The Little Engine That Did
Wendell Green Jr. was even better than you thought he was during Auburn's SEC title run. That bodes extremely well for his second season on the Plains.
PG Wendell Green Jr. (Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
There are countless advanced basketball analytics that go beyond the basic box score and dig deeper into how well a player is actually playing. When it comes to impact on a team’s performance, few can compare to net rating.
Net rating, in the simplest terms, is how much better or worse a team is when a specific player is on the court. It’s calculated by subtracting a player’s defensive rating from their offensive rating. The end result is something like a point differential, based on possessions, to show a player’s two-way impact. Think of it as a tempo-free plus/minus.
When a team wins more than 80% of its games like Auburn did last season, it makes sense that there are multiple players who posted good numbers in net rating.
But who would you have expected to be the best on the team?
How about Jabari Smith, a potential No. 1 overall pick who racked up plenty of All-American and national freshman of the year honors? Or maybe Walker Kessler, the national Defensive Player of the Year who was the game’s most dominant rim protector in more than a decade and a near-automatic bucket on the inside?
Both of those would be great guesses. They’re both projected first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, after all.
Yet the answer wasn’t found in Auburn’s tallest and most talented frontcourt in the modern era. No, it was a 5-foot-11 point guard who wasn’t a blue-chip prospect coming out of high school and had to sign with a small school first.
Wendell Green Jr. led Auburn in net rating during its SEC championship campaign by a considerable margin. According to CBB Analytics, Green’s net rating for the season was +15.3, which was almost twice as high as Kessler at No. 2 (+7.9) on the team.
Against conference opponents alone, that number exploded. Green’s net rating in SEC play was a massive +28.0, which was in the 99th percentile of all Division I players. The next-closest was, again, Kessler — all the way at +12.2.