Brennan's Wooden Watch: Week 11

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
11:00
AM ET

The original version of this file just said "Doug McDermott, Doug McDermott, Doug McDermott, Doug McDermott" over and over again for 1,000 words, but my editors told me that wouldn't work,* so I guess we'll stick with the usual format.

*Not actually a true story.

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: This week’s Arbitrarily Capitalized Doug McDermott Awesomeness Tracker (ACMcDAT) could probably just be reduced to an embed of this video, highlights of McDermott’s Tuesday night against St. John’s, when he shot 15-of-26 and scored 39 of his team's 63 points -- including the game-winning 3. But just like my first (not real!) submission, that would be a disservice to the loyal members of ACMcDAT Nation. So here it is, your list of ACMcDAT facts:

  • McDermott is now averaging 25.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 43.9 percent from 3, and 89.3 percent from the free throw line.
  • He takes 37.9 percent of his team’s shots and ends 33 percent of their possessions. Despite these facts, his offensive rating is 121.5 and his true shooting percentage 62.5.
  • This week, McDermott scored the 2,741st point of his career, which moved him to 18th on the all-time scoring list. He passed both Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers in doing so. Next in line: J.J. Redick, Allan Houston, Kevin Bradshaw, Otis Birdsong and Larry Bird.
  • If McDermott averages 25 points in his last nine regular-season games, he will enter the Big East tournament with 2,966 career points, seven shy of Oscar Robertson.
  • No one is ever going to catch Pete Maravich's all-time scoring record because he scored 44.2 points per game. Don’t ask, next question.
  • Thanks to Creighton sports information director Rob Anderson, the ACMcDAT now includes the following information: On Tuesday night, McDermott made five shots off the backboard and two with his left hand. Of his 992 career field goals, 436 banked in, and 126 were shot lefty.
  • Creighton’s offense is scoring 1.25 points per possession this season, best in the country, and 1.20 against Big East opponents, best in the league.
  • He's probably top-five on this list. I might put him at No. 3.
  • He's going to win the Wooden Award.

McDermott has really done the Wooden Watch a solid these past few weeks. Figuring out the rest of this list will still be tough, but the No. 1 spot will be very, very easy. Thanks, Doug.

2. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Forget ACMcDAT negligence: The best argument for keeping the rest of these rankings fresh resides in Tucson, Ariz. Johnson is an efficient scorer and all-around offensive player who also just so happens to be an elite perimeter defender. On Wednesday, the former gave Arizona the decisive go-ahead margin it needed in a 3-point survival at Stanford. But it was the latter -- that defense, and how coach Sean Miller implements Johnson alongside the Wildcats' brutish interior core -- that held the Cardinal to just two field goals in the final 10 minutes. Before Johnson iced his 3, he made one of the best help-defense blocks we've seen all season. It was his national-player-of-the-year case wrapped in one tidy highlight package. In any other season, he'd be No. 1.

[+] EnlargeJabari Parker
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesJabari Parker has improved his defense and rediscovered his scoring touch for Duke.
3. Jabari Parker, Duke: There was a time not so long ago when McDermott was not the No. 1 player on this list, when Parker was the prime candidate for player of the year -- the efficient and high-usage engine of a Duke offense that desperately needed to outscore its opponents to win. Then Parker slumped, and Duke lost games at Notre Dame and Clemson, and also Doug McDermott. But these days, the Blue Devils are looking downright sturdy defensively. The Chicago native's improvement on that end has been noticeable, and his defensive rebounding remains crucial. In the meantime, as in his 21-point, 11-rebound outing in an 80-65 win at Pittsburgh Monday, he has rediscovered his scoring touch. What better time to rediscover Parker?

