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A STATISTICAL CELEBRATION OF AARON WHITE AND HIS AWESOMENESS

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No matter how you slice it, Aaron White was truly a special talent.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, when I wrote the Season in Review post for Aaron White, commenter UhMesoGorney (great name, by the way) requested that I do a statistical comparison of Aaron White to other Big Ten players to demonstrate just how talented he was. I thought this was a good idea to put White's senior year and career into more context, since I only looked at how his senior season stacked up against great seasons of Iowa past. So, here we go.

First off, I went back to Sports Reference and pulled up the same win share data I did before, only this time I queried the entire Big Ten since 1997-1998 and not just Iowa players. Here are the top ten seasons, along with Aaron White's senior year:

Rank Single Season Win Shares Class Season Pos School Off. WS Def. WS Win Shares
1 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 6.6 2.8 9.4
2 Trey Burke SO 2012-13 G Michigan 6.7 2 8.7
3 James Augustine SR 2005-06 F Illinois 3.7 4.8 8.6
4 Carl Landry JR 2006-07 F Purdue 5.2 3.2 8.4
5 Jared Sullinger FR 2010-11 F Ohio State 5.4 2.9 8.3
6 Evan Eschmeyer SR 1998-99 C Northwestern 5.6 2.5 8.2
7 Greg Oden FR 2006-07 C Ohio State 3.6 4.6 8.2
8 Michael Wilkinson JR 2003-04 F Wisconsin 2.9 5.1 8
9 Brad Miller SR 1997-98 C Purdue 5 2.9 7.9
10 Jared Sullinger SO 2011-12 F Ohio State 4.8 3.1 7.9
20 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 5 2.2 7.2

The 2014-2015 iteration of Aaron White comes in at a respectable 20th, with 7.2 win shares. He shares some pretty good company, though, and we should all probably take time to recognize just how ridiculous this year's Wisconsin team is. Frank Kaminsky is currently putting up the best season, according to win shares, that the Big Ten has seen since 1997-1998. And his teammates, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker, are both 25th and 35th on that list with at least one more game to play. Hayes is at 7 win shares right now and could still potentially pass White, while Dekker is a little further away at 6.7. Both would need to play very well against what most people feel is the best team in the nation in order to surpass White.

However, that list is just looking at total win shares and not accounting for minutes played. Unfortunately, minutes played data does not seem to be available for everyone and win shares per 40 minutes is not a statistic that Sports Reference gives you the option of querying, so I ran the numbers with only the persons from the list above who had minutes played data available.

Rank Single Season Win Shares Per 40 Class Season Pos School WS WS/40
1 Greg Oden FR 2006-07 C Ohio State 8.2 0.355
2 Evan Eschmeyer SR 1998-99 C Northwestern 8.2 0.350
3 Morris Peterson JR 1998-99 F Michigan State 7.4 0.326
4 Carl Landry JR 2006-07 F Purdue 8.4 0.325
5 James Augustine SR 2005-06 F Illinois 8.6 0.319
6 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 9.4 0.304
7 James Augustine JR 2004-05 F Illinois 7.7 0.297
8 Jared Sullinger FR 2010-11 F Ohio State 8.3 0.283
9 Jared Sullinger SO 2011-12 F Ohio State 7.9 0.281
10 Cody Zeller SO 2012-13 F Indiana 7.4 0.279
15 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 7.2 0.269
17 Robbie Hummel JR 2009-10 F Purdue 5.5 0.267

Note: Keep in mind that because I'm dividing win shares, which are listed as rounded to the tenth decimal place, by the number of minutes a person played, my win shares per 40 minutes totals are going to be a little off compared to what they otherwise would be if I had the time and patience to click on every guy's profile and look at their win shares per 40.

Anyway, on this list, Aaron White comes in 15th place with 0.269 win shares per 40 minutes. Again, not bad. Greg Oden's one year at Ohio State jumps to first place, giving his team about 36% of a win every time he played 40 minutes. I also included Robbie Hummel at 17th on this list because he was one of the players that was mentioned when I was requested to write this post. Hummel was very valuable to Purdue, but health problems kept him off the court. His best season was his junior year, in which he only played 27 games but racked up 0.267 win shares every 40 minutes he played for the Boilers. But, to help answer UhMesoGorney's question, it doesn't appear that Robbie Hummel ever had a better statistical season than Aaron White's senior year.

