Last season, the Cardinal and Cream started an annual tradition comparing Union basketball players to NBA players based on advanced metrics. Click here to see the rules and how the metrics work. (Writer’s note: players were included in this article only if they had played 150 or more minutes as of January 20th, when the stats were recorded).
Advanced metrics are the new “thing” when it comes to analyzing basketball. While the simple eye-test may be good enough for the casual fan, once a year the Cardinal and Cream decides to break out all of those really neat numbers that none of us completely understand and use them to compare our Bulldogs to some of the greatest players in the world. Well, without further adieu, here are your Union-NBA comparisons:
Chelsea Bodiford = Doug McDermott
Chelsea Bodiford has had a bit of an up-and-down season. Injuries haven’t helped in Bodiford’s senior campaign, as she has missed six games and hasn’t seemed to be in full-form at times even when she’s been on the court. Still, she has played well enough that her numbers match up well with former Creighton star and current Bulls 6th man Doug McDermott. Bodiford’s PER is actually about 2 points higher than McDermott’s at 12.7. McBuckets and Bodiford share an identical assist ratio of 10.2. Both players struggle on the glass, though; neither of them haul in more than three-and-a-half rebounds on average.
Bria Gaines = Anthony Davis
I didn’t have to pull in as many numbers in to find Bria Gaines’ NBA comparison. Gaines’ season has been a statistical oddity. She has only played 184 minutes so far, but those minutes have been outstanding. She has an outrageous PER of 29.27, which is higher than any NBA player other than MVP-favorite Russell Westbrook and ranks among the NBA’s best players such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Averaging less than half an assist per game, every bit of her monstrous PER has come from scoring and her mastery on the offensive boards. The eye test would suggest that she would compare well to someone like Andre Drummond or a more productive version of DeAndre Jordan. But Gaines is far too efficient for either of those to be fair comparisons. Anthony Davis is the only player within 2 PER points of Gaines who even comes close to matching her style of play.
Sara Lytle = Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Sara Lytle has quietly had a very nice junior year, posting a 15.56 PER and grabbing over 8 percent of potential rebounds on the offensive end. Lytle’s numbers have been very similar to those of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who for years has been one of the NBA’s most underappreciated small forwards. In addition to being an elite offensive rebounder like Lytle. Kidd-Gilchrist has also been a pretty decent passer from the 3 spot. Lytle’s assist ratio is 9.5 this year, while Kidd-Gilchrist is just a little higher at 12.3.
Fredi Nielson = Zach Randolph
Fredi Nielson has been one of Union’s stars this year and has put up numbers that match up well with my personal favorite NBA player, Zach Randolph. Like Randolph, Nielson is an excellent rebounder, grabbing nearly one in five misses while she is on the court. They are both also deceptively good passers; Nielson has an assist ratio of 12.9 and Randolph’s currently sits at 10 on the dot. These two dynamic post players each have a PER floating right around 19.
Jada Perkins = Patrick Beverley
Nicknamed “The Freight Train” by EplusTV6’s Steve Beverley, Jada Perkins is an aggressive defender who sets the tone for this team at the point. Much like Houston’s Patrick Beverley, Perkins uses her small stature to create turnovers (she averages nearly 3 steals per game). Perkins and Beverley are also both outstanding passers – Beverley’s assist ratio is just over 32 and Perkins’ is even higher at 34. They are also elite rebounders at their position, hauling in just over 11% of available rebounds apiece.
Tiffany Rechis = Troy Daniels
Tiffany Rechis is a three-point specialist, but, making just 37 of 110 attempts from beyond the arc so far, the threes just aren’t falling for her. Even as she’s struggled a bit, she put up a respectable 10.48 PER this year, which puts her right around players like Meyers Leonard and Anthony Tolliver. The biggest thing Rechis has struggled with, though, is rebounding. On the season, she brought down just 6.1 percent of available boards, putting her just below Memphis’s Troy Daniels. Neither Daniels nor Rechis have been exceptional playmakers this season, with both players sitting at about 7.5 in the assist ratio category. When the threes start falling more often for Rechis, her PER should start to climb up more towards the Ginobli/Redick-type range.
Jada Smith = Dwyane Wade
From the time I started this project, I hoped Jada Smith’s stats would line up with Dwyane Wade’s. The way she uses screens to knock down open jumpers, makes crisp passes in traffic that lead to easy scores, and adds an emotional spark to her team on both sides of the ball is so reminiscent of D-Wade in his prime. The eye test actually worked pretty well in this case, as Smith’s and Wade’s numbers are actually freakishly similar. Smith’s PER is currently sitting at 17.75, about a point lower than Wade’s. They have identical assist ratios of 15.4 and nearly-identical rebound rates (Smith’s is 7.9 and Wade’s is 7.3).
Whew… I don’t know about you guys, but I need a nap after all those numbers (in case you can’t tell, I’m not a math major). I guess all those metrics just go to show you that sometimes you need more than the simple eye test to judge how good a player really is. Heck, maybe soon we won’t even have to watch the games!
All Union stats are accurate as of January 20th. All NBA stats are accurate as of January 23rd.