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Is Colvin Better Than DG?

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I've heard and read this argument a bunch the last month or so. To be honest, I was kind of wondering what people have been thinking. I don't disagree that Colvin has some upside, and might be better than DG was at this stage, but in my mind there is no way this guy is ready to take the main load at the point this year.

But, when it comes down to subjective things like how a guy looks, I like to turn to some things a little more objective like stats. What makes this even better is that, really makes things easy as they calculate all kinds of useful stats. Really saves me time from having to plug in all of these formulas into Excel.

To me, the characteristics that I like to see in a point guard is:

  • Can he take care of the ball?
  • Can he put the ball in the hoop?
  • Does he make his teammates (and team) better?

The key is looking at the combination of all the characteristics though. For example, a point guard who turns it over more than average, can make up for it if he's a scorer (see Mike Taylor in 06-07). It's like TDs vs. INTs for QBs. Actually, the point guard is a lot like the QB. For QBs, the most popular one is always the backup. The least popular is the starter. Same can be said with point guards, at least at Iowa State this year.

Let's look at turning the ball over. Now, these guys don't play anywhere near an equal number of minutes, so I'm not going to look at total turnovers. Also, I'm not really going to look at A/T ratios either, as I think that's more useful when players are playing closer to the same amount of minutes. Instead, I'm going to look at turnovers as a percent of possessions, TO%.

DG has a TO% of 25.4%, while Colvin's is 35.9%. If you want to look at conference games only, which is probably more relevant to look at, DG's is 28.8%, while Colvin's is 30.9%.

In terms of taking care of the ball, DG has the slight edge

Turning our attention to #2, the question is whether the guy can score. To be dangerous, you need to have a strong backcourt, and typically that means having a point guard that can put up some points when needed. For this, I'm going to look at eFG% and TS% (incorporates free throw shooting).

For eFG%, DG's is 47.8%, while Colvin's is 33.3%. Including free throw shooting, DG's TS% is 50.4%, while Colvin's is 36.9%.

In conference play, DG's eFG% is 45.7% and his TS% is 48.4%. For Colvin, it's 25.6% and 32.2% respectively.

There's a huge disparity there. While some have been disappointed with a lack of scoring at times from Garrett, Colvin hasn't shown he's ready to score on a consistent basis at this level.

With regards to scoring, DG has big edge over Colvin.

Now it's time to look at the last bullet point, and a very important one when it comes to a guy who's supposed to be a floor leader: does he make those around him better? Now, this is a hard question to answer, but really the only statistics one can use is Plus-Minus, and Roland Rating. Now, if you're familiar with hockey, then Plus-Minus (or +/-) is nothing new. It's simply how many points the team scores minus how many points the team allows when you're on the court. Roland Rating subtracts your +/- on the court and +/- off the court.

Taking this approach isn't perfect, but in general, better players have higher +/- and higher Roland Ratings. There is value in looking at this.

So when looking at DG, he has a +/- of 65, and a Roland Rating of 52. Colvin's is -53 and -19. The team playing better when you're on the court, is probably the best way to measure whether a guy makes the players around him better and helps the team win.

So in terms of the team doing better when they're on the court, DG has a big edge as well.

Now, this isn't a rip on Colvin at all. It's just clear to me that he isn't ready to be the main guy yet. Now, some of his struggles he has to play through, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take a huge step forward next year. Actually, I'd expect it.

For this year, I think that McDermott is doing the right thing in terms of playing time with the guards. DG is the more solid player, as he should be, being in the 3rd year of this system. Colvin has a lot of upside and a good future, which should be something to watch for over the next couple of years.