Lester Medford Has Been Baylor’s Solution at Point Guard

Posted by Chris Stone on December 17th, 2015

Coming into this season, the primary question that many analysts raised regarding Baylor was whether the Bears had a good point guard option. Nate Kotisso went so far as to say it was Baylor’s burning question during our conference preview series, and his concern was certainly valid. Scott Drew’s teams have consistently featured quality point guard play over the years, whether it was with Tweety Carter, Pierre Jackson, or most recently, Kenny Chery running the team. Drew entered this year with a major question still to answer, but he was prepared to rely on senior Lester Medford’s transition to the lead guard role. Through the first month of the season, here’s how the last two Baylor point guards compare.


Medford spent last season operating out of the backcourt next to Chery. With a usage rate of 16.2 percent, he spent the year largely as a spot-up shooter, finishing with more three-point attempts than shots inside the arc. Still, he showed signs that he was prepared to make a full transition to point guard. Most notably, he assisted on 20.6 percent of the team’s shots when he was on floor. And although that number was six percent lower than Chery’s assist rate, it showed Medford’s knack for finding the open man and making his teammates better. This season, while playing the point guard spot full-time, Medford is outperforming Chery’s senior season on nearly all relevant metrics.

Medford’s usage rate of 16.7 percent is similar to last season but it doesn’t give a complete picture of the role he’s playing for the 8-1 Bears. He has turned out to be a better distributor than Chery, focusing on letting his teammates make plays rather than scoring himself. His assist rate has spiked to 31.2 percent and the results from a team perspective are noticeable across the board, as Baylor ranks third nationally in assists per field goals made. Additionally, the Bears’ big men, Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley, are being assisted on nearly 10 percent more of their makes at the rim compared with last season, according to hoop-math.com. While Medford has taken on a slightly different role in this year’s offense than that of Chery, he’s been just as valuable to the team.

If you're looking for a measuring stick that will help determine how Baylor's squad will perform, there's no better place to start than Lester Medford. (Getty)

If you’re looking for a measuring stick that will help determine how Baylor’s squad will perform, there’s no better place to start than Lester Medford. (Getty)

The remaining question for Baylor is whether Medford can maintain his elevated level of production throughout the grueling Big 12 schedule. According to KenPom, the Bears have played the 318th toughest slate in Division I men’s basketball — in other words, it has not been challenging. And although Medford came up big in the second half of the Bears’ win last week over Vanderbilt, the level of their competition is about to take a massive leap upward. For starters, the Big 12 is the top conference in the country from top to bottom, with all 10 teams ranking among the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency and half the league ranking in the top 20 overall. Furthermore, the conference is littered with pesky defensive guards that include West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodard and Kansas’ Devonte Graham — all players who rank among the top 150 nationally in steal rate.

Medford’s ability to perform well against these opponents will ultimately define Baylor’s season. If he continues to excel in running the offense and finding open looks for his teammates, the Bears could again be on their way to snagging a good NCAA Tournament seed; but if he begins to falter, the Big 12 is no place for a team with shaky point guard play. If you’re looking for a measuring stick that will determine how Baylor will perform for the rest of the season, there’s no better place to start than watching the daily lines of Lester Medford.

Chris Stone (136 Posts)

Chris Stone is a contributor to the Big 12 microsite. You can find him on Twitter @cstonehoops.

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