Kansas Basketball 2013-14: The Improvement of Perry Ellis in One Graph

Jamie Squire

Perry Ellis has been great this year. How great? This great.

When Perry Ellis played in his first game at Kansas - no wait, scratch that - When I saw Perry Ellis play in the McDonald's All American game I said that he might not be a Big 12 caliber athlete yet. His early play backed that up, as he struggled to finish at the basket, despite having a pretty good idea of how to get there. The light turned on a bit towards the end of the year, as he had a breakout game against Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament, and was probably Kansas's best player in their NCAA tournament loss to Michigan.

Coming into this year, Kansas fans were hoping for that step up in quality to be real, and not just a mirage. Four games is a small sample size, but I think we can safely say at the very least that Perry Ellis is a quality player. In fact, probably the only complaint we can have about Ellis is that he should shoot more, even though he takes the second most shots on the team amongst players who play more than 20 minutes per game. He's been that good. How good? Let's consult a pair of graphs.

The top image is Perry's shot locations both last year and this year. The bottom image is how well he has shot from each of those locations last year and this year. To navigate the graph, simply click the dot next to the year to see how his performance has shifted from last year to this year. If you want to see the exact percentages he's shooting, merely hover over a section of the pie chart.

As you can see, Ellis has done a much better job at getting to the rim this year (and this is discounting some of his hooks that are considered 2 point jumpers) and he's shooting at a ridiculous percentage at the rim. Some of it is him getting stronger, some of it is him adjusting to the speed of the game, but it's combined to make him a lethal offensive player. Also at the heart of it is Ellis has improved his jumper this year. Formwise, it looked good last year, but now that he's getting it to fall more consistently, defenses have to cheat up to take it away and he can drive right past them. He also, as I've noted numerous times, does about 90% of his work before he even catches the ball on most possessions, and he might be the best player in the country at establishing post position.

Honestly, even if we were nitpicking there isn't really anything we can pick on in his game. His offensive rebounding rate has gone down roughly 3%, and he's drawing basically the same number of fouls as he did last year even with the new rules, but the guy has an eFG of almost 71%, so I think we can give him a pass. The jury might be out on Ellis's NBA future, but he's a great college player and is careening towards one of the best seasons -and potentially careers - in Kansas history.

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