Jae Crowder

Top 200 most valuable players in the country

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Over the summer, a blogger named John Pudner — who does his work over at the Marquette blog Cracked Sidewalks — came up with a new metric that he termed “Value Add“. For those that are statistically-inclined, you can find the precise breakdown of what exactly “Value Add” means and how it is determined, but, essentially, it is the college basketball equivalent to the baseball’s Wins Over Replacement (WAR). in layman’s (read: NBC Blogger’s) terms, it is a stat to determine how much better a team is with a given player on the court instead of a regular Joe Schlub.

The post got plenty play over the summer and was embraced by the mainstream King of the Stat Geeks himself, Luke Winn. Yesterday morning, Pudner finally ran the numbers for this season and gave us the 200 most valuable players in the country.

And it should come as no surprise that Kentucky’s Anthony Davis checked in at No. 1.

What did come as a surprise, however, was the rest of the list.

I’ve been touting the play of Jae Crowder for a long time, and I haven’t been alone. He’s as well-rounded as any player in the country, and it shows. Crowder is the second-most valuable player in the country. He’s followed by West Virginia’s Kevin Jones, Damian Lillard of Weber State and Cody Zeller of Indiana.

Jordan Taylor, who was the nation’s most valuable player in 2011, is sixth while Player of the Year favorite, Thomas Robinson, checks in at seventh. Jared Sullinger is eight while John Shurna and Aaron Craft round out the top ten.

After the top ten is where the numbers start to get a little weird. Like, for example, how Shabazz Napier is the 11th most valuable player in the country, nearly 30 spots ahead of Mike Moser and Isaiah Canaan? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is all the way down at 61st?

I’m not going to nitpick at the numbers too much. This really is some terrific work by Pudner and our friends over at Cracked Sidewalks. And who knows, maybe Shabazz Napier actually is more valuable to UConn than Kidd-Gilchrist is to Kentucky.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.