Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is wrong with Vaughn?

If you look at Deonta Vaughn’s raw numbers, he looks like a player in decline. He debuted as a freshman averaging 14.5 points a game, and peaked in his sophomore year at just over 17. This year, his senior season, his average is just under 11 points a game, his career low. However, is he really playing worse basketball?

Kenpom.com updated its individual player stats page today, so let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

YR %Mins ORtg %Shots eFG% DR% ARate TORate 2pt% 3pt%
FR 82 100 29 45 10 25 17 47 29
SO 83 110 28 56 9 31 21 49 40
JR 89 105 24 49 11 27 23 47 34
SR 66 114 20 50 15 30 18 53 33

(edit: these stats don’t include the Xavier game)

Most of the stats in the table are explained here.

So, what do we make of the above numbers? The first thing that stands out is Deonta’s decline in minutes so far this year, compared to the rest of his career at UC. Deonta has always been the go-to guy, needed on the court at all times for Cincy to have a chance (or, precisely, about 85% of the time). This year, however, with an improved supporting cast, and scorers like Lance Stephenson on the floor, Deonta does not have to log as many minutes.

He is also shooting the ball less. His %shots (percentage of team shots while on the floor) has actually declined since his freshman year – his worst shooting year, percentage wise – and this year it is down to 20%. This coincides with point one; that there are currently more options on the floor than in the past.

Vaughn’s best shooting% year was indeed his sophomore campaign, but he’s actually shooting just as well this year as he did last year, and well better than his freshman year. He’s also posting career-best rebounding marks, grabbing 15% of possible defensive boards while on the court, a solid number for a 6-1 guard.

It looks like moving off the point has also helped his game. His assist rate has remained high despite playing a lot at shooting guard, giving way to Cashmere Wright at the point, and his turnover rate has dropped. If Vaughn can recapture the three-point shooting touch of his sophomore season, he could be absolutely lethal for this team. But even as it is now, he is still very productive, and any talk of deteriorating skills or production are probably premature.

Deonta Vaughn’s rate stats appear to be in decline, and in some ways, they are. But he is adjusting to his new role on this team, and he is arguably playing better basketball than he has played in the past.

*I should note, as a huge caveat, it is always dangerous to rely too much on early season stats. They certainly do not tell the whole story eight games into the season.

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