The Daily Nole

What the Numbers Are Saying About Xavier Rathan-Mayes Season So Far

wlpearce.com/FSU athletics

No player on the Florida State men’s basketball team experienced a more radical change in duties this season than sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Last year’s team was offensively challenged in many ways, and Rathan-Mayes (known as XRM) often had to carry the offensive load to help keep the team in games.

The situation has changed this year. With the addition of talented scorers like Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, and Benji Bell, the Florida State offense has upgraded in a major way. The end of the 2014-2015 season saw the Seminoles finish with the 163rd ranked offense according to Pomeroy ratings. Through the first 14 games of the 2015-2016 season, they have shot up all the way to 76th. While that might not be good in comparison to other potential tournament teams, it is a marked improvement from last year.

No longer does XRM have to single-handedly keep Florida State competitive. But as a side effect, many look at his games so far this year and wonder if he has taken a step back as a player.

It’s not an especially outrageous thought — many players have an issue changing their play style to fit a team. For whatever reason they never get comfortable with the team and the tempo which it plays at. At the surface level, it looks like XRM might still be adjusting to the team.

But is this an accurate perception?

Compare XRM’s stats through his first 14 starts of last season to his 14 starts this season.

2014 Season: 13.6 points per game, 4.5 assists per game, 1.0 steals per game, 3.8 turnovers per game, .406 field goal percentage, .200 3-point percentage

2015 Season: 12.2 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 1.0 steals per game, 2.85 turnovers per game, .389 field goal percentage, .328 3-point percentage

The numbers do seem to give a fairly accurate depiction of how XRM’s responsibilities have changed for this year. Since he is no longer the first (and only) option on offense, his point total and per game averages have dropped. Some might look at the shooting percentage and question the efficiency with which XRM is scoring. This is where other factors like the 3-point percentage come in.

A markedly better shooting percentage from behind the arc has essentially made up for the lower numbers overall. XRM has attempted 63 3-point shots in the 2015 season so far — almost the same amount as the 67 that he attempted at this same time last year. Yet, he is shooting much better from this area and it shows up in more advanced measurements.

XRM’s true shooting percentage (which takes into account 2-point field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws) is up from from .512 last season to .522 so far this season. There is also a smaller increase in his effective field goal percentage, rising from .476 to .477 currently. The latter measurement recognizes that 3-point shots are worth more than 2-point shots.

Besides the scoring numbers however, XRM seems to have improved in ball distribution. His assists per game and turnovers per game have gone inverse ways. That type of improvement is exactly what you want to see from your point guard, especially one that has seen an influx of new talent. Often times, the younger players have issues creating their own shots and making the right decisions. XRM and his improved play from the position certainly help this.

To add on to the current numbers, something needs to be noted about win shares. In both offensive and defensive win shares, XRM has declined so far this season — down from 1.1 to .7 in defense and down from 1.4 to .8 in offense.

 

Yet at the same time, his win shares per 40 minutes has risen from .089 to .124 in an apparent contradiction to the former two numbers. Some of this might be linked to his usage rate. XRM had a 27.2 percent usage rate in 2014-2015 yet only has a 22.1 percent usage rate in 2015-2016.

His player efficiency rating (PER) has also risen from last season (15.6 to 16.1), which at least indicates that most numbers generally see him as having improved.

Part of this should be comforting for the more panic-stricken FSU basketball fans. A bad string of losses has many doubting the team’s ability and is provoking some to try and point fingers at certain players. Really, the current issues with the team are rooted in more than just a select couple of guys.

As far as XRM goes, he has become a more complete player this year. From assists to efficiency to turnovers and almost everything in between, he has helped Florida State to a 10-5 start. The current conference record is certainly not encouraging, but with players like XRM, that is sure to improve.

 

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