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The case for, and against, James Farr

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James Farr has seen his offense fall off the cliff this year, but his rebounding and shot block are nationally elite. Is that enough to hold off the challenge of Jalen Reynolds?

Coach Mack has an increasingly difficult decision to make.
Coach Mack has an increasingly difficult decision to make.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the discussion in this week's Sunday Conversation revolved around James Farr and his struggles this year. While James himself was not really happy about that, tweeting "Gotta love @BannersParkway. They really know the game. Keep it coming." before deleting it, the questions were valid. Last year Farr averaged 4.6/3.9/.2 on .516/.380/.550 shooting. This year the averages are up to 5.1/6.5/.7, but the shooting line is down to .381/.227/.600. Despite that line, Farr is taking two shots per game more than he was last year. That could be a factor of the seven extra minutes of playing time, but it all leads to one question: why is James Farr playing so much?

The case for:

James Farr is an elite level rebounder. The 6.5 per game in 19.4 per minutes is impressive enough, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Farr grabs 13.1% of the offensive rebounds available to him, and 27.6% of the defensive rebounds available to him. That first number is 95th in the nation, the second number is 15th. Farr leads the team in DR% and is second in OR%. After Xavier's trio of 6-10 bigs the rebounding numbers drop off, so Farr's numbers aren't incredibly easy to replace. Three times this season James has grabbed ten or more rebounds in 30 or fewer minutes of play. That's very good.

Farr also blocks a lot of shots. 1.3 per game again doesn't tell the entire story, because Farr's block rate is 7.1%, good for 108th in the nation and tops on the team. With the amount that Xavier's guards get beat on the perimeter, having a shot eraser in the middle is vital. Take personal defensive rating for what it's worth, but James' 91 would be second on the team behind JP Macura. Farr leads the team in defensive win shares.

The case against:

James Farr is having a truly terrible offensive season. His offensive rating of 88.7 is better only than Larry Austin Jr. but his usage rate of 19.3% is ahead of players like Myles Davis and Remy Abell. In points per 40, Farr would only average more than Brandon Randolph and the aforementioned Austin. Only Brandon Randolph and Myles Davis shoot the ball worse inside the arc (and neither of them are 6-10) and no one on the team is currently worse from behind the arc. That hasn't kept Farr from taking a higher shots percentage than Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis. James also turns the ball over more than anyone other than, you guessed it, Larry Austin. Essentially, Farr is elite level bad at offense.

The biggest part of the case against James Farr though, has nothing to do with James Farr. Jalen Reynolds currently plays two minutes less per game than Farr and is averaging 8.6/5.6/.4 on a .661/.000/.619 shooting line. Farr is an elite level rebounder, but Reynolds is also right there with and OR% of 13.4 and a DR% of 26.2. Those numbers are only negligibly different than Farr's and his block percentage of 5.1% is 207th in the nation. A step down, to be sure, but still very high.

Much more importantly, Reynolds brings that package without the atrocious offense. Jalen's ORtg of 121.1 is over 30 points higher than Farr's. That number puts Jalen at 159th in the nation, while Farr is well below the national average. Reynolds EFG% is 66.1, where Farr's is 42.1. To cap it off, Reynolds turns the ball over at a significantly lower rate as well.

Conclusion:

James Farr came off last year looking to make the jump to a consistent contributor. At least on the glass, he's done that and then some, with his rates becoming nationally elite. However, James' offense has fallen off the edge of a massive cliff. The young man seems likable and he's certainly trying, but he's becoming an offensive black hole. He simply shoots far more than his well below average numbers indicate he should. His ORtg has fallen 28 points in a single season. One thing saves Farr though, he doesn't foul. Jalen Reynolds commits fouls at a 6.6 per 40 minutes clip, while Farr would commit only 3.2 over the same stretch. That simple lack of fouling won't sustain a place forever but, until the offense comes back, it's the only thing keeping Farr ahead of his competition.