Carolina hoops is three games into the Hubert Davis era. While the sample size of games is tiny, fans are hungry to find the differences after 18 seasons with Roy Williams as the head coach.
The distribution of minutes points to a much tighter rotation. There is more than one kind of comparsion to be made, and with a three game sample size, let’s compare the minutes distribution of the top-nine rotation players from the first three games last season to the first three games this season.
|Carolina: Percentage of minutes played through first three games|
|This compares the small sample size of the first three games and the percentage of minutes played.|
|Last Season (first 3 games)||This Season (first 3 games)|
|Player||Minutes %||Player||Minutes %|
|Caleb Love||Caleb Love|
|Leaky Black||Brady Manek|
|RJ Davis||RJ Davis|
|Garrison Brooks||Armando Bacot|
|Armando Bacot||Leaky Black|
|Day'Ron Sharpe||Kerwin Walton|
|Andrew Platek||Dawson Garcia|
|Kerwin Walton||Justin McKoy|
|Walker Kessler||Anthony Harris|
|table by @dadgumboxscores|
Through three games last season, five players were on the court for at least 50 percent of possible minutes.
Seven players have been on the court for at least 50 percent of possible minutes.
Carolina has predominatly used seven lineups across this combination of seven players this season. Only one lineup has played at least 10 percent of the possible minutes together this season. The Heels have played 30 lineups in three games.
|Carolina: Most frequent lineups|
|Through three games of the 2021-22 season sorted by percentage of minutes played.|
|% of Minutes|
|@dadgumboxscores | data via kenpom.com | hoopR|
So, what’s to make of the tighter rotation?
A lot of assumptions can be made, including:
- new head coach wants to win
- COVID year limited continuity
- seven new players added to roster, including three transfers
- players spend less time in college
- NIL and new transfer rules
Any explanation that isn’t the head coach is playing the best players feels overcomplicated.
If it feels that simple, it might be that simple.
The seven players that have played the most amount of minutes give Carolina the best chance to win. And while the Heels are 0-3 against the spread, the team has won all three games its played.
Hubert Davis has shared the starting lineup is based off defensive grades. An attempt to incentivize better defense for a team that might struggle on that end of the court. Whether a player starts or not, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re playing more minutes.
Leaky Black has won the defensive player of the game of the award each time its been given this season (Wanda won it for the Brown game), and Black has started all three games.
Not sure there is a more polarizing player amonst the fanbase than Leaky Black in recent Carolina history. Despite starting every game, Black has played ~61 percent of possible minutes this season. Last season, Black played ~71 percent of possible minutes through the first three games.
Kerwin Walton has yet to start a game this season. Walton’s played ~59 percent of possible minutes this season or just about the exact same as Black. It’s 73 total minutes to 71 total minutes.
Caleb Love has played 101 of a possible 120 minutes so far this season. The 84.2 percent of possible minutes is quite high. If we extend the comparsion to past full seasons of the Roy Williams Era, only nine other players have been on the court for 80 percent or more of possible minutes.
|Carolina: Highest percentage of minutes played|
|Caleb Love's numbers are only through three games of the 2021-22 season|
Joel Berry II
|@dadgumboxscores | data via goheels.com|
Only three games played.
So yes, the rotation is tighter compared to last season. But any sort of conclusion after a three game sample size feels dangerous.