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Talent Usage Rating: Quantifying The Amount Of Talent On The Floor

February 3, 2010
We often hear folks say, “this team is more talented than ours…”

But just how much more talent? More importantly–how much of this talent is actually making its way onto the hardwood?

A bench full of 5-star talent that never sees the floor ultimately doesn’t have any impact the outcome of a game. That makes it mighty tough to use the “more talented” argument.

So, in an effort to help quantify just how much talent each team is bringing to bear each game, I’ve put together a spreadsheet featuring the “Talent Usage Rating,” a formula that is a cumulative of a team’s player’s minutes divided by 200, multiplied by their average recruiting ranking.

In other words, a team’s Talent Usage Rating = (Player A’s Avg Rating * (Avg Mins Played/200)) + (Player B’s Avg Rating * (Avg Mins Played/200)) + etc.;

Here the spreadsheet (factoring in games as of Monday evening):

A couple of things to note about the numbers:

  • The average minutes played for each player is calculated by taking their total minutes played divided by the total number of games played by the team. Doing so eliminates the possibility of a player’s average minute stats being inflated by not playing in one or more games.
  • The average star rating for every player is determined by averaging the Scout and Rivals rankings. There are more ranking services out there, but these two are the most respected. Though there was some difference in the rating of certain players, for the most part both sites agreed on the star ratings of most players, and there was never more than a one-star difference for any player.
  • Players that did not show up on the Scout or Rivals sites or were listed as “NR” were given 1-star ratings.

As you can see, a team simply having the highest average star rating doesn’t necessarily mean they have more talent on the floor than the next guy. Florid State’s TUR is nearly 2% higher than Carolina’s, despite the fact that UNC’s roster averages a nearly 4% higher star rating per player. In other words, while FSU’s overall talent level on the roster may be behind Carolina’s, they put more of their higher-rated players out on the floor for more significant minutes. So when the Heels face off against the Noles on February 24th, don’t assume that the Heels have a talent advantage on the court.

With the 11th-worst TUR and 10th-worst overall average roster star rating, Virginia is clearly getting the most “bang for their buck.” They have talent where they need it (Sylven Landesberg) and are getting great contributions elsewhere from lower-rated players.

On the flip side, the Tar Heels are clearly under-performing relative to their TUR, but that’s no new news to the entire college basketball community.

For those that want to see the entire breakdown of each roster that led to the rating calculations, here’s the complete spreadsheet:

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