After listening to the basketball analysts all season and reading the season postmortems on this board, it seems that the book of conventional wisdom on Paulus has been written and it goes something like this:
1. Paulus commits too many turnovers. He needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball evidenced by his low assist to turnover ratio.
2. Paulus showed some grit on offense in the second half of the season because someone needed to step up and fill the void. However, he really isn’t a high caliber perimeter scoring threat in the traditional Duke mold.
3. Paulus is too slow. He isn’t quick enough to take his man and he has poor lateral quickness on defense and therefore gets beaten by his man.
Now let’s take a closer look at each one of these…
Let’s start with the turnovers. Paulus’ turnovers are actually down this year. During his freshman year he committed 3.3 turnovers per game compared with 3.1 per game this year. Still too many you say? Well, let’s put those turnovers into proper historical perspective. Here are a few season turnover stats from former Duke point guards:
Bobby Hurley (Freshman) 4.3 TO/G
Bobby Hurley (Sophomore) 3.9 TO/G
Bobby Hurley (Junior) 3.5 TO/G
Bobby Hurley (Senior) 3.4 TO/G
Jason Williams (Freshman) 4.1 TO/G
Jason Williams (Sophomore) 3.9 TO/G
Jason Williams (Junior) 3.7 TO/G
Tommy Amaker (Freshman) 3.0 TO/G
Chris Duhon (Junior) 3.0 TO/G
(I should mention that Wojo, never had more than 1.8 TO/G and Amaker and Duhon kept theirs <3 in their other seasons not listed.)
So my point here is that Paulus’ turnover numbers are not really that high relative to other PGs in the Duke system. So the culprit with Paulus’ A/T ratio is the relatively low assist total. That is certainly something Greg will need to work on and improve. However we should remember that the PGs listed above had guys like Dawkins, Laettner, Hill, Boozer, Battier, Shelden and Redick on the other end of those assists. Consider the offensive personnel that Paulus had to work with this year…
Now let’s talk about Paulus as a scoring threat. When the season started I, and pretty much everyone else, would have said that Scheyer is the guy that would need to try to step in and fill the void that JJ left on the perimeter. Early in the season, that is pretty much what happened. But over the course of the season, Paulus became more and more dangerous from behind the arc. I knew this was the case but I was shocked when I looked at his final season 3 point shooting percentage. A torrid 45.6%! That is the sixth all-time highest single season percentage at Duke. And the five guys at the top of the list are not named Trajan or JJ. Also, his 68 total 3 pointers made puts him ahead of Jeff Capel’s sophomore season, Hurley’s junior season, Trajan’s freshman season, and Dunleavy’s sophomore season. By comparison, Scheyer (and this is not a criticism of him) shot only 36.5% with a total of 61 made.
It is true that you can’t coach quickness but a couple of former Dukies have proven that you can work on it. Anyone who remembers Wojo’s first two years at Duke knows that he was a step too slow to be truly effective. JJ got off to a great start at Duke but saw his game plateau in his second year due to his lack of speed. Both Wojo and JJ worked their butts off over the summer and showed remarkable improvements in speed as upperclassman. They also learned over time how to play their man on defense more effectively and keep their man in front of them.
We heard stories at the beginning of this year about how Paulus went “JJ” over the summer and had really got into great shape. Well that was all thrown out the window by his injury. Something tells me that Paulus is not going to sit on the couch eating nachos this summer…
I don’t expect this argument to sway all the Paulus doubters. I am sure they could come up with some lies, damn lies and statistics of their own. However, I think those who think that Duke will not be able to be a contender with Paulus at the point and/or who actually think that Paulus will lose his spot to Nolan Smith at some point next year really need to take a closer look at Greg’s game. Consider what he has done, who has been around to help him, and what he has been up against.
Furthermore, Greg showed more leadership down the stretch than anyone on the team. Personally, I think he should be named as the sole captain for next year’s team.
I'm with you on Paulus being a great leader for the team, and I think he did a good job over the course of the year.
I am interested looking at your stats, though, to see the A/TO ratio for each of those guys - that stat tells alot about how effective of a PG the player is.
I am with you on supporting Paulus, but comparisons to Hurley just seem a bit outlandish. I think he is good, but Hurley is the gold standard.
PS - I agree about training quickness - people keep saying its impossible and I know I have seen athletes increase thier speed (Heck, that is the only goal of sprinters.)
