The Curious Case of Nick Faust

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

What do the stats say about Nick Faust's season so far?

Editorial note: Please welcome Leland Sampson, who will be doing some stats-based work for us.

It's not a new revelation that Nick Faust has had a rollercoaster season so far, especially considering the improvement he showed in his shooting late last season. In Maryland's 11 games this season, the junior has shot under 30% six times and over 40% four times, with just one game in between. Let's dig a little deeper into Faust's stats for the first section this season and compare them to the last 11 games of his sophomore season.

FG%

3Pt. %

FT%

Rebounds

Points

Assists

TO

Steals

Minutes

2012-2013

44%

42%

74%

4.5

13.1

1.7

2.9

.8

29.8

2013-2014

34%

23%

65%

3.7

9.8

2.3

2.1

1.5

32.6

Comparing Faust's last 11 games of last season to the first 11 games of this season, two conclusions are particularly striking: 1. Nick's shot is not working 2. He looks to be improving overall.

On the offensive end, Faust was an asset last year. He was shooting a high percentage in the paint, beyond the arc, and at the free throw line. Not so much this year. Especially from three, Faust's stats are cringeworthy. Based on his performance last year, he has the capability to make shots. His jump shot technique is by no means text book, but like Ekene Ibekwe's free throws from years ago, who cares what it looks like as long as it goes in?

While his offense is struggling, the stats say Faust is a more complete player this year and has actually improved many aspects of his game. Faust is averaging 0.6 more assists per game, 0.7 more steals per game, and 0.8 less turnovers per game. Nick is still good for at least one head scratching play per game, but he appears to be improving overall in the other areas of his play. Faust's rebounding average is down 0.8 per game, but that decline can be attributed to the fact he has to guard the opposing team's best guard each night. Mark Turgeon would likely rather Faust play shut down D on the opponent's best weapon than have him worry about boxing out.

Based on the traditional statistics, if Faust can rediscover his shooting stroke, he become a seriously dangerous offensive weapon, and a great compliment to Wells and Layman.

But are these statistics lying?

Let's take a peak at the advanced stats to see if they correlate. (Note, I could not find a breakdown of advanced stats over a period of time, so I will compare all of last season to this season)

PER

eFG%

TRB%

AST%

TOV%

STL%

ORtg

DRtg

WS/40

2012-2013

14.9

.475

8

18.7

19

2.2

101.7

96.7

.122

2013-2014

10.5

.393

7.1

13.7

17.2

3

92.6

98

.078

The advanced stats appear to tell a different story than the traditional stats. Faust's eFG% is predictably lower so far this year than last year, so that correlates okay, as do the improved numbers in steal percentage and turnover percentage. Rebounding percentage and assist percentage contradict earlier conclusions about his game, as his increased playing time seems to have skewed his total numbers a bit more favorably.

So what are we to make of this? One thing is for certain: Nick's shot isn't falling. Whether he is settling for too many jump shots, not making lay ups, or his poor technique is catching up to him, I'll leave that for the tacticians to debate. The rest of the picture is muddled. One thing is for certain -- Faust's offensive game certainly isn't progressing in the way Maryland fans may have hoped, and could even be regressing. With his defensive improvements and the emergence of Dez Wells, Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz as reliable offensive weapons, we will have to wait and see if that makes a difference come ACC time.

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