With Josh Selby about to make his debut on Saturday, perhaps the most heralded Freshman debut since November 13th, 1998, I thought it would be nice to take a look at how the team and its players have performed, and how that might change with the arrival of Josh Selby.
The Jayhawks currently lead the nation in raw offensive efficiency, meaning if you only looked at how many points they scored per possession (or, how KenPom compiles it, per 100 possessions) they are the best offense in the country. If you take their adjusted efficiency, basically making a strength of schedule adjustment, Kansas is still the 3rd best offense in America. While many people on here, myself included, have worried a bit about the defense so far this year, Kansas is 2nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. Not too shabby (though there are some concerns: Kansas is only 30th in 2 point defense, which is a much more stable indicator than three point defense, where the Jayhawks are currently cleaning up.)
The biggest problem for Kansas right now comes at the free throw line. That is both good and bad news. It's bad news that they can't make a freaking shot (seriously, it is a 15 foot shot. I used to shoot 100 per day back when I was serious about basketball and on many a occasion made all 100. I should just walk on to the team to shoot the clinching freethrows) but, rant aside, it's nice that their biggest problem is in an area that doesn't come back to bite you too often. Obviously as KU fans we will always remember how free throw woes helped us win the 08 title, but it doesn't always work that way. Interestingly, though Kansas is shooting incredibly well from three (40.5%, 21st best in the country, 8th best in a major conference and best in the Big 12), they don't really take a lot of them (253rd). Of course, Kansas also has the best 2 point percentage in the entire country (62.2%) and the best eFG (you can see a good explanation here), so I would say they have found a nice mix. I don't really expect Marcus Morris is really a 52% three point shooter, Tyshawn is a 44% three point shooter, Releford is a 44% three point shooter, and so on. To borrow an analogy from Moneyball it's like when you walk into the casino, hit it big at the craps table (or maybe it is roulette, it's been awhile since I've read the book) and you just walk away. Sure you could win more money (or in this case, make a ton more threes) but odds are you're going to start losing because the odds are against you.
More tidbits after the jump in handy bullet form
- This really goes without saying, but Marcus Morris is good. Really good. He is shooting a ridiculous .671/.526/.596 (2pt/3pt/FT), and if I had waited a year to do Kansas's best offensive seasons of the millenium post, Jeff Boschee wouldn't have been #1. He's been doing a bit of everything else: rebounding, passing, drawing fouls, but his main weapon is his ability to score at an amazingly efficient level.
- Markieff is holding his own in that regard as well, shooting 59% from two. He is also one of the best rebounders in the whole country. In fact, among players who have played 40% of their team's minutes, Kieffer is the 4th best defensive rebounder in America. Pretty much the only thing limiting him is his fouls. He is playing in only 53% of the team's minutes because of them.
- If the Morris brothers have been holding it down inside, Tyshawn Taylor has been doing it from the outside. He has been shooting is really really well (.596/.444/.667) and is assisting at a very high rate (34%), while holding his turnovers at a steady rate (not low by any means, but low when considering that he is by far the primary ballhandler). Selby is going to play off the ball quite a bit to start, and Tyshawn's play is why.
- Danny Manning has done it again. First it was Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson, then Cole Aldrich, then the Morrii, and now Thomas Robinson. He's played in under half the team's minutes, but among players with at least 40% minutes played, Robinson is the 10th best offensive rebounder and 68th best defensive rebounder in the country. His offensive game isn't incredibly polished yet, but he is drawing a lot of fouls (make your free throws!) and has shown an improved propensity to score around the basket.
- Tyrel Reed is starting to shoot more threes, and is starting to get his percentage up there. While his end of season numbers might not be phenomenal, his numbers from now (or after the first couple games of the year) to the end of the season will likely be great. He also has made every free throw he has taken this year, so I know who we should give the ball to at the end of games. I'll be interested to see how Selby affects Reed the most, as if defenders help off Reed to stop Selby from getting to the hoop, Reed should benefit from a lot of open looks.