Boban Marjanovic Is an Advanced Stat Superstar
On last night's telecast of the San Antonio Spurs-Houston Rockets game, the commentators spoke of Spurs center Boban Marjanovic as the newest cult-like sensation to hit the NBA.
Whether or not you think that's actually a thing is up to you, but if there's one thing I do know it's that Boban -- in his 8.6 minutes per game -- is actually a good NBA player.
From watching him play, he looks like he knows what he's doing and he puts his insane size to use. If that was all we looked at, though, Boban would be just another solid NBA big -- but it's not.
The numbers suggest that Boban is a really good player. How good?
After seeing him go off for another 13 points and 10 boards in a mere 17 minutes last night, I conducted a search using Basketball-Reference.com's Season Finder feature, in which I searched for players who have played in at least 20 games, scored 5 or more points per game and have a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of at least 25 this season.
Which one isn't like the others?
Boban's name sticks out about as much as he and his hands would at a rock concert.
That's right. Every other player will be a starter in this year's NBA All-Star Game. And without the support of any more numbers or even a second thought, those are the five best players in the entire league.
And then there's Boban.
While his inferior nERD is indicative of his lack of playing time behind the likes of Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Boris Diaw and David West, the other numbers tell you just how great he's been when he has hit the floor.
Of the above superstars, he ranks first in Win Shares per 48 minutes and second to none other than the reigning MVP himself -- Stephen Curry -- in both Effective Field Goal Percentage and PER. And according to NBAWowy.com, on a per-possession basis, he's been better than James, Durant and Westbrook, accounting for 1.26 points per possession.
With such limited playing time, he definitely doesn't produce as much as the others, but if given the playing time, we can see that he'd likely put up some pretty gaudy numbers. His 25.2 points and 15.3 rebounds per game are sixth and second, respectively, among all qualifying NBA players.
What's the method to his madness?
To quote Happy Gilmore, he just "put[s] the ball in the hole." And when the average distance of your field goal attempts (4.5 feet) is nearly three feet shorter than you are, it really isn't that hard of a skill to master. Nonetheless, Boban knows where to get the ball and what to do with it when he does.
He takes 49% of his shot attempts from inside three feet and converts on 77.6% of those attempts. If he moves out to three to 10 feet, he's hitting on 47.1% of his shots. Even if he slides out to 10 to 16 feet -- where he's taken just 12 shots on the season -- he's converting at a rate of 41.7%.
How do you stop this guy? I'm not sure anyone in the NBA knows that quite yet. Luckily for them, they don't have to. But maybe they should start thinking about it, because the more Boban gets to sit, the more he gets to watch Duncan do what has made him a future Hall-of-Famer.
For now, we'll all sit and watch, right along with Boban, in anticipation of what the future holds. Until then, Boban will continue to be exactly what he is -- an advanced stat megastar.