Number One Option?

Does Texas have a No. 1 scoring option? The numbers might surprise you.

Texas is a team that has shown exceptional scoring balance so far this season, with five players averaging in double figures. But do the Longhorns have a true No. 1 scoring option? The numbers suggest that they might.

The No. 1 way to determine a team's scoring preference is to look at the number of shots a player takes. Somebody like Demarcus Holland might average double-digit points per game, but he does it in an efficient mix of transition points and the occasional take to the rim.

To that end, looks at the percentage each player takes of his team's shots while he's on the floor. Here are the top 10 Big 12 players in the category.*

* All players on the list must have played in at least 40 percent of their team's minutes

1) Javan Felix, Texas — 29.6 percent

2) Marcus Foster, Kansas State — 29.2

3) Cameron Clark, Oklahoma — 29.2

4) Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State — 28.1

5) Eron Harris, West Virginia — 28.0

6) Buddy Hield, Oklahoma — 27.9

7) Georges Niang, Iowa State — 27.8

8) Andrew Wiggins, Kansas — 26.7

9) Melvin Ejim, Iowa State — 26.6

10) Jarvis Ray, TCU — 26.0

Not only is Felix at the top of the league standings, but the gap between he and No. 2 on the Texas roster — forward Jonathan Holmes — is substantial. Holmes is ranked No. 27 in percentage of shots, taking 21.8 percent of the team's shot attempts when he's in the game. The 26-spot gap between Felix and Holmes is easily the Big 12's biggest between No. 1 and No. 2 shot-takers, ahead of the 16-spot gap between Andrew Wiggins and Frank Mason of Kansas, the second-largest gulf in the league.

In short, on a team that would seem to be without No. 1 options, Felix's shot-taking fits the profile of a No. 1 scorer. There's only one problem — Felix isn't shooting all that well. And that drags his averages way down.

But "not shooting well" is too simplistic an explanation. So, using, let's take a look at Felix's shooting percentages.

At the Rim — 35.3 percent

Two-Point Js — 30.2 percent

Three-Pointers — 35.2 percent

Free Throws — 80 percent

You see: Felix isn't actually having as bad a shooting year as you'd think. He's been excellent from the free throw line, and his three-point percentages are average, at worst. Both of those numbers are actually up from a year ago, particularly from distance, where he's almost 10 percentage points improved from shooting 25.5 percent there last year.

Last year, Felix shot 44.4 percent at the rim, not a great rate, but one that's still significantly higher than the 35.3 percent he's shooting this year. And while Felix made a living on dropping in floaters a year ago, making 35.2 percent of his two-point jumpers, this year's he's down exactly five percentage points to 30.2 percent.

Now, take the game of Isaiah Taylor. Taylor is quicker and more explosive than Felix, but he makes his living inside the arc in similar ways, trying to get to the rim or loft floaters over shot-blockers. Taylor is shooting 50 percent at the rim and 49.1 percent on two-point jumpers. That latter number is pretty absurd … even the best at scoring in mid-range don't typically shoot around 50 percent there.

But if Felix could begin to approach Taylor's percentages at the rim, and he could get his two-point jumper percentage between 35 and 40 percent — certainly doable considering the fact that he shot 35.2 percent there a year ago — then Felix would likely have the scoring profile to match his profile as a volume-shooting No. 1 option.

Horns Digest Top Stories