Ranking the top Mountain West basketball players to date using analytics

Ranking the top Mountain West basketball players to date using analytics

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Ranking the top Mountain West basketball players to date using analytics


5. Jarod Lucas, Nevada. 17.3 Pts, 2.3 Rebs, 1.5 ast. 1.505 Z-Score

Jarod Lucas is currently 2nd in the conference in points per game. Everyone knew that was the value he’d bring when he committed to Nevada and that’s what he’s done. He’s done so by being efficient from three (38.8%) as well as taking and making more free throws than he ever has (87.4% on 5.4 attempts per game.) That efficiency is largely the reason Lucas appears on this list. His defense is average at best, and he doesn’t create much for others outside of giving them space to operate. He’s accounted for 54 points more than an average player would in his role, which is 3rd in the conference. His style may not be the most flashy, but it works, as evidenced by his point totals and his run to the Elite 8 with Oregon St. Nevada fans are hoping for a similar outcome this march.

4. Morris Udeze, New Mexico. 15.9 pts, 7.5 rebs, 1.3 ast. 1.531 Z-Score.

Morris Udeze has been a great pickup out of Wichita St. for New Mexico. He’s added a bruising mentality that was missing last season and compliments the Lobos’ guards well. He is among the leaders nationally in rebounding, as well as drawing fouls (6.2 per 40 minutes, 40th in the nation.) Defensively he is solid, but he gets most of his value from scoring down low, or getting fouled when he fails to score. He is a load down low and has failed to score double digits only twice in fifteen games. 

3. Luis Rodriguez, UNLV. 13.9 pts, 5.9 rebs, 1.4 ast. 1.651 Z-Score

Rodriguez comes to UNLV by way of Mississippi, and has carried a large amount of the scoring burden for them. He has also been a great defender, fitting into the culture UNLV is trying to build by focusing on defense first. He’s been so good actually that the metrics disagree as to whether he is better offensively or defensively. That’s a good problem to have though. Rodriguez is a player who may not be elite at any one thing, but is really good at everything. Shooting, ball handling, defense, Rodriguez can do it all well.

2. Steven Ashworth, Utah State. 16.9 pts, 2.9 rebs, 4.1 ast. 3.190 Z-Score

Rodriguez was a player who was good at everything but elite at nothing. Steven Ashworth is elite on offense but a negative on defense. That makes his appearance so high on this list even more impressive. For reference, last year’s Player of the Year David Roddy finished with a score of 3.112 at the end of the season. He was able to do that because he was great on offense and still an above average defender. Ashworth is a slightly below average player, and still has an averaged score of 3.190. So slightly better than Roddy last season. He’s had almost a Jimmer Fredette type of impact on his team in the way he carries an offense but isn’t great defensively. Ashworth is shooting a ridiculous 53.8% from three, and his ability to create for others on top of that makes him basically unguardable. Utah State may not have any true quality wins yet, but with Ashworth at the helm they can make some noise in the tournament.

1. Jaelen House, New Mexico. 17 pts, 3.7 rebs, 5.0 ast. 3.717 Z-Score

Rodriguez was good at everything, elite at nothing. Ashworth was Elite on offense but poor on defense. Jaelen House has been otherworldly on both sides of the ball to start the season. A score of 3.717 would be the highest of any Mountain West player going back through the 2013-14 season. House gets it because he ranks first in all three of the Metrics used. This guy has done everything this season. He finishes in the paint (54.3%), he shoots well from three (48.3%), he has crazy handles (see linked tweet), he creates for others (1st in assists per game), he draws contact (39th in the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes), then finishes at the free throw line (81.4%), and he forces turnovers as well (1st in steals with 2.9.) He can do it all. If House continues to play the way he has been, New Mexico is going to be a hard out in conference play, and even into March.



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