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Top 30 Seasons Under Bill Self: #9 Mario Chalmers 2008

Memphis Grizzlies v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

From maybe the biggest assist in school history to maybe the biggest shot in school history. Chalmers definitely gets the biggest bump on this list from one moment, as he has the 2nd lowest usage rate on this list. At 19.7 percent, his usage rate was actually 4th on that 2008 title team, although it bumps up to 2nd when talking about guys who played in at least 70 percent of the team’s minutes.

Chalmers led the 2008 team in minutes played, led the Big 12 in steals, led the Big 12 in true shooting percentage, and ranked 2nd in the Big 12 in assists. He ranked 16th nationally in steal rate, 20th in true shooting, and 23rd in 3-point shooting. One of the first guys to really get his value suppressed by Bill Self’s lack of a 3-point offense, Chalmers shot 47 percent in 2008 from behind the arc, but on just 156 attempts.

Getting more advanced statsy with it, Chalmers ranks 9th among KU players under Self in PRPG, and leads everyone in box plus minus since that fateful 2008 season. That’s right, with all of the talent that has come through Lawrence in the last decade plus, it’s been Chalmers who, by one measure at least, has put up the most impressive season.

A lot of that is due to his defense. While Bill Self has mentioned a few times that Chalmers wasn’t the on ball stalwart that Russell Robinson was, Chalmers was one of the best stealers of the ball to ever come through Lawrence. In 2008 he ranked 16th nationally in steal rate, which was actually a regression from his freshman and sophomore seasons, both of which ranked in the top 10 nationally. It’s part of why that Kansas team led the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, and was maybe Self’s best ever defensive team.

Offensively, all Chalmers did that year was rank 27th in offensive rating, 26th in effective field goal percentage, and 23rd in 3-point shooting. He has the 3rd best offensive rating at KU under Self, and also the best steal percentage. Not a bad 1-2 punch.

The only thing keeping Chalmers outside of the top 5 on this list is the low usage rate. For comparison’s sake, his usage rate is the exact same as Lagerald Vick’s in 2019, and ranked 4th on the 2008 team, lower than Darnell Jackson. It’s unfair to punish him for playing on the best team of the Self era, but at the same time the offensive rating and shooting stats are a bit inflated due to the talent he got to play with and the fact he didn’t have to carry the offense, so I think settling at 9 is correct.

I wish I could remember where I read this so I could find it on the internet (I also may have heard it during the 2007 Big 12 title game), but in 2007 there was a discussion about how much talent Kansas had (maybe even moreso than in 2008 thanks to still having Julian Wright) and as a result the fact that Kansas didn’t really have a go to guy. But everyone to a man said that if there was a big shot that needed to be taken, Chalmers was the guy they wanted to take it. Fast forward a year, and this happened:

If nothing else, that’s the best mic drop on this list.

Previous entries:

10. Sherron Collins 2009

11. Perry Ellis 2016

12. Dedric Lawson 2019

13. Jeff Withey 2012

14. Tyshawn Taylor 2012

15. Brandon Rush 2008

16. Joel Embiid 2014

17. Sherron Collins 2010

18. Darrell Arthur 2008

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