Every fan loves a good game of “What If?” What if my team would have signed that star recruit in the offseason? What if that kicker wouldn’t have missed a 15 yard field goal in overtime? What if coach would have called a timeout with 10 seconds left instead of letting the backup power forward chuck up a three?
For Carolina Basketball this season, Heels fans find themselves saying “What If” more often than not. What if PJ Hairston hadn’t screwed up this summer? Same question for Leslie McDonald? What if Reggie Bullock wouldn’t have left this summer? What about if the Tar Heels had pulled in Canadian recruit Andrew Wiggins? Or, a more recent question, what if the Tar Heels could have hit some free throws this season?
Keeping It Heel is going to take its best shot at some of these very tricky questions over the next couple days in somewhat chronological order. Check back over the course of the next week for more answers to some UNC Basketball “What If?” questions. Sound off in the comments if you have any questions you wanted answered! Also, join the discussion in the comments about our questions. What do you think would have happened? Here we go!
What if Reggie Bullock Had Came Back for His Senior Season?
Last April, former North Carolina guard Reggie Bullock decided to forgo his senior season in Chapel Hill to head for the NBA Draft. After being selected in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, Reggie has struggled to crack the rotation in Los Angeles. He is averaging 2.6 points, 1.3 rebounds, and has only played in 18 games.
The question here is how would have things turned out differently if Bullock had returned to UNC this season. One condition to keep in mind here- Don’t worry about the effect his return would have had on his draft stock, just on the 2013-2014 UNC Basketball team. Lets take a stab at this one.
For starters, Reggie would have easily started in the place of JP Tokoto or Nate Britt and added a really helpful punch from the three point line. Reggie shot 43.6% from three in the 2012-2013 season, so he would have stretched the floor for the Heels big men nicely.
Reggie Bullock also played around 30 minutes per game last season, so adding his minutes into the rotation would take a chunk of playing time from JP Tokoto and Natt Britt. There is a chance that this would have stunted the growth of Britt and Tokoto, but the counterargument would say that Tokoto and Nate haven’t made any progress regardless. Also, playing limited minutes might have helped the two young wingers improve without pressure to shoulder a large scoring load.
But lets get into the nitty gritty- how many wins better might have UNC been with Reggie in the lineup? This one is tough, but my guess is 3-4 wins better, not counting better scoring margins in all the games. Bullock had a 5.8 Win Share last season, highest on the team. Check out this really great link from basketball-reference.com if you don’t know what Win Shares are, but basically the stat measures the value of a basketball player on the court, with one win share equaling one win.
Reggie’s 5.8 win share also fares significantly better than JP Tokoto’s and Natt Britt’s win share numbers for this season. Britt and Tokoto have combined for a 2.1 Win Share this season, or about the same value as James Michael McAdoo. That doesn’t correlate out for the entire season however, but when you look at the Win Shares per 40 minutes numbers, they still aren’t very good. Tokoto and Britt combined have a .172 per 40 minutes Win Share stat, way less than Reggie Bullock’s .210 per 40 minute numbers from last season.
Bullock also grades out better offensively than the dynamic duo of Britt and Tokoto. Reggie’s advanced offensive stats were very good, with a 23.7 PER rating and 4.1 Offensive Win Shares. Bullock’s two replacements have combined for a 11.75 PER and 0.2 Offensive Win Shares. In other words, Bullock is significantly better than Britt and Tokoto combined offensively, and would have helped the team to 3 or 4 more wins so far this season going on advanced stats alone.
We can sum up this what if with a couple of simple numbers. North Carolina is shooting 30.4% from three and just over 60% from the free throw line this season. Last year, Reggie Bullock shot over 10 percentage points better from three and over 15 percentage points better from the charity stripe. Bullock would have been a really big help to UNC’s offense this season, and the Heels probably wouldn’t have lost to Belmont or UAB with a healthy Bullock in the lineup, or limped to a 1-4 start in the ACC with him in Carolina Blue.
All stats from sports-reference.com unless otherwise noted.