The first three games of the season gave us a glimpse of things to come for the Boilermakers. I don’t put much stock into college basketball before January 1, in terms of wins and losses, but style of play doesn’t change much throughout the season, unless a key player goes down.
That player for Purdue is Zach Edey. Unless Zach goes down, what you see on offense, with minor tweaks, is what you’re going to get. That means a glacial pace on offense, Zach dominating in the post, and shooters spotted up around the arch, Braden Smith offers a dribble drive and transition option, and that was helpful against Marquette, but expect that in spurts. As long as Edey plays 30+ minutes a game, everything revolves around him.
*Note - All stats provided by KenPom.
*Note - I’m picking the stats, Garrett is providing the commentary.
The first step in understanding advanced stats is figuring out what “adjusted tempo” means. KenPom defines is as, “An estimate of the tempo (possessions per 40 minutes) a team would have against the team that wants to play at an average D-I tempo.”
National Average: 69.5
National Ranking (faster =’s low #, slower =’s high number): 330th
Notable Teams Playing Slower: Virginia (363), Minnesota(356), Villanova(352), Notre Dame(335)
The thing with our favorite Canadian giant is when he’s on the floor and Purdue is on offense, the lane is gonna stay crowded and there’s nothing either team can do about it. If Braden Smith can find a way to drive into the lane, great, but that’s difficult when you have two players under 6’10” double teaming the guy who makes players look (by which I mean literally visually look) like Yao Ming made the NBA forwards of yore look. The concern here is that there’s a physical freak who needs minutes to control both painted areas, slowing down the pace, while the same center’s own point guard is very capable of running a fast-paced offense, and those aspects conflict with each other...at least for now. It’s the classic Purdue conundrum. Matt Painter is trusted with finding the balance, the equilibrium, whatever you want to call it, but offensively, it’s a tough puzzle to piece together.
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
Adjusted offensive efficiency – An estimate of the offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions) a team would have against the average D-I defense.
National Average: 101
National Ranking: (more efficient, lower #): 15
Notable Teams With Higher Efficiency: Gonzaga(1), Iowa(3), Indiana(11)
The Boilermakers are stocked with offensive options across all positions, but to reiterate, some of those styles of play amongst the heaviest of weapons don’t necessarily play well together (yet). With the talent Purdue has in terms of lane drivers (Smith, Jenkins, Gillis, etc) the main bigs need to know when to respectfully get out of the way.
In kinder terms, when to drop back. I see a lot of potential here when in comes to guards and forwards driving toward the basket before kicking it out to bigger guys aiming to hit shots from one of the back corners of the free throw line; think along the lines of Tony Parker kicking it back to Tim Duncan for a mid-range jumper. That’s one area Zach needs to improve if he intends to play professional basketball. Guys like Duncan and Yao were able to score outside the paint, allowing their guards a free path to the rim.
As things are now, Purdue must maintain their efficiency because of their pace of play. If you’re going to go slow, each possession means more. Empty possessions are amplified and leads (and deficits) are multiplied. Purdue has to keep the score close, because I’m not sure they have an extra gear to make a run.
Offensive Rebound Percentage
Offensive Rebounds / (Offensive Rebounds + Defensive Rebounds)
National Average: 28.8
National Ranking: 23
Notable Teams With a Higher Percentage: Alabama(1), Duke(2), Ohio State(11)
Edey carries the team here, but it’s almost as if his teammates expect him to come up with rebounds, and don’t challenge for rebounds, even when they may be able to rebound with quickness that Edey doesn’t posses.
I’ve said it before, but I do see him as the eventual Big 10 leader in rebounds. He’s too tall. His arms are too long. That said, there is plenty of room for and quick forwards like Mason Gillis to assert themselves for offensive rebounds.
Three Point Percentage
National Average: 33
National Ranking: 283
Notable Better Shooting Teams: UVA (1 - 46.9), Penn State (15 - 42.4), Wisconsin (54 - 38.5)
Purdue gets their points within the arc by design, but when the Boilermakers attempt shots from outside, they leave much to be desired. The outside shooting needs to improve for the situations where Edey’s presence in the paint isn’t enough to dominate opponents, or he gets tied to the bench with foul trouble.
Purdue plays a control game, but when the plan gets thrown out the window and the Boilermakers need to hit shots from long range, you know they can get separation for a open shots but wonder if the accuracy is there from the wings.
The contrast of styles between what appear to be Purdue’s greatest offensive weapons is going to take some time to gel. I like Smith’s ability to drive and kick it out, but I’m not sure I like the outside shooting from the players to whom he kicks it out...yet! There’s still plenty of time to find a way for these playing styles to coincide, however. This is an offense that has all the pieces to the aforementioned proverbial puzzle to be able to flex on fools when firing on all cylinders. I know trains don’t have V8 engines, but you get what I’m saying. Find a balance between paint domination and the ability to penetrate the paint, draw perimeter defenders toward the basket, and dish to wide open wings, and the Boilermakers can impose their will upon anyone.