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Villanova Basketball Advanced Stats: Ryan Arcidiacono vs. Phil Booth

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A stats-centric look at two of Villanova's key cogs in the backcourt.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The beauty of the Arch-Booth ‘debate' is in its disappearance.

Over the first half of his freshman season, Phil Booth has emerged as a key bench weapon, capable of generating his own shot and drilling it from everywhere. In an admittedly small sample (he's taken about half as many shots as the next closest rotation player), he's currently hitting the highest percentage at the rim, from two point jumper range, and from 3 on the team.

Jay Wright has started to loosen the reins on Booth, who's been given over 20 minutes in each of the last two Big East games - a time when Jay usually begins to tighten his rotation.  And Ryan Arcidiacono, despite continuing to struggle with his shot (though a 4-for-5 3 PT performance against DePaul could signal the beginning of a bounce back to his career average shooting marks), has begun to more consistently settle into the role of distributor, registering 3 of his top 4 career-high game assist totals within the first 16 games of the young season, while serving as the steady metronome of Villanova's balanced scoring attack.

The irony of the two competing for the same minutes at the ‘short' end of Villanova's rotation is in the diametric difference of their games; they should complement, rather than ‘take away', the other's impact.  Arch, the more measured floor general, (usually) looks to create for others on the offensive end while bringing consistent team defense on the other. Booth is a knifing, attacking, (selfish) offensive weapon with a sweet floater, outside shot, and the ups to throw it down authoritatively at the rim. He's excellent at creating his own shot on one end, and a very good one-on-one defender on the other - though he tends to get lost against off-the-ball action on that same side. In another universe, they'd be an excellent 1-2 punch at the, well, aforementioned. In this one, we've got a Dylan Ennis, Darrun HIlliard's sweet game, and Josh Hart's general ferocity clogging up extra minutes at the nominal two/three, which is clearly not a bad thing - just generates a bit of a squeeze when there are 8 capable players in the rotation.

This portion of the look at Villanova's first half of the season will celebrate the differences in their games, the positive and negative impacts of the same, and the stats and charts that help tell the story.

The Shooting

First, the good. Booth has been a revelation (thus far) as a shooter - despite coming in more hyped for his defensive skills, it's on the offensive end that he's made a real impact. Take a look at his shot chart (which includes all Villanova's games, with the exception of DePaul - even the scorekeepers don't care enough to log shot locations for their games).

BoothSh

FIAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Essentially, there's not a place he shoots poorly from.  He's converting over 90% of his shots at the rim - NINETY! - and nearly 50% from 3 (in these shot charts - overall, he's currently closer to 43% (11 of 26) after the DePaul game). He's even shooting almost 60% (7 for 12) on two point jumpers!

With the ball in his hands, Mr. Booth is a weapon. He can beat most defenders off the dribble, and is quick enough to make it to the rim before the help gets there. He's had an excellent pull-up game thus far, and is lighting the world on fire from 3. He has the moves, the skills, and the athleticism to be a devastating offensive weapon, and he's shown flashes of it this year,

The long-term takeaways must be tempered, though. It's his freshman year, and we've only been through 16 games and 53 shots in Booth's limited time & minutes at Villanova. Ennis was also torching the shot chart world through his first 10-15 games at the school last year, and we all know where that ended. The early returns on Booth's offensive contributions have been great, though. He's showing early flashes of being a combo/shooting guard that can lead/help Villanova for years.

But here's the bad, and the ugly. Arch's shot chart ain't pretty, and we'll try to move through it pretty quickly.  There's not much to touch on that I haven't already beaten into the ground.

ArchSh

Arcidiacono is horrible at the rim, worse from 3, and only flashes a (limited) above-average touch on his mid-range jumpers (18 of 45, for 40%). Through 15 games (the 16th, again, wasn't included), he's averaging just about one shot in the basket area per game. This is a marked increase from last year, but it's just not good. And even when he gets there, he's finishing horribly, making just 6 of his 16 attempts directly at the rim in the sampled games.

Finishing poorly/infrequently at the rim and relying on jumpers essentially ensures it'll be very difficult for him to crack 40% from the field for any season in his career.

The arc was a wasteland for him through 15 games, despite the fact he heaved nearly 50 shots from range. Arch hit just 11 of them, for a disastrous 22.45%. The unsampled DePaul game would clearly have helped, and my hope here is that an-equally-outlying second half of the year from three will allow his averages to swing the other way, and back towards the somewhat below average deep shooter he's been during his college career.