4. C.J. Fair, Syracuse: Last week, Jim Boeheim’s insistence that Fair was his team’s best player helped convince the Watch to include him over point guard Tyler Ennis. The temptation to swap the two again beset the Watch this week. Ennis did have 16 points in the second half at Wake, after all, and his combination of effective outside shooting and ballhandling (Ennis finds a teammate for a score on 31.1 percent of his possessions and turns it over on just 12.6 percent) remains as lethal as ever. But the one real flaw plaguing Fair's game early in the season -- turnovers -- is slowly starting to recede, and in the meantime he's playing 91.9 percent of his team’s available minutes (!) and using 26.5 percent of Syracuse's possessions while doing so. That's … kind of crazy.

5. Nik Stauskas, Michigan: Let's go to John Gasaway for a remote report on Nik Stauskas. John? "Since [Jan. 2], John Beilein's team has not failed to record at least 1.13 points per in any game. Over this six-game, non-pedestrian span UM has made 60 percent of its twos and 40 percent of its threes. (I think there’s a t-shirt design waiting to happen there.) For Nik Stauskas personally, those six-game numbers are 60 and 46 percent respectively, and in that stretch he's taken 25 percent of the shots that occur in this offense during his minutes. Well, I can certainly see why the Wooden committee wants nothing to do with this guy." Thanks, John. And let me just say, for all of us here in the Wooden Watch studios, we certainly want everything to do with Stauskas. Because Stauskas, as the kids say, is Ball. Ing. And now, the weather …

6. Joel Embiid (Kansas): On Wednesday night, I looked up from my laptop early in Kansas’s 92-81 home win over Iowa State just in time to see Embiid take the ball on the left block, engage with the post defender, pivot toward the baseline into his right shoulder and sink a tidy little 6-foot turnaround jumper. It’s possible Embiid has made that exact shot before, but I haven’t seen it. It may have been the first time he attempted it. Here’s the point: This happens all the time. You put your head down for a minute, and then you look up, and Embiid is putting into practice something that even most good college big men can't do with decades of camps at their back. Oh, and he blocks 12.2 percent of opponents' shots, too. So there's that.

7. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh: For a relatively deep dig into exactly what Duke did to arguably the nation’s second-best offensive player in his 4-of-14 performance Monday night, see here. You should also know that before Monday’s off night, Patterson had 28 points in 14 shots with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals at Maryland. He deserves to stay.

8. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: As of Thursday, two players in the country use more than 28 percent of their team's possessions and have a higher offensive rating than Thames. One is Billy Baron, who is putting up some wild numbers at Canisius this season. The other is Cameron Bairstow, who would be in the top 10 if New Mexico wasn't quite so permissive on defense. (McDermott, for what it's worth, ranks fourth on this list, despite that 33 percent usage rate. Also wild.) San Diego State guards like crazy but has no other offensive options, save one. Fortunately, the one it does have is really, really good.

9. Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith's player-of-the-year candidacy looks destined to go overlooked this season for a variety of team-related reasons, but now that Louisville has won four straight (including that road win at UConn), it's a good time to bring him back into the discussion. Because Smith is still playing the most efficient offense of his career, shooting the ball and dishing easy buckets to teammates more effectively than ever before and still playing his disruptive brand of perimeter defense.

10. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas: Here’s the thing about Wiggins: He has been pretty good for most of the season. He hasn't been LeBron James 2.0. He hasn't been perfectly consistent from game to game. But a baseline, his all-around, all-court performance has been immensely solid. Now -- with 56 points in his past two games, 29 of which came Wednesday against Iowa State -- we're starting to see some of the brilliance that had NBA scouts so excited. If he keeps it up, and Kansas keeps looking like the Non-Arizona, Non-Syracuse Team Most Likely To Win The National Title, we'll be discussing him more in the future.

Besides, Julius Randle had his worst game of the season at LSU (3-of-11, six points, five rebounds) Tuesday, and Marcus Smart hasn't played all that well of late. Also, he's being punished for excessive flops. It's Wooden Watch, not Wooden Flops, am I right? OK, we’ll stop now.

Honorable mentions: Smart (Oklahoma State), Randle (Kentucky), Keith Appling (Michigan State), Casey Prather (Florida), Shabazz Napier (Connecticut), Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico), Adreian Payne (Michigan State), Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), DeAndre Kane (Iowa State)

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