In many ways, Bashir Ahmed’s game is the same (more below). But in one way, Ahmed’s game is markedly different - defense.
Ahmed has been active! Energetic! Moving the feet and hands! And willing to defend in the post, using his muscular frame to at least try to slow down opponents - especially in cases where other players are in foul trouble.
Outside of the defensive changers, for good or bad, Bash has been the player we knew him to be last season - aggressive on offense, strong, but not able to draw as many fouls as he would like with his straight-line drives to the hoop.
By the numbers
Best game: vs Missouri, where he found the stroke in the second half to the tune of 17 points, 4/8 shooting, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls
Before the season, Bashir Ahmed got the message from NBA scouts that to be a viable consideration for the NBA/ high-level leagues, Ahmed needed to pass the ball a little better, get more assists, and shoot a higher percentage.
He might be on his way, but right now, the results look much the same as they did last season. Consider:
- Ahmed is using 28% of possessions this season; he used a little under 28% last year.
- He has a higher steal rate, but his assist rate has gone down from 9% to 8% of teammates’ shots.
- His two-point percentage is 45% (a notch up from last year’s 43% and his three-point shooting percentage is 32% (a drop from last year’s 35%).
There are lessons in shot selection that he may be learning and refining, but when the team is looking for an offensive answer, he continues to be willing to drive headlong into opponents.
If he can improve his craftiness and timing, he’ll be an even better player than last year. Already, his three-point shooting seems to more on-target (no airballs, so far) and his shot looks better balanced from what we have seen. Ahmed has been willing to move the ball around, though the Johnnies have looked to be more aggressive than deliberative in their half court offense.
If he cannot improve his shot selection and decision-making, he’ll have his good days, where the shot is falling and he carries the team for stretches... and Ahmed will have his bad days, where he wonders where the foul calls are and why the referees allow that level of contact.