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Just How Good Is Perry Ellis Offensively

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He took a big step forward last year. Can he take another this year?

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Topeka Capital-Journal writer and friend of the site Jesse Newell wrote a post a while ago calling Perry Ellis "criminally underrated." In it he noted that last year Ellis had the second best offensive rating of the Bill Self era, while also having a pretty high usage rate. Newell adds that Ellis reached that rating by taking good care of the ball, being efficient from the line, and being very good from two as well. The first two are pretty obvious to see, and don't require much detail. However, I'd like to examine Ellis's two point field goal percentage and try to find out whether he benefited from some luck, is as underrated as we stats guys think, or maybe that the statistical community has him a touch overrated.

First, a look at from where Ellis attempts his shots:

I would like to see him attempt a couple more threes, as he shot 47% from there (and was usually left pretty wide open) but generally he does a pretty good job of getting shots in the right area, especially when the play by play data considers some of his hooks and runners as mid range shots.

Ellis's percentages:

Ellis could do to shoot better at the rim (more on that in a second) but he was KU's second mid range jump shot taker last season and led the team in three point percentage, even if his true talent is obviously lower. I do think that, given his propensity for not forcing jump shots, he could shoot as high as anywhere from 38-40% from three even if he took more threes.

Ellis is lauded for his consistency, mostly due to his stoic facial expressions (or expression) but in reality he is actually rather inconsistent. He had 8 games of 20 or more points (including two 30+ point games), but also had 12 games in single digits. Some of this was due to game flow, but some due to Ellis's ability (or lack thereof) to score against certain opponents.

Below, I broke down Ellis's average PPG and shooting percentage against teams having size, and those who don't. Obviously "size" is a bit of a nebulous term, but I generally looked for an effective height in the 60s or so, and those with multiple players 6'9" or taller.  Also I took a look at the boxscores to make sure there aren't any inaccurate results based just on looking at a roster. For example: in the game vs New Mexico last year 7 footer Alex Kirk was on the bench for most of the game due to foul troubles, so that was considered a game against a team without height.

The results:

You can do the math for yourself obviously, but Ellis shoots roughly 16 percent worse from two against teams with size.

A couple points in Perry's favor: one, I likely intentionally biased this a bit in terms of which teams qualify as "with size." If it was close, I put the team in the not size category, as I'm really looking to see how Perry does against some of the obvious teams (Texas, Kentucky, etc.). Because of this, his numbers against the bigger teams are likely due in part to sample size, though it is troubling that he's so much worse against teams with size. The other point is that his rebounding numbers are remarkably similar regardless of the size of his opponent. He's been the second or third best rebounder on the team each of the last two seasons, so it's good to know that will show up regardless of opponent.

Versatility

Ellis is mostly lauded for his versatility. He has a variety of post moves (though a couple that he goes to more often than not) and can score from all three zones.

This year Ellis is shooting just 31% on two point jumpers (via hoop-math), down about 10% from last year, but I think a lot of that is sample size. His form looks the same as it did last year, and he's mostly taking good shots, so I expect that to tick up a bit.

Where I love to see Ellis is out on the wing in ISO situations. It almost always leads to a good look, as seen against Kentucky:

even though he missed the layup, all it took was a quick jab step and Ellis was able to leverage that into a good look at the rim, or at least the opportunity for a pass to an open teammate.

Ellis also handles the ball really well for a post player, as seen here breaking the press against K State and leveraging that into a layup (featuring one of those patented post moves):

Ellis' ball handling skills come in handy elsewhere, as his turnover rate of 11.3 percent last year was one of the best for a featured player in the entire country, and his turnover rate is even better this year.

It's also worth noting that while he doesn't overpower people a lot of the time, his speed is a major asset in transition, like here when he beat the entire K State team back down the floor after playing some underrated perimeter defense: Ellis was playing said defense on Marcus Foster, I might add.

Ellis isn't a perfect player by any means, obviously, but he eats up really every opponent except for the ones with elite size, and even though the percentages haven't backed it up thus far this year, he has enough extra in his game to where he can find ways to contribute against those teams. He's still a relatively poor post defender, and will likely always struggle against NBA type size, but he shoots it well, plays good enough perimeter defense, and is an underrated rebounder. If Ellis were any better than he actually is, he probably wouldn't be around anymore.