Now, not all stats are perfect, and some people may not totally like win shares, so Sports Reference also offers another all-encompassing stat that John Hollinger created, called "player efficiency rating" or PER. Unfortunately, it only goes back to the 2009-2010 season, so we are limiting ourselves even more, but alas here we are:

Rank Single Season PER Class Season Pos School PER WS
1 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 34.6 9.4
2 Cody Zeller FR 2011-12 F Indiana 31.3 6.9
3 Jared Sullinger FR 2010-11 F Ohio State 30.3 8.3
4 Jared Sullinger SO 2011-12 F Ohio State 30.2 7.9
5 Evan Turner JR 2009-10 G Ohio State 30 6.8
6 Cody Zeller SO 2012-13 F Indiana 29.8 7.4
7 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 29.3 7.2
8 Frank Kaminsky JR 2013-14 C Wisconsin 29 6.2
9 Victor Oladipo JR 2012-13 G Indiana 28.9 6.8
10 JaJuan Johnson SR 2010-11 F-C Purdue 28.8 7.2

I included win shares in the table just so you could see how both stats rated the top ten players. Both stats agree that Kaminsky is the best the Big Ten has seen recently. PER believes that Aaron White's senior year was the 7th best season that the Big Ten has seen since the 2009-2010 season. If we would have limited our win shares query to since 2009-2010, there's not much of a difference, as White finishes with the 8th best season since that time frame.

But value is not accrued in the same manner by everyone. Some players are offensive-heavy, some are defensive-heavy, and some are very balanced. Aaron White was offensive-heavy, as you can tell by the fact that 5 of his 7.2 win shares came on the offensive side of the ball. So let's compare his offensive performance this season to other past Big Ten greats.

Rank Single Season Off. Win Shares Class Season Pos School Off. WS Def. WS WS
1 Trey Burke SO 2012-13 G Michigan 6.7 2 8.7
2 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 6.6 2.8 9.4
3 Jordan Taylor JR 2010-11 G Wisconsin 6.6 1.2 7.8
4 Evan Eschmeyer SR 1998-99 C Northwestern 5.6 2.5 8.2
5 Jared Sullinger FR 2010-11 F Ohio State 5.4 2.9 8.3
6 Carl Landry JR 2006-07 F Purdue 5.2 3.2 8.4
7 Cody Zeller FR 2011-12 F Indiana 5.1 1.8 6.9
8 Brad Miller SR 1997-98 C Purdue 5 2.9 7.9
9 Nik Stauskas SO 2013-14 G Michigan 5 1.1 6.2
10 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 5 2.2 7.2

When we look at the best offensive seasons in recent Big Ten history, according to offensive win shares, Aaron White shows up with the 10th best performance since 1997-1998, again joining some pretty good company. Another thing to note, however, is the fact that Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes both currently have 4.8 offensive win shares and could potentially pass Aaron White before the season is over.

Taking a look at more offense, I decided to see who the most efficient offensive players in recent history were. What I did was take offensive win shares and divide them by the amount of possessions that a player uses on offense. Some guys take a lot of shots or turn the ball over while trying to go iso all the time, while some guys just simply score the ball every time they touch it. We already know White is much more the latter than the former, but how efficient was he?

Rank Single Season Off. WS/USG% Class Season Pos School USG% Off. WS Off. WS/USG%
1 Jordan Taylor JR 2010-11 G Wisconsin 27.5 6.6 0.240
2 Trey Burke SO 2012-13 G Michigan 28.3 6.7 0.237
3 Nigel Hayes SO 2014-15 F Wisconsin 20.5 4.8 0.234
4 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 28.6 6.6 0.231
5 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 23.5 5 0.213
6 Cody Zeller FR 2011-12 F Indiana 24.3 5.1 0.210
7 Kevin Ferrell JR 2014-15 G Indiana 23 4.8 0.209
8 Sam Dekker JR 2014-15 F Wisconsin 23.3 4.8 0.206
9 Nik Stauskas SO 2013-14 G Michigan 24.4 5 0.205
10 Deshaun Thomas SO 2011-12 F Ohio State 23.4 4.7 0.201

I cut this list to guys who used 20% or more of their team's possessions while they were on the court. I did that in order to get guys who were at least considered what Kenpom calls "significant contributors" and not end up with a bunch of very good three-point shooters who don't use very many possessions. One more thing to note, is that usage rate is only tracked back  to the 2009-2010 season, so this only goes back for the past six years.

