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Sunday Thoughts: Is Dakota Mathias Purdue’s Second Best Player?

The junior guard is off to a great start in 2016-17.

NCAA Basketball: Cleveland State at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This idea was proposed in our staff group chat earlier today, but it got me wondering as we are now 10 games into the season:

Is Dakota Mathias Purdue’s second best player?

First of all, Caleb Swanigan has clearly been Purdue’s best guy. While he continues to have turnover issues (as he addressed after yesterday’s game), he is an automatic double-double every night and a threat for a triple-double with his passing. He is likely going to lead the Big Ten in rebounding for a second straight season and offensively he is more diverse than ever.

But what about Mathias? He hasn’t been lighting it up every single night, but he has been ridiculously consistent every night. Let’s look at his numbers:

29.8 minutes per game – He is staying on the floor. This number is up a whopping 10 minutes per game over his first two seasons, where he averaged 19.6 as a freshman and 19.0 as a sophomore. Also, he is rarely in foul trouble.

10.8 points per game – He is tied for fourth on the team in scoring with Vincent Edwards, but he hasn’t had some of the no shows like Vince has had. His worst game was against Villanova where he only had three points and missed the last second three to tie. He still had four assists.

4.3 rebounds per game – Dakota is a sneaky-good rebounder. He is fourth on the team in