A closer look at his performance reveals contrasting stretches of games that provide insight into his skills and contributions to the team. Kavanagh’s best four-game stretch took place early, between February 15 and March 4, with games against Marquette, Cleveland State, Georgetown, and Maryland. His individual efficiency rating during this period was very solid, ranking in the 91st percentile. His performance during these games also saw him taking on a larger role as a distributor since he recorded nearly 16% of the team’s assists during this stretch.
In contrast, Kavanagh’s worst stretch (by efficiency anyway) occurred between May 13 and May 29, where the Fighting Irish faced Utah, Johns Hopkins, Virginia, and Duke. (And earned the program’s first national championship.) During this period, his individual efficiency dipped to the 37th percentile, and his share of the team’s assists fell to 11.1%. However, it’s noteworthy that despite these fluctuations in Kavanagh’s performance, the team’s record remained unblemished, with Notre Dame winning all games during both his best and worst stretches.
When comparing his best and worst stretches, shooting efficiency and assist rate stand out as significant factors. During his best stretch, Kavanagh boasted a 99th percentile shooting efficiency, compared to a 38th percentile during his worst stretch. Similarly, his assist rate was significantly higher in his better games, ranking in the 74th percentile compared to the 31st percentile in his less impressive performances. I actually think the assist rate here is the more interesting indicator, despite registering the smaller drop. I haven’t done enough research on this, but the hypothesis is that a player who is looking to create assists will take only good shots, which should increase both shooting efficiency and assist rate. Sometimes, you just need a guy to go get a goal, and a team full of players looking to pass won’t score. So it’s not to say that he should have passed more during his rough stretch, but you wonder if maybe a more well-rounded approach would have led to a higher efficiency number?
Despite these ups and downs, Chris Kavanagh’s performance remained reliable, with his ball security consistently ranking above the 80th percentile. And even though Kavanagh’s performance varied, the team’s success did not hinge on his individual contributions, indicating a well-rounded team not overly reliant on one player putting up high-efficiency performances. This balance within the team structure is a testament to the Fighting Irish’s strength and depth.
In conclusion, Chris Kavanagh’s 2023 season was marked by an increased role within the team, notable improvements in ball security, and a significant role in the team’s assists. Despite the differences in his performance during his best and worst stretches, Kavanagh’s overall contributions positioned him as a key player for Notre Dame.
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P.S. What did I miss? Data-centric analyses like this can miss things that don’t show up in the stats (i.e. injuries/coaching changes). If you can help explain any of the above, put it in the comments.