Today at 4:30 PM PT, the Oregon Ducks will travel to the Maples Pavilion to face off against the 8-6 Stanford Cardinal. The women’s team was blown out 81-46 yesterday, but the Stanford men’s team is nowhere near as good a the women’s team. Stanford has experienced a dramatic regression to the mean, after being known as the best team in the conference in December. They still play stifling D, but their offense has become what it truly is; poor. Stanford’s defense has also declined, which has led to an overall downward turn in performance.
Josh Owens is a terrific player who will definitely cause the Oregon Ducks no shortage of trouble, as he has a PER of 23.6 with a TS% of 60.7%. Owens is a lockdown defensive player who has been worth a little over two wins on defense and allows just .92 points per possession (4.4 total win shares). He is among the best five defensive players in the conference and has been one of the best five players in the conference overall.
The only other two offensive threats on the Cardinal are Chasson Randle (3.1 win shares) and Aaron Bright (1.7 offensive win shares to Randle’s 1.8). Bright is the worst defensive player on the team among players with at least 26 appearances, but he has still been worth one win on defense. He has the advantage in PER (15.8 to 15.7) and is more efficient on a per play and per shot basis.
There is another Josh who is a top defensive player on this team, and this man is Josh Huestis who is second on the team with a 16.9 PER. He is a well below-average offensive player (0.3 win shares, 49.2 eFG%), but he is the third best defensive player in the Pac-12 conference in defensive rating and defensive win shares.
The second best player in the conference in DRtg is teammate Dwight Powell who allows just .89 points per play and is the team’s best rebounder. He is useless offensively and has an 11.9 PER due to his lack of offensive production (40.8 eFG%). Despite his top defense, Powell is a liability due to his putrid offensive play.
The Oregon Ducks have three players who are among the top ten leaders in offensive win shares, and those three are E.J. Singler, Devoe Joseph, and Garrett Sim. They compromise the Ducks big three and have led this team to a 9-5 conference record. The Ducks are currently on the cusp of NCAA tournament entry, and this is definitely due to the outstanding offensive performances of these three players. After all, their defense is mediocre at best, and the team has only three above-average players besides them.
Sim’s play has slipped of late, and a more appropriate term is “fell off a cliff”. He had a PER over 20 due to some incredible shooting, and he still has a sharp 64.4 TS%. However, his PER is now at 17.7 and is well below the marks of Joseph (21.4) and Singler (19.8). He is still a good player, but it should be noted that the unheralded Tony Woods has a 17.1 PER. He may not be an important offensive player, but Woods is easily the Ducks best defensive presence and is the only player on the team worth at least one win on defense (.99 PPP allowed, fifth in conference with an 8.7 Block%).
What Devoe Joseph has done for this team is outstanding, and his 2.9 WS is close to the marks of 3.2 from Singler and Sim; Joseph has also played in six less games. If they all played in the same number of games, Joseph would have a win shares mark of 3.8 and would be ninth in the conference (second in offensive win shares with 3.0).
The Oregon Ducks are playing better basketball right now, and they are the better team at this point in time. They should be able to contain Stanford’s underwhelming defense, and they have the talent on offense- Joseph is outstanding and is coming off of a career-high 33-point game against a tough California squad- to win this game 66-60. Stanford is a decent team and will play the Ducks close, but the Ducks are the better team. On the emotional side, this team is also playing for more at this point with a tournament bid on the line.
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