Sample size is something always worth adjusting for. I’m not speaking of the Thanksgiving pies that you sampled, or the Christmas snacks you may be sampling soon. The adjustment for them tends to be miles logged running with a guilty conscience and the knowledge that putting two cookies together isn’t really a sandwich. No, I’m in reference to sample size in sports. After only seven games of the basketball season, the statistical depth is such that a couple of good trips down the floor can still skew the numbers pretty drastically.
This is generally more of an issue with baseball, where announcers toss out statistics about runners in scoring position and ignore the fact a hitter has only 20 at bats in that situation. The temptation is certainly there in basketball as well, though. After seven games there are rumblings that Trevon can’t shoot, Ed really can’t shoot, Tyrique Jones would foul you if you were near enough the court, and JP might be the best scorer on the team. Is any of that true? What do we actually know at this point?
Trevon is just fine
Even leaving off the encouragement last night’s 8-14 from the floor, 3-8 from deep, it was never likely that Bluiett was going to stay in a shooting slump. Indeed, he really isn’t in one. Trevon’s shooting percentage on two point jumpers is a whopping .6% lower than last year and much higher than his freshman year. Trevon is also finishing at the rim better than he did last year. Indeed, the only current statistical anomaly is his three point shooting, which is down about 12% from last year.
Two things jump out about that. One, Trevon has attempted only 47 threes this year. This is where sample size comes into play. Most likely, Tre gets up somewhere around 200 three pointers this season. If he makes his next four, his percentage jumps to 33%. If he jars seven of 10, he’s shooting 35%. Both of those numbers are both possible, and much closer to acceptable. Secondly, Trevon has not made a three pointer that he’s created all year. All 13 of his made threes have been credited as assisted. That’s not entirely out of line with what we expect from him, but in both prior seasons he’s made room to get his shot off on a handful of occasions.
Malcolm Bernard is probably not sustaining this shooting
Right now Xavier’s most accurate three point shooter is Malcolm Bernard at 42%. You have to go back to Brad Redford to find a higher percentage for a Musketeer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that Chris Mack has unearthed the next long range gunner. For starters, that number comes on only 19 attempts. That’s only the third most attempts on Xavier and well down the national leaderboard, even for guys shooting so high a percentage. More relevantly, Bernard is a 27% shooter for his career. The last time he approached the heights of 40% was his freshman year, when he took only 19 attempts all year. Regression is not likely to be the Musketeers friend here.
Sean O’Mara is a bull
Does it seem like Sean O’Mara is scoring at will inside right now? That’s because he essentially is. An astounding 82.5% of his shots are coming at the rim right now, and he’s converting 70% of them. His EFG of 62.5% is third on the team despite his not having even attempted a three pointer. If you prefer true shooting, Sean is second on the team. In short, he’s brutally effective when he gets the ball in the post and he’s excelling at getting the ball in the post.
But what of the sample size? Here, it shows that O’Mara doesn’t seem set to regress. This season’s 62.5% mark in the paint is in line with the expected improvement, if there is any, from last year’s 60.9%. Likewise, the 82% of shots at the rim represents a four percent uptick from last year. So long as Sean keeps getting the ball in the post and can keep himself in the game, he’s going to put up some great numbers.
Edmond Sumner is a freak who is still finding himself
Ed staggered into the start of the season possibly pressing to make up for the missing players. He’s getting to the rim more and finishing there better than he did last season by large margins, but that gain is being somewhat erased by some really bad jump shooting. Even that has begun to regulate as the sample gets bigger, and Edmond is knocking down an at least Iversonian 41.2% of his two point jumpers now.
What’s far more impressive are the peripheral numbers. Through seven games, Sumner is third on the team (and in the top 350 nationally) in block rate, second on the team (and top 300 nation wide) in steal rate, grabbing defensive rebounds at a better rate than O’Mara or Bernard, and playing 34 minutes per game. Will some of those numbers stay that high? Likely not, Ed’s profile isn’t that of an elite shot blocker, but even with some regression it’s clear that his skill set is almost incomprehensively vast. Now, if he can just start making free throws.