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The semi-obvious value of Paul Scruggs

The erstwhile star of Xavier’s recruiting class hasn’t dominated his freshman year, but he’s definitely making the team better.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Northern Iowa
He seems confident here.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at three lines of data that are going to inform our discussion here:

Quentin Goodin and Paul Scruggs comparison chart

Player PPG RPG APG Min% EFG% FT% ARate TORate
Player PPG RPG APG Min% EFG% FT% ARate TORate
Freshman Q (through 16 G) 3.1 1.4 1.9 39.0% 45.7% 46.7% 21.3% 32.0%
Scruggernuts 3.9 1.9 1.8 38.0% 42.6% 66.7% 17.2% 30.2%
Sophomore Q 8.2 2.6 5.7 69.4% 48.7% 86.7% 32.4% 22.1%
These are our three lines of data.

The lens of Quentin Goodin gives us some context with which to evaluate Paul Scruggs. The first takeaway is the most obvious: Paul Scruggs right now isn’t meaningfully different from where Q was a year ago. He’s shooting a little worse from the floor and a little better from the line. He’s turning it over less but getting a lesser assist rate. I could have switched those lines around and you wouldn’t have been able to swear to which one went with which player.

The second one is a little bit less obvious, but it’s right there in the minutes percentage. Quentin Goodin is playing 69% (nice) of the available minutes right now. That’s only a modest bump from the 60% he played last year. The real story is that, after Ed went down, Q averaged a hair shy of 38 minutes a game. That’s a minutes percentage of almost 95%; that’s Tu Holloway stuff. Basically, unless Q had injuries to both legs or picked up 3 fouls in the first half, he wasn’t coming out. Coach Mack rode him like a senior.

The upshot of that was that Q was kind of miserable during that stretch. His EFG% was - brace yourselves fellow members of the Quentin Goodin Appreciation Society - 34%. He posted an ORtg of over 100 twice in seven postseason games, and his best sub-100 ORtg performance was 88. He was incredible for a freshman carrying the load in March, but I think he was a hair wrung out.

All that to say that, despite the fact that he hasn’t come in and taken over the starting spot, Paul Scruggs is playing a big role on this team.

If you like the current version of Q - and if you don’t, basketball may not be your thing - you have to be happy that Paul Scruggs is wearing Xavier colors. His competent play off the bench has allowed Coach Mack to save Goodin in a way he couldn’t last year, and his level of performance is right in line with Q’s at this point in his freshman year. There’s no reason to doubt that Scruggs is going to be a stud in his own right in due time.

We’ll give the last word on the subject to a man who knows: