The next player on my list and coming in at number four is Udoka Azubuike. I know many Kansas fans may wonder why I don’t have him higher as he was a big time contributor last year, but the fact is he’ll have a lot more competition this year than last.
But before I get into that lets take a look at what he did last year. Doke averaged 13.0 points per game in 36 games and averaged 23.6 minutes per game. Those are pretty solid numbers for only playing about 24 minutes a game. He also shot an outstanding 77% from the field which led the nation. It is worth noting that most of his shots were either dunks or short hooks near the rim.
Can Doke sustain that success this year?
I think we’ll see him shooting further away from the rim which is something he didn’t really do last year. I’m sure he heard from the NBA scouts and it’s likely they told him he needs to develop a shot. It’s rare that you see an NBA player these days who primarily dunks and only shoots a few feet from the rim. Guys like Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Karl Anthony Towns are all seven footers that can step away from the basket and make shots. In order to compete in the NBA Doke will have to develop that type of game.
By shooting further from the rim it will ultimately skew his field goal percentage a bit. It likely won’t be as high but even then he should still end up being a more efficient player. If he can step away from the rim and shoot it’ll open up more opportunities for not only the team but for himself.
But even if he does develop a solid shot away from the rim a lot more will have to go right for him in order to lead the team in points per game. As I mentioned earlier he has a lot of competition, especially down low. Dedric Lawson is a guy that can step away and shoot and is a much better rebounder. So odds are he’ll be the go to guy down low. But this could potentially end up creating more opportunities for Doke, it will just depend on how much his rebounding has improved.
He’ll also need to improve his free throw percentage. This is probably priority one for the big man. As much as he gets to the line or as much as he could get to the line, he needs to take advantage of those opportunities. Last year he shot an abysmal 41.3% from free throw. No reason he shouldn’t be able to get that to at least 60%.
On the other side of that, Doke will need to stay out of foul trouble. In order to do that he’ll need to get a better understanding of how to play defense and learn to use his giant body the right way. I think a lot of his foul issues were simply him not being in the right position because he’s still not sure how to throw his size around. A thing worth noting though is it won’t be as imperative that he stay out of foul trouble this year as we have plenty of reserves who can step in. This could help him play looser and not worry about fouls as much.
If Doke can pull all these things together, such as developing a shot from the rim, staying out of foul trouble, improving his free throw percentage and rebounding, I think he can have a solid chance of leading the team in points per game. It’s a lot he’ll need to work on during the summer but either way I’m looking forward to seeing how and if it all comes together.