With Hansbrough, Beasley, '07-08 was the year of the power forward

Publish date:

If we've learned anything from doing all the database-sifting for this three-part "Value Add" series, which evaluates the best offensive performances of the efficiency era, it's that 2010-11 was the season of the scoring point guard (see: Taylor/Walker/Fredette), '05-06 was the season of the shooting guards/wings (see: Redick/Morrison/Roy/Douby), and '07-08 was the season of the power forward.

The Value Add formula, developed by John Pudner and explained on the blog Cracked Sidewalks, is similar to the concept of Wins Above Replacement (or WAR) in baseball. Value Add assesses how much more a player contributes (percentage-wise) to his team's offense than a ninth or 10th man off a major conference bench would, if given the same amount of minutes and possessions. It takes into account a player's offensive efficiency, usage rate and percent of minutes played, as well as the strength of defenses faced. (We only have this data from 2002-03 to the present, which I refer to as the efficiency era.)

Anyone who adds more than seven percent to his team's offense should be considered super-elite, as just 13 big men in the efficiency era have been that valuable, and only four have broken the eight percent mark. Three of them came from that incredible '07-08 season, including one who somehow remained anonymous despite playing in the Pac-10. The fourth is Vermont's Taylor Coppenrath, who was so dominant in '04-05 that even with the Value Add formula's defensive adjustment for his America East schedule, he managed to place near the top of this list. The full countdown of the best big-man seasons from '02-03 onward is below, and if you're looking for Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, you'll be out of luck: As good as he was as a freshman, he only ranked 29th overall.

(119.8 ORating, 86.5% mins. played, 26.3% poss. used, vs. 0.953 PPP defense)

... and ...

(118.0 ORating, 92.1% mins. played, 26.5% poss. used, vs. 0.956 PPP defense)

Gomes had the best two-season span of any big man in the database, and is the only player to crack this list twice. In his honor, take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself with the YouTube of the Classic, NSFW Jim Calhoun Ryan Gomes Rant, which was a response to being asked about not offering a scholarship to the Waterbury, Conn., power-forward prospect: "It's the dumbest f----ing question I've ever heard. I've explained it a thousand times, I f---ed up, I didn't take Ryan Gomes. Does that make you happy? ... I took Emeka Okafor and Caron Butler. They're not bad. I can't take every player. We have 13 scholarships. When I saw [Gomes] he was 6-foot-5, 265, 270 pounds."

(120.5 ORating, 79.4% mins. played, 29.5% poss. used, vs. 0.966 PPP defense)

Sweetney was a double-double monster for the Hoyas -- he averaged 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds as a junior -- but only lasted for parts of four seasons in the NBA due to weight issues. Sullinger's early success at Ohio State has evoked comparisons, but the young Buckeye seems dedicated enough to his fitness that he'll avoid Sweetney's sad, bloated career arc.

(121.8 ORating, 87.4% mins. played, 29.6% poss. used, vs. 0.996 PPP defense)

Bogut posted the best season by a true center in the efficiency era, and is the only No. 1 overall NBA draft pick to make any of these top-10 lists. His prep alma mater, the Australian Institute of Sport, has continued to churn out excellent college players in the years since, but the Utes failed to use the Bogut brand to corner the down-under recruiting market.

(121.1 ORating, 81.0% mins. played, 28.4% poss. used, vs. 0.955 PPP defense)

Anderson was one of the sweetest-shooting, 6-foot-10-or-taller players to grace college hoops during this period. In this, his final season with the Bears, he made 41.0 percent of his threes and 86.9 percent of his free throws.

(126.6 ORating, 73.9% mins. played, 27.7% poss. used, vs. 0.965 PPP defense)

Love is known mostly for his rebounding in the NBA, but he was a polished, offensive force as a Bruins rookie. Minutes are the only thing holding him back on this list; had he been on the floor 81.0 percent of the time instead of his actual 73.9, he would've ranked No. 1.

(134.4 ORating, 85.7% mins. played, 19.1% poss. used, vs. 0.954 PPP defense)

A decent case can be made for Leunen as the most underrated player of this entire era. With all the Pac-10 hype during '07-08 focused on Love, O.J. Mayo, the Lopez twins, and to a lesser degree, Anderson and James Harden, Leunen's brilliant senior season was almost completely ignored. He was only a second-team all-league selection, and had no national buzz. It's not surprising that the Rockets -- a team that was way ahead of the analytics curve -- took a gamble on Leunen in the 2008 second round. Two years earlier, Houston used a second-rounder on Marquette's Steve Novak, another highly underrated, yet highly efficient prospect.

