By The Numbers: Alums In The NBA '09

Each year fans from a variety of schools venture to the TDD message boards looking to rekindle the argument of which school produces the "best" NBA talent. Each year we follow the numbers to see if there is a clear answer to that question.

Everyone knows that Coach K has had terrible success in preparing players for the NBA, and that Duke players, especially big men, fail once they leave campus. Everyone knows this despite the fact that it is demonstrably not true.

For the last several years, "Tent3", one of the regular posters from The Devil's Den website, created his own NBA fantasy league where he tracked all of the players from Duke and 6 other universities. The scoring system was simple. He gave 1 point for a point scored, 1.5 for a rebound, 2 for an assist, steal, or blocked shot, -1.2 for a turnover, 0.5 for a three-pointer, and an adjustment for shooting percentage by adding .5 for a made basket and subtract .2 for every shot taken. Duke has won this competition a number of times, but injuries took their toll on the Blue Devils Alumni in 2008-09 -leaving the group to finish in fourth place in his pool.

I decided to expand the statistics and really find out how Duke compares to all of the other schools.

To do this, I used data from ESPN.com. I went to each of the 30 NBA team pages and copied the statistics into a spreadsheet. Then I went to the roster page and noted the college for each player. I built a spreadsheet with all of the stats and colleges for 515 team-player combinations (slightly fewer than 515 players since some players played on more than one team).

Next, I added up all of the stats for each school. There were 126 schools with at least one player listed on the statistics pages. The most minutes for any school was Connecticut with 21,890, or 456 complete person games, or 91 games for a team. In other words, Connecticut players had enough playing time that they covered more than a full season for the whole year. UCLA did the same, and they weren't one of the teams that Tent3 tracked in his fantasy league (if he had, they would have finished second, and we would have finished fifth).

Here are the final stats in my version of Tent3's fantasy league:

School Team			Points
Connecticut Huskies		20,153.5
UCLA Bruins			18,120.9
N. Carolina Tar Heels		15,208.0
Florida Gators			14,688.1
Duke Blue Devils		14,056.9
Arizona Wildcats		12,914.3
Texas Longhorns			12,857.3
Kansas Jayhawks			12,644.5
Ga. Tech Yellow Jackets		11,651.9
Wake Forest Demon Deacons	10,600.3
Kentucky Wildcats		 9,936.4
LSU Tigers			 8,886.2

That's a pretty good showing for the ACC, with 4 teams in the top 10. The other schools: Maryland 28th, Florida State 42nd, Miami 45th, Boston College 51st, Virginia 62nd, North Carolina State 83rd, and Clemson 86th. Virginia Tech didn't have any alumni in the NBA this season.

Who finished in 126th place? Hofstra. Speedy Claxton achieved 10.6 fantasy points in 15 minutes during two games played with the Atlanta Hawks.

One of the things that I like to look at when I use a score is to see how well it correlates to winning. So I calculated the points for each NBA team and compared it to the team's winning percentage. The team with the most fantasy points was the Los Angeles Lakers with 19,502 points (they would have finished second in our fantasy league), and they won 65 games, the second best total, so that's pretty good. The Cavaliers won 66 games, the most in the NBA, but they were tenth in fantasy points. At the bottom end of the fantasy points, the last four teams won 17, 19, 35, and 24 games. So there is a reasonable amount of correlation between points and winning games. For the statisticians in the audience, the correlation co-efficient is .541.

The second test for reasonableness was to see which NBA players had the highest number of fantasy points. I will take the top 5 players by fantasy points, and then you get your choice of everybody else and see if you can build a team to beat me. My team gets LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant. I think we can agree that the score is pretty reasonable. Let's look at the players from the top schools:

Connecticut: Ben Gordon (2,750.0), Emeka Okafor (2,688.8), Caron Butler (2,652.5), Rudy Gay (2,565.0), Charlie Villanueva (2,434.6), Ray Allen (2,431.2), Richard Hamilton (2,117.3), Josh Boone (823.5), Hilton Armstrong (754.3), Kevin Ollie (554.2), Donyell Marshall (209.2), Jake Voskuhl (130.1), Marcus Williams (42.8)

UCLA: Russell Westbrook (2,664.2), Baron Davis (2,416.6), Kevin Love (2,217.8), Matt Barnes (1,909.7), Trevor Ariza (1,812.9), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (1,657.8), Earl Watson (1,445.7), Jason Kapono (1,133.2), Jordan Farmar (953.7), Dan Gadzuric (842.0), Arron Afflalo (709.4), Ryan Hollins (201.4), Ryan Hollins (156.5)

North Carolina: Antawn Jamison (3,383.3), Vince Carter (3,170.3), Raymond Felton (2,805.3), Rasheed Wallace (2,000.7), Marvin Williams (1,733.6), Brandan Wright (706.7), Rashad McCants (491.6), Rashad McCants (438.5), Sean May (203.7), Brendan Haywood (169.2), Jerry Stackhouse (88.2), Jawad Williams (16.9)

Florida: David Lee (3,162.3), Al Horford (2,244.6), Mike Miller (2,111.4), Udonis Haslem (1,966.5), Joakim Noah (1,906.7), Matt Bonner (1,596.4), Marreese Speights (1,244.9), Corey Brewer (239.9), Anthony Roberson (192.0), Anthony Roberson (23.4)

Duke: Chris Duhon (2,344.6), Grant Hill (2,159.3), Corey Maggette (1,548.2), Luol Deng (1,422.4), Carlos Boozer (1,354.8), Shane Battier (1,329.9), Dahntay Jones (906.7), Elton Brand (904.9), J.J. Redick (702.9), Mike Dunleavy (473.5), Josh McRoberts (265.5), Shelden Williams (260.0), Shelden Williams (222.3), DeMarcus Nelson (120.2), Shavlik Randolph (41.7)

You will notice a few repeats of names. This is because these players played on more than one NBA team.

How bad did injuries hurt Duke? Well, the Blue Devils finished 1,151.1 points behind North Carolina for third place, and David Lee finished 2,257.4 points ahead of Elton Brand. I don't think anyone could question that if healthy, Elton Brand is better than David Lee, and the difference between those two was twice the difference between us and third place. Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, and Mike Dunleavy together fall 429.1 points shy of David Lee. And I'm not even mentioning former great and No. 2overall draft pick, Jason Williams.

I think it's quite interesting to look at the complete line of statistics for the schools, rather than just the fantasy points:

	UConn	UCLA	UNC	Fla	Duke
GP	788	868	517	580	649
GS	533	334	406	391	420
MIN	21,890	20,577	15,791	15,694	16,783
PTS	10,531	7,529	7,347	5,606	6,358
PPG	13.4	8.7	14.2	9.7	9.8
OFF	1,043	1,132	612	1,131	649
DEF	2,553	2,448	2,100	2,901	2,117
TOT	3,596	3,580	2,712	4,032	2,766

UConn UCLA UNC Fla Duke RPG 4.6 4.1 5.2 7.0 4.3 AST 1,622 2,205 1,373 1,011 1,427 STL 557 725 505 354 495 BLK 417 308 289 369 266 TO 1,334 1,323 780 666 962 A/TO 1.22 1.67 1.76 1.52 1.48 PF 1,860 1,938 1,198 1,457 1,349 TECH 22 25 33 17 22
UConn UCLA UNC Fla Duke FGM 3,907 2,787 2,697 2,237 2,294 FGA 8,351 6,610 6,165 4,356 5,056 FG% 0.468 0.422 0.437 0.514 0.454 3PM 708 524 559 236 385 3PA 1,872 1,581 1,611 599 1,055 3P% 0.378 0.331 0.347 0.394 0.365 FTM 2,009 1,431 1,394 896 1,385 FTA 2,554 1,907 1,782 1,215 1,756 FT% 0.787 0.750 0.782 0.737 0.789 2PM 3,199 2,263 2,138 2,001 1,909 2PA 6,479 5,029 4,554 3,757 4,001 2P% 0.494 0.450 0.469 0.533 0.477 PPS* 1.26 1.14 1.19 1.29 1.26 AFG%^ 0.510 0.461 0.483 0.541 0.492
UConn UCLA UNC Fla Duke Total 20153.5 18120.9 15208.0 14688.1 14056.9 FPPG 25.6 20.9 29.4 25.3 21.7

Duke actually finished third in games played and minutes, but didn't have prolific scorers. Of the top 5 schools, North Carolina alumni scored 14.2 points per game to lead, while Duke checked inat 9.8. It is interesting to note that former the Blue Devils shot a higher percentage than North Carolina in three-pointers, two-pointers, and free throws; they just took fewer shots.

A few other fun notes with the Duke stats:

  • Most minutes played by a Duke Blue Devil at Duke: Chris Duhon. Most minutes played by a Duke Blue Devil in the NBA last season: Chris Duhon.
  • Highest free throw percentage by a Duke player in history: J.J. Redick. Highest free throw percentage by a Duke player in the NBA last season: J.J. Redick. DeMarcus Nelson struggled with free throws at Duke, and he shot 5/14 at Golden State.
  • The Duke player with the most technical fouls: Dahntay Jones. (But second most was Grant Hill!) Duke's alumni had a total of 22. Rasheed Wallace had 19 by himself.
  • Carlos Boozer only blocked 7 shots all season. What's up with that? Mike Dunleavy was injured most of the year and had 9.
  • Shavlik Randolph only played 37 minutes all year, roughly one college game. But what a game! 18 points, 18 rebounds, 1 block, 4 personal fouls (Shav doesn't foul out!) but 6 turnovers. He made his only 3-point attempt, but was 1-for-4 from the line, 8-for-13 from the floor.

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