A couple of years ago, John Pudner, a full-time political advisor and part-time college hoops blogger, developed a new statistic to measure how good every player in the country is.
He called the stat ‘Value Add’. For the baseball fans out there, it’s the college basketball answer to WARP. Essentially, Pudner stuffs a bunch of possession-based stats — efficiency rate, usage rate, minutes played, etc. — into an excel spreadsheet which spits out a value that he says will tell you how many more points that specific player created than if all of his possessions were given to an average bench player.
In other words, Value Add is a stat that quantifies how much better a player is than the average sub.
And the numbers he produces are fairly accurate. Last season, UConn’s Shabazz Napier was ranked as the most valuable player in the country with Utah’s Delon Wright not that far behind. UCLA’s Jordan Adams, Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati and N.C. State forward T.J. Warren rounded out the top five, while names like Doug McDermott (7th), Russ Smith (13th), Frank Kaminsky (14th), Fred Van Vleet (15th) and Jabari Parker (21st) were ranked high as well.
Pudner has released his preseason projections for the 2014-2015 season — you can browse through them all right here — and Wright is projected as far and away the most valuable player in the country. In fact, Pudner projects Wright to have the highest Value Add rating in the 11 years that he’s been keeping track of the stat.
Wright’s a stud — he averaged 15.3 points, 6.8 boards, 5.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks in 36.4 minutes last season — and while I expect him to be in the conversation for Preseason First Team All-America, it’s important to remember that Utah is going to be much better this season. He’ll have more support which means that the Utes will not be relying on his as heavily as they did last season. His numbers may dip a bit this year.
Van Vleet, Kaminsky and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell are behind Wright, with Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter and VCU’s Briante Weber also in the top six. Michael Frazier (Florida), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Marcus Paige (North Carolina) and, the most surprising player at the top of these rankings, Jalan West (Northwestern State) round out the top ten.
With stats like this, it’s always interesting to browse through some of the players ranked lower than expected. According to Value Add, Michigan’s Caris LeVert (65th), Iowa State’s Georges Niang (78th), Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield (86th) and Stanford’s Chasson Randle (93rd) are being overrated when in the conversation for preseason all-america teams.