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Top 30 Seasons Under Bill Self: #7 Wayne Simien 2005

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Kansas v Missouri Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I’ll start by doing a spoiler: the next three seasons in this countdown are Simien, Marcus Morris in 2011, and Thomas Robinson in 2012. Three incredible big men who all went about it in slightly different ways but all arrived at remarkably similar numbers. I’ll start each post by posting this chart:

Player USG Ortg eFG TRB% Win Shares
Wayne Simien 27.6 118.5 55.8 18.2 5.7
Marcus Morris 26.9 121.9 60.1 15.5 7.2
Thomas Robinson 30 106.4 51.2 22.2 7.2

It’s not perfect because Box Plus Minus and PRPG only go back to 2008, but it gives a good enough comparison of the three to see that the three choices are all defensible, but as with all tough choices one has to be made, so we start with Simien.

The 2005 Big 12 player of the year, Simien finished up an incredible career with an incredible season, leading the Big 12 in both points (20.3) and rebounds (11) per game. He ranked 3rd in offensive win shares and, no slouch on the defensive end, 14th in defensive win shares.

Ultimately he ranks behind Morris and Robinson on this list because his team was the worst of the three results wise despite the three being very close talent wise. That’s a razor thin margin, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere.

In reviewing old Simien footage and stats, I was struck by how easily he was able to get position down low, and how easily he was able to finish through traffic. It’s no wonder he drew more than 6 fouls per 40 minutes, which, combined with shooting over 80 percent from the line, added a huge boost to his value.

He was also one of the best ever in terms of being able to play the high low offense. His post scoring has been established, but he was also able to reliably hit the elbow jumper and his 9% assist rate was pretty good as well, although not elite by any means.

Among forwards and centers at KU under Self (note: I am not including Josh Jackson because while he nominally was a forward, he was obviously a different sort of forward from Simien, Thomas Robinson, etc), Simien ranks 6th in offensive rating, third in usage, 8th in assist rate, and 8th in defensive rebounding. He was also a better foul drawer than almost anyone other than Embiid in 2014. And that’s Simien in a nutshell: physically imposing and the type of player who just kept coming and coming and coming until he wore you down. It wasn’t the most efficient, but damn it worked and worked a lot.

We can’t discuss Simien without unfortunately pointing out that the 2005 Kansas team was ranked 1st in the preseason, but slid all the way to 2nd in the Big 12 and a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament and lost to Bucknell in the first round of that tournament, with Simien missing a turnaround jumper at the buzzer that would have won it. Making that singular game a black mark on Simien’s resume would be a mistake, however, as he scored 24 points on 14 shots and added 10 rebounds and 2 assists. The rest of the starters scored just 29 points among them, with 18 coming from Michael Lee. But the 2005 team finished 11th in KenPom, the 4th worst among Bill Self’s teams at Kansas, and like it or not the team’s best player bears the brunt of that failure.

Still, a 20 and 10 season puts him up there among the greatest to ever do it in Lawrence, and on top of that he ranked third in the league in true shooting and 5th in win shares. His defense wasn’t incredible, but good enough to help Kansas rank 9th nationally in effective field goal percentage allowed. That alone puts him in the top 10 seasons under Bill Self.

Previous:

8. Devon Dotson 2020

9. Mario Chalmers 2008

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