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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Analyzing Offensive Efficiency by Point Guard

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Is there a point guard standing out, or should both continue to share the role?

NCAA Basketball: East Tennessee State at Kentucky
Who will emerge as Kentucky’s primary ball handler?
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

An abundance of questions persist about Kentucky’s two point guards four games into their young careers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green each bring their own unique strengths and weaknesses to the position, as highlighted by the comparison stories being generated.

Although it is too early for any definitive declarations, CBS Sports isn’t sure the Cats have enough quality at the position to be considered a serious title contender. Even coach John Calipari has admitted he is still figuring out who is better in certain situations.

Will Calipari continue with the timeshare for his floor leaders or will he ultimately choose one over the other for more significant minutes?

I charted each of Kentucky’s offensive possessions in the first four games of the season by possession length (early offense: 1st ten seconds of the shot clock; middle offense: seconds 11-20; and late offense: last ten seconds of the shot clock) to determine who has had a more positive effect on UK’s offensive efficiency.

Against ETSU, Green had the hot hand with his 9 of 13 shooting propelling him to 21 points. However, much of his torrid shooting came when he played in a combo guard role with Gilgeous-Alexander running the point. How efficient is UK’s offense with Green at the helm?

Kentucky’s offensive efficiency with Quade Green at point.

Green looks to push the pace when he leads the offense, and it’s been effective — leading to a 124.2 offensive efficiency mark (124.2 points scored per 100 possessions) in fast break and early offense. However, once Kentucky settles into its’ halfcourt offense, the Cats score a mediocre 0.80 points per possession.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s defense has largely kept him in the lineup, but what impact does his presence have on the offense? Despite 14 turnovers so far, Gilgeous-Alexander leads a far more patient offense than Green displaying more efficiency in the later stages of the shot clock.

Kentucky’s offensive efficiency with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at point.

Overall, the Wildcats’ offensive efficiency is slightly less adept than when Green runs the show, but the later stages of the offense enjoy an uptick in productivity with SGA’s patient approach.

Does Calipari have to choose one over the other? Cal has tinkered significantly with the lineup in the early going as he swapped Green and Gilgeous-Alexander in and out of the starting lineup.

But what if he played both?

Calipari seemed to regret not going with both guards in the lineup in crunch time with the game on the line against Kansas.

“I’ve just got to figure out how to play with four minutes to go,” said Calipari. “Who do I have on the floor? I should have had two point guards on the floor at that time. Do we go smaller? I don’t know. This is going to be a process of hit or miss, see what we like. When it works, we’ll all know that’s what we should be doing.”

Having both point guards on the floor at the same time has its advantages, but thus far, it has not led to a more efficient offense.

Kentucky’s offensive efficiency with Gilgeous-Alexander and Green on the floor at the same time.

This is too small of a sample size for any clear results, but this is certainly a storyline worth watching. Kentucky is still figuring things out on the offensive end, and its point guard will have a major impact on the style of play.

The timeshare at the point guard position is something to continue to monitor as the identity of this team progresses throughout the season. The Wildcats will only go as far as their lead guard(s) will take them.