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Top 30 Seasons Under Bill Self: #18 Darrell Arthur 2008

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Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

For the life of me I can’t separate the 3 best 2008 guys. On the surface, this seems far too low for the guy who led the 2008 champs in usage rate, and I am already willing to concede I underrated his defense given what he turned into defensively in the NBA.

Still, some of the advanced stats aren’t terribly kind to Arthur, and nor were the per game stats. He averaged just under 13 points and just over 6 rebounds for the 2008 team, and he ranked 6th among the rotation players in offensive rating. Among Kansas players since 2008, he ranks 58th in box plus minus. Among the 15 players since 2008 with a usage rate higher than 24, Arthur’s 2008 season ranks 15th in box plus minus, 14th in PRPG, 11th in offensive rating, and 9th in true shooting percentage.

Arthur does get some bonus points for his performance in the 2008 title game: he scored 20 points on just 13 shots and added 10 rebounds, and also turned in an effective defensive performance. However, I think that game overshadows some of his earlier performances: He averaged just 6.67 points per game in the team’s prior three NCAA tournament games. I think KU fans can be guilty of overrating guys from the 2008 team just because they played on that team (and I will be guilty of that myself shortly), but I think Arthur benefits the most from it being the guy who led the team in usage. He shot 55 percent, but on a lot of two point jumpers. It could have been higher had he gone to the rim a lot more, and he also had an abysmal free throw rate of 27.5, the lowest among the 15 players since 2008 with a usage rate of over 24, and 32nd among the 36 players with a usage rate over 20.

Despite those numbers, Arthur does get some credit for being the go to guy on offense for the 2nd best offense in 2008 and best team of the KenPom era, and he was a better defender than given credit for. He was 6th in the Big 12 in defensive win shares in 2008, and while he did his best defensive work without blocking a ton of shots, his block percentage (just over 6 percent) was high enough to be a deterrent at the rim.

Arthur probably does get overrated a bit due to playing on the 2008 title team and due to his impressive performance in the title game. Still, he was a relatively efficient go to option down low, and Kansas doesn’t win the 08 title without him. That alone is enough to get him this high on the list.

Previous entries:

19. Cole Aldrich 2010

20. Ben McLemore 2013

21. Markieff Morris 2011

22. Andrew Wiggins 2014

23. Jeff Withey 2013

24. Josh Jackson 2017

25. Marcus Garrett 2020

26. Travis Releford 2013

27. Perry Ellis 2015

28. Udoka Azubuike 2018

29. Wayne Simien 2004

30. Devonte Graham 2017

31. Malik Newman 2018

32. Wayne Selden 2016

33. Keith Langford 2004