Again, though, Aaron White finds himself in very good company, as the fifth most efficient offensive player when you divide offensive win shares by possessions used. Jordan Taylor finishes in first place, and the deadly troika of Badgers from this year's team show up on this list as well.

And just to be exhaustive, I also looked at offensive rating as well. I again used the cutoff of 20% for usage rate to make sure I'm getting the Big Ten's star players. I also added a minutes played cutoff of 900 because if I didn't, Branden Stubbs was ridiculously efficient with a 169 offensive rating in just 15 minutes played (Miss you, Stubbs).

Rank Single Season Offensive Rating Class Season Pos School MP USG% ORtg
1 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 1070 23.5 133.9
2 Cody Zeller FR 2011-12 F Indiana 1025 24.3 132.1
3 Frank Kaminsky SR 2014-15 C Wisconsin 1235 28.6 130.1
4 Jordan Taylor JR 2010-11 G Wisconsin 1241 27.5 130.1
5 Sam Dekker JR 2014-15 F Wisconsin 1171 23.3 128.6
6 Nigel Hayes SO 2014-15 F Wisconsin 1245 20.5 128.4
7 Nik Stauskas SO 2013-14 G Michigan 1281 24.4 127.9
8 Frank Kaminsky JR 2013-14 C Wisconsin 1032 25.5 127.5
9 Kevin Ferrell JR 2014-15 G Indiana 1186 23 126.8
10 Jared Sullinger FR 2010-11 F Ohio State 1172 27 126

Offensive rating only goes back to the 2009-2010 season on Sports Reference, but Aaron White is actually the best we've seen since then.

However, in order to break it down into a rate stat, I also divided offensive rating by usage percentage in order to get an idea of how efficient each player was compared with how often they did something on offense.

Rank Single Season ORtg/USG% Class Season Pos School Minutes USG% ORtg Ortg/USG%
1 Nigel Hayes SO 2014-15 F Wisconsin 1245 20.5 128.4 6.26
2 Michael Thompson JR 2009-10 G Northwestern 1281 20.1 119.5 5.95
3 David Lighty SR 2010-11 G-F Ohio State 1186 20.3 120.5 5.94
4 Austin Hollins SR 2013-14 G Minnesota 1258 20.1 116.9 5.82
5 Blake Hoffarber SR 2010-11 G Minnesota 1087 20.4 116.8 5.73
6 Aaron White SR 2014-15 F Iowa 1070 23.5 133.9 5.70
7 Draymond Green SO 2009-10 F Michigan State 945 20.7 117.6 5.68
8 Mike Davis SR 2010-11 F Illinois 1122 20 113.6 5.68
9 Adreian Payne JR 2012-13 C Michigan State 922 20.7 117.5 5.68
10 Christian Watford SR 2012-13 F Indiana 1007 21.5 122 5.67

Aaron White comes in sixth on this list when you look at the quotient produced when you divide his offensive rating by his usage rate. And it took a while, but we finally ran into Adreian Payne on one of these lists, who was the other guy specifically mentioned in the request to write this piece. His junior year on offense was fairly comparable to White's senior year from this standpoint.

Any way you slice it, though, Aaron White's senior season likely falls within the top twenty best seasons we've seen in the Big Ten since 1997-1998 and within the top ten since 2009-2010. His offensive performance was even better, as it likely fell inside the top ten offensive seasons of the last few decades. Before I end this, though, let's look at career numbers to put it all in perspective.

Running through similar exercises from a career standpoint, here are career win shares since 1997-1998:

Rank Career Win Shares From To School G Off. WS Def. WS WS
1 James Augustine 2003 2006 Illinois 137 11.2 15 26.2
2 Michael Wilkinson 2002 2005 Wisconsin 130 8.6 14.5 23.1
3 Robbie Hummel 2008 2012 Purdue 127 12.8 9.4 22.3
4 Andre Hutson 1998 2001 Michigan State 138 11.6 10.7 22.3
5 JaJuan Johnson 2008 2011 Purdue 140 10.3 11.5 21.8
6 Aaron White 2012 2015 Iowa 140 14 6.7 20.7
7 Brian Cook 2000 2003 Illinois 132 10.6 9.9 20.5
8 Aaron Craft 2011 2014 Ohio State 148 8.6 11.5 20.1
9 E'Twaun Moore 2008 2011 Purdue 140 9.9 9.4 19.3
10 Draymond Green 2009 2012 Michigan State 145 9.6 9.6 19.2

Since 1997-1998, Aaron White's career win share total of 20.7 is 6th best in the Big Ten. Unfortunately for UhMesoGorney, Robbie Hummel put up 22.3 in 13 fewer games during his time at Purdue. But, while Hummel was the more well-rounded player, White was better on offense.

