It’s officially the start of conference play this week. Which means this is a good opportunity for those that haven’t been following the non-conference results elsewhere in the Pac-12 outside of the ticker at the bottom of the screen while watching Husky games to start paying attention.
The Pac-12 puts out a 10 person 1st team but I prefer to use logic like a real human being and just divide things into a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd team. I also try to create a lineup for each that could theoretically play together on a basketball court and make sense. I’ll maybe shift a center to power forward here or there but I’m not putting 3 centers on the same team.
All-Conference 1st Team
PG Payton Pritchard*, Oregon- 18.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 51.2% FG, 39.7% 3pt, 73.8% FT
PG Nico Mannion*, Arizona- 14.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 42.6% FG, 34.9% 3pt, 84.0% FT
SF Tres Tinkle*, Oregon State- 20.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 53.8% FG, 49.1% 3pt, 73.8% FT
PF Isaiah Stewart*, Washington- 19.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 61.1% FG, 73.4% FT
C Onyeka Okongwu, USC- 17.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 62.4% FG, 70.8% FT
The first two slots went to Payton Pritchard and Tres Tinkle who are each putting up ridiculously good all-around statistical seasons. If you’re averaging better than 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game on about 40% or better 3-pt shooting then you’re on the first team no questions asked.
Okongwu and Stewart are putting up nearly identical seasons except that Stewart has lagged behind a little as a shot blocker. Stewart has shown the flexibility to switch onto most players when the Huskies have gone man and played the corner of the zone alongside Sam Timmins occasionally so I’ll live with him playing power forward even if neither are a real shooting threat.
Given the less than ideal Stewart/Okongwu pairing I needed a shooter and ideally a guard for the last spot. That eliminated conference scoring leader Timmy Allen who, although 6’6, is making just 25% of outside shots on about one attempt per game. That means Mannion gets the nod although I don’t feel entirely great about it given he shot a combined 6/34 from the field in Arizona’s two losses to Baylor and Gonzaga.
All-Conference 2nd Team
PG Remy Martin*, Arizona State- 17.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 44.3% FG, 31.7% 3pt, 75% FT
SG CJ Elleby*, Washington State- 20.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 46.0% FG, 29.3% 3pt, 80.9% FT
SF Timmy Allen**, Utah- 21 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 53.3% FG, 25% 3pt, 78.2% FT
PF Tyler Bey*, Colorado- 12.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 51.1% FG, 46.2% 3pt, 77.5% FT
C Zeke Nnaji, Arizona- 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 69.6% FG, 16.7% 3pt, 80.6% FT
Allen and his 21 points per game wind up on the 2nd team and he’ll just have to deal with it. Zeke Nnaji has been terrific for Arizona and it’s unfortunate for him that he happens to play in the same conference as perhaps the best two true freshmen centers in the country. That means he slips to the 2nd team as well but it’s certainly no slight.
Tyler Bey is essentially a much more athletic, better shooting Noah Dickerson. His efficiency and rebounding numbers are off the charts but he just doesn’t take many shots. Tad Boyle needs to work on getting him to be more selfish in conference play.
Remy Martin and CJ Elleby are the two guards here and I think it was a fairly clear cut decision. Each are in the top-10 in the conference in scoring and are plus rebounders. Neither is particularly efficient but there aren’t many other primary ball handlers on their rosters and so each has had to take control to keep their offenses afloat. Martin adds the benefit of also being an excellent on ball defender which made Elleby the last one in.
All-Conference 3rd Team
PG Tyrell Terry, Stanford- 14.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 48.5% FG, 38.5% 3pt, 86.4% FT
SG Ethan Thompson**, Oregon State- 15.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 46.1% FG, 37.3% 3pt, 74.5% FT
SF Jaden McDaniels*, Washington- 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 43.6% FG, 36.7% 3pt, 76% FT
PF Oscar da Silva, Stanford- 17.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 61.8% FG, 37.5% 3pt, 83.6% FT
C Romello White, Arizona State- 11.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 68.9% FG, 63.8% FT
Oscar da Silva had the best argument for second team in my mind but it would have been a little awkward putting him at shooting guard so he winds up on the 3rd team. He’s joined by teammate Tyrell Terry who has been spectacular as a clearly underrated true freshman point guard. Considering he’s just 6’2 and 160 pounds Terry is a crazy good rebounder for his height/weight and is also incredibly efficient. Just a complete stud who can also play good on-ball defense.
