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NC State got consistency in ACC play this year but couldn’t produce a breakout star

There are worse fates, mind you.

North Carolina State v Duke Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Conference play is a step up in competition for everybody, and I’m always curious how players are affected by that, both in terms of their role and their effectiveness. Who is stepping up? Who is getting exposed? Do their approaches change?

In the table below, I’m looking at a few different categories and comparing full-season production to conference-only production. The %Shots category is there to give us an idea of each guys’ workload. This is the percentage of the team’s shots that a player accounts for while he’s on the court.

Shooting Profiles — Full Season vs. Conference Play

Player %Shots Overall %Shots ACC eFG% Overall eFG% ACC 2FG% Overall 2FG% ACC 3FG% Overall 3FG% ACC
Player %Shots Overall %Shots ACC eFG% Overall eFG% ACC 2FG% Overall 2FG% ACC 3FG% Overall 3FG% ACC
Manny Bates 12.2 10.6 65.3 68.6 65.3 68.6 n/a n/a
Markell Johnson 23.4 22.5 45.9 45.3 51.0 48.8 26.1 27.0
Devon Daniels 22.0 22.6 50.3 46.1 50.9 45.3 32.5 32.2
CJ Bryce 21.9 22.5 49.5 45.5 49.0 45.8 33.7 29.9
DJ Funderburk 19.6 19.6 61.1 56.6 63.6 60.6 22.2 13.3
Jericole Hellems 21.5 21.7 48.6 49.0 46.9 44.2 34.0 36.8
Braxton Beverly 16.2 17.3 48.6 47.0 38.3 35.6 35.8 36.1

NC State has been pretty balanced this season, with no one player accounting for a huge chunk of the shots. In the cases where a team has one clear lead dog, his %Shots figure will be over 25.0—sometimes over 30.0 (see: TJ Warren as a sophomore).

The Pack’s balance hasn’t shifted to any noteworthy degree in league play, with Markell Johnson, CJ Bryce, Devon Daniels leading the way.

Some notes:

— Manny Bates is benefiting from the fact that the vast majority of his infrequent shots are coming around the rim. In league play he ranks second among all ACC players in 2FG%—he scores on dunks and putbacks and generally doesn’t try to create his own shots. In a limited role like this, you’ll see high shooting percentages from any player who has a decent amount of talent.

— I really thought Markell’s three-point shooting would have warmed up more by now, but alas. His two-point shooting in ACC games is about where it was last season (50.9%) but the jumper hasn’t made a re-appearance. Also, his free throw shooting in ACC games is 70.7%, which is comparable to his 74.3% shooting from last year. So that’s good.

— Raise your hand if you had Jericole Hellems leading the team in three-point shooting during league play. Put your hand down, liar! He’s had an encouraging year in general, and his shooting percentages are up in every category (FT/2FG/3FG) from his freshman campaign.

— DJ Funderburk is efficient no matter the competition. He needs to go ahead and give up on the threes, though: he’s 2-15 from outside in ACC games, and 15 is too many.

— It’d be fair to call CJ Bryce’s performance a disappointment after what he did last season. Against ACC foes last year, he hit 47.4% of his twos and 36.6% of his threes with a nearly identical workload. His drop-off in perimeter effectiveness along with Markell’s has definitely been difficult on the team.

— Braxton Beverly is actually shooting it slightly better from three in league play than he did in 2019, which is a pretty good effort from a dude who’s been playing through a back injury. Thank goodness he doesn’t take a lot of twos.

— Along with Bryce, Devon Daniels has seen his shooting dip substantially in ACC games, but his conference-only shooting percentages are nearly identical to the numbers he posted last year.

Tying this into the larger picture, the big takeaway is that nobody has stepped up to have an exceptional conference season—there’s been no breakout star to potentially take State to a level of performance above where it was last year or even in the non-conference portion of this one.

Coming into the season, we’d hoped that Markell had it in him to reach another gear and give the team a little extra punch, but it hasn’t worked out that way. Not surprisingly, the team finds itself back in familiar territory from a year ago.