Kelly effect: Who has stepped up
903 mens national championships Feb 26, 6:16 p.m.
Sulaimon may not come to mind as one of the players who would have stepped into Kelly's shoes, because the 6-foot-4 wing plays a different position while utilizing a very different skill set. But Sulaimon's aggressive style, athleticism and continued maturation have led the freshman to reap the benefits of an increased role in the offense.
Overall, the currently healthy members of the roster have seen a 21-percent improvement in points per minute since Kelly got hurt, which roughly reflects the fact that at any given time, Kelly represented one of five players on the floor and thus took about a fifth of the scoring opportunities. Sulaimon has absorbed an outsized proportion of the extra scoring load, though, taking his scoring average from 14 points per 40 minutes with Kelly to 20.6 without him, a 47-percent improvement.
Jefferson, who posted 14 points in just 21 minutes of action while making 5-of-7 shots from the floor and 4-of-5 free throws Sunday, has not seen the same per-minute improvement as Sulaimon but has nonetheless taken an important step forward. Jefferson has moved from 11.9 points per 40 minutes to 14.1, an 18-percent uptick that is the product of the natural redistribution of scoring. But he has kept his production consistent while seeing a significantly expanded role, which not all players can manage.
Hairston has not played as many of the new power forward minutes as Jefferson and did not have as much impact Sunday with just three points, but he has led the team in productive improvement. The junior has more than doubled his per-minute output during the past 12 games, from 5.3 points per 40 minutes to 12.5, while providing a more physical alternative to the wiry Jefferson.
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