The last thing I'll say about his shots is this - continuing to shoot this poorly will raise the same defensive demons that plagued the team when Tony Chennault was on the floor toward the end of last year - teams will sag off him. Arch does his best damage as a distributor when he manages to get inside to the paint and baseline areas - much like Chennault did. Smarter teams will give him space when marking his dribble to prevent this penetration, and invite him to shoot, until he proves he can. We know he's not afraid to shoot (Tony C was terrified), but making is bigger than believing. I think he'll bounce back, because he's never been this bad over a season in his entire career - he's due for an average-correcting run. It's best for the offense that he does.

The Distribution Game

ArchAssists

What's the above-chart, you ask?

Even if you didn't, it's the part of Arch's offensive game that you won't see in shooting percentages - his assists this year, and the (made) shots they've led to.

The shame in tracking play-by-play data is that you won't be able to note the ‘assists' that don't go in - an assist is, obviously, a two-way road, and the shooters need to make the easy shots they're provided with after a nice feed. On the plus side, though, thanks to the limitations of the aforementioned data, teammates are currently perfect - shooting 100% on Arch's assisted baskets! We should run that every time.

On a serious note, he's the team's pre-eminent generator of 3 point assists, logging 34 of his 68 total assists on shots from distance. As the point man, both in position and in terms of his role in swinging the ball around the perimeter, this stat makes a lot of sense. He's often the key guy making the extra pass after a dribble penetration/post-up and kickout, and a key cog in the unselfish ball movement that defines this team on the offensive end.  Encouragingly, too, he hasn't just been generating these looks from the outside.

Ryan has developed some excellent acceleration/on-the-dribble skills when he actually gets moving with the ball inside the arc. While his actual shot at the rim isn't particularly threatening, drives toward the rim still are, and he's gotten better and better at manipulating interior defenders into helping off shooters or fouling him (he's sitting at a healthy 47.9% free throw rate, an enormous increase from last year, and one of the top 500 rates in NCAAB). This is one area of his game that he seems to have significantly improved from the last two years - the ability to get inside, draw contact, and make plays.

Booth, as alluded to, is less of a floor general and more of a ‘selfish' scorer. He's logged just 15 assists on the year, and never really appears to be looking to facilitate first. While Booth likely profiles as more of a 2 than a 1 for the remainder of his college career, ball movement and creation for others are staples for guards in the Villanova offense.  He's not being asked to run the show like Arch, but it remains the significant difference between the two on the offensive end, and an area in which Booth can certainly improve.  He's flashed some excellent passing skills, and will likely continue to develop as he plays more and matures, but he's not there yet.

The Deepness

And, finally, a quick dive into the lineup stats with each of these guys on the floor.  The stats and methodology should be recognized from the series of these I did last year.  It must be noted that the 2nd game of the year (UMES) was entirely missing, and the VCU play-by-play was deeply flawed as posted at my online source of these, and both are therefore impossible to include in the calculations. This likely hurts Arch slightly more than Booth, as VCU was one of his finer games on the season, but it honestly couldn't be avoided. I dumped way too much time into trying to resolve the VCU sheet issues, and still couldn't manage it.

Here are the tables:

