After dropping to 5-3 with a loss at Wichita State, Baylor now sits at 104th in adjusted offensive efficiency. That’s Baylor’s worst mark since 2006. Baylor wasn’t even allowed to play non-conference games that year.
Baylor didn’t figure to be this bad on offense. They finished 62nd last season. And even with the loss of Manu Lecomte, Terry Maston, Jo Lual-Acuil, Nuni Omot and Jake Lindsey (medical), the team figured to shoot better. That hasn’t been the case.
Here’s a look at Baylor’s KenPom ranks. 2019 references this season, the 2018-2019 season. 2018 signifies last season, the 2017-2018 season. Given it’s offense, lower is generally better (though on areas like 3-point attempts, it’s not necessarily true that lower is better. It just means Baylor is attempting more 3-point shots).
Baylor is now averaging just 1.07 adjusted point per possession (PPP). Even worse, Baylor has scored 1, .93 and .88 PPP in their three losses.
Baylor is taking and missing a lot more 3-point shots this year. The Bears have dropped 133 spots in 3-point percentage from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019. Baylor is shooting 30.1% from three. They shot 35.4% from deep last season. This season, Baylor is attempting a three on 39.5% of their possessions. Baylor attempted a 3-point shot on 29.8% of their shots last year. That becomes catastrophic. There’s only so much better Baylor can get offensive rebounding. And as a program that often turns it over, Baylor probably isn’t going to get in the top 50 in turnover rate.
King McClure has been Baylor’s only good 3-point shooter. He’s drilled 43% of his 44 triples. That’s far higher than the 35% he shot last season.
Unfortunately a ton of Bears have been abysmal from deep. Mario Kegler has shot 8% in his first two games. Makai Mason is at 30%, after making 36% during his sophomore season at Yale. Mark Vital is at 33%, but he only shoots when he’s wide open—evidenced by his nine attempts on the year. Jared Butler has hit just 23% of his 3-point shots, and in the last five games, he’s 2-of-22 from beyond the arc. Devonte Bandoo has also hit just two triples in the last five games. Add Matthew Mayer’s 32% mark, and Baylor looks doomed.
The Bears terrible shooting doesn’t mean the team can shift to foregoing threes. Tristan Clark is Baylor’s only low post scoring threat. With Mason’s ankle injury, Baylor struggles to break guys down off the dribble and get into the paint. Teams are also stuffing the paint and daring the Bears to make threes. Driving lines are nearly non-existent for this team.
Sadly it’s as simple as this: Baylor has to take and make threes this season. South Dakota and other teams are aggressively doubling Clark in the post. The Baylor guards and wings aren’t great at taking guys off the dribble. This team is going to have to really turn it around from three. It’s possible they can’t. And if that’s the case, this will be a season to focus on the development of Mayer, Butler and Clark. Hopefully that’s not all it ends up being.