Kansas Basketball: 5 Positive Signs from Jayhawks' Start in 2013-14
Entering the 2013-14 season it was plausible to doubt Bill Self's point guard depth, Joel Embiid's expedited development into an impact player and his team's offensive production from all five spots.
You could also have doubted the Jayhawks' ability to win without consistent dominating performance from all-world freshman Andrew Wiggins or questioned Perry Ellis' reliability inside the paint against the big boys.
If three games are any indication of what's to come for this year's Jayhawks, you would now be a fool.
Amongst the dozens of positives from two blowouts and an impressive win over No. 4 Duke are five that should give Kansas fans room for extreme optimism.
Bill Self Has 2 Point Guards
Bill Self has two true point guards for the first time since Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins co-existed during the 2007-08 season.
Some predicted freshman Frank Mason would receive significant playing time but no one predicted the Petersburg, Va. native would be running an unofficial timeshare with junior Naadir Tharpe.
The great news? Both have been extremely effective, especially when on the court together.
Joel Embiid Can Move
How many teams replenish a former volleyball-playing 7-footer with excellent footwork with a former volleyball-playing 7-footer with excellent footwork?
Joel Embiid stuffed the stat sheet in Tuesday's 20-point win over Iona with 16 points, 13 boards and 2 blocked shots, doing his best Jeff Withey impersonation in process.
"Im real pleased with his development," Bill Self said of Embiid following Tuesday's win. Self's heir apparent to Withey used tremendous footwork, ball-handling skills and instincts in proving he is ready to play a prominent role on both ends of the court.
This Team Can Score at Will
While the Jayhawks are just three games into the 2013-14 season, they're on an offensive tear. Impressive ball movement (19.3 assists per game) and lights-out shooting (58 percent) have fans clamoring for a reduction in turnovers in hopes of hitting NBA Jam-like numbers.
Only two rotational players, Frank Mason (33 percent) and Conner Frankamp (33), are shooting below 48 percent through three games.
Perry Ellis has built upon the dynamic offensive efficiency he discovered last March during the Big 12 Tournament and while three-point shooting (35 percent) can be improved, Kansas appears have a special offensive team that will benefit greatly from an increase in whistles.
Wiggins Doesn't Have to Dominate
Andrew Wiggins is averaging 17 points on 55 percent shooting in 30 efficient minutes per games. However, the mega-freshman is proving, albeit unintentionally, that he does not need to dominate for KU to win.
Heck, some even believe the mega-freshman is overrated after only three collegiate games.
As the Phog erupted and scoffed at Iona guard Sean Armand's overrated comments, many are overlooking the routine lack of need for Wiggins to awe college basketball fans across the country.
Bill Self's team is chalked full of dynamic playmakers that allow Wiggins to play his game and shy away from potential dominating performances. Granted, those performances will come and they will be stupendous.
Perry Ellis Is an All-American Candidate
Perry Ellis is a First Team All-American candidate.
The ultra-efficient forward turns the ball over less than once per 30 minutes played, is hitting 68 percent of his shots since last year's season finale, including 72 percent (21-for-29) this season.
"I feel a lot more confident, just trusting myself now," Ellis said after Tuesday's 9-for-11 shooting performance.
His dramatically improved footwork and confidence boost inside the paint make him an instant Big 12 Player of the Year candidate and will soon turn heads across the country.