Award Tour: Can Anyone Challenge Doug McDermott?

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 24th, 2014


Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

While most players need the Jaws of Life to pry the Player of the Year award from Doug McDermott right now, the race to be named in the top 10 continues to be heated. Russ Smith fell out of the rankings after two more turnover-prone, poor-shooting performances. Casey Prather had two solid outings after returning from an injury against Auburn and Alabama. Gary Harris and Keith Appling have remained impressive during big man Adreian Payne’s absence. Xavier Thames seems to improve with each game and hasn’t been held to single figures since scoring five points against McNeese State a month ago.

Player of the Year

10. Lamar Patterson – Pittsburgh. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 17.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 122.8 oRTG

The Panthers didn’t pass their tough road test at Syracuse, but Lamar Patterson battled Tyler Ennis as the stars in the Carrier Dome. After an early second half run by the Orange, Patterson single-handedly brought Pitt back with a trio of three-pointers from DEEP behind the line. Pitt couldn’t hold the lead, but Patterson definitely held near his spot in the Player of the Year rankings.

9. Joel Embiid – Kansas. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 11.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 114.4 oRTG

Joel Embiid Needs to Stay on the Floor (USA Today)

Joel Embiid Needs to Stay on the Floor (USA Today)

If case you haven’t heard, Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for a couple years. OK, now that we have the most uttered piece of trivia in college basketball out of the way, here’s the lowdown on the Kansas freshman. Embiid would be one of the favorites to win Player of the Year if he could stay on the floor longer. He’s only averaging 22 minutes per game, which trails former Kansas stars Thomas Robinson (31.8 MPG in 2012) and Jeff Withey (30.9 MPG in 2013) by a considerable margin. His per-40 minutes average for blocks is five per game, but foul trouble frequently plagues the precocious freshman. In Sports Illustrated’s Power Rankings, Luke Winn shared a stat via Group Stats about Kansas’ efficiency with and without Embiid in the lineup. The Jayhawks are 0.19 points per possession better with him on their front line. That’s a major difference-maker.

8. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: 7
2013-14 stats: 16.4 PPG, 2.4 APG, 123.1 oRTG

During the non-conference slate, nearly every member of Arizona’s rotation stood out in at least one game to give the Wildcats’ incredible balance. Now that Pac-12 play is in full swing, Nick Johnson is without a doubt their star and go-to guy in the second half. Johnson is averaging 19 points per game in his last five outings while shooting 62 percent from two-point range. Remember, he’s doing that as a guard and not a back-to-the-basket forward.

7. Julius Randle – Kentucky. Last Week: 5
2013-14 stats: 16.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 113.8 oRTG

As the season progresses, Julius Randle’s role in the Wildcats’ offense has decreased. He’s still Kentucky’s main option, but as his teammates have developed, the offense doesn’t have to run through him to remain effective. It doesn’t help his case that teams are doubling him and the Wildcats’ SEC opponents have the size needed to slow Randle down. Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes owned Randle in the paint while Texas A&M limited his scoring opportunities and kept him off the charity stripe.

6. DeAndre Kane – Iowa State. Last Week: 3
2013-14 stats: 16.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 5.8 APG, 111 oRTG

DeAndre Kane’s last four games have been filled with some good outings, but also a whole lot of bad ones. He’s averaging 22.5 points per game during that stretch and completely took over the Baylor game. There’s a catch: Iowa State has lost three of those games and Kane has committed 22 turnovers during them. His good/bad split also holds true for free throws: He’s shooting just 59 percent (bad) on 44 attempts (good).

5. Tyler Ennis – Syracuse. Last Week: 6
2013-14 stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 122.4 oRTG

Early in the season, it looked like C.J. Fair would step up as the “go-to” guy for Syracuse. He’s able to create any shot from a three, a mid-range jumper, or a drive to the basket. But due to his inefficiency, Jim Boeheim has given Ennis the opportunity to become the Orange’s clutch performer. The super freshman delivered in arguably the Cuse’s toughest game this year. Ennis dropped 14 second half points including two layups in the final two minutes to give Syracuse the lead and then extend it to three.

