The 2016 Effy Awards: Michigan State, Villanova win offensive honors
SI presents The Effys: the least ambiguous and least prestigious postseason awards in college basketball. Every award is based on efficiency or other advanced metrics. No voting—just analytics.
1. Offensive Team of the Regular Season: Michigan State
The Spartans’ ball movement and jump-shooting numbers were phenomenal: They led the nation in percentage of assisted field goals (71.3) and three-point accuracy (43.4). They had a supremely versatile offensive weapon in 6'5" point guard Denzel Valentine, who finished as the No. 1 high-usage scorer (with a kenpom.com offensive rating of 125.7 while using 28.9% of his team’s possessions) and assisted on 45.8% of his teammates’ field goals. Michigan State finished second in adjusted offensive efficiency in the regular season, behind only Kentucky, but that included a sputtering stretch while Valentine sat, and then readjusted, from a knee injury. At their peak level the Spartans were the nation’s best offense, a dangerous combination of a creative lead guard (Valentine), three perimeter snipers (Bryn Forbes, Eron Harris and Valentine), and two possession-extending rebounders (Matt Costello and Deyonta Davis).
2. Offensive Team of the NCAA Tournament (Minimum four games played): Villanova
The Wildcats didn’t just have the best offensive performance of this NCAA tournament; they had the best offensive NCAA title run of the entire analytics era, from 2002 to present. ‘Nova averaged an adjusted 1.409 points per possession (and a raw 1.307 PPP) over its six tournament games, a run that included blowouts of three teams with more-than-respectable defenses: Iowa, Miami and Oklahoma. The Wildcats’ offense was so good against the Sooners in the Final Four that coach Jay Wright felt the need to apologize afterwards.
3. The Effy for a Historically Great Season—and the Outside-the-Major-Conferences Offensive POY: Thomas Walkup, 6'4" senior G, Stephen F. Austin
Valentine and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield split all the Player of the Year hardware everyone cares about. Walkup needs some recognition for the most efficient offensive season I’ve ever seen. Only two players in the analytics era have posted offensive ratings of better than 130 while using at least 25.0% of their team’s possessions. One is Noah Dahlman, for Wofford in ‘10–11 (rating: 130.2 / usage: 27.2%). The other is Walkup, this season (134.0 / 27.3%). Yes, it came while playing against the 324th-best defensive schedule, so asterisk it if you must, but Walkup was the real deal: He led one of the great small-conference teams of this era, and backed up his performance in the NCAA tournament, when the Lumberjacks upset West Virginia and nearly beat Notre Dame to make the Sweet 16.
4. Major-Conference Offensive POY: Denzel Valentine, 6'5" senior PG, Michigan State
See the Michigan State award above for the bulk of Valentine’s credentials. His combination of playmaking and high-usage scoring made him incredibly valuable. He operated as an assist guy, an off-the-dribble scorer and an off-ball scorer, all with a high level of effectiveness.
5. Leader of the Three-Point Revolution: Buddy Hield, 6'4" senior SG, Oklahoma
Hield was a lethal scorer with range that seemed to get deeper as he went deeper into his senior season. He made 26 more threes than any other player in the nation (147 in all) and shot 45.7% while attempting 8.7 treys per game. The Sooners’ entire offensive identity was built around Hield, as they reached the Final Four while taking 40.7% of their shots from deep on the season and finished second nationally in three-point accuracy.
6. Workhorse: Kay Felder, 5'9" junior PG, Oakland
Felder played 91.5% of available minutes for the Golden Grizzlies, who were the 10th-fastest team in the country. That means he was running their offense for an estimated 2,392 possessions—the most of any point guard in the nation—and taking on an insanely heavy workload: He was the only D-I player who, while he was on the floor, took at least 30% of his team’s shots (for Felder, it was 30.6%) and assisted on at least 50% of his teammates’ field goals (he was at exactly 50.0%).
7. Whistle King (Major Conference): Andrew Andrews, 6'2" senior PG, Washington
Andrews switched to point guard for his senior season and his free-throw productivity exploded. He scored a major-conference high 9.5 free-throw points per 40 minutes, as his bullish drives drew constant whistles in the NCAA’s new freedom-of-movement-focused refereeing climate. Andrews drew 8.0 fouls per 40 minutes and had double-digit free-throw attempts in 16 of Washington’s 34 games. The Huskies’ starting point guard in ‘14–15, Nigel Williams-Goss, scored just 2.7 free-throw points per 40 minutes, and drew 3.7 fouls per 40.
8. Whistle King (Outside the Major Conferences): Anthony Odunsi, 6'4" senior SG, Houston Baptist
Odunsi made stops at three colleges—Utah, Tyler (Texas) junior college, and Albany—before finishing his career as a foul-drawing machine at Houston Baptist. He scored a nation-high 10.7 free-throw points per 40 minutes and drew a nation-high 9.6 fouls per 40. According to DraftExpress.com’s database, only one player since 2002 scored more free-throw points per 40 minutes than Odunsi: New Mexico’s Ruben Douglas, who had 11.2 in ‘02–03.
9. Transition King (Major Conference): Dwayne Bacon, 6'7" freshman WG, Florida State
In this SI-homecooked metric that combines Synergy Sports Technology’s transition data and standard playing-time data, Bacon comes out as the highest-volume transition scorer on a major-conference team. He averaged 7.4 transition points per 40 minutes, beating out the defending Transition King, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, who averaged 7.2. The transition prowess of Bacon and fellow Seminole freshman Malik Beasley helped Florida State rank in the top 50 in tempo (41st, to be exact) for the first time in coach Leonard Hamilton’s 14-season tenure.
10. Transition King (Outside the Major Conferences): Eric Eaves, 6'3" junior SG, South Carolina State
Eaves blew away the rest of the field, scoring 10.3 transition points per 40 minutes. He was the only D-I player with double-digit transition points per 40 this season, which was his first at South Carolina State after transferring from Dodge City (Kans.) Community College. His miniscule turnover rate in transition—he committed TOs on just 17 of his 188 possessions—was key to him winning this crown.
11. The Ultimate Specialist: Max Hooper, 6'6" senior SG, Oakland
Hooper attempted 257 field goals as a senior and every one of them was a three. As he told SI during this season, his role for Oakland was "not a circus act"—he was a vital weapon in one of the best mid-major offenses and a 45.5% shooter from deep. According basketball-reference.com, among players who attempted at least 20 field goals in a season since 2002, there have only been six who took 100% of their shots as threes. The next-closest to Hooper’s 257 is Iowa’s Devan Bakwinkel, who attempted ... 84 in ‘09–10. Here’s the complete chart: