacey was NC State's offensive identity before the team had any clue how it was going to function after T.J. Warren's departure. Lacey's ability to immediately assume a veteran role meant volumes for a group that had a lot of adjusting to do.
Lacey carried the highest workload of anybody on the team, and he wasn't surrounded by a bunch of players other teams would gameplan around. In fact, only three NC State players finished 2015 with an eFG% above 50.0--Lacey, Ralston Turner, and the light-usage dunk machine otherwise known as BeeJay Anya.
From the start this was Lacey's team, and in fact his usage increased along with the difficulty of the opponent. Against top-50 teams, he took 25.3% of the Pack's shots while he was on the floor, and that rate is higher than in any other case, which is to say the team deferred to him more often in what it deemed more high-stakes situations.
Lacey was crucial as well in spelling Cat Barber, and if you think that either of the Martin twins can perform in that role, I'm afraid you've lost your damned mind to offseason scuttlebutt. There is no fix here; this is a serious problem. Neither Caleb nor Cody have the handle you need in this spot. Terry Henderson is going to be too busy playing 30 minutes at the off-guard position. THIS IS A CAPITALIZED-WORDS PROBLEM, ONE THAT PERHAPS YOU CAN WORK AROUND, BUT NONETHELESS A PROBLEM.
Lacey posted a 20.7% assist rate against a 14.4% turnover rate last year--both solid numbers for a hybrid guard. Cody Martin's assist rate was slightly higher, and his turnover rate was north of 23%, which is ugly. There is good reason to believe Cody and his brother will get better in 2015, but when you match that with an increase in responsibility, the net may not be positive.
Ultimately, the loss of Lacey recycles that identity question: who is going to take the big shots, and upon whom does this group lean during the initial stages of the season? Could be it's the Cat Daddy, who if he picks up where he left off will ease a lot of concerns. Might be Caleb Martin, who seems so close to a breakthrough, or Malik Abu, who could dunk someone to death.
But we don't know right now. Maybe Caleb can be a consistent jump shooter. Terry Henderson should, at minimum, replace Ralston Turner's three-point production. But who is the Spock to the Cat Daddy's Captain Cat Daddy? This is the puzzle we must solve, and the solution became far more difficult when Trevor Lacey decided to leave. We may find that there is no answer on this roster.
Please stay tuned for Part 3: You Are Both Nincompoops