It was an eventful two weeks since the last Hawks of the Year standings update.
Doke came back from injury to dominate Eastern Michigan. Kansas opened Big 12 play with a sloppy win over Oklahoma. Doke got hurt again and missed the Iowa State game. Grimes turned a corner. Vick regressed. Iowa State embarrassed the Jayhawks in Ames. The turnover problem got worse.
And then it was revealed Doke will miss the rest of the season. Actually, I wrote the majority of this article and then it was revealed he would miss the season (good timing). It’s a huge loss for reasons I outlined below (before the news; I kept most of the piece the same, because it still feels accurate).
That wasn’t everything, but it’s a pretty good summation. And it has led to some changes in the Hawks of the Year standings.
Most Valuable Jayhawks
1 - Dedric Lawson (Last Week: 1)
Lawson continues to be the most consistent presence on the team, and is the one most often tasked with trying to jump start the offense. He continues to be great on the boards and his passing ability is some of the best on the team. Doke being out means the offense and season is firmly on Dedric’s shoulders.
2 - Udoka Azubuike (Last Week: HM)
There were some limitations to be accounted for when Udoka is in the game, like late-game free-throw shooting and how his presence affected Lawson, and certain styles of play made him a worse matchup. But this team, and offense was better with Doke on the floor, even if just for half the game. For a team that struggles to shoot and can stall on offense, it sure was nice to have a 70-percent-from-the-field safety net to get you 13 points per game on less than nine shot attempts. And of course there was the defensive presence, where he’s grabbing nearly seven rebounds and blocking 1.6 shots per game in 20 minutes. Yeah, Doke’s been valuable. Even with the injury news, that’s still the case.
3 - Lagerald Vick (Last Week: 2)
Vick is in full-on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mode. One minute he’s hitting a nice floater in the lane and then next he’s carelessly throwing the ball away. This is about more than his shooting slump. It’s that he’s taking highly contested, low-efficient jump shots early in the shot clock, and that he’s turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Vick is averaging 2.8 turnovers to just 1.9 assists per game. But in Big 12 play, he has turned it over 11 times to just two assists. Vick still has value as the best outside shooter, but the rest needs to get cleaned up.
Honorable Mention: Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes
Most Productive Jayhawks
1 - Dedric Lawson (Last Week: 1)
Lawson is tied for fifth nationally in double-doubles with eight in 12 games. The scoring has dropped a bit the last few games, but he has been great on the boards, and still averages 18.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
2 - Lagerald Vick (Last Week: 2)
Vick was good enough in the first month and a half of the season that his numbers (14.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game) still hold up pretty well. But unless he gets it figured out soon, Dotson and others could soon surpass him.
3 - Devon Dotson (Last Week: 3)
Again, Dotson takes over this spot due to Doke missing five games—and now the season—due to injury. But it also has to do with Dotson’s play. Dotson is averaging 13 points per game in his three games, and has already gotten a lot better on the boards, averaging five rebounds during that span.
Honorable Mention: Udoka Azubuike, Quentin Grimes
Biggest Asset of the Week
1 - Lawson’s Rebounding
Dedric is leading the conference in total rebounds so far this year, and his work on the offensive and defensive glass (15 rebounds against OU and 12 against ISU) was huge to continue the Jayhawks’ possessions and limit opponents’ attack. This was especially true with Doke playing limited minutes in one game and not at all in the other, and with him out,
2 - Garrett’s Ball Control
The Jayhawks have a turnover problem. The 41 turnovers in two conference games showcased that problem. Yet Garrett, who averages the fourth most minutes on the team and has the ball in his hands quite a bit as a guard, only had a combined two turnovers in the last two games. Garrett only has 12 turnovers on the entire season.
3 - Dotson/Vick’s Quick Hands
Kansas has turned it over a ton lately, but it has also created some havoc by racking up the steals. KU had 11 steals against the Sooners and six against the Cyclones. The leaders in that regard have been Dotson and Vick, who have combined for 11 of the Jayhawks’ 17 steals the past two games.