Now I'm 33, my back hurts, and I just don't care who does what in Cameron. - Throatybeard
lawson: 5.6 assists and 2.2 tos
vasquez: 4.8 assists and 2.8 tos
singletary: 4.7 assists and 3.0 tos
gordon: 4.6 assists and 2.3 tos
rice: 5.5 assists and 3.3 tos
crittendon: 5.8 assists and 3.8 tos
so ALL of the point guards on the teams that were either tied or above us in the acc had significantly better assist/turnover ratios, ALL of them had more assists and 4 of the 6 had less tos. his stats aren't exactly blowing anyone away -- particularly when 3 of the other 6 were freshmen -- and we aren't even addressing the fact that whatever he did on the offensive end usually was negated by the other team's point guard having a monster game (eg, maynor being the most recent).
i also question your conclusion that he was "showing leadership." this team was about as rudderless as i ever have seen a duke team. being a leader means taking charge late in close games and doing whatever it takes to win. battier did this. laettner did this. hurley did this. even jj did this even though the results weren't as good when it matter the most. just today i saw great leadership in acie law, lewis on ohio st and graves on butler. they took their teams on their backs and drove their teams to victory. where did you see paulus being a leader in the past month? i would argue that one of the biggest problems of this team was that it was completely lacking ANY leadership, which is why it lost so many games at the very end. leaders would not have let that happen so many times.
I would go even further with an assumption that this year's version had far fewer possessions than did other years, thus creating a disproportionate opportunity cost in comparison.
Thank you for this thread. I completely agree that Paulus gets a bad rap. I will go on record as saying he gets at least 2nd team all-acc next year and potentially 1st team (with the standard proviso that he stays healthy, knock on wood).
46% from 3pt range. Higher than Langdon or Redick, two 3pt Duke legends. That should at least give you doubters some pause, to reconsider your positions on our captain.
Also (again for what it's worth), Duke's offensive design, at least this year, was not point-guard-focused in terms of assists. Duke placed 4 players in the top 31 in assist rate (assists-per-teammate's made field goals) - Paulus, McRoberts, Nelson, and Henderson. Only FSU (Swann, Douglas, Mims, Allen) also had 4 in the top 31, and neither of them had as good an assist rate as Paulus did. So our assists were more spread out than those of other teams, which contributes to Paulus' lower assist numbers. Though I admit, there's a little bit of a chicken and the egg argument with that last point (was the spread out offensive focus the cause of Paulus' lower assist numbers, or were Paulus' lower assist numbers the cause of the more spread out offensive focus).
Just be you. You is enough. - K, 4/5/10, 0:13.8 to play, 60-59 Duke.
You're all jealous hypocrites. - Titus on Laettner
You see those guys? Animals. They're animals. - SIU Coach Chris Lowery, on Duke
As for 1st or 2nd team ACC, i'm completely convinced Vasquez will be in jail for all/part of next season. I mean, the guy is just a thug.
In all seriousness, you take the last 10 games for Paulus and he was the best point guard in the ACC. Yes, it didn't translate into wins, but for whatever reason we couldn't finish.
Evidence for strong Junior season from Paulus:
#1 strong finish to sophomore season
#2 46% 3pt % and leading 3pt scorer on team
#3 another season of improvement
#4 hopefully no foot injury or early season illness to slow his development
Add it all together, and I think you have a strong case to think positive for Paulus next year. Get on the bandwagon now.
John Madden says something along the lines that, "Winning cleans up a lot of stink." If Duke is doing well next year, Paulus will receive less scrutiny. If Duke has another year like this one, as the point guard he can expect to be crucified--justified or not. In a way I am sort of sick of talking about it because the one vote that matters, Coach K's, seems squarly for Greg. So, one can fire up one statistic after another and as long as Coach K thinks Greg should play--he will. Also, it seems a bit strange to second guess a coach with so much success. All those years of going to the sweet sixteen, if not farther, and all of the sudden he can't judge talent better than some guy who has a lot fewer credentials. I am not saying Coach K is infallable or that he isn't stubborn (goodness knows he has been quite stubborn at times and I think can be to the detriment of the team), but I am saying he has earned the right not to be second guessed a lot about this. He sees something in Greg and so Greg is his man. I trust Coach K. I am more into supporting people than tearing them down particularly when they wear the right shade of blue.
The best thing that could happen to improve Paulus' game next year is for Nolan Smith to be as good as some people believe he is. If Smith can beat people off the dribble and take some of the playmaker load off of Paulus' shoulders by beating the fullcourt press, then Paulus may really be able to exploit his 3-point shooting skills. I would draw an analogy between Duhon/Williams and Smith/Paulus. The 2001 Blue Devils really excelled having two guards on the floor who could both handle and shoot. Duhon enabled Jason Williams the freedom to concentrate on scoring. I'm cautiously optimistic that Paulus will benefit from Smith's presence. I'm cautious because of the "unknown" associated with freshmen.
I've ripped Paulus a bit here in the forums, but not quite as much as others. However, I don't want that to imply that I have no faith in him or even that I think he should be replaced. Defense aside, I still think he could be a great player for us. Perhaps we can include defense if there's really something to the notion that his injury early in the season got him out of shape again, perhaps...
