Spoiler alert: I believe Ellis is the only player under Self to have three seasons on this list. I am not sure why I say I believe when I have access to the actual list but anyway. (edit: YIKES Perry isn’t on the list three times. Always consult the list first).
Ellis had his breakout game the year before with a 23 point effort on 10-12 shooting against Iowa State, which helped assuage some of my concerns about whether he was athletic enough to be a consistent performer in the Big 12. Then in 2014 he had his breakout season, averaging 13.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, providing some much needed depth behind Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
His advanced numbers also painted a rosy picture: Ellis ranked 3rd in Big 12 play in offensive rating, shot 55 percent from two for the season, and did it all while barely turning the ball over. By one major metric (Box plus minus), it was Perry’s best season of his career.
There aren’t many fancy stats or fancy comparisons to make with Perry, unlike what we will see with our next player. Ellis simply piled up the points and did so efficiently both in terms of his ability to make shots and his ability to not turn the ball over. I can tell you he’s one of only two players under Self to average 13 ppg with a usage rate over 21 and a turnover rate under 12, and he did it three times. He’s also second, third, and fourth in points in a season by a player with a turnover rate under 12 (his 2014 season ranks third).
Defensively Perry wasn’t great in 2014, and his usage rate of 21% is among the lowest of players on this list, and definitely among the lowest among people whose value was derived mostly from offense. By my count, only four seasons yet to come on the list will be from players with a lower usage rate, and of those four seasons, three of them can be said to derive their value mostly from defense. So it’s fair to ding this season from Perry for a low usage rate.
But he was still incredibly valuable. KU beat writer extraordinaire Jesse Newell highlighted Ellis’s lack of turnovers throughout his career, but it’s worth reiterating how efficient he was. Of all players to average double digit points per game for a season (since 2008), Ellis’s 40 turnovers in 2014 are the fewest by a KU player. When we talk about efficiency we rightfully talk about the ability to shoot, but what often gets overlooked is the ability to maximize possessions, which Ellis has done better than any Jayhawk under Bill Self.
I’m going to stop now, as I have already spilled the beans that there are two more Perry seasons to cover.