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Iowa State’s Monte Morris Could be the Best PG in the NCAA

The Iowa State Cyclones may have lost their head coach–Fred Hoiberg–to the NBA’s Chicago Bulls this offseason, but they are still returning one of the nation’s most loaded rosters. Among those returning, no player could be set up for a better season than the team’s point guard, former Flint Beecher superstar Monte Morris.

Morris has put up remarkable numbers during his time in Ames.

As a true freshman in 2013-14, he played in 36 games while averaging 28.1 minutes, 6.8 points, 3.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds per outing. He also finished fourth on the team in total win shares and led the team in offensive rating–it was a fantastic debut for a freshman fighting for minutes.

Despite that great start, Morris actually made a name for himself as sophomore this past year. Iowa State didn’t live up to the hype during 2015 March Madness. Nonetheless, it was a dangerous team that finished 25-9. During that stretch, Morris–also known as “Man-Man”–led the team in minutes, assists and steals; he was second in scoring, field goal attempts, and two-point makes.

On top of that, the sophomore led the Big 12 in offensive rating, was No. 4 in the conference in assist rate, and was No. 7 in the conference in effective field goal percentage. Considering that KenPom rated the Big 12 as the nation’s top conference last season, those are major numbers.

But how good will Morris be next season?

The chatter has been going on for awhile about Iowa State, but some of the biggest questions surround production from point guards. Can Morris yet again raise his level and become an All-Big 12 type of player? Can he command another slice of the national spotlight? He certainly is capable of doing so.

But how does he compare to some of the nation’s elite point guards?

To gain a little perspective on where Morris stands among the rest, let’s take a look at how he compared to elite point guards such as Kris Dunn, Yogi Ferrell, Nic Moore, Marcus Paige, and Fred Van Vleet. They’re not the only great ones heading into this season, but they’re undoubtedly among the nation’s best.

Of course, the first place to start is with the traditional stats. These alone don’t tell the full story on players, but they do serve as a nice starting point.

On with the comparisons.

2014-15 Point Guard Traditional Stats:

Morris certainly holds up well in the traditional numbers. However, these type of stats don’t tell the full story of a player’s contributions. With that said, it’s time to take a look at more advanced metrics–those figures help paint a more precise picture.

2014-15 Point Guard Win Shares:

2014-15 Point Guard Offensive Rating:

2014-15 Point Guard PER:

Of course, there are plenty of other statistics that can help flush out this comparison. Usage, though, really sheds some light on the subject by helping put some of the total contributions. They also put efficiency numbers into perspective. Some players simply get the ball more often.

Here’s how they compared in overall usage last season.

2014-15 Point Guard Usage:

A few things stand out after crunching the numbers.

In terms of total contributions, Dunn probably had a slight edge over the field–on the other hand, based on advanced numbers, VanVleet was at the top of this group. It’s not that surprising that the field was so divided. Morris’ low usage rate, as compared to the rest, was perhaps one of the more interesting facts discovered through the research process.

It certainly wasn’t a night and day type of difference, but if Morris had usage numbers equal to those of Dunn and VanVleet, we could be talking about an entirely different story.

There isn’t one measure that can solely establish Morris as the nation’s best point guard. However, after analyzing some of the key statistics, it’s pretty clear that the holds up against the best. In all likelihood, he’ll get have greater opportunities this season.

Morris’ skills paired with returning pieces gives reason to believe that Iowa State could string together a run to the Final Four this year. Morris has the ability to lead the charge, and if successful, he’d go down as one of the better players in Cyclones history.

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