Award Tour: Doug McDermott Blowing Away the NPOY CompetitionPosted by Jameson Fleming on January 31st, 2014
Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.
Michigan State was so close to landing a player in this week’s Award Tour rankings, but Gary Harris struggled in a loss to Michigan. His day will come… eventually. Providence’s Bryce Cotton and Ed Cooley are also very close to making their debuts on the watch lists as well. Cotton is an ironman who has carried the Friars after taking over as the point guard, while Cooley has kept the team moving forward after a rough start to conference play. Andrew Wiggins is quickly turning into the player everyone expected before the season — he was never bad or mediocre, just not a stud – until now. After 27 points against TCU and 29 more against Iowa State, Maple Jordan is rounding into form as Kansas’ second Big 12 Player of the Year candidate. Pitt’s Lamar Patterson struggled against Duke, but he’ll have several more chances in the coming weeks to prove he’s an ACC Player of the Year candidate.
Player of the Year
10. Justin Jackson – Cincinnati. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 11.1 PPG, 7 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 107.5 oRTG
Justin Jackson isn’t going to wow anyone offensively. He can score a few buckets here and there, be a playmaker occasionally, and draw a lot of fouls. So why did he make the Player of the Year rankings? He’s a dominant defender and rebounder. Jackson is arguably the best player on a Cincinnati team that is now 20-2 with wins at Louisville, at Memphis, Pittsburgh and SMU. He’s the only player in the top 50 in the country in block AND steal rate according to KenPom, and his late steal against Louisville helped seal an impressive victory in the KFCYum! Center against the Cardinals.
9. Xavier Thames – San Diego State. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 17.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 121.6 oRTG
Xavier Thames has emerged as San Diego State’s top player after spending three years toiling in mediocrity thanks to poor shooting and turnovers. But as a senior, Thames has become a much more efficient scorer and distributor. He’s the main reason why the Aztecs could overcome huge personnel losses and improve from last year’s NCAA round of 32 squad.
8. Joel Embiid – Kansas. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 11.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 113.6 oRTG
Last week I mentioned Group Stats had tracked how Kansas is 0.22 points per possession better with Joel Embiid in the lineup. Considering Embiid had only been averaging around 21 minutes per game entering this week, his dominance obviously makes a huge difference in Kansas’ games, but rarely does he take over. Against Iowa State, Embiid stayed on the floor for 30 minutes. His impact was incredible:
- KU with Embiid for 58 possessions: 1.27 offensive efficiency and 0.96 defensive efficiency for a +0.31 margin
- KU without Embiid for 17 possessions: 1.05 offensive efficiency and 1.41 defensive efficiency for -0.36 margin
That’s right. The Jayhawks were 0.67 points per possession better with Embiid on the floor vs. when he was not on the floor.
7. Nik Stauskas – Michigan. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 18.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, 132.8 oRTG
Nik Stauskas has exploded in his second season in Ann Arbor. He’s shooting 45 percent from three, 55 percent from two, has increased his assists and decreased his turnovers, and has upped his free throw rate considerably, and he’s a threat to score from anywhere in John Beilein’s halfcourt offense. His two-point jump-shot selection could be better, but that’s his only offensive weakness. He has no problem creating his own shot. During Michigan’s 10-game winning streak, he’s scored in double-figures in every single contest.
6. Jabari Parker – Duke. Last Week: 4
2013-14 stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 111.9 oRTG
Jabari Parker scored an ugly 21 points against Pittsburgh last weekend. His putrid 7-of-19 shooting featured a handful of wild threes and contested twos. Parker needs to realize he has other offensive weapons around him and try not to do too much. When Parker played second and third fiddle in the second half, it allowed Andre Dawkins to go off and sink six three-pointers to blow the game wide open.
5. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State. Last Week: 2
2013-14 stats: 17.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 110.9 oRTG
After praising his consistency and the fact that he stepped up following the injury of Michael Cobbins, Marcus Smart turned in two rotten performances last week. He fouled out against West Virginia, scoring just four points on seven shots and three turnovers. On Monday night, he once again struggled offensively. He tried to take over the game, using up 50 percent of Oklahoma State’s possessions in 25 minutes and scoring 22 points. The problem? He was 6-of-18 and missed six free throws.
4. Shabazz Napier – Connecticut. Last Week: 3
2013-14 stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 120.4 oRTG
Shabazz Napier is on a roll as Connecticut is once again looking like a threat in March. The Huskies are crushing teams in the AAC behind Napier’s scoring bursts. He’s averaging over 25 points per game during the last four contests while still excelling as UConn’s point guard. He ensured UConn wouldn’t lose twice against Houston this season by dropping 19 points in the first 29 minutes of Thursday night’s game.
