In 2019-20, Davide Moretti carried a heavier load than ever for the Texas Tech basketball team and had some terrific all-around performances.
At first glance, Davide Moretti’s junior season might seem like a regression from where he was as a sophomore. But when we put the picture in its proper frame, we might view it differently.
In terms of pure stats, the 6-foot-3 guard saw his numbers across most of the spectrum take a bit of a dip. In fact, in some regards, his numbers were down significantly.
Averaging a career-high 34.1 minutes per game, his scoring rose to an average of 13 points per game. That too was a career-high but up just 1.5 points from his 2018-19 average.
Most fans point to Moretti’s drop in shooting percentage as the biggest sign that he was not as good this season as he was when helping the Red Raiders reach the National Title Game last year. His field goal percentage fell from 49.8% to 41.9% and his 3-point shooting took a noticeable hit as it fell from 45.9% to 38.3%.
What’s more, his assists were slightly down (2.4 last season to 2.3 this season) and his rebounds fell from 2.1 per game to 1.7. Also, his turnovers rose to 2.0 per game, up from 1.3.
So why would anyone argue that his 2019-20 season was not a disappointing step backward? The answer lies in one advanced statistic.
To understand how much a team asks of an individual player, we need to look at something called usage rate. That is a measure of what percentage of a team’s possessions end with a player either taking a shot, turning the ball over, or assisting on a basket or missed shot when that player is on the floor.
This season, Moretti’s usage rate was at an all-time high of 19.7%. That was 2.5% more than his freshman year and 3.4% more than last season’s rate.
In other words, a significantly higher portion of this year’s offense ran through Moretti. That’s because there was no All-American on the roster to run the show and draw the focus of opposing teams as was the case in each of the previous two years of his career.
Still, even with those players gone, Moretti did not lead Tech in usage this season. That was Jahmi’us Ramsey at 26.2%.
But keep in mind that the vast majority of Ramsey’s usage came from shooting the ball. The freshman took 26 more shots this year than Moretti and 24 more than any other player on the team. Meanwhile, he was only fourth on the team in assists, ten short of Moretti at just 60.
So that meant that Chris Beard needed Moretti to take up the slack in areas of the game that aren’t necessarily is forte, ball handling and distribution. Consider that Culver averaged 3.7 assists per game in 2018-19 and Evans 3.2 the year before while Ramsey averaged just 2.2 this year and you can see that the team had to get assists from other players this year because the highest-usage player on the roster was essentially a high-volume shooter.
While Chris Clarke was far and away the Red Raiders’ top assist man at 4.6 per game, he wasn’t on the floor nearly as much as Moretti or Kyler Edwards. Thus, those two players, who are both best when being used as off-ball offensive weapons, had to expand their game and be facilitators to a greater degree than they would ideally be asked to.
Additionally, with Ramsey being a much easier player to guard than Culver or Evans because he was not a danger to drive and create for others nearly as often, teams could dedicate more of their defensive plans around taking Moretti (and Edwards) out of their natural games as they didn’t feel the need to sag off of either in order to help keep Ramsey out of the lane. All of these factors brought to fruition a scenario where Moretti was needed to be what he really is not equipped to be, a star in every aspect of the game.
It’s not a knock on Moretti to suggest that he isn’t built to be that type of player. Few are. The reality is that he’s the perfect complimentary piece to a star who can be the focus of the defense. But without a Batman to allow him to be Robin, Moretti isn’t going to be effective as he can ultimately be and that was the case in 2019-20.
Still, Moretti had a very good season and put up some standout performances. Let’s look at his five best games and see what they reveal about Tech’s most popular player.