In a time when many have proven they don’t know what they don’t know, the trend continues with Baylor basketball. Baylor opened the season without a single top 25 vote. And while the Bears are now #4 and receiving plenty of recognition, there’s still something people don’t know.
It’s not hard to recognize a lot of what makes this Baylor team good. Johnathan Motley is one of the best big men in the country. Manu Lecomte orchestrates the team, and Ish Wainright can do just about everything. And as most rightfully recognize, Jo Lual-Acuil’s defense fuels the Bears. Lual-Acuil leads the nation in block percentage on KenPom, and the Bears currently have the 11th best KenPom defense.
But on the way to the best resume in the country, Baylor’s sophomore guards have been ignored. King McClure has been spectacular lately. McClure’s had an offensive rating of at least 144 in three of his last four games. Over a full season, a 144 offensive rating would place McClure in the nation’s top 10 in that category.
Baylor wouldn’t be undefeated without Jake Lindsey though. Lindsey helped fuel Baylor’s run against Louisville with key steals. Lindsey’s strong instincts and tough on ball pressure allow the Bears to play man-to-man more than in past seasons, and it’s led to devastating turnovers for Baylor’s opponents:
Lindsey’s performance from three will also pay off throughout the season. Lindsey made just three shots on 14 attempts last season. This season, he has four makes through nine games. Lindsey has simplified his form, which has raised his percentage to 40%. As Lindsey continues to make threes, opponents will not be able to double-team Baylor’s big men because if they do—like Sam Houston State does against Maston below—Lindsey will make them pay:
While making it from three is nice, Lindsey can also finish at the rim as well as any guard. According to hoop-math.com, Lindsey is shooting 100% at the rim. Lindsey is 6’5 and relies on his length to finish against smaller players. Lindsey’s helped contribute to Baylor’s 13% increase in shooting at the rim compared to last season, which helps Baylor make up for the offensive rebounding loss of Rico Gathers:
While Lecomte has been phenomenal running the point, Lindsey has helped Baylor’s offense keep rolling while Lecomte goes to the bench. Lindsey’s skills at the rim have caused many teams to keep an extra eye on him, which makes it hard for them to watch Lindsey get the assist:
Dethroning Kansas or making a Final Four is a huge task. Baylor’s best players give them a shot to do that. But somewhere along the way to winning a title, whether a Big 12 or NCAA one, a team’s depth is tested. Lindsey has shown a number of skills to give the Bears confidence they have the depth to beat anyone. Few people may know about Lindsey now, but they will soon.