In column posted two and a half weeks ago, we took a first look at how the performance Larry Drew II and Dexter Strickland varied when they were playing with and without each other. Though the initial sample size was only five games, the early data certainly suggested that both players benefited from the presence of the other. What follows is an expansion of that first set of data taken over the first 10 games of the ACC schedule.
As with the previous column, we will start by examining each players total performance over their first 10 ACC games. For the sake of comparison, I have also broken down into 5-game segments:
[table id=22 /]
Anyone else surprised that the statistics for both players over the last five games pale in comparison to the first five? Yeah, I didn't think so. A team going 1-4, with 3 blowouts, is not generally a good recipe for a player to generate an impressive statline.
Rather than dwell on the decline of each player's total numbers, the purpose of this post is to ask the question of whether or not there is still a significant difference in the way each player plays while in the presence or absence of the other. The first comparison presented is that of Dexter Strickland with and without Larry Drew:
[table id=24 /]
And next, Larry Drew with and without Dexter Strickland:
[table id=23 /]
- Over the last five games, Strickland's struggles have been such that it really did not matter who he was playing with. Surprisingly, over that stretch, Strickland has actually played more minutes with Drew (50) than he has played without Drew (41).
- While Drew's shooting percentages (with Strickland) are down from the first 5 games, they are still quite good, and his P/40 is up significantly.
- Despite a very steep drop in assists, when he played with Strickland over the last 5 games, Drew's A/T ratio is in the neighborhood of where Ty Lawson's was last year.
At the end of the last post, I asked the question, "Does this mean we will see more of a Drew/Strickland backcourt?" At that time, Drew and Strickland were averaging 7 mpg on the court together. Over the last 5 games, the pair has played together an average of 10 mpg, so while the answer to that question was yes, the team still went 1-4. If this shows anything, it is that there is no such thing as an easy fix.
The initial impetus for tracking the splits for each of these players with and without each other was to differentiate Strickland's performance when he was playing his natural position (SG) versus when he was playing a brand new position (PG). I had no reason to think, a priori, that Larry Drew's statistics would vary so dramatically when he was playing with Strickland, but they do, which leads me to a new question about the possible rotation of next year's team.
For the last several months, I have assumed that next year, Drew and Marshall would share the bulk of the minutes at PG, while Strickland and Bullock would share the bulk of the minutes at SG. Based on how well Drew shoots and scores when he is playing with Strickland, I am led to wonder if we will see stretches next year where Drew and Marshall are on the court together? This would not only take advantage of Drew's ability to shoot off the pass, but a lineup of Marshall, Drew, Strickland, Barnes and Henson would have the potential to be one heck of a pressing lineup, similar to the type of team Kentucky had under Pitino in the mid-90's. I doubt that this is something that will be seen regularly, but as a person who loves up-and-down basketball, it sure is fun to think about.