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What is going on with Paul Scruggs?

Xavier’s guard hasn’t let down with his effort, but results have been hard to come by recently.

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Xavier Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Scruggs is in a slump. Xavier’s guard was their most efficient offensive player for large parts of the early season. While Naji Marshall and Quentin Goodin struggled and KyKy Tandy couldn’t get healthy, Scruggs was excellent. He scored 24 against Florida, 30 more against Wake Forest, and had offensive efficiencies over 115 on nine occasions. Scruggs has never been a high usage guy so his counting numbers weren’t stratospheric, but he was far and away Xavier’s best offensive player.

Now, in the doldrums of another February, Scruggs is in an enormous slide. In the last seven games, Paul has posted a positive offensive efficiency exactly once (against Providence), in conference play he is shooting just 43.9% inside the arc and 61% from the line. Far from being Xavier’s most effective player on the offensive end, he has seen his season long efficiency number drop below 100.

A lot of this is due to Scruggs moving to spending more time on the ball. Since Quentin Goodin has been benched and Paul has taken the responsibility of starting the offense, he has gotten substantially worse. Instead of being able to work into the lane from the wing or catch the ball on a post entry, Scruggs has been forced to try to make his own way into the lane to find shots. That has led to a commensurate drop in effectiveness as Scruggs can no longer do what he likes to do. In the last month, Paul has watched his EFG% drop 7%. That’s not an insignificant number. While Scruggs is still shooting the three at essentially the same rate he always has given the change in the line, his two point shooting has gotten worse to the point that it’s undermining his game in general.

You might expect that moving a guard like Scruggs on to the ball would at least result in an uptick in assists. That also hasn’t been the case, while Scruggs hasn’t turned the ball over more since inheriting the point, his assist numbers have been in steady decline. The drop hasn’t been as precipitous as his two point shooting, it has been worth noting nonetheless. Simply put, Paul Scruggs has played far worse since becoming Xavier’s starting point guard.

Travis Steele needs to solve this particular issue to get the best out of his team. Quentin Goodin is not the answer. It’s unclear exactly what he offers going forward. KyKy Tandy has low turnover numbers, but his assist rate is well under 10%. He’s a scoring guard, for better or for worse. Neither of them seem a likely choice to start running the team effectively. That leaves, almost solely by default, Paul Scruggs. Leaving him at the helm, though, blunts the effectiveness of an already poor offense. Xavier has an issue, and fixing Paul Scruggs would be a great first step to fixing it.