I did some stat-gathering earlier this summer and thought it was worth sharing. I wanted to see whether Aaron Toomey’s 2013 National Player of the Year selection (NABC, not D3Hoops) was statistically supported, because it seemed to be a strange pick to us at the time. I took a selection of 20 very good players (not the top 20 POY candidates, but something like the top 10 POY candidates, then a good mix of positions, conferences, strength of schedule, playing style, etc… a lot of the latter half of players are interchangeable.) and ranked those 20 players based on the nine traditionally prominent statistical categories (as seen below). Doing so is surely unfair to some players (shutdown defenders, off-ball offensive contributors, or players whose value is not demonstrated statistically) but it seems generous, or at least fair, to Toomey, whose on-ball defense is not a strength, and who has the ball in his hands often. A good POY candidate would rank right around the top of the list (last year’s top two contenders, Chris Davis and Ryan Sharry, score a 65 and 59 respectively, when inserted into this group).
Here are how this year’s results turned out:
Each number is the rank in the statistical category denoted at the top of the column, and the furthest right column is the sum of that player’s ranks. E.g. a player who ranks first in every category would total a 9 and a player who finished last in each category would score a 180, with the average being 94.5. The main takeaway from the table is that Rochester’s John DiBartolomeo had far and away the best statistical season (62 points — 15 ahead of 2nd place, 26 ahead of Toomey). His combination of scoring abundance (22.6 ppg) and efficiency (46/46/91) was incredible and his complementary categories were strong (5.3 apg, 5.7 rpg). The discussion really should end there, as none of the next 19 players are in his stratosphere, statistically.
As for Toomey, his line (88 points) ranked 7th out of 20, behind DiBartolomeo, Colton Hunt, Mike Mayer, Aaron Walton-Moss, Willy Workman, and Christian Jackson (among others, I forgot to include Paul Reynolds, who would have sandwiched between Workman and Jackson). It’s worth noting that four of those six players listed above him were on championship-contending teams that made tournament runs and had tough schedules.  Mayer probably has the best all-around case outside of DiBartolomeo, and is a step ahead of Toomey, who is in the middle of a cluster of players with good but not great seasons. While, Toomey’s 2013 season should have earned him a spot on the First or Second All-American team, he was probably the third best player in his conference, and he trailed the best player in the country, DiBartolomeo, by a fair margin. Simply put, a shoot-first point guard has to do better than average the 79th most points per game in the nation and the worst field goal percentage among the above group in order to win POY.
Heading into 2013-14, Toomey should be one of the best players in the country, and could easily earn the Player of the Year award as he plays an even bigger role in the redefined Amherst offense. He will also likely become a career 2,000-point scorer, as well as the leading scorer in Amherst history. All of this will earn him well-deserved praise. But understanding legacies and value includes getting the history right; hopefully clear eyes will prevail over the NABC/NESCAC voters when people look back at the 2012-13 season.
Here is a link to a Google doc with the stats of every player included: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjnCJQfoCBePdEV0Tm1KdTJOcFpFcGxvY2FxOGFxRVE#gid=1
1. There is a (surprisingly popular) sentiment that an MVP/POY needs to be the best player or leading scorer on the championship-winning team. However, championships are won by teams, not individuals, and the distribution of talent among teams may or may not land the most valuable player on the best team. But arguments by reasoning can only go so far in the minds of some, so I went back to see if the reasoning was supported by recent history. Indeed, of the 30 MVP/POY awards handed out in the last ten years in the NBA, NFL, and DI Men’s Basketball, a total of 3 were won by players whose teams won the title that year.