Hot take: Paul Scruggs is the most important player on our team right now. On the eye-test alone, he has been playing his best basketball since Big East play began at Depaul at the end of December. But, since the eye-test may not be enough to convince you, I decided to look at the numbers to see if my assessment holds true.
The first number I want to put out there is that in the first five Big East games Paul is averaging 16.6 points per game - shooting 46% from the field (29/63). As a team that has struggled significantly on the offensive end since the season began, this is huge. This is up from his season average of 13.2 ppg and his average of 12.2 ppg in the five games leading up to conference play. On the season he is shooting 51% from the field, more than Naji’s season average of just 40%.
The next stat that caught my eye is his 4:1 assist to turnover ratio. He has 16 total assists in the first five conference games and only 4 total turnovers in that same stretch. Did I mention that he has played 190 of 200 total minutes? Oh, and that he has had to be our primary ball handler in the last 2 games since Q has been out? Paul has delivered when asked to be our floor general; dishing out 10 assists alone in the last two games. Compare this to the 23 turnovers and only 13 assists he had in the five games leading up to the Big East, and you can see that his ball security/decision making has greatly improved - and on a team that has struggled all season to keep the ball from the opponent, you can’t overlook how important this is to overall team success.
Additionally, Paul has recently proven to be a capable three point shooter on a team where 3-point baskets are very few and far between. He is shooting 41% since BE play started, including a 5/8 afternoon against Butler (63%). Compare this to Ryan Welage who is only shooting 31% in conference play on 8/26 shooting, and you can see that Paul is filling in gaps that desperately need to be filled to open things up inside for Hankins and Jones and steal wins in the conference.
Lastly I just want to point out in the five Big East games played, Paul has pulled down 31 total rebounds - 10 of those coming on the offensive glass. To me, this really exemplifies how much he is doing to help our team win right now. For a guy who has played as many minutes as he has recently, this stat tells you how hard Paul works for this team.
I rest my case there, knowing that there are still plenty of games to be played. If Paul can keep this up, though, I like where we are heading.