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35 Days Until KU Basketball: Will Kansas Free The Three Again?

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Kansas vs Connecticut Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

For the last two years there has been much consternation as to whether or not Kansas was shooting enough threes. The Jayhawks shot 38 percent from three in 2015 (41st nationally), while shooting just 46.4 percent on twos (234th). Despite this, Kansas was 302nd in 3PA/FGA (or, percentage of shots that are threes). Last year Kansas shot 41.3 percent from three while ranking just 238th in 3PA/FGA, although it is worth noting the Jayhawks did rebound to shoot 52.7 percent on twos, which ranked 33rd nationally.

It is no secret Bill Self loves to get to the rim. In the five years of data at Hoop-Math.com, Kansas has taken 36.7 percent (146th), 37.8 percent (119th), 42.2 percent (51st), 43.2 percent (19th), and 38.3 percent (74th) of their shots at the rim. It is also worth noting that if you narrow it down to just Power 5 teams, Kansas ranks much much higher.

To their credit, Kansas started shooting more threes down the stretch last season, but in general the Jayhawks attempted basically 1 three for every 2 twos. Will that continue?

Last year, Wayne Selden led the team with 183 threes taken. Devonte Graham was next with 165, then Frank Mason with 110. That’s it for guys with 100+.

The remaining three point threats were Svi Mykhailiuk at 81, Perry Ellis at 64, and Brannen Greene at 63. Obviously Selden, Ellis, and Greene are gone.

In order to come up with a guesstimate of how many threes Kansas will attempt this year, I have to do a little bit of embarrassing guess work.

Let’s start with the returners. I suspect Devonte Graham will lead the team in attempts this year. In the non-con schedule last year he averaged just under 4 attempts per game. Starting in February, Graham averaged 5.3 attempts per game. Obviously there is some fun with arbitrary endpoints there, but I think February tracks with when he started to become a bigger part of the offense. Multiplying that number by 38 (the number of games Kansas played last year) gives us 201 threes. That’s probably about right.

Next is Frank Mason. Mason could go either way. On one hand, with the scoring talent around him he might not want to attempt as many shots. On the other hand, he’s likely to get a lot of open looks as teams try to shut down Graham, Jackson and Bragg. Mason really only attempts threes when he’s wide open or the shot clock is close to 0. I’m going to mark him down for 110 again.

Finally, Svi. Svi took a ton of shots during the Late Night scrimmage, and I don’t think he will be shy this year. I also think he will get more playing time. In games Svi played more than 10 minutes last season, he attempted 3.5 threes a game. And that’s in games where he played just 10 minutes. I think it is safe to say with his versatility that he will play 10+ minutes in every game this season, putting him around 110 threes for the year. He seems like the prime candidate to land in Self’s doghouse for shooting too many of them, but I think he’ll get to 110 or so.

Next we will go with Josh Jackson. Andrew Wiggins attempted 3.6 threes per game (126 overall) in his one season at Kansas. Jackson is a worse outside shooter than Wiggins, but Self’s system tends to get wings a lot of open looks. I’d prefer Jackson get inside more, but with how much he will play I think he will attempt 100 or so.

Next, Lagerald Vick. Vick played just 91 minutes last year, and attempted 17 threes. That’s a three every 5 minutes or so. Obviously that’s in garbage time where threes are easier to come by, and Vick won’t have a giant role in the offense during non garbage time this year. Still, he’s unafraid to let it fly. I think putting him at 65 seems fair.

Finally, Carlton Bragg. Perry Ellis took 64 last year, and I am on record as saying Bragg is the heir apparent. He’s already got a better jumper than Perry had (and I loved Perry’s jumper), though Bragg attempted just 7 threes last year. I think this is the toughest one to call. Bragg will probably get the ball at the free throw line a lot, as Kansas won’t need him to do the type of breaking down the defense that Perry had to. Bragg has also shown a bit of a knack for offensive rebounding, so it makes sense to keep him closer to the basket a bit more. I think Bragg will get to 40 or so, but could see him taking more than that.

When it is all totaled, the main guys are at roughly the same as they were last year. Add in Bill Self’s love for getting the ball inside, and this has basically been a big exercising in saying expect more of the same this year as last year in terms of frequency of attempts. Hopefully we can percentage wise, as well.