For the second consecutive year, Louisville's Russ Smith won the KenPom.com Player of the Year (kPOY) Award for the 2013-14 men's college basketball season, and now we're looking ahead to try to determine the 20 most likely candidates to win the award in 2014-15.
In attempting to simplify Pomeroy's complex (and top-secret) formula for the kPOY standings, we noticed a handful of common threads among top-10 finishers:
- Player was used on at least 25 percent of possessions when on the floor and was responsible for at least 25 percent of field-goal attempts taken when on the floor.
- More often than not, player was on the court for more than 30 minutes per game.
- Player attempted a minimum of 170 free throws (roughly five per game) throughout the season.
- Player had an O-rating of at least 110.
- And, player was on a team that ranked in the top 25 according to Pomeroy's pythagorean formula.
Since the kPOY's inception in 2011, there has yet to be a player who finished in the top nine while playing for a team that finished outside the top 25. As Pomeroy wrote when he first formulated the award, "There’s enough team influence such that it’s hard to win the award if your team is not in the top 10 and nearly impossible if it’s not in the top 20."
Based on those criteria, we're looking for players who will take and make a lot of shots while doing a few other helpful things—be it assisting, rebounding or defending—for teams that will be a legitimate threat to cut down the nets next April.
Big emphasis on projected team success, because if there's one important and wonderful thing that separates the kPOY from all other Player of the Year awards, it's that Pomeroy's award does include games played in the NCAA tournament.
Though there have been two players from the same team in the top 10 in three of the last four years—most recently, Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae from Tennessee—we limited ourselves to just one player per team on this list.
Forced to pick which team is most likely to double dip in the kPOY this year, I'd say it's a toss-up between Duke (Rasheed Sulaimon and Jahlil Okafor) and Wisconsin (Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky), even though none of those guys appears in the projected top five.