Make the Case: 2015 ACC Player of the Year Candidates

Max Skinner, Special to

After reading through Skinner's take on the top five candidates, vote for your favorite below.

The ACC basketball season is just a little over halfway done, and boy what a season it has been! The ACC features 4 Hall of Fame coaches, 5 teams currently ranked in the top 25, and a slew of incredibly talented players.

With so many quality players, it is very difficult to narrow down a list of candidates for ACC player of the year. Well, we gave it a shot. Through advanced statistical analysis (glossary located at bottom), here are the top 5 potential candidates for ACC Player of the Year.

Jahlil Okafor has already made quite a name for himself in his first year on campus at Duke. At only 19-years-old, Okafor is second in the entire nation in PER (player efficiency rating). He leads the ACC in shooting percentage (65%), is second in scoring and third in rebounding. He also leads the conference in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), and he is second in true shooting percentage (TS%).


Okafor’s size, coordination, footwork, massive hands, soft touch, natural instincts and sheer talent make him a viable option to go #1 in the 2015 NBA Draft. This freshmen phenom may take home a bevy of national awards by season’s end.

After missing the majority of last season, Jerian Grant has returned to Notre Dame with a bang. Not only has Grant’s presence catapulted the Fighting Irish into ACC title contention, the 6-5 senior guard also finds himself in the middle of the ACC player of the year race.

He has played the most minutes out of anybody in the ACC, and leads the conference in assists per game. Grant also leads the entire nation in win shares. In the ACC, he ranks second in assist percentage, third in offensive rating, and fifth in player efficiency rating and true shooting percentage.

Many NBA scouts consider Jerian Grant to be the best true point guard in the nation. Grant’s size and offensive prowess make him stand out. If Notre Dame can stay the course, look for Jerian Grant to challenge Okafor for ACC Player of the Year.

 Justin Anderson has been the glue that holds Virginia together. Anderson went from winning ACC Sixth Man of the Year in 2013-14 to exploding on the offensive scene this season. He improved his shooting during the offseason and currently leads the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage at 50%. Anderson also leads the conference in offensive rating, is second in true shooting percentage, third in effective field goal percentage, and fourth in win shares.

This 6-6 athletic freak from Montrose Christian High School has all the intangibles to make a name for himself at the next level. If #3 Virginia wins the ACC, Anderson could have a strong chance to take home this prestigious award.

Rakeem Christmas is a physical specimen, and he is statistically worthy of this award. The numbers pretty much speak for themselves, as Christmas is nearly averaging a double-double. Christmas ranks fourth in the ACC in PER, third in Win Shares and second in block percentage.

If it weren’t for his team’s surprisingly mediocre record, Rakeem Christmas would be near the top of this list. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to witness the greatness of Rakeem Christmas in tournament play. We’ll just have to appreciate the remaining games he has left.

One name on this list that might surprise some people is Louisville sophomore, Terry Rozier. On a team that features some big-time experienced players, Rozier is a scoring machine.

Not only does Rozier lead the ACC in points per game, the 6-1 guard also does it on the defensive side. Rozier is second in the conference in steals per game, and he is also second in win shares. Rozier ranks fourth in the ACC in usage percentage as well.

The 20-year-old rebounds relatively well for his size. It’s a long shot that Rozier will win Player of the Year, but statistically speaking, he deserves to be considered.



Advanced Statistics Glossary

USG: Usage Rate - the number of possessions a player uses per 40 minutes. Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + TO] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)

PER: Player Efficiency Rating is the overall rating of a player's per-minute statistical production. The league average is 15.00 every season.

Effective field goal percentage (eFG%): Same as regular field goal percentage, except that made three-pointers are appropriately given 50% more credit.

True shooting percentage (TS%): This is Gasaway’s old PPWS divided by 2. It’s like eFG%, but throws in trips to the line and converts it to a shooting percentage that approximates what 2-point percentage a player would need to have to score the points he produces on all of his shooting attempts.

Assist Rate (ARate): This is assists divided by the field goals made by the player’s teammates while he is on the court.

Percentage of possessions used (%Poss): A measure of personal possessions used while the player is on the court. Simply assigns credit or blame to a player when his actions end a possession, either by making a shot, missing a shot that isn’t rebounded by the offense, or committing a turnover.

*NBA Projections according to these sources