Thanks to everyone who participated in our inaugural Banners on the Parkway postseason player report cards. We'll be breaking down each player's grades for the rest of this week and on into next week, where we'll reveal the top three finishers according to the community. We'll also be assigning and explaining our own grades of each player. We'll start with the player who got the lowest community ranking and work our way up to the MVP. If you've missed any of the previous players, check them out in our Season in Review section.
|Community GPA: 2.13|
Our first (and thus worst-graded by the community) regular starter here is "Big Game" James Farr. I understand that the nickname "Big Game James" has gotten basically zero traction since I attempted to introduce it for Farr, but (a) Farr got a little grouchy with us on Twitter so I want him to know he's loved and (b) the dude kills UC (17/9/1 on 7-9/3-4/0-0 shooting in two Shootouts), so I'm going to commit to it.
Anyway, James came in just a whisker above LAJ in the community voting; lower any of his votes by a letter and the two swap places. I don't know if it's because of expectations or what, but the Banners community was basically just as pleased with what Larry did in 7.4% of the team's minutes as they were with what James contributed in 38.4%
James Farr has grown from a guy who got 42 total minutes as a freshman to a frequent starter as a junior. In between, something weird happened. Namely, he started his career 12-20 (60%) from deep but has shot just 20-75 (26.7%) since then. For a guy billed as someone who can stretch the defense, that's obviously not good. He also shot 48.6% from inside the arc this year, split between 58.3% at the rim and 35.6% on two-point jumpers. Both of those numbers are well below average, especially for a man of his size. Though he doesn't generate a meaningful number of assists, he did post an elite 11% OReb%, second only to Jalen Reynolds this year. Most of the rest of his offensive efforts were counterproductive.
HEAR ME OUT! What did James Farr struggle with on defense? Tracking a man, positioning himself well off the ball, hedging a ball screen... you get the idea. Maybe on a good man-to-man team his faults could have been hidden, but X was full of limited defenders plus Remy Abell this year. What does James do well? Defend the bucket, rebound anything that comes near him, and generally make the lane unfriendly for opposing players. If he were a qualifier this year (which would have taken 39 more seconds of playing time a game), he would have been about 150th in block% and 4th in DReb%. He's not a bad defender so much as misused, and I think the 1-3-1 demonstrated that. Can you imagine what that defense would look like with Remy up top, JP and Ed on the wings, Jalen in the middle, and James under the rim? James Farr is a huge defensive asset when used correctly.
I know Bryan said we weren't using +/- grades, but I don't take my orders from him. About 2/3 of the way through the year, you could see James Farr commit to the idea of himself as an elite rebounder at both ends rather than a really tall jump shooter, and his value blossomed from there. I'm not sure Farr is or ever was going to be a reliable jump shooter - his mechanics are unorthodox, to say the least - but he found other ways to add value this year and the team was better for it.
Obviously I think my evaluation of Farr is spot on, but a good deal of you would disagree. Feel free to persuade me in the comments section below. Stay tuned for our first player getting double-digit A ratings, coming tomorrow morning.