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Did Diante Garrett Improve in 2011?

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There are a lot of questions I have floating around in my head during my down time. One of them for the course of nearly the entire season is whether Diante Garrett has improved compared to last year.

Now, I am a fan of DG. I think he gets wrongly blamed for things, but such is the life of a point guard when you are on a losing team. Point guards and quarterbacks take flack for the teams' result, whether it is fair or not. I personally do not think it always has been fair, but I'm just one guy. I do know that with the team we have this season, we are significantly better with him on the court vs. when he's on the bench, but that is pretty obvious to anybody who has watched an Iowa State Basketball game.

Going back to my original question, I think the overwhemling concensus is yes, Diante has improved his game.  I tend to agree he has improved, but it may not be for the same reason as you.

In 2010, Diante Garrett averaged 9.2 points, 5.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.6 turnovers per game. In 2011, he is averaging 17.3 points, 6 assists, 1.8 steals, and 3.4 turnovers per game. Most people say "he's scoring 8 more points, averaging about 1 more assist, and getting more steals, so I would say he's improved". They will also add "I mean he's 5th in the Big 12 in scoring this season compared to 42nd last season, so it is pretty obvious he's better".  I'm not sure if they would say it in those words, but that is the gist at least.

But people are not looking at the whole picture. Scoring is just one of four key factors to a team's success (shooting, turnovers, rebounding, free throw attempts), and I do not believe his scoring has gotten better this year.

Let's take a look at these facts:

First, DG is averaging over 16 shot attempts/game in 2011 compared to about 8 shot attempts/game in 2010.
Second, Iowa State is averaging 74.5 points/game in 2011 compared to 72.6 points/game in 2010.

DG is putting up double the shots in 2011 compared to 2010, and with liberally adding a point to the total, I will say his scoring has doubled as well. Next, DG is averaging an extra assist per game, but Iowa State is also scoring 1 extra basket per game.  It is pretty clear he is the same shooting-wise, and the extra assist is pretty much a wash. If you want to drill into some more stats, take a look at his eFG%. This year it is 47%, last year it was 47.4%. His shooting is the same.

The area DG has improved the most is turnovers. Confused? You saw above his turnovers/game are higher this season (3.4 vs. 2.6), yet I just said he improved in the turnover department. If you take a look at his turnovers as a percentage of his posessions, you will see he is turning the ball over 18% of the time this year compared to 24% of the time last year. In conference games only, he went from turning the ball over 26% of the time to now turning it over 21.2% of the time.

As far as rebounds go, DG improved slightly in this area as well. His offensive rebounding percentage decreased from 1.3% to 0.6%, while his defensive rebounding percentage increased from 7.2% to 10.3%. Overall, it's a small factor. Leading offensive rebounders get their percentages in the upper teens, while leading defensive rebounders get their percentages in the mid to upper twenties. DG's a point guard, he's not expected to rebound.

The last factor, free throw attempts, have stayed constant if not slightly declined for DG as well. In conference play, DG has gotten to the free throw line 1.7 times/game compared to 2 times/game last year. I'm not sure if this is a big decline, or more of a push.

At the end of the day, I am compelled to say DG has improved his game, but only in managing turnovers. His higher scoring is directly proportional to his increased shot attempts, and his increase is assists is proportional to the team's increased scoring. His rebounding and free throw attempts are small factors, that have not changed enough for me to declare he has improved or declined in those areas.