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2016 Xavier basketball player preview: Malcolm Bernard

Do you know much about Malcom Bernard? If not, let’s learn together!

NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal - Syracuse v North Carolina
Let’s hope Malcolm gets us to the Final Four this year. I don’t currently have rights to any pictures of him.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Let’s start with the good news on Bernard: his team asked him to do everything last year, and he did some of it well. His assist rate of 31.8% was just outside of the top 50 in the nation. He’s good defensively, both on the ball and on the glass. He blocks a decent amount of shots for a guard.

Now the less-rosy facts. Malcolm isn’t a good shooter. At all. His shooting line last year was a grim .421/.211/.660. He shot 25% on two-point jumpers. How much of that was related to having to carry the whole load I can’t say, but his EFG% of 43% isn’t meaningfully different than LAJ’s, and we saw how that worked out on offense.

Best case scenario:

Malcolm doesn’t have to shoot much. What Remy was to last year’s team, Bernard can be to this year’s. His forte is defense, and with the firepower around him, he’s free to focus on that. Bernard is an effective finisher and slasher; with shooters all around him, he’s free to focus on his offensive strengths and defer rather than force on his weaknesses. His ORtg easily surmounts 100 and he makes opposing perimeter scorers rue the grad transfer rule.

Worst case scenario:

Old habits die hard, and Malcolm can’t quite adjust to not having to try to end the possession every time he has the ball. His penchant for forcing draws the ire of fans and teammates, and his defense is only just good enough to make up for his offensive inefficiency and keep him on the floor.

Most likely scenario:

Defense will be Bernard’s calling card this year, but I think his offensive efficiency will improve for being able to focus on his strengths. He’s not likely to explode for 20 at any point in time, but he’ll be something better than an offensive black hole. He’ll keeps his ORtg north of the break-even point and his defense will have older Xavier fans telling tales of Stan Burrell.