While depth is clearly the greatest asset of this Gonzaga Bulldogs team, to use an old cliche, there has to be someone that 'stirs the drink'. The Zags have gotten outstanding performances from virtually every contributor at some point this season. While I never want to say that this is the best Gonzaga team I have seen - mainly because it is an impossible comparison and will lead to bickering, I can definitely say one thing definitively: this is the hardest time I've had picking out a weakness on a Gonzaga team. A lot of this is due to their senior point guard. Kevin Pangos' ability to step into a bit of a different role this year, become incredibly efficient, and hit the big shot may just be the difference in getting this team to a deep March run.
It jumped out to me while I was reading over a couple previously written articles that I don't think I could have asked for a more picture perfect stat line for Pangos this season than what he has put together so far. Think about it. He's playing less, shooting better (considerably), scoring less (barely), assisting more, turning it over less, and taking it away more. That could end the article right there. And everyone would say "duh, idiot, I know he is playing well".
The thing is, however, is that he's truthfully the most efficient offensive weapon in the game right now and this is backed up by a pretty damn good measure. Kevin Pangos currently leads the nation in an advanced metric called Offensive Rating. Quite simply, this is a measure that estimates the amount of points scored by a player and the amount of points produced (or assisted) by the same player. To level set the field, it grosses everyone up to if it was per 100 possessions. Pangos' value in this stat is currently 145.8! Making this easier to understand, every possession Pangos is on the floor for, he produces 1.458 points in some form or fashion.
To put this into perspective, the best rating last year was 138. To further illuminate this, last year, Kevin Pangos' rating was 122. This was good enough for 6th...in the WCC. He was behind teammates Gary Bell and Sam Dower in this category.
As I said earlier, the formula is simple. He's shooting incredibly better: currently, he is at 51% from the floor whereas a season ago he finished at 43%. He's also 48% from beyond the arc vs. 41% as a junior. He's also sharing the wealth way more. He's passing out five assists per game vs. 3.5 a year ago. His assist percentage this season, which is an estimate of the percent of field goals a player assists while on the court, is a whopping 25%. His value in this category a year ago was 18%.
My favorite stat, though, and it is a pretty nominal difference, is the fact that Pangos is playing fewer minutes this season. In fact, he's playing basically the same minutes per game as he did as a freshman. Right now, he's at 31.7 minutes vs. 35 last year. As we all know, Pangos has struggled with injuries so doing whatever he can to stay fresh is going to be huge if the Zags want to really breakthough in the tournament.
For now, freaking enjoy that the most efficient offensive threat in college basketball wears a Gonzaga uniform.