Offense

Player 1

MIN

eFG%

TO%

OR%

FTR

O Rtg

% Shots S 2P

FG% S 2P

Asstd %

% Shots L 2P

FG% L 2P

Asstd %

% Shots 3P

FG% 3P

Asstd %

ASST%

A/T

D Reb%

Ryan Arcidiacono

418.47

51.75%

15.45%

32.27%

43.09%

1.10

34.78%

59.33%

60.48%

25.96%

42.95%

28.36%

39.27%

33.90%

85.00%

59.78%

1.45

77.07%

Defense

eFG%

TO%

OR%

FTR

D Rtg

% Shots S 2P

FG% S 2P

Asstd %

% Shots L 2P

FG% L 2P

Asstd %

% Shots 3P

FG% 3P

Asstd %

ASST%

A/T

D Reb%

Ryan Arcidiacono

45.68%

22.88%

22.93%

26.46%

0.85

34.57%

49.49%

44.33%

14.81%

41.58%

36.90%

29.81%

30.77%

76.92%

48.93%

0.68

67.73%

Offense

Player 1

MIN

eFG%

TO%

OR%

FTR

O Rtg

% Shots S 2P

FG% S 2P

Asstd %

% Shots L 2P

FG% L 2P

Asstd %

% Shots 3P

FG% 3P

Asstd %

ASST%

A/T

D Reb%

Phil Booth

159.98

61.11%

16.41%

22.33%

40.28%

1.15

37.04%

67.50%

59.26%

25.93%

48.21%

29.63%

37.04%

42.50%

91.18%

61.74%

1.54

75.40%

Defense

eFG%

TO%

OR%

FTR

D Rtg

% Shots S 2P

FG% S 2P

Asstd %

% Shots L 2P

FG% L 2P

Asstd %

% Shots 3P

FG% 3P

Asstd %

ASST%

A/T

D Reb%

Phil Booth

48.28%

17.55%

24.60%

33.91%

0.98

34.76%

41.98%

47.06%

16.31%

46.91%

21.05%

30.47%

38.03%

88.89%

49.49%

0.96

77.67%

Corollary's Takeaways

  • The offense jumps a level when Phil Booth is in the game, on many levels. The 61.11% eFG% the team logs while he's in the game is comfortably at the top of the rankings team-wide, the 1.15 offensive rating is again tops, and the lineup in general shoots great from everywhere.
  • On the flip side, this seems to be a theme with the team's bench players. Kris Jenkins' lineups are similarly great on offense, and the same sort of starter/bench split happened often last year when I first did these lineups. It may be the smaller sample, it may potentially be the fact they're playing (more often than starters, at least) against opposing benches, or it could point to an actual underlying factor in their games. The point is, it's tough to perfectly pinpoint.
  • Booth's lineups suffer from truly awful offensive rebounding totals (22.33% of all available misses on the offensive end are grabbed), which is about 8% lower than literally any other ‘lineup' among the team's rotation players. Booth does give up a lot of size to the typical ‘2,' which could be a contributing factor. This will likely normalize somewhat as the season continues, though.
  • Despite the obvious help on the offensive end, Booth's lineups are getting pasted on the defensive end. The team gives up 98 points per 100 possessions with Booth on the floor, worst on the team by 7 points. Nearly all of this difference is likely traceable to the plunge in turnover percentage for the opposing team - the 17.55% ‘forced TO' mark logged by Booth's lineups is 3-7% lower than any other major contributor. Teams are also shooting somewhat well against the same lineup (better than most others, at least), but the biggest difference is in those turnovers. It's a big part of what makes our team's defense successful, and Booth simply hasn't been a huge part of that. What's more, his presence on the floor likely spells the absence of Ennis or Arch, who have been generating steals at top 300-400 rates the entire season (per kenpom.com's numbers).
  • Arch's presence on the offensive end has been generally positive, as he's tied for second (with Hilliard, and you're-basically-a-starter-when-you-enter-a-game-within-2-minutes Josh Hart) in lineup offensive rating at 110 points per 100 possessions. Ennis is the leader, at 114.
  • The biggest effect is the lineup-wide drop in turnover percentage when Arch is on the floor, as the 15.45 TO% logged by the team's offense with Arch is the lowest on the team outside of Kris Jenkins.
  • Likely directly traced back to Arch's shooting troubles, the team's eFG% is lowest when he's on the floor (besides Ochefu), sinking to 51.75%. The 3 point percentage is particularly low, for a lineup-wide 33.90% (the only lineup on the team below 35%, besides Ochefu's)
  • Arch, along with most of the rest of the starters, has been an integral part of a very strong defensive starting lineup. In a close fourth behind Ennis, Ochefu, and Hilliard, Arch's lineups are allowing 85 points per 100 possessions.
  • Concurrently, as noted with the bench players, starters typically have more normalized and predictable offensive and defensive ratings/stats. Starters typically group together (though some certainly separate in various categories), and are almost always - at least for Villanova - stronger on defense, and worse on offense. We're likely to see the bench players come down in certain categories by the end of the year, but the starters will more than likely keep chugging along at a hyper-competent pace.

Conclusion

That concludes this short(ish) look at the stats, games, and value of two players involved in one of the season's early flash points (at least for VUHoops). Booth & Arcidiacono have clearly both been big contributors to the season thus far, despite their wildly different games and skills. Villanova fans should hope Jay keeps a good thing going with more Booth minutes, and Arch continues his rebound from a bad early season shooting slump to get back to what he did last year, only better.

I'm hoping to continue these with another post tomorrow, but we'll see what the schedule allows.