How Ben McLemore Creates Offensive Identity Issues for Kansas

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How Ben McLemore Creates Offensive Identity Issues for Kansas
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Is it possible for the Jayhawks' most dynamic scorer in a decade to create offensive identity issues for Kansas?

Bill Self's Kansas team is still averaging 74.6 points per game, as of Monday, despite eclipsing more than 67 points just once in January. That team scoring clip is led by all-world freshman Ben McLemore at 16.2 points per game on 51 percent field-goal shooting.

He is their best pure shooter, best slasher, and overall most dynamic scorer.

Unfortunately for a suddenly offensively-challenged Kansas team that also features one of the best inside players in the country, McLemore's superior offensive talent has created identity issues for the 18-1 Jayhawks.

Point guard questions arose quickly and while Elijah Johnson was expected to run the offense for 30-plus minutes per game, growing pains or not, Self knew it would not be a smooth transition from Tyshawn Taylor. 

Oftentimes, Johnson has relied too heavily on McLemore to spread the floor himself as opposed to breaking down the defense and passing to finish the play on his own.

"Pass to finish plays, not pass to start them," Self has said

Kansas is averaging 13.1 turnovers per game, 138th in the nation, and while that is not a horrifying clip, less isolation plays for the freshman phenom McLemore would assuredly increase floor balance.  That floor balance opens up passing lanes, encourages greater off-the-ball movement and allows greater vision for all five Jayhawks.

KU is averaging 62.2 points over their last five games, but the 6'5" Saint Louis native has been impeccably efficient, shooting 51 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the three-point line.  Furthermore, he took nearly two less shots on average during those five games than in their previous 14.

The Jayhawks' offensive efficiency does not lie with Ben McLemore.

Ben McLemore's highlights in KU's win over Richmond

His talent can be used to effectively exploit under-assuming defenses when their offense operates proactively as opposed to reactively around him, as was evident against Richmond.

The first three plays in the above highlights perfectly showcase the proper offensive identity for Kansas.

It is safe to assume Self would love for his bigs to get at least one touch inside the paint each trip down the floor, preferably facilitated from his point guard, Elijah Johnson.  While Withey, Kevin Young and other frontcourt players are attracting adequate attention inside, Johnson has failed to regroup a mid-shot clock offense and make that pass to finish plays, as Self said.

Luckily for them, this identity issue may not matter because Self's squad is the best defense in the country, holding their opponents to an astounding 34.8 field-goal percentage. 

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