Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rebutting Jeff Goodman's Poorly Argued Defense of Greg Paulus

Writes Goodman on the heavily-capitalized
"As Greg Paulus goes, so do the Duke Blue Devils."
Anybody who has watched Paulus play would assume that Goodman means that Duke is headed toward missed shots (43% eFG), turnovers (32.8 TO Rate), and terrifically ineffective defending (watch the games). Goodman, however, attempts to cast Paulus's many limitations as strengths:
"There's no question that Josh McRoberts is the most talented player on the team. Gerald Henderson Jr., an athletic freshman wing, has a better shot of earning a paycheck in the NBA than Paulus. Ditto for 7-foot frosh Brian Zoubek.

However, Paulus not only brings leadership and all the intangibles to the table. He's also the only floor leader on the entire roster."

That Paulus is the only floor leader on the entire roster is a black mark on the generally exemplary recruiting record of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Goodman continues:

"He led the ACC (the best conference in America) in assists (5.2 apg) his freshman campaign."

To lead the league in assists per game, Paulus needed to play over 80% of the minutes on the 29th fastest-paced team in the country in a league without any good point guards.

Here's a list of the ACC's team leaders in assist rate. Once we level the playing field in terms of pace (both Singletary and Gray played a higher percentage of minutes than Paulus but their teams both played at a much slower pace than Duke) and playing time (Frederick and Frasor didn't get quite as much playing time as Paulus), Paulus is simply in the top third of a rather pedestrian collection of ACC distributors.

Sean Singletary, Virginia 30.1
Justin Gray, Wake Forest 26.6
Zam Frederick, Georgia Tech 26.2
Greg Paulus, Duke 26.1
Bobby Frasor, UNC 25.9
Jamon Gordon, Va. Tech 25.0
Louis Hinnant, BC 24.9
Isaiah Swann, FSU 24.7
Anthony Harris, Miami 24.4
DJ Strawberry, Maryland 22.8
Cliff Hammonds, Clemson 20.9
Gavin Grant, NC State 20.5

Also, the Big East and the SEC were both clearly better leagues last year than the ACC.

Finally, Goodman attempts to build Paulus up by comparing him to a former, similarly pigmented teammate whose game Paulus's resembles not all:

"Paulus, who will take the throne of the most hated player in the league now that J.J. Redick is in the NBA, has his share of critics."

As a freshman, JJ Redick was an overrated, one-dimensional, catch-and-shoot player. If he was wasn't making shots, he was useless. Over the course of his career, Redick diversified his game, becoming an outstanding offensive player and an adequate defensive player. For the majority of his career, ACC fans hated JJ Redick because he was good enough to beat their teams. Unless Greg Paulus improves greatly, in a number of different areas, opposing fans will welcome his ineffectiveness with open arms, saving their ridicule for anyone who argues that having Greg Paulus play point guard is a good thing for Duke.

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