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STUDY HALL: Jordan Barnett might have been Mizzou’s most statistically important player

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Also: Reed Nikko was a nearly perfect high-floor complement for when the high-ceilinged Jeremiah Tilmon just didn’t have it.

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

What a strange year. Mizzou at once experienced solid continuity and none at all. The Tigers had six players play in all 33 games and occupy a combined 139 of ~200 minutes per game. Add in Jordan Barnett and Cullen VanLeer, who played in a combined 1,533 more minutes and missed only three combined games, and you’re basically accounting for 92 percent of Missouri’s minutes on the year.

That’s actually rather stable! Until you get to the part where Michael Porter Jr. averaged 25.5 minutes per game in two games, Blake Harris averaged nearly 14 minutes in 14 games, and Terrence Phillips averaged nearly 11 minutes in 20 games. There was as much volatility as humanly possible baked into a lineup that gave almost all of its minuets to the same eight guys.

What a strange year.

Player Stats

Your Season Trifecta: Barnett-Robertson-Porter

First things first: the most important injury of the year wasn’t Michael Porter Jr.’s — it was Adam Wolf’s! The dude was averaging a Doug Smithian 1 Adj. GS point per minute when he was so cruelly lost for the season to injury.

I kid. Mostly.

I almost didn’t include MPJ’s stats here, if only for the ongoing what-if factor. Porter averaged a nearly team-best 0.49 Adj. GS points per minute despite the fact that he couldn’t really shoot. He was a defensive rebounds magnet and drew contact with ease. Aside from a short burst against Florida State, he was mostly stable from a turnovers perspective, too. What if, what if, what if.

Anyway, let’s move on to what was, with help from some other rate stats.

Mizzou 2017-18

Player G MP TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV%
Player G MP TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV%
Jontay Porter 33 808 0.567 0.521 7.7 23.2 16 19.6 2.1 7.3 18
Michael Porter Jr. 3 53 0.438 0.383 9.4 32.5 21.8 4.6 3.4 2 8
Jordan Barnett 32 1091 0.618 0.579 5.7 13.7 10 6.9 1.3 1.9 12.3
Kassius Robertson 33 1188 0.606 0.563 0.9 8.2 4.8 14 1.6 0.2 14.8
Reed Nikko 33 267 0.55 0.549 10.3 18.1 14.5 4.6 1.1 8.8 18.6
Jeremiah Tilmon 33 640 0.56 0.562 12.3 12.6 12.4 5.6 0.7 5.5 22.6
Blake Harris 14 195 0.44 0.407 3.8 15.5 10.1 46.6 4.3 0 28.5
Jordan Geist 33 860 0.577 0.536 2.8 13.6 8.6 21.6 1.9 0 21.4
Kevin Puryear 33 835 0.547 0.474 7.6 11.6 9.7 6.7 0.7 1 15.6
Terrence Phillips 20 212 0.616 0.561 4.1 11.2 7.9 33.2 1.4 0 35.1
Cullen VanLeer 31 442 0.472 0.493 0.6 10 5.6 12.7 1.7 0 21.4

Man oh man, losing Jordan Barnett for the tournament game was deadly.

He ended up actually leading the team in Adj. GS PPG, his TS% and eFG% were the best on the team (because of the extra emphasis they put on 3-pointers), his defensive rebound rate was higher than Jeremiah TIlmon’s, and his turnover rate was the lowest on the team from anybody who played more than three games.

He wasn’t a creator, so he didn’t necessarily help with Mizzou’s ball-handling issues to any major degree, but he brought a lot to the table without taking anything off. FSU handled Mizzou well enough that you can’t say that Barnett’s presence would have made any definitive difference, but, well, I’d have loved to have seen that game.

Mizzou 2017-18

Player G MP PER USG% OWS DWS WS WS/40 OBPM DBPM BPM
Player G MP PER USG% OWS DWS WS WS/40 OBPM DBPM BPM
Jontay Porter 33 808 21.7 22.5 1.8 1.9 3.6 0.179 3.6 7.5 11.1
Michael Porter Jr. 3 53 20 36.5 0 0.1 0.2 0.128 -4.2 -0.8 -5
Jordan Barnett 32 1091 18.1 19.3 2.7 1.5 4.3 0.156 5.2 2.2 7.4
Kassius Robertson 33 1188 16.5 22.7 2.8 1.4 4.2 0.141 5.2 0.6 5.7
Reed Nikko 33 267 15.8 16.7 0.3 0.5 0.8 0.12 -1.9 5.9 4
Jeremiah Tilmon 33 640 14.4 25.1 0.3 1 1.3 0.08 -2.2 2.9 0.6
Blake Harris 14 195 14.1 22.4 0 0.4 0.4 0.089 -1.1 3.7 2.7
Jordan Geist 33 860 13.5 16.1 1.4 1.3 2.6 0.121 2.8 2.5 5.2
Kevin Puryear 33 835 13 19.2 1.3 1 2.3 0.108 0.6 1.2 1.7
Terrence Phillips 20 212 10.6 15.3 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.107 1.2 0.3 1.5
Cullen VanLeer 31 442 5.9 11.6 0 0.6 0.5 0.049 -0.4 1.8 1.4

There are a lot of different player ratings out there. I use the Adj. GS measure, in part because I enjoy continuity, and I’ve been employing that forever here at RMN. But I do think it’s interesting to look at the different measures and how differently they viewed Mizzou’s respective contributors this year.

Top 5 Tigers, per a variety of metrics

  • Adj. GS: Barnett (14.2), Kassius Robertson (14.1), Jontay Porter (12.0), Michael Porter Jr. (8.4), Jordan Geist (8.2)
  • PER: Jontay (21.7), MPJ (20.0), Barnett (18.1), Robertson (16.5), Nikko! (15.8)
  • Win Shares: Barnett (4.3), Robertson (4.2), Jontay (3.6), Geist (2.6), Kevin Puryear (2.3)
  • Box Score Plus/Minus: Jontay (+11.1), Barnett (+7.4), Robertson (+5.7), Geist (+5.2), Nikko (+4.0). (MPJ: minus-5.0.)

You can tell how much different measure value shooting percentage and negative plays like turnovers and fouls. Reed Nikko made 55% of his shots, hoovered up defensive rebounds better than anyone not named Porter, and grabbed offensive rebounds almost as well as Tilmon. His turnover rate was lower than most of Mizzou’s guards’, too.

Nikko’s limitations were, shall we say, obvious. But he was an underrated piece for this team, I think, not specifically because the PER equation liked him, but because while he didn’t bring a ton to the table, he took very little off of it, too.

Considering how volatile Tilmon’s performances were, Nikko offered stability — a higher floor than Tilmon, to go with what was obviously a much lower ceiling.

Mizzou’s going to need Tilmon next year, though. He was a bonus piece for a team that was more reliant on outside shooting than I think it expected to be. With Barnett, Robertson, and perhaps Jontay gone, Mizzou’s known 3-point shooting goes with them. Nikko was a security blanket for when Tilmon didn’t have it this year, but a likely change in offensive identity means Tilmon’s going to have to ‘have it’ a lot more in the future.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Missouri
Reed Nikko
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Missouri vs Georgia
Jeremiah Tilmon
Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports