After an offseason of defections, Maryland finally added a player to their roster last week when North Carolina A&T transfer Richaud Pack committed to play his final collegiate season in College Park.
We knew they needed to add a veteran guard to a back court comprised of two (or three if you want to include Jared Nickens) freshmen and Dez Wells, but most thought they'd target a "true" point guard to back up Melo Trimble. Pack brings a lot to the table, but he is not that. What is Pack as a player? Let's take a look.
Pack played three seasons of Division I basketball, two at Florida International and one at NC A&T, but we will only focus on the latter because he played just 158 total minutes at FIU. This past season at A&T, the 6'3" Detroit native averaged 17 points, 1.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds on 44.1% shooting, including 38.2% from three.
All of the above are excellent for any Division I guard, but where Pack really shines is when we delve into his advanced stats. In short, he was one of the more efficient guards in college basketball last season. His offensive rating -- which we've discussed before is the projected number of points a player would produce in 100 offensive possessions -- of 126.8 would have been by far the best on Maryland's roster last season, whose leader was Seth Allen at 113.7. Pack, by the way, put up those numbers with a usage percentage less than Allen's (22.8% versus 25%), meaning he took up less of his team's possessions.
Who else is Maryland targeting?
Who else is Maryland targeting?
One reason for Pack's efficiency is that a whooping 89.7% of his shots were either at the rim or from behind the three point line, according to Hoop-Math.com. His eFG% (effective field goal percentage, which takes into account that threes are worth more than two-point shots) of 53.1% would have been the second-best at Maryland last year, behind Shaq Cleare (56.5%) and ahead of Allen (51.8%). His TS% (true shooting percentage, which also includes free throws) would have been the best on the Terps last season, at 61.7% over Wells' leading 58.4%. Pack had an assist percentage of 13.2%, comparable to Nick Faust's 14.5% and far below Allen's of 21.5%. His turnover percentage of 11.1% bests all 2013-2014 Maryland guards (Allen's was 12.2) and falls only behind Jake Layman for best on the team (9.5%). Finally, his PER (player efficiency rating) of 21 would have topped Maryland's roster. The two next highest were Wells (20) and Allen (17). All of the above numbers are courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
That's a lot of information to digest, so let me explain what picture they paint of Pack as a player (say that 10 times fast). The percentages of shots at the rim and from three combined with his eFG% tell us that he's a very smart player that understands the difference between good and bad shots. For the uninitiated: shots around the rim are good, threes are better -- if you can hit them consistently -- and mid-range shots are bad (read: inefficient). Pack plays like a stat-nerd's dream guard.
Obviously a big knock on all of these numbers is that they are mostly coming against poor competition in the MEAC. While this is technically true, smart play is smart play regardless of conference. That said, it is tougher to make good decisions when going up against a team the likes of Michigan State or Wisconsin rather than Morgan State or Florida A&M. How he translates remains to be seen.
What we have no evidence of is Pack's ability to run an offense. When compared to Seth Allen, the player who's role he's most likely to replace, about the only statistics he doesn't best Allen in are assist related. In interviews given to the Baltimore Sun after his commitment, Pack said that he would be okay with playing whatever role was asked of him, even the point.
"If I need to, I definitely can," Pack said. "I’m comfortable bringing the ball up, bringing it up in transition. We talked about that, if he [Turgeon] needs me to do it I can do it."
In the same article, Coach Turgeon said that he plans to use Pack "exclusively" at his natural wing position.
As a related aside, I'm of the opinion that if Trimble achieves the potential many see in him at point guard, Pack filling the five or six minutes per half he sits are not that big of a deal. Few teams have true, reliable back-up point guards and the offense Maryland is looking to run can de-emphasize the importance of a point. When Trimble isn't on the court, they can run more "iso" sets, especially for Wells. The term "iso" has become dirty in basketball parlance, but it can still be very effective if used correctly and in moderation. The "Second-Half Dez" phenomenon of many games last season was a result of such usage. A combination of Wells, Pack and the motion offense should be enough to spell Trimble for 10-15 minutes. If Trimble isn't good enough to play that much...well...none of this really matters anyway.
Bottom line: If Maryland can get overall good guard play, they can get away with only having one "point guard". The addition of a smart, veteran player like Pack could go a long way to achieving that goal.