A quick glance at Devonte' Graham vs. Frank Mason through 6 games
If you're looking for a definitive sign about just how talented and impressive this Kansas basketball offense has been during the team's first six games of the season, look no further than the most recent list of the team's top scorers.
Even with his 35-point outburst in Tuesday's 96-58 victory over Toledo — a point total that's worth at least two games by the balanced Bill Self scoring standards — Graham still sits just fourth in overall scoring at 15.8 points per game.
Technically, Graham is in a tie for third, with Lagerald Vick, and both are just one point behind Udoka Azubuike for second. But even after a 35-point explosion that came just a few games into the season, Graham is still looking up at a couple of teammates in the scoring column.
Not that he cares much.
In fact, one of the big reasons Graham sits where he sits is because he spent the first handful of games chasing assists instead of shots.
The bottom line is this: Graham can get a shot pretty much any time he wants one. And he has the green light to take just about any shot out there. But instead of abusing that freedom and making it all about him, Graham continues to prove that he's a team-first guy and will, almost without fail, take whatever is given to him.
If it's a night like Tuesday, when the shot was falling and the opponent had no answer, Graham is happy to keep pumping up shots and racking up points.
If it's not there, or even if something better is — say a hot streak from Svi Mykhailiuk or an obvious size advantage for Udoka Azubuike — then Graham will almost always go there instead.
That's what makes him so talented and tough to stop and what makes second-ranked Kansas so dangerous, among other things.
Graham, like Frank Mason III before him, is the unquestioned driver of the bus. He makes Kansas go, he leads them in good times and bad and the whole reason he's even still here was because he wanted the opportunity to do just that.
He's getting it, in every way possible now that he's a senior, and nights like Tuesday's, where he scored a career-high 35 points and controlled nearly every aspect of the game, have inspired some around the country to exclaim that Graham is doing a heck of a Frank Mason impersonation so far.
While the goal for Graham was never to be Mason — only to have a similar season — it's only natural to want to compare the two given their status as senior point guards who had been around Bill Self's program for a while and were in the position of leading the team both on the court and as the face off of it.
With that in mind, here's a look at how the two stack up through six games of their senior season, with Mason clearly having the edge in scoring — but, again, Graham has not exactly been looking to score so far — and Graham getting the edge in assists, rebounds and turnovers, all in fewer minutes.
Where Graham's season goes from here is anybody's guess. The competition will get tougher and the demand for him to score more also might rise.
But if he can keep up anywhere close to this pace, it's going to bode well for his journey of following in Mason's footsteps and for KU's quest to get back to the Final Four.
|First 6 Games||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Turnovers||3-Pt Shooting||FG Shooting||Minutes|
|Devonte' Graham, 2017-18||15.8||4.8||51||15||13-of-36, .361||33-of-74, .446||33 mpg|
|Frank Mason III, 2016-17||21.5||4.3||30||18||12-of-25, .480||45-of-82, .549||35 mpg|