(February 9th) Mark Armstrong, since his run up to above average efficiency, has struggled with consistency. He went from the 60th percentile of true shooting last week to the 40th, in part due to games of 1/7, 5/18, 2/13, and 1/8. We’re not saying that’s a good thing by any means, but every scorer goes through droughts. What’s really important is that Armstrong has continued to improve his defense and assists during that stretch, meaning that he’s showing good ability to provide value even when he’s struggling to score.
(January 24th) In the period from the prior profile to this one, Mark Armstrong has shot 52.6% from the three point line. That, though nice, is not the most encouraging thing we’ve seen in recent weeks. The far more important thing is how his role has grown – it never made sense that a guy who was just the best scorer on a team at the FIBA level was getting minimal shots and minutes. Armstrong played 24 minutes per game over the period in question, up from the 18 he was playing before, and that’s in spite of a UConn game where they really could’ve used him for more minutes but he was hampered by foul issues. On top of that, Armstrong was up to 9.1 shots per game during that period, which, you may note, is more than he had attempted in a single game before this period. In other words, Armstrong has finally been given a role commensurate with his elite level scoring abilities, and it’s starting to pay dividends, even if it’s not yet all the way to his full ability.
(December 14th) While Armstrong has seen slight decreases in his numbers relative to the prior period, all of those are fairly small in the grand scheme of things. The difference in the 80th percentile of true shooting and the 70th percentile is not something that a good week can’t overturn. The real concern is that Armstrong dropped from 22 minutes per game – already unreasonably low for a player of his caliber – to 18. Armstrong isn’t even playing half of the game at this point, harkening back to the insanity of last year when he was losing minutes based on his last name. Overall, the clumsy roster fit is now starting to directly take Armstrong’s minutes away even though his actual production has barely changed at all.
(November 30th) Nowhere has the slightly clumsy fit of the Villanova roster been as clear as in how it’s impacted Mark Armstrong. Despite appearing to improve in the tape and having spent the summer with USA Basketball, his role has barely expanded from the inappropriately small one he had last year. Armstrong has shown the ability to score effectively in FIBA competition with even better teammates than this talented Villanova team, and yet he’s getting sidelined here. There are still positives for Armstrong. True shooting in the 80th percentile is certainly encouraging, and is a big step up from last year. He is also defending well despite his block and steal rates both hovering a little below average. The core problem is just that his role at Villanova simply doesn’t make sense, and until it does, he can only play that role to the best of his ability.