Like dukie8 said, Paulus needs to do something with the ball. I really believe he is too cautious at times. We've seen the great passes he is capable of making, some are incredible, but these passes seem to disappear over the course of a game. Now, I'm not certain if it's really Paulus becoming more cautious or tired, or perhaps his teammates, or perhaps even if it's just the other team adjusting as the game progresses, but to my amateur eyes it appears most likely that it's Paulus' play that's different.
He also has a tendency to make critical mistakes at critical times. That turnover right there at the end is just the first example that comes to mind, though not the most glaring. You can relate missed free throws to tired legs, as we hear from the announcers ad nauseum, but you can probably also relate them to pressure, the mental sort of course since there's not a lot of
D when you're at the line . Unfortunately, that's something that may or may not be helped by directly addressing it. We played without any confidence whatsoever at the end of games, though that's another chicken or egg situation as we certainly shouldn't have had any late-game confidence by the end of the season.
Leadership, confidence, quickness (get in better shape if possible): Those are the 3 attributes I'd most want Paulus to work on this summer. He can really be great at times, just for some reason not all the time. To start, no more shaking the head or otherwise showing frustration, especially when the ball is live...
btw, I love you guys who look up the numbers. What's the best repository of such information???
I don't think anyone quibbles with the statement that paulus has become a fine shooter. Heck, early this season, my question was how could his foot be hurting him so much if his jumpshot is so much improved. It's the other facets of the game that are the problem. For me, it's just his defense at this point, really. He does need to turn the ball over less and teams can pressure him into mistakes and take us out of our offense. But if he had a better post presence to feed and could actually D up on opposing guards, he has become enough of a scorer that I think it would compensate for his other deficiences.
And Dukie8, good call on the leadership issue. Paulus has heart and guts but he did not effectively lead this team this year, not that he should have been expected to do so. Almost without fail, the great team leaders only become great after one year of on-the-job training. This was Greg's training year (last year jj and shelden handled it). Next year, we'll see what he's learned.
1. For much of the season the offense spent a lot of time flowing through McRoberts in the half-court. Therefore during these stretches McRoberts racked up a fair number of assists. The problem for Paulus' stats in this scenario is that Greg still had to bring the ball up the court and start the offense (leading to an occasional turnover).
2. We didn't have a stud go to guy in the frontcourt this year. All those other Duke PGs I talked about had some key guys to pass to (with the exception of Wojo in his first 3 years). What do you think would have happened to Paulus' assist totals this year if McRoberts had averaged 20 ppg? What would have happened if we had Shelden for another year?
Good points, dukie8.
Last edited by Troublemaker; 03-18-2007 at 09:27 AM.
If that part works out, the key to becoming dominant again is playing some serious defense. Perhaps Nolan's real value for '08 would be on that end of the floor. On offense, for reasons already noted, he'll probably be just a change of pace and not "the man". Unless he turns out to be j-will.
A point guard generally does not make assists from the wing or from outside the top of the key which is where Greg was most of the year. Assists come from penetrating the middle down the lane where he can dish it to a big without the big having to dribble before he takes his shot. Much easy way for a big to score and thus the point guard get the assist.
Or if your fast enough as point guard leading the fast break for an assist. Didn't see Greg leading too many fast breaks this year, did we. He usually was walking or trotting the ball up the court.
If we played zone defense his slowness would be less of liability there, but we don't...so.
Coach K sees something in him because we have no one better to play point.
Greg will be much better as a shooting guard really and as a complement to
a true point guard. As opposed to Scheyer whose shot release needs to be much quicker. Greg does have a very quick release and he squares up like JJ. I think he works pretty well coming off picks. But again that's not what point guards do.
I do think he is a leader, listening to him in post game interviews, etc. Much better that Josh. He is a standup man and a fine representative for Duke basketball. I think we all have his back. He got squat for help from Scheyer
and Nelson in the VCU game.
NYC Dukie, to your point that "In all seriousness, you take the last 10 games for Paulus and he was the best point guard in the ACC," did you even look at the stats? here are the stats for paulus (and i am ignoring the defensive woes which are substantial):
39 assists and 36 turnovers
here are lawson's numbers over his last 10 games:
69 assists and 16 turnovers
in the future, it would behoove you if you actually looked up some stats before posting such outlandish claims.
Last edited by dukie8; 03-18-2007 at 10:40 AM. Reason: typos
I grew up hating Carolina in the 70's, but is preposterous to compare Paulus to Lawson. Lawson has extraordinary skills and speed. Greg simply is not that talented. Greg is trying to be a leader and has improved his shooting dramatically, but cannot consistently penetrate and dish nor does he have sufficient quickness to defend the perimter.
Duke does not have another point guard, nor are we apparently recruiting one for next year. Therefore, Greg will be our point guard and we will be limited in the offensive and defensive schemes we can run. Hopefully, other positions will be stronger than this past year.