NBA Statistics: Do NCAA numbers matter? A look at the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz and their college experience

Jamie Sabau

While looking at the developing concept of the 2013-2013 Utah Jazz I got to thinking . . . so much is made out of who a player is by the time they get selected in the draft, but are we missing the point? When a Law School accepts a student they are picking that potential lawyer based upon their qualities at their level, not necessarily for how well a first or second year Law Student could perform at the professional level. This is the similar thing for someone in medical school -- a first or second year medical student has almost zero capability to do anything good if placed in an actual hospital environment. I can imagine a first year PHD Engineering student would have trouble competing with long time professionals in constructing a massive steel skyscraper as well.

We've seen guys excel at the NCAA level, but then need a while to figure out the NBA game. On the flip side, we've seen guys who are a one and done, or straight out of high school, kill it in the NBA. I guess the better players move on to the league earlier, and the more conservative approach of staying in school gets you to the league slower, but with the idea that you have a longer time to build your pre-professional portfolio.

I dunno.

I am a numbers guy. (Which partly absolves my Fesenko-philia) And when I look at the NCAA numbers I am puzzled. It's a 40 minute game with different rules and a longer shot clock. There are fewer possessions in a game. The defensive schemes are different, and the caliber of the players are lower. Every minute of the NBA has you facing off against an NBA player. In college? How frequently do you face off against an NBA talent? Who knows, it depends on your schedule and conference I guess.

To me NCAA stats are almost meaningless. They mean more than the summer league, after all, they influence draft stock significantly. But while comparing NCAA players against one another is a mostly apples to apples issue, trying to translate NCAA stats to the NBA level is apples to oranges.

Even being a good NCAA player doesn't mean you will be a good NBA player, and vice versa. STILL, I decided to compile the NCAA stats of all the players currently on the books for the Utah Jazz this upcoming season. And well . . . the guys on our squad really didn't stay in school much.

Player Pos College Yrs G PPG RPG APG A:TO SPG BPG FG% 3PT% FT%
1 Trey Bukre PG Michigan 2 73 16.9 3.3 5.7 2.3 1.3 0.5 45.0% 36.7% 77.7%
2 John Lucas III PG Baylor / Oklahoma St 4 126 14.9 2.5 4.2 1.2 0.0 44.5% 38.3% 86.9%
3 Alec Burks SG Colorado 2 68 19.0 5.8 2.4 1.1 1.1 0.4 49.5% 31.3% 80.4%
4 Brandon Rush SG Kansas 3 109 13.6 5.5 2.0 0.7 0.8 44.9% 43.5% 73.3%
5 Marvin Williams SF North Carolina 1 36 11.3 6.6 0.7 1.1 0.5 50.6% 43.2% 84.7%
6 Gordon Hayward SF Butler 2 69 14.4 7.4 1.8 0.9 1.3 0.9 47.0% 36.9% 82.4%
7 Richard Jefferson SF Arizona 3 84 11.2 5.0 2.8 1.0 0.6 0.8 49.0% 36.8% 71.8%
8 Derrick Favors PF Georgia Tech 1 36 12.4 8.4 1.0 0.4 0.9 2.1 61.1% 0.0% 62.9%
9 Jeremy Evans PF Western Kentucky 4 134 7.9 5.9 0.5 0.5 0.6 1.7 63.9% 36.4% 68.4%
10 Enes Kanter C Kentucky 0
11 Rudy Gobert C Cholet (France) 0
12 Andris Biedrins C BK Skonto Riga (Latvia) 0

I guess this means that they were better players, for not being convinced to stay in school. But I don't know if we can tell anything from these numbers. Jeremy shot almost as well as G-Time did from downtown. And G-Time used to rebound nearly as much as Derrick did. And Derrick stole the ball more than Brandon did. And Marvin, while having pedestrian stats, was supposed to be an All-Star at the NBA level.

It's nice to see these stats, but I don't think they mean much. The sad thing, though? The NBA stats for a number of our players don't mean much either as THIS season will be unlike many others -- and particularly for them, it will be a first honest attempt at letting them play their game at this level. (from everyone from Marvin to Gordon to Alec)

So in a world where our quantitative measures get thrown out we're left with our gut. And my gut tells me that what you do in college doesn't really matter when you are at the professional level / real world. Being able to cram for exams and chat up freshman girls isn't useful at the NBA level.

My gut also tells me that Andris played for a team owned by Burger King, and now I'm hungry. I have no clue how he was a #11 pick though . . . so maybe he's the final proof to suggest that no numbers make sense, let alone NCAA numbers.

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