At first glance, it appears that the sophomore forward is off to a slow start to the 2016-17 season. A deeper look at his numbers paints a different picture.
Through seven games, Carlton Bragg Jr. is averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game on 56% shooting. Respectable numbers, sure, but it’s a far cry from what many KU fans expected the sophomore to accrue this season. Bragg has been sidelined with foul trouble for much of the action thus far, limiting his minutes per game to just over 16, seventh-most amongst Jayhawks.
Bragg’s perceptively slow start has been reflected in Coach Bill Self’s starting lineup, where he has been replaced in favor of Lagerald Vick. Since the shift to a smaller starting lineup, the Jayhawks have put up their highest offensive rating outputs of the young season, albeit against their two worst opponents.
While Bragg’s per game numbers may appear disappointing, his numbers per 40 minutes tell a much more promising story.
Carlton Bragg Jr, per 40 minutes (KU rank amongst players over 10 mpg):
Points: 18.6 (3rd)
Rebounds: 12.8 (2nd)
Carlton Bragg Jr, per 100 possessions (KU rank amongst players over 10 mpg):
Offensive Rating: 122.4 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: 89.9 (3rd)
Net Rating: 32.5 (1st)
When Bragg has been on the floor, Kansas has outscored their opponent by 32.5 points per 100 possessions. That figure alone shows just how valuable Bragg’s presence on the floor is to this Kansas squad. In addition, Bragg leads Kansas in offensive rebound percentage by a large margin at 14.2%, a number that puts him in the top 65 of all players in the country.
Obviously, when Carlton Bragg has been on the floor, he has been extremely productive. The problem for Bragg (and Kansas) has been keeping him on the floor. Going back to those per 40 figures, we see that Bragg averages 7.2 personal fouls per 40 minutes played, behind fellow frontcourt mates Landen Lucas (8.2) and Udoka Azubuike (7.9). For comparison’s sake, the next highest Jayhawk in terms of fouls per 40 is Josh Jackson at 4.6.
Yes, Bragg’s perceived early season struggles have frustrated some Jayhawk fans, who had high expectations for the sophomore filling the shoes of the great Perry Ellis. However, as a deeper look at Bragg’s numbers show, there is absolutely no reason to panic about the productivity of Carlton Bragg. Once Bragg is able to limit his foul issues and remain on the floor, he will continue to bolster a Kansas team that ranks in the top ten in the nation in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Although patience and rationality are not exactly pervasive amongst sports fans (guilty), please do not panic about Carlton Bragg’s output thus far, he’s going to be a major contributor to this team going forward.