As I mentioned in the Ratings column, Ben McLemore is doing something that is on a historic pace right now for KU. He is scoring nearly as efficiently as anyone to ever don the Crimson and Blue. What he is doing is outright scary.
To emphasize what Ben is doing, I took several KU greats - Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Rex Walters, Paul Pierce, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich - and looked at their most efficient seasons in the Phog.
Right now, Ben is shooting 51% from the field, 43% from 3, 87% from the line and has 404 points on only 265 shot attempts. He's averaging 1.52 points per shot attempt. He's scored 319 points from the field (removing his 85 made FTs) good for 1.20 points every time he ends a possession with something other than FTs.
Dealing first with the big guys, since they aren't perimeter shooters, Wilt's best season was 1957-58. During that season he averaged 30 PPG, but shot only 47% from the field and only 61% from the line. He scored 633 on 482 shots, good for 1.31 points per attempt. Take out his 177 FTs and he averaged 0.94 points per FGA. Yes, Wilt scored more, but he wasn't even close to Ben's efficiency.
Manning's best season was actually his junior year. His 24 ppg was just a point less than what he did as a senior, but he shot the ball better as a junior and was a better rebounder as well. In that 1986-87 year, Manning shot 61% from the field, 33% from 3 (1 for 3) and 73% from the line. He scored 860 points on 562 shots good for 1.53 points per shot attempt. That's almost dead even with what Ben is doing this season. Take away the 165 FTs he made and he's a bit better than Ben at 1.23 points per attempt. And remember, Danny played inside. Ben's a perimeter player.
Collison's best season was his junior year as well. His senior season saw more points, but again, this is about efficiency, and that was his junior year. 16 points a night on 59% shooting, including 37% from 3 (3-8) and 57% at the line (which ended up haunting us the next season). He scored 577 on 414 shots, for 1.39 pps. When you take away his 87 FTs, he's still at 1.19. Collison could have been on a truly elite level had he been even a 65% FT shooter.
And those are all guys that did a fair amount of their damage in the paint. They were not jump shooters.
Rex Walters was a jump shooter. In 1991-92 he put up 16 ppg on 52/40/83 shooting. Pretty impressive. Scored 513 points on just 314 shots for a mind blowing 1.63 points per shot. That's one point six three points per shot. Holy cow. Taking away his 115 FTs, he scored an equally ridiculous 1.26 points per FGA. That's just absurd. How that team lost to UTEP I will never understand. The key for Walters was that he was so good inside the arc, and he shot a lot of threes at a fairly good percentage. He shot 168 3's to only 146 2's. He made 97 of his 146 2's (66%). Basically when Rex Walters was inside the arc he was either scoring or getting fouled (and making free throws). And when he was outside the arc he was burying triples at a more than respectable rate. That 2 point shooting percentage is hard to comprehend. Just incredible. Had I not looked at the numbers myself, I would have doubted it.
Paul Pierce is a similar size to Ben. His junior year he shot 51/34/74. Not bad. Tossed in 20 ppg. Scored 777 points on 559 shots, or 1.38 points per shot. Take away his 163 FTs and his number drops to 1.09. It's pretty clear Paul owed much of his efficiency to being able to get to the line at a pretty high rate (over 4 made FTs a game). Pierce shouldered a pretty hefty scoring load and was pretty efficient, but not at the rate that Ben has been.
Kirk Hinrich's junior year was pretty crazy. The line of 54/48/81 is healthy any way you look at it. When you consider the fact that he was a guard, that's even more impressive. Kirk threw up 15 a game, and on the season had 546 points on 366 shots. That's 1.49 points per shot. That's really good. Take away his FTs (84) and he matches Walters with 1.26 points per FGA.
That's six of the greatest shooting seasons in the history of KU basketball, and of those, only one is superior to what Ben is doing - Rex Walters incredible 1991-92 season - and only two others (Manning in 86-87 and Hinrich in 01-02) are even on par. The rest (Chamberlain, Pierce, Collison) are clearly not as efficient as what Ben is doing right now.
The even crazier thing is this. Rex Walters season was so efficient because his shot selection went directly to his strengths - excellent three point shooter, only taking twos if they were wide open, or layups. 53% of his FGA were 3's. What Walters did in 1991-92 probably can't be duplicated. I know that I didn't appreciate how efficient Rex was at the time, but I definitely do now. And I am definitely going to appreciate how efficient Ben McLemore is playing on offense right now. It's gonna be a while before you see something like this again.