The Mountain West media day took place in Las Vegas Wednesday morning, as 27 conference media members voted on the projected order of finish and first team for the upcoming season.
New Mexico guard Elijah Brown headlines the list with frontcourt teammate Tim Williams, while San Diego State guard Trey Kell and forwards Jalen Moore (Utah State) and Cameron Oliver (Nevada) complete the first team.
Let’s explore last season’s analytics in hopes of digging up new information in preparation for the 2016-17 hoops season.
Stats in this article are courtesy of Sports Reference, KenPom.com, and 24/7 Sports.
The first team is chock full of reliable and efficient scorers. The most effective of the five is clearly New Mexico forward Tim Williams, whose eFG% to shot frequency ratio is over two, significantly higher than each of the other four players. The purpose of the graph above is to show how efficient or inefficient the players are offensively, and gauge their shot frequencies. Shot frequency is simply a measure of the percentage of shots a given player attempts while on the floor. Shot frequencies for key starters is typically in the mid-20s, which shows how much New Mexico values Elijah Brown's offensive production.
This informative radar graph shows the point distribution for each of the five first-teamers. The graph should be fairly straight-forward - the blue line displays the percentage of points off of two-point field goals, orange is three-pointers, and white is free throws. Elijah Brown is the most balanced scoring threat, using the foul line as well as deep shooting in his offensive skill set. Tim Williams is almost entirely reliant upon two-point attempts as well as Cameron Oliver, and Trey Kell is a frequent perimeter shooter.
Oliver dominates the first team in the rebounding category. As a freshman, Oliver recorded a top 100 defensive rebounding percentage nationally, which was fourth in the conference behind James Webb III, Stephen Zimmerman and Emmanuel Omogbo. Not only does Oliver bolster the Wolf Pack defense on the glass, he grabbed nearly 10% of all offensive rebounding chances, another strong mark. There wasn't a bigger moment in Nevada's victory over Fresno State in February than Oliver's tipped offensive rebound after a free throw attempt in the final seconds, which was his 24th rebound of the night.
Cameron Oliver is in a tier of his own on the defensive side as far as blocks and steals are concerned. His block + steal percentage was 10%, twice as much as the second best defender on the list, Tim Williams. The first team is fairly light in the steals category, with only two players (Brown and Kell) finishing in the top 25 in the conference last year in steal percentage. Tim Williams placed 11th in the Mountain West last year in block percentage, and could move up into the top five with the departures of Stephen Zimmerman (2nd), Zach Moer (4th) and Derrick Jones (7th).
As anticipated, NM's Elijah Brown leads the fouls drawn/committed ratio. Many call it flopping, but Brown has an irrefutable knack for drawing contact and getting to the charity stripe, where he converts 85% of his attempts. Cameron Oliver is the only player on the MW first team that commits more fouls than he draws, which he will look to improve upon this season. Kell and Williams also instigate over four fouls a game, but are far from decent free throw shooters - both under 70% at the line.