Paige Bueckers’ immense talent is no secret.
The UConn freshman joined the most decorated college basketball program this season as the nation’s # 1 recruit. She soon began to exceed those lofty expectations, as she led UConn to a 26-1 record, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and now a spot in the Sweet 16.
It wasn’t long before conversations surfaced speculating about her eventual place in UConn’s legendary pantheon of big players under names like Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore. Obviously, it’s not fair to put her next to those names – until now. She has not won a championship. Those greats – and others at UConn – won multiple titles.
It’s similar to the debates about Patrick Mahomes’ ultimate place among the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Is it early in the game for those discussions? Certainly. Are they unreasonable? Absolutely not.
Bueckers’ box score is impressive, but …
Bueckers’ box score stats jump off the page. In 26 games she has averaged 19.9 points, six assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals. She shot 53.9% from the field – as a guard – 85.7% from the free-throw line and 46.7% from 3-point distance.
Those numbers along with UConn’s team success earned the Associated Press Bueckers First-Team All-America Honors and the Big East Player of the Year award.
And she has already done things that great ones before her did not.
With a 31-point effort against South Carolina on February 8, Bueckers became the first ever UConn player to post three consecutive 30-point games. She set UConn’s single-game record for assists with 14 against Butler on February 27. Her 156 assists – and more – are the most ever by a UConn freshman.
She is a top scorer. She might be an even better playmaker.
View the advanced statistics
But to really appreciate what Bueckers is doing, check out her Synergy stats. Synergy collects basketball data to provide advanced analytical feedback to coaches, scouts and executives. It breaks down the player’s performance in very specific game situations, such as handling a pick and roll ball in single cover and non-post-up shots around the basket.
Then players in those categories are ranked according to their competition. And that’s where Bueckers’ numbers really pop.
Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek – who scours a lot of basketball data – calls it “the most impressive statistics page I’ve ever seen of a college basketball player.”
This is the most impressive statistics page I’ve ever seen from a college basketball player. UConn freshman Paige Bueckers scores in the 90% percentile or higher in 10 different offensive categories according to @SynergySST
Again, she’s a freshman. Insane. pic.twitter.com/5awA8WD61V
– Krysten Peek (@krystenpeek) March 7, 2021
Although the data is advanced, one column makes it easy to digest: the ranking column. That shows where Bueckers scores in terms of percentile against all other women’s basketball players in the country.
The chart in the above tweet shows Bueckers’ position in the 90th percentile or better in 10 of the 16 broad offensive categories. A deeper look at 94 categories that also include the above game-specific situations shows that Bueckers scores in the 90th percentile or better in 34 categories.
Bueckers is alone
In five categories related to spot-up plays, Bueckers ranks in the 100th percentile. That means no one in college basketball is as statistically good as Bueckers in spot-up shooting, no-dribble jumpers, and left-hand driving in spot-up situations.
In short, Bueckers is the best player in its own right as a spot-up player. In about a third of the categories analyzed, Buecker’s elite – in the 90th percentile – includes most of the categories that break down the overall violation.
In the areas where she’s not in the 90th percentile, she’s mostly just excellent, scoring in the 80th percentile or better in 60 categories.
While this kind of in-depth basketball analysis shows just how special Bueckers is, it’s not the best way to appreciate her game. This is best left to the tape.
Or even better, watch her live with the bet on the line. Your next chance this weekend is a showdown with fellow freshman phenomenon Caitlin Clark when UConn takes on Iowa in the Sweet 16.
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