Junior Reggie Bullock scored 22 points in North Carolina's ACC season-opening loss to Virginia.
Saying that sophomore James Michael McAdoo and junior Reggie Bullock are important to the North Carolina Tar Heels is a no-brainer--of course they are.
However, deciphering which one is the more valuable, can't-live-without-presence is a daunting task.
Value can be determined by a multitude of factors. For instance, overall value could encompass what the player could potentially bring to the table: McAdoo can give two more years to the Heels, while Bullock has just one remaining.
Does that make McAdoo more valuable? Does his two-year star potential outweigh Bullock's stock?
Bullock scored a season-high 22 points in North Carolina's 61-52 ACC season-opening loss to Virginia. He played 32 minutes, shooting a healthy 7-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from three-point range.
Without Bullock, obviously, the loss would have been by much more than nine points. He's scored at least 17 points in four of his past six games. He's important.
McAdoo, though, scored just 10 points in the loss. He leads North Carolina in scoring with 14.5 points per night, but he couldn't match Bullock's pace Jan. 6 against Virginia, despite playing just two less minutes.
He shot 4-of-9, but he had seven rebounds and a steal. McAdoo provides second-chance opportunities, and that certainly counts when gauging a player's value.
We'll look at advanced stats courtesy of StatSheet before crowning one or the other, comparing vital metrics that directly measure just how important both underclassmen are to North Carolina.
James Michael McAdoo's scoring is down from the start of the season.
McAdoo burst in the door this year with 26 points.
However, his point totals have long since decreased since the season-opening win and subsequent scoring spree against Gardner-Webb.
He leads the Heels with 14.5 points per game. However, he's averaging just 12 per night in each of his past four outings.
That's not a drastic, game-changing decrease, but it's a stat to keep an eye on as the Heels trudge through their ACC schedule.
We'll include minutes played in this slide, as points and minutes go hand-and-hand. Obviously the idea is for points to increase due to an increase in minutes. McAdoo is averaging about a minute more per game now than he did a month ago.
Again, not a huge factor.
Going from 28.7 minutes to 27.7 is a normal fluctuation. But it's worth paying attention as the season progresses. McAdoo's overall value will take a hit if point and minute totals take a dive.
Reggie Bullock's scoring is on a slow, steady climb.
Perhaps Bullock's scoring trend appears better than McAdoo's because of one factor: He scored just five points in North Carolina's season-opener. McAdoo scored 26.
The only way Bullock could go was up, while McAdoo faced much more challenging circumstances—keeping a level line after scoring 26 is incredibly difficult.
But because we looked at McAdoo's past four games, it's only logical to do the same when analyzing Bullock.
A month ago, Bullock averaged 12 points per game. Because of a 17-point-or-more streak in four of his past six games, Bullock's average now sits at about 13.8 points per game.
Bullock's minutes are nearly the same now as they were a month ago, but his scoring is up nearly two points.
Score one for Bullock in face-value production, a simple look at minutes versus points.
North Carolina sophomore James Michael McAdoo gets touches.
McAdoo gets the ball.
That's evident by his 26.7 possession percentage, the fifth-highest in the ACC.
Simply put, the metric measures by percent how often a player has the ball during an offensive set.
Confidence in McAdoo's ability is high in Chapel Hill. He's a skilled 6'9" forward with a strong burst to the rim—it's only natural that the Heels feed him the ball often.
Now, let's add another stat to complement possession percentage: McAdoo has a 49 percent true shooting percentage, which encapsulates free throws, three-pointers, layups and jump shots.
The ball is safe with McAdoo.
Reggie Bullock is a key piece to North Carolina's offense.
Bullock handles the ball a lot, but not as much as McAdoo.
However, Bullock is a bit more efficient when looking at possession percentage and true shooting percentage.
The junior consumes 18 percent of each offensive possession compared to McAdoo's rate of 26.7, but McAdoo's true shooting percentage is 49 percent compared to Bullock's 66.3.
The difference in touches makes sense. North Carolina funnels the ball to McAdoo because of his post skills. Bullock is more of a shooter. The post feed sets up the shot or results in a layup or trip to the foul line.
Maybe you're left in the middle, forced to pick and choose after judging a few advanced stats. Some college pundits put a wealth of stock in the metrics, swearing by their accuracy and spot-on assessments.
Others, though, aren't wholeheartedly supporting all of those crazy SABR numbers.
If there is one to really consider, it's the next stat that we'll compare.
James Michael McAdoo is relatively effective when compared to similar players.
Still aren't sure what to make of all the stats about stats?
Well, here's a little help. We'll look at the consensus definition of an important stat, one that can really strengthen or destroy the "most valuable" argument for either McAdoo or Bullock: offensive rating.
The stat is defined by Basketball Reference as this:
ORtg: Offensive Rating = Individual points produced / individual possessions used. Along with %Poss, ORtg is vital to assessing a player's offensive productivity. Because it effectively combines TS%, OR%, AsR, and ToR into one metric, it is the ultimate measure of a player's offensive efficiency. That's not to say every player with a high ORtg is better than ones with lower ORtgs, though (see skill curves).
The "ultimate measure of a player's offensive efficiency," an end-all set of numbers that gives a clear-cut way to decide who's better?
The previous stats weighed were helpful. Bullock does a little more with a little less time. He sinks a better percentage of every type of shot, too.
McAdoo touches the ball more; he's an undeniable go-to option for North Carolina.
But if the offensive rating is the gold standard, then Bullock has to have the edge over McAdoo, earning the title of "most valuable/most important."
Follow Bleacher Report's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81