(122.3 ORating, 87.7% mins. played, 32.1% poss. used, vs. 1.004 PPP defense)

Coppenrath has to be considered one of the greatest small-school big men of all-time, and his senior season -- in which he finished second in the nation in scoring -- culminated with a mammoth, first-round upset of Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. He's now playing in Spain, with far less shaggy hair, but the same high socks.

(119.8 ORating, 78.3% mins. played, 33.5% poss. used, vs. 0.961 PPP defense)

Jacob Pullen is the player who deserves credit for elevating the Wildcats to elite status over the past few seasons, but B-Easy's arrival in Manhattan was what put K-State back on the national map. Despite his mental maturity issues -- which have remained an issue in the NBA -- he played like a seasoned veteran in the paint, posting monster numbers all through the Big 12 season.

(125.2 ORating, 81.4% mins. played, 26.8% poss. used, vs. 0.948 PPP defense)

Psycho T beat out Beasley for the Wooden Award that season, and according to this formula, the voters made the correct call. Hansbrough had the highest four-year Value Add of any player in the database, and while he won a national title as a senior, his fully healthy junior campaign was by far his most statistically valuable.

Wofford's Noah Dahlman probably should've received more consideration for All-America honors in 2010-11, as his Value Add was higher than both Sullinger and Arizona's Derrick Williams.

11. 7.24%: Nick Fazekas, Nevada, 2005-06

12. 7.05%: Noah Dalhman, Wofford, 2010-11

13. 7.00%: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 2008-09

14. 7.00%: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh, 2008-09

15. 7.00%: Spencer Nelson, Utah State, 2004-05

16. 6.92%: J.P. Batista, Gonzaga, 2005-06

17. 6.90%: Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State, 2008-09

18. 6.90%: Derrick Williams, Arizona, 2010-11

19. 6.87%: David West, Xavier, 2002-03

20. 6.82%: Nate Harris, Utah State, 2005-06

1. 8.43%: Michael Beasley, Kansas State, 2007-08

2. 7.99%: Kevin Love, UCLA, 2007-08

3. 4.59%: Greg Oden, Ohio State, 2006-07

4. 4.25%: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky, 2009-10

5. 4.17%: Brandan Wright, North Carolina, 2006-07

6. 3.86%: Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech, 2006-07

7. 3.45%: Tobias Harris, Tennessee, 2010-11

8. 3.41%: Kosta Koufos, Ohio State, 2007-08

9. 3.30%: J.J. Hickson, N.C. State, 2007-08

10. 3.21%: Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech, 2009-10

11. 3.09%: Spencer Hawes, Washington, 2006-07

12. 2.81%: Tristan Thompson, Texas, 2010-11

13. 1.93%: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State, 2008-09

14. 1.21%: Anthony Randolph, LSU, 2007-08

15. 0.18%: Daniel Orton, Kentucky, 2009-10

The best power forward or center from each title team is featured here. If you consider Carmelo Anthony a "big" instead of a wing -- I listed him as a wing in this series, since he played the three position quite a bit for Syracuse -- he would be No. 1, at 6.77 percent.

1. 6.60%: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, 2008-09

2. 6.57%: Sean May, North Carolina, 2004-05

3. 5.27%: Joakim Noah, Florida, 2005-06

4. 4.95%: Al Horford, Florida, 2006-07

5. 4.36%: Darnell Jackson, Kansas, 2007-08

6. 4.35%: Emeka Okafor, UConn, 2003-04

7. 3.87%: Hakim Warrick, Syracuse, 2002-03

8. 3.18%: Alex Oriakhi, UConn, 2010-11

9. 2.95%: Brian Zoubek, Duke, 2009-10

1. 6.77%: Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse, 2002-03

2. 6.65%: Kyle Singler, Duke, 2009-10

3. 6.34%: Ben Gordon, UConn, 2003-04

4. 5.53%: Wayne Ellington, North Carolina, 2008-09

5. 4.84%: Rashad McCants, North Carolina, 2004-05

6. 3.84%: Lee Humphrey, Florida, 2005-06

7. 3.62%: Lee Humphrey, Florida, 2006-07

8. 3.62%: Brandon Rush, Kansas, 2007-08

9. 3.59%: Jeremy Lamb, UConn, 2010-11

10. 3.04%: Kueth Duany, Syracuse, 2002-03