3. Tyler Ennis – Syracuse. Last Week: 5
2013-14 stats: 12.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 121.4 oRTG
There’s going to be a common theme for Tyler Ennis and Nick Johnson here. Both guards aren’t afraid of taking the big shot, and for Ennis, taking over the second half has been his game. Ennis followed up spectacular performances against Boston College, Miami and Pittsburgh with 16 of his 18 points coming in the second half against Wake Forest. Syracuse was sputtering offensively throughout the game, but Ennis delivered two early buckets in the second half and continued his dominance by getting to the paint for easy floaters and layups. His hesitation move is arguably the best in college hoops and constantly keeps defenders off-balanced, allowing the not-so speedy Ennis to get to the rim.
2. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 16.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 121.1 oRTG
Arizona’s Nick Johnson has evolved into the most well-rounded guard in the country. He can guard the opposing teams’ best perimeter player but also has an array of offensive moves that make him extremely tough to guard. As Arizona battled Utah down the stretch, Johnson constantly called for the ball. He hit two late shots — a mid-range jumper and a three-pointer in the final minute — to give the Wildcats a 58-55 lead. Overall, his shooting splits are fantastic: 82.3 percent around the rim, 40 percent on jumpers, and 38.7 percent from three, according to Hoop-Math.com.
1. Doug McDermott – Creighton. Last Week: 1
2013-14 stats: 25.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 121.5 oRTG
How’s this for a stat? Doug McDermott is 8-of-11 from the field in the final minute of the game during the past two seasons. So it should come as no surprise that McDermott hit this shot.
It was a beautifully designed play, as Creighton made it appear like the ball would eventually be headed toward the basket. St. John’s shot-blocker Chris Obekpa lost McDermott in the halfcourt and wasn’t able to close out quickly enough to prevent McDermott from firing away. He finished with a season-high 39 points on just 26 points with only two turnovers. The National Player of the Year award is his to lose unless another candidate delivers one of the best 10-game stretches of the last decade.
Coach of the Year
5. John Beilein – Michigan. Last Week: Not Ranked. If it weren’t for three undefeated teams entering January and a one-loss team drastically exceeding expectations, John Beilein would have a rightful claim at Coach of the Year. His Michigan squad was left for dead after Mitch McGary went down after playing in just eight of the team’s first 10 games. The Wolverines were 6-4 without a marquee win, but they’ve rebounded in an unexpected way with 10 consecutive victories including three straight over teams ranked in the top 10. Beilein has worked to retool the offense, making it deadly efficient. Just twice during the nine-game streak has Michigan been held to fewer than 1.13 points per possession.
4. Gregg Marshall – Wichita State. Last Week: 4. The Missouri Valley Conference is not what it was with Creighton, but that shouldn’t take away from Wichita State’s complete thrashing of the conference thus far. The Shockers are outscoring their opponents by a quarter of a point per possession. Next best? Northern Iowa at +0.11. Defensively, no one can even touch Wichita State. In an offensively-minded league, the Shockers’ defensive efficiency is a mere 87.0. Wow.
3. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse. Last Week: 3. Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: Syracuse has piled up 110 victories before losing its second game in the last five years (24-1, 18-0, 31-1, 18-1, 20-0). Odds are Syracuse will add at least two more wins to that total with Duke, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Pittsburgh up next on the schedule. The Orange’s battle with Duke go a long way to showing whether how serious Syracuse should be taken as a national title contender. If the ‘Cuse can shut down the Blue Devils’ very efficient offense, then it’s time to buy stock in the Orange if you already haven’t.
2. Sean Miller – Arizona. Last Week: 2. The Wildcats continue to win tough games behind Nick Johnson, but Sean Miller deserves some of the credit for the success of this team. In Arizona’s four single-digit wins in Pac-12 play, Arizona has outscored three of its opponents by a combined 26 points and only UCLA closed the gap in the final 10 minutes. The Wildcats have no issues playing from behind and rarely press offensively when trailing.
1. Steve Fisher – San Diego State. Last Week: 1. It might be time to worry about Steve Fisher’s club. Is the Aztecs’ 18-1 record an anomaly or are they for real, making Fisher worthy of the top spot in the Coach of the Year rankings? San Diego State is outscoring its Mountain West opponents by about 0.14 points per trip, which isn’t exactly dominant. New Mexico, UNLV, Boise State and Nevada are all in same neighborhood. Also, SDSU is shooting just 30 percent from three and 44 percent from two in conference play. The poor shooting could prove problematic in close games. Keep an eye on the Aztecs in the coming weeks.