Rank Career Offensive Win Shares From To School G Off. WS Def. WS WS
1 Aaron White 2012 2015 Iowa 140 14 6.7 20.7
2 John Shurna 2009 2012 Northwestern 130 13.6 4 17.6
3 Jordan Taylor 2009 2012 Wisconsin 136 13 5.9 18.8
4 Robbie Hummel 2008 2012 Purdue 127 12.8 9.4 22.3
5 Frank Kaminsky 2012 2015 Wisconsin 142 12.5 6.2 18.7
6 Andre Hutson 1998 2001 Michigan State 138 11.6 10.7 22.3
7 Deshaun Thomas 2011 2013 Ohio State 113 11.5 5.3 16.7
8 Chris Hill 2002 2005 Michigan State 129 11.4 4.4 15.8
9 Vedran Vukusic 2002 2006 Northwestern 112 11.4 3.6 15
10 James Augustine 2003 2006 Illinois 137 11.2 15 26.2

The one crowning achievement you can give Aaron White, is the fact that he ranks #1 in the Big Ten since 1997-1998 in career offensive win shares, adding about 14 wins to Iowa's total on the offensive side of the ball over his four year career. Obviously, that is skewed by the fact that blue-chip players tend to be one-and-done and it relies a lot on longevity, but it is still quite a feat. Unfortunately, coming  up with career win shares per 40 minutes is quite the task because I would have to pull out all the guys who have missing minutes played totals for certain seasons in order to accurately calculate it, and that is simply too much work since I don't know who those guys are without clicking on each profile.

Lastly, though, to address the direct request that prompted this post, I was asked specifically about Adreian Payne and Robbie Hummel.

Player Team Years Off. WS Def. WS WS WS/40
Robbie Hummel Purdue 2008-2012 12.8 9.4 22.3 0.233
Aaron White Iowa 2012-2015 14 6.7 20.7 0.211
Adreian Payne Michigan State 2011-2014 7 6.3 13.3 0.193

With Payne, White easily had more career win shares and was more valuable to Iowa than Payne was to Michigan State during his time on the court. The only clear advantage that Payne had over White as a college player was on defense, where he logged almost the same amount of defensive win shares in about 1200 fewer minutes on the court. White was the superior offensive player over his career, though.

As for Hummel, the picture is a little more muddy. Hummel had more career win shares than White did and did so with about 100 fewer career minutes. But, while Hummel was the more well-rounded player, White was the superior offensive player. Additionally, Hummel never quite had the type of season that White had this year. Iowa's ginger ninja was worth 0.270 win shares per 40 minutes this season, and Hummel's junior season was the closest he ever came to that total, in which he put up 0.267. That's really splitting hairs, though, and doesn't take anything away from how good Hummel really was. I'd say Hummel had the slightly better career, but that's largely because he was better as a freshman than White was. And that probably has to do with the fact that White was a largely unknown three star guy coming out of high school, while Hummel was a four star recruit who didn't need quite as much development. Either way, both guys were very good basketball players and any team would be lucky to have them.

Overall, though, even with all the caveats due to spotty data, I think we can say that Aaron White's senior year was a top twenty performance since 1997-1998 and a top ten one since 2009-2010, and his offensive showing was pretty easily a top ten performance since 1997-1998. As for his career, that's a little murkier. From a complete win shares total, he easily had one of the top ten best Big Ten careers we've seen in the past eighteen years. Unfortunately, to try to split it down to a rate stat based on minutes or usage rate would either leave us with incomplete data or limit us to the past six seasons.

But any way you slice it, Aaron White was one of the best Big Ten players we've seen in recent memory. More importantly, of course, he was the best player we've seen don an Iowa jersey in an even longer time. We're all going to miss you, Aaron. Best of luck on a bright future.