4. Jabari Parker – Duke. Last Week: 4
2013-14 stats: 18.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 112.4 oRTG

Jabari Parker is quickly losing his “wow” factor from the non-conference slate which had originally catapulted him to the top of the Player of the Year rankings. Barring a big run through the rest of ACC play, Parker will likely have himself a fight for the Freshman of the Year. I haven’t touched on that award because of his relative dominance, but as of now those standings would look like this:

  1. Jabari Parker
  2. Tyler Ennis
  3. Julius Randle
  4. Joel Embiid
  5. Noah Vonleh
  6. Aaron Gordon
  7. Andrew Wiggins

3. Shabazz Napier  – Connecticut. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 17.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.8 APG, 121.4 oRTG

Napier Continues to Carry UConn This Season

Napier Continues to Carry UConn This Season

After a midseason slump due mostly to poor shooting, Napier has recovered and thrown his name back into the hat for the Player of the Year award. He dropped 30 points on Louisville’s stingy defense, accounting for nearly half of the Huskies’ 64 points in a loss. Napier followed that up with 27 more against Temple while adding seven rebounds and six assists.

2. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State. Last Week: 2
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 113.7 oRTG

Marcus Smart’s shot selection and inability to consistently hit a jump shot has marred an otherwise spectacular sophomore season. He’s become a premier finisher around the rim and distributor for the Cowboys. Unlike Doug McDermott, Smart hasn’t shown that he can stay consistently elite when he launches more shots. He forced a handful of bad chucks against Kansas in an 80-78 loss. Below is a chart showing Smart’s five-game averages for usage rate and offensive rating. His performance in Big 12 play has improved with better jump shooting (except the Kansas game which is a blight at the end of the chart).

Five-game averages for usage and offensive rating for Marcus Smart

1. Doug McDermott – Creighton. Last Week: 1
2013-14 stats: 24.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 122.3 oRTG

Doug McDermott has taken over the Player of the Year race thanks in part to the struggles of others but also because the Creighton senior has taken another step forward during conference play. Below is a chart showing McDermott’s five-game averages for offensive rating and usage rates. His usage rates maintain steady throughout the season, but since Grant Gibbs went down with an injury, McDermott’s five-game averages in offensive rating have trended upward. With the Bluejays posting the highest offensive rating in the KenPom era, McDermott has almost assured himself the Player of the Year award as the main cog in the offense.

Five-game averages in usage and offensive rating for Doug McDermott

Coach of the Year Rankings

5. Greg McDermott – Creighton. Last Week: Not Ranked

Greg McDermott is catching up to his son in their respective rankings. Daddy McDermott’s team has the best offense, statistically speaking, in the Ken Pomeroy era. By a lot. The Bluejays’ adjusted offensive efficiency sits at 128.1 thanks to an effective field goal percentage of 59.1 percent and a microscopic turnover rate. Only Wake Forest in 2005 has even crossed the 124 barrier during the last dozen years.

4. Gregg Marshall – Wichita State. Last Week: 4

How good has Gregg Marshall’s defense been this year? Only two opponents have scored more than 70 points, the median team scoring average this year. And in those two games, the Shockers allowed only 71 and 72 points. Without Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference, Wichita State probably won’t give up more than 70 points again in the regular season.

3. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse. Last Week: 3

As Syracuse plays more slowly, the more likely a team is to turn the ball over. During the last six years, the Orange’s tempo has slowed every year while its defensive turnover rate has increased. In 2009, Syracuse was the 34th fastest team in the country and focused on forcing bad, quick shots. This year, the Orange plays a grueling pace of just 62 possessions per game and only 54.8 possessions per ACC game. The turnover rate? It’s up to 25.2 percent, second in the country.

Syracuse’s tempo and turnover rate dating back to 2009.

2. Sean Miller – Arizona. Last Week: 2

The Wildcats have two Player of the Year candidates: Nick Johnson is arguably the best two-guard in the country, and freshman Aaron Gordon is a miniature Blake Griffin. Together they’re one of the most dominant two-way combos in the country. Miller has sprinkled in role players including sleek point guard T.J. McConnell to create the most efficient squad in the country.

1. Steve Fisher – San Diego State. Last Week: 1

The Aztecs’ offense continues to be problematic, but Steve Fisher’s defense is one of the best in the country. SDSU held UNLV to just 52 points in 67 possessions and San Jose State to 50 points in 69 possessions. The Aztecs’ length gives teams fits as opponents are shooting just 40 percent from two and 29 percent from three. They don’t have many chances left for marquee wins, though, which means the odds that they will go undefeated in the league is up to 6.6 percent, according to KenPom.

Jameson Fleming (18 Posts)

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

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