With our final stop on the preseason countdown, Jordan Nwora is ACCBR’s top returning player in the ACC for the 2019-20 season. Last season’s #19 returning player became one of the premier talents in the league in 2018-19, surpassing everyone’s expectations on his way to being one of the biggest breakout stars in the country. The 6’7 New York native was voted the ACC’s Most Improved Player in 2018-19, averaging 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in his sophomore campaign.
Typically, when I predict a player to breakout, I will use the per 40 numbers to forecast their production when a heavy boost in minutes is on the horizon. If a player is expected to go from around 12-15 minutes to game to 30+, I have found that to be a good indicator of what to expect. Of course, I try to factor in some sort of regression in efficiency simply due to opportunity, fatigue etc.
In the table below, you’ll see Nwora’s per 40 numbers from 2017-18 when he played 12 minutes per game as well his actual statistics from last season when he played roughly 32 minutes per game. The percentages are what he actually shot during both seasons.
|Per 40 2017-18||18.9||7.4||1.3||46.4||57.6||43.9||76.9|
The fact that, for the most part, he maintained roughly the same shooting percentages despite logging more than triple the minutes played and hoisting up 4x as many shots is incredible. Of course, it helps that we have seen Chris Mack flourish with a forward of Nwora’s skills before. When Coach Mack boasted Trevon Bluiett at Xavier, the Musketeers went 104-40 in four seasons and Trevon became one of the top scorers in Big East history. Nwora seems to be enjoying similar rewards, as last season he became only the second player at Louisville since 1992-93 to record 550 points and 250 rebounds in a season.
Looking ahead to this season, Louisville is not going to sneak up on anyone. The Cardinals are #2 in my Preseason Top 25, and considered by most as one of the top national championship contenders in the country. Jordan is a popular selection as the ACC Player of the Year and Coach Chris Mack as the ACC Coach of the Year.
It will be interesting to see how Nwora improves this season, or if last season’s numbers are his ceiling. Given the depth of the Louisville roster, the team shouldn’t need him to be a 20+ point per game guy, but if he continues to grow as a player, we may be looking at just that. I could certainly see him maintaining his counting statistics while becoming more efficient, though his percentages are already very solid.
As always, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I for one am ready to get it started…