Numbers geekin’: Santos-Silva ahead of schedule, Tillman having an all-time type of year [INSIDER]

Those of you who know me know I love basketball statistics, particularly advanced analytics. I find them to be almost a real life crystal ball that can help you predict the future in some ways.

So with that in mind, I was curious about some player efficiency ratings (one of my favorite stats) this morning and what signs the PERs of this year’s team offered toward how good players can end up being.

Before we go into that, the briefest of PER definitions of sorts: player efficiency rating is essentially one big stat that’s supposed to take into account a players entire performance on the court, an all-in-one stat, but a number some argue overvalues offensive performance and can’t quite capture things like “team defense”. It’s essentially a measurement of how good a player is supposed to be.

Whatever flaws this particular stat may have, on almost any given year you can basically write down who you think are the best players in a conference or on a team on a sheet of paper and typically those players will have the highest PERs in that conference or on that team.

For example last year’s top-5 PERs in the A-10 were Hassan Martin (28.1), TJ Cline (25.6), Peyton Aldridge (25.1), Jaylen Adams (24.5) and Justin Tillman (24.3). VCU’s top-5 was Tillman, JeQuan Lewis (20.9), Mo Alie-Cox (19.4), Ahmed Hamdy (16.6) and De’Riante Jenkins (15).

You can see how how typically these numbers are fairly spot-on — although that Hamdy number probably leaves enough room for skepticism.

A HISTORICAL LOOK AT VCU PERs

Unfortunately some PERs of older Rams are unavailable to me without having to crunch them myself, so for the sake of time consider these fairly recent examples of some of VCU’s best during the Final 4 era, going freshman season to final year with the Rams (some years noticeably unavailable for older players).

Treveon Graham – 18.5, 24.6, 22.8, 25.2
Bradford Burgess – 18 (soph), 21.8, 18.5
Troy Daniels – 13.7, 12.5, 17.8, 18.5
Justin Tillman – 17.2, 24.9, 24.3, 27.2
Mo Alie-Cox – 16.8, 20.2, 22.6, 19.4
Briante Weber – 18, 20.1, 20.5, 23.5
Jamie Skeen – 25.6 (senior)
Brandon Rozzell – 20.2 (senior)
Juvonte Reddic – 11.5, 21.4, 28.5, 21.6
Melvin Johnson – 14.6, 14.8, 17.8, 20.1
JeQuan Lewis – 13.5, 14.7, 18.6, 20.9

The more PER numbers you look at, the more you’ll notice some patterns. Two very obvious patterns I’ve noticed are that 1) in many cases you can basically tell who a player is going to be statistically by their sophomore season, particularly players who are getting decent playing time (15+ minutes) and 2) don’t sweat that freshman season, but you can maybe get excited if a guy posts a nice frosh PER — like Graham and Weber, who burst onto the scene in their introductory seasons.

SANTOS-SILVA AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

Considering the numbers above and the eye-test he’s passing game after game against legit big men, how excited are you getting about freshman Marcus Santos-Silva?

Santos-Silva has started the year off with an 18.4 PER against an intense schedule. Also consider the fact that the numbers you are currently scrolling up to compare him to are from some of VCU’s very best these past seven seasons.

If Santos-Silva stays that course you have a solid player. If he improves as the greats before him have, we could have something special. Only time will tell.

TILLMAN OFF TO HISTORICALLY GOOD START

Never before have I rooted so hard for a player to be rewarded for persistent as I have Justin Tillman.

The Detroit native is on his third coach at VCU, but has stuck it out to start what is looking like a career year that he could seriously cash out on at the end of the season.

Tillman’s 27.2 PER is a career-high and is currently outpacing the PERs of the last five Atlantic 10 Player of the Year award winners.

EXCITING SIGNS FOR THE FUTURE

Considering all these numbers and this PER-themed article, some exciting stats to consider for the future: Marcus Evans, who’ll be available next season after having to sit this year due to NCAA transfer rules, posted a 24.5 freshman season PER at Rice followed by a 19.5 PER his sophomore year. Issac Vann — currently out with an ankle injury — posted a 22.2 freshman year PER at Maine. His number through five games at VCU dipped to 17.5, but if he can pull that up (as I expect he can through A-10 play and with more experience), gives VCU yet another promising young player to build with.

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