What should KU fans expect out of Svi Mykhailiuk based on past performance?
The senior has been one of KU’s key players for the past two seasons but can still be a frustration for many fans.
When he came to Kansas, he was an unknown player from Ukraine. That sense of the unknown and the talk of Svi’s high ceiling by NBA draft scouts likely led to the lofty, and sometimes unfair, expectations put on him by fans.
Even one of Svi’s biggest moments as a Jayhawk, a game-winning layup last season against Kansas State, is seen by many as a fluke. (Unless you’re a K-State fan reading this, in which that was a great play and not a travel.)
Svi is known as a shooter and is often called the best three-point shooter on the team, but that hasn’t always been the case. He is a career 38 percent three-point shooter, a solid percentage, but not one high enough too match his reputation. He has also never led the Jayhawks in three-point percentage for an entire season.
During the 2015-2016 campaign, Svi shot 40 percent from three, the fourth best percentage that year of players who shot 50 or more three-point shots. This past season, Svi shot 40 percent again from three, which was good enough for second best on the team behind the lights-out Frank Mason.
A year of shooting 40 percent from three would never be considered bad, it just isn’t what you expect from the best shooter on the team.
Svi can also seem to struggle on the defensive side of the ball. Last season he had a defensive rating of 104.3 according to College Basketball Reference, a stat that estimates the number of points allowed per 100 possessions. That number was the highest on the team of any player that played over 30 minutes all season.
At 6’8” and 195 pounds, he falls in that ‘tweener zone. He is often tasked with guarding smaller wing-type players, but can struggle to stay in front of ball-handlers on drives and closeouts. When he guards big men, it can be tough for him to match their muscle and physicality.
However, this is where I think he fits best in KU’s defensive scheme, a guy who may give up a rebound on the defensive end, but will beat most big men with speed and spacing on offense.
So what should we expect from Svi this year as he enters his third season as a major contributor for the Jayhawks and will likely start most games?
We should probably expect Svi to shoot more this season than in year’s past, and that is a good thing. He shot 40 percent from three the past two seasons, but last season he also shot almost twice as many threes – 92 compared to 176 – as he did the year before.
This shows that even with an increase in opportunity, he still remains a good shooter. If he can continue to be a high-volume shooter from three, and increase his average closer to 45 percent, the Jayhawks will be even more explosive on offense
Devonte Graham and Malik Newman should help Svi become a better shooter this year. The lead guards should both be high-level scorers, and if they can shoot well like Mason did last year, opposing defenses will have to allow Svi a little more room on offense.
The development of Udoka Azubukie could also be key. Landen Lucas was a good player for the Jayhawks last year but didn’t provide much scoring via post-ups. If Azubukie can continue improving his offensive game and become a threat down low, defenses will be pulled more inside, providing Svi with open kick-out opportunities.
These scenarios are obviously the ideal ones, and will likely not all happen. However, fans should be content with the outcome and calm their frustrations with Svi. He has shown he is a good shooter who plays major minutes for one of the best and most trusted coaches in the country, and that should be enough for KU fans.
Jackson Hodges is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. Follow him on Twitter.