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Exploring Backup Point Guard Options

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With Devonte Graham set to miss at least four weeks, and potentially the rest of the season, Kansas is in dire need of a backup point guard. With just two point guards on the roster to begin with thanks to Conner Frankamp's transfer just before the season began, the Jayhawks run the risk of either running Frank Mason into the ground or playing someone not ideally suited to play the position a lot of minutes at point guard.

The guard play thus far has not been terrible. Kansas is assisting on 55.5 percent of its made field goals, slightly above the national average, and Frank Mason has an eFG of 50 percent thanks almost entirely to shooting 10-20 on threes. His assist/turnover rates have not been great however (25.3%/22.9%), which partially owes to him having to play too many minutes.

The options behind him aren't great. Wayne Selden, who has a lower turnover rate than Mason and a relatively close assist rate, figures to be the top choice to get backup point guard minutes. Selden currently shoots the second most on the team (percentage wise) next to only Perry Ellis, so he would be the personification of a shoot first point guard. Although, given that he's shooting just 33 percent on twos, maybe having a role where he would be forced to pass more would work out better for him. Coincidentally enough, as a point guard I would see him functioning sort of how I envisioned Frankamp: bring the ball up the floor, initiate the offense, provide a kickout option for open threes. In practice, Selden will likely keep shooting mid range jumpers cause that's who he is at this point, but in theory a move to point guard would be a decent way to rein that in a bit.

The option I like is having Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk play backup point guard. Having a 17 year old who (presumably) has never played point guard before play point guard in a brand new country seems dangerous, but I think he can handle it. Although he has not played much in the team's last couple games, he has passed the ball well, even if those passes don't directly lead to assists often, and he has a very high basketball IQ. He might have hit the wall a bit playing so many minutes in so many games in a row, but a couple weeks of facing the Lafayettes of the world should point Bill Self as to whether he should take a further look at Mykhailiuk in Big 12 play or whether he will be an off the bench option going forward.

Bill Self lastly mentioned both Evan Manning and Jamari Traylor. Manning might be able to get away with it for 8-10 or so minutes per game, but the more intriguing name there is Traylor. Obviously Traylor won't be bringing the ball up, but he could be given the ball at the top of the key or the free throw line, as no one goes out that far to guard him, and initiate the offense that way. He's been effective in spurts driving the lane, and passing the ball, as shown in the profile I wrote on him this fall. But Traylor also has one of the worst turnover rates on the team in each of his three seasons in Lawrence, so he's likely not a viable solution.

I think Wayne Selden is going to get the bulk of the minutes as a backup PG, with Mykhailiuk also getting some, and Svi, Greene and Oubre should see their minutes increase. But while Devonte Graham hasn't been great thus far, Kansas obviously needs him back healthy as soon as possible.