Just as lower pitching mounds, smaller ballparks and eventually a blind eye to steroids changed the whole scoring context for baseball history, a new way of calling college basketball is letting players put up much bigger numbers this year. Deion Wright topped the ratings released Christmas day and his numbers are far superior to Trey Burke at first glance, but his Value Add rating is actually lower because he has been facing defenses that give up 108 points per 100 trips vs. the 96.4 allowed by Michigan’s opponents last year.
Fans can click here to review 38,344 players, teams and projections from the last nine seasons, but this year there are only two players with rankings of 9.00 or higher – the traditional cutoff for an All-American. There were only two players above the mark in 2010, but there were nine in 2006 and a record 13 players at that level last season.
Value Add adjusts a players rating based on how many points opposing defenses give up per trip down the court at www.kenpom.com. The past four years the average defense has given up between 99.8 and 100.8 points per trip, but that number has skyrocketed to 103.8 this season as defenders have had to virtually jump out of the way of driving players since blocking fouls are almost always called instead of charges.
The Value Add system does not give as much credit to Wright for creating points because even a BCS-level replacement player who would logically take Wright’s place if he were not there could score more points against the defenses he has faced, than what Burke faces last year.
Both players are also credited with the good defenses they led, but Wright’s Utah squad is one of only 22 that has held opponents below 100 points per 100 trips, while Burke’s Michigan defense had an even lower mark but was one of 145 teams able to hold teams below 100 points/100 trips last year.
It appears that for year-to-year comparisons Value Add may need to make an adjustment for defensive ratings because this year a GREAT defense would give up only 100 points/100 trips, but in the past that was considered an exactly average defense. Those changes may be made later, but the actual order of players for this season should not be affected, only a comparison between a player this year whose defense has been hurt by the new rules and a player from a former year when players could hand check and generally get a charge call for standing their ground on defense.