By RICHARD CHEEKS, Contributing Writer
Last season at UK, Tai Wynyard played a total of 54 minutes in 15 basketball games for Kentucky. While on the court, he attempted 6 shots and 3 free throws, scoring 11 points. In addition, he blocked 3 shots, had 1 assist, obtained 1 steal, and grabbed 5 offensive rebounds which is weighed against his 2 turnovers.
During his time on the Court, he is responsible for ending 9 ½ possessions (6 shots, 1 ½ two-shot free throw possessions, and 2 turnovers) yielding a raw offensive efficiency of 1.158 points per possession. However, his 5 offensive rebounds offset all but 4 ½ of the possessions he ended by taking shots or turning the ball over to the opponent. In addition, his assist generated points for his team via a teammate who received full credit for those 2 or 3 points which would not have occurred without Tai’s assist.
Therefore, to evaluate his offensive contribution fairly, his scoring should receive a small credit for the assist while his teammates lose a very small component of scoring to keep the total scoring in balance for the team. For these reasons, Tai’s modified offensive efficiency is 2.623 points per possession, the highest value on the 2016-17 team.
While a team’s offensive performance is the accumulation of individual performance levels more so than a synergistic team activity, defense, in my opinion is a team activity that can be influenced by an individual player’s contribution. For this reason, my individual efficiency analysis at the defensive end begins with the assumption that each player receives credit for the average team defensive efficiency.
However, there are individual contributions particularly from blocks and steals. In 2016-17, the team’s defensive efficiency was 0.953 points per possession. Tai’s blocks and steals during the season were less significant than those contributed on average by his teammates were. Therefore, Tai’s modified defensive efficiency is higher than the team average, 0.979 points per possession. Only Calipari, David, and Pulliam ended the season with a higher defensive efficiency than Tai.
The defensive shortcomings belie the limited game time that Coach Calipari provided him during the season. He must demonstrate improved defensive skill to see significant playing time on any Calipari coached UK team. It is that basic for Tai.
During the recent World Cup games, Tai displayed a very strong offensive game. This is not too surprising given the strong offensive game he posted during his first season at UK. In the World Cup, Tai posted three double doubles, and for the tournament, averaged 14.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game for New Zealand in 7 games. In World Cup play, Wynyard finished second in field goal percentage, second in blocks, sixth in scoring, fourth in double-doubles and ninth in rebounding.
In his 26.4 minutes per game, Tai shot 43-71 from the field, and 14-25 from the line. He committed 21 turnovers and grabbed 27 offensive rebounds. That is 100 points in 77 ½ possessions ended. He also dealt 13 assists. The team had 123 assist. Therefore, Tai’s modified offensive efficiency falls by about -0.0877 ppp to 1.202 ppp. Defensively, the New Zealand team had an efficiency of 0.990 ppp. Tai’s 13 blocks are substantially all of the 17 blocks recorded by the team.
This factor reduces his defensive efficiency by -0.0537 ppp. However, his five steals are a relative small component of the team’s 37 steals, which works the opposite direction on Tai’s individual defensive efficiency, adding about 0.0878 ppp. Therefore, Tai’s modified defensive efficiency is 1.0241. This yields a modified individual net efficiency of 0.178 ppp.
There are many reasons, including this World Cup performance, to believe that Tai has a solid foundation to build on and should enter his redshirt sophomore season at Kentucky a ton of confidence.
However, it appears that Tai’s strength in the World Cup U19 games this summer is his offense, as it was in his freshman season at UK. Similarly, it appears that Tai must focus on improving his defensive game. As noted previously, Tai must improve his defensive game if he hopes to receive more playing time from Coach Calipari in the 2017-18 season.