Ethan Thompson’s numbers haven’t gone up all that much with his brothers’ departure and he’s not quite the shooter that Stevie Jr. was, thank God. The numbers and relative team success get him a spot here. At center I had to pick between Romello White and Nick Rakocevic* of USC who have put up nearly identical numbers. Rakocevic has somehow hit 70% from 3 on less than one attempt per game which helps but since White is leading the conference in rebounding I’m giving him the slight edge. Sorry Nick.
That means the last spot on the roster went to Jaden McDaniels. At the wing spot the choices really came down to Matt Bradley of Cal (17.5 points, 36.5% 3pt), Josh Green** of Arizona (13.1 points, 5.1 boards), and teammate Naz Carter (13.4 points, 5.8 boards). McDaniels is the best playmaker of any of them and I think is also the best defender. Bradley may score more points but he’s also one of the worst defenders in the conference and plays for the worst team in the conference so he misses out.
If you’re talking about household names then the biggest snub likely goes to McKinley Wright IV* of Colorado. He came close to taking Ethan Thompson’s spot but statistically it can’t be denied that he’s having a down year. He’s shooting worse than last year on 2’s, 3’s, and free throws and has a lower assist rate. That’s just not good enough with the seasons that Pritchard, Mannion, Martin, Terry, and Thompson are having not to mention Rylan Jones of Utah and Quade Green of Washington who also could work their way into contention for spots by March.
UCLA is the only team that hasn’t had a player mentioned yet and that’s partly because they have 4 players averaging essentially between 10 and 12 points. They’d have a ton of guys on the 4th and 5th teams if they existed. Don’t tell Mick Cronin I left them off the list or he’ll ruin another clipboard. (Also, they’re not very good and hopefully that doesn’t get submitted to @OldTakesExposed after the game on Thursday night).
Mick Cronin is the best pic.twitter.com/4lHxQaI7vz— 18 Year Old 15 Year Old Steve (@15YearOldSteve) December 21, 2019
*Preseason Media Poll All-Conference 1st team
**Preseason Media Poll All-Conference 2nd team
PG Nico Mannion, PG Tyrell Terry, SF Jaden McDaniels, PF Isaiah Stewart, C Onyeka Okongwu
I have 6 true freshmen that made one of my all-conference teams and so it just comes down to which one gets left off. If you are just picking the 5 best freshmen overall then McDaniels gets dropped for Zeke Nnaji but once again if you’re trying to put together a lineup that makes sense on paper then there’s no way to justify including Nnaji, Stewart, and Okongwu.
Most Improved Player of the Year
SF Timmy Allen, Utah
I’m giving this one to Timmy as he has managed to keep his efficiency numbers steady despite a massive increase in overall usage. Last year he took just 19% of Utah’s shots while on the floor and this season it’s over 30% and almost 35% against their top opponents. Meanwhile his offensive rating has only dipped slightly mostly because he’s taking more 3-pointers and he’s still not a great shooter. Basically every person on my all-conference teams was either a true freshman or a nearly all-conference player last year so Allen almost gets it by default.
Defensive Player of the Year
PF Tyler Bey, Colorado
I feel like it’s almost a lock that the media is going to give this award to Kylor Kelley who for the second consecutive season is leading the Pac-12 in blocked shots per game. That’s great and all but there is more to defense than blocks. Kelley is averaging 4.3 blocks but just 4.5 rebounds. You can’t be a starting center at 7’0 tall and rebound like Hameir Wright and win defensive player of the year.
Tyler Bey is 5th in the conference in block percentage, 3rd in the conference in steal percentage, and 1st in defensive rebound percentage. He’s versatile enough to guard everyone but jitterbug point guards. He gets the nod.
Player of the Year
PG Payton Pritchard, Oregon
I would love to be able to pick anyone else but right this second there’s not a realistic argument for anyone else. Tres Tinkle’s numbers are a little bit better but the Beavers have played the 329th ranked schedule so far while Oregon has played the 47th ranked schedule. Oregon has four wins against top-30 KenPom teams while Oregon State has one against a top-150 team.
At this point last season I didn’t have Pritchard anywhere near my all-conference teams and he was mired in a slump. Through the first 27 games Pritchard was averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2 turnovers per game and the team was 15-12. Then in Oregon’s final 11 games they went 10-1 with Pritchard putting up a 15.8 points, 4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game stat line. This year he’s taken it to another level almost across the board. It’s not crazy to think he could go into a tailspin by the time we get to March but right this second it’s his to lose.