There wasn't a lot of certainty coming into the backcourt this season except for one steady hand: Kyle Dranginis. Dranginis had turned himself into a jack of all trades and was ready to finally get inserted into the starting lineup, and excel.
For the most part, he has.
Dranginis is seeing the most minutes of his career, up to nearly 31 minutes per game. With the increase in minutes, the production has increased as well (not all of it unfortunately). Draino is averaging 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and one steal a game. He only turns the ball over once a game, sometimes twice. The senior forward/guard is exactly the stable hand the Zags have needed him to be with the young backcourt.
Except for one, rather important hole: like everyone else not playing in the post, his shot has suffered. Dranginis has a career field-goal average of 46.4 percent. This season he is merely hitting 36.9 percent of his shot attempts. The most depressing stat out of all of them as well: Dranginis is just 8-for-17 from the free throw line.
It seems, like a lot of players on this team, that offensive jitters can even hit the upper classmen. In games against Arizona, Montana and UCLA, Dranginis shot a mere 1-for-12. Most importantly, against Arizona, Dranginis took just one shot.
Now, Dranginis has never been a high volume shooter. That isn't his game. Per 40 minutes over his college career, he has averaged just 7.5 shots per game (for comparison, Kyle Wiltjer is averaging 18.4 shot attempts per 40 minutes this season). The knock comes from the fact that he maybe should have been taking more shots, especially as the team struggled. The backcourt has some youthful jitters in it, and it would have been nice to see Draino do his part to try and alleviate some of that pressure. Taking one shot against a top-10 team isn't going to do said things.
That said, it is Dranginis glue-guy stature that makes him so important for this team. As evident by that stressful game against UConn, Dranginis needs to be on the court as much as possible, especially in crunch time situations. Because, other than the uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting, Dranginis is one of the steadiest hands the Zags have on both the offensive and defensive side.
He has a knack of being there to grab that important rebounds. He can successfully defend players that have a couple of inches on him, as well as lock down opposing guards. His defensive rating this season is 94.9, right in step with the rest of the team. He is fantastic in the offense, with his assist percentage (estimation of number of field goals a player assists with while on the floor) at 17.8 percent, second on the team to Josh Perkins.
Dranginis is never going to be the flashiest player in the game. He will rarely end up with player of the game awards, but his 5.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game are some of the more important stats the Bulldogs will get. If he can pick up his offensive prowess and alleviate some of the pressure on Perkins and Melson, by the end of the season he could very well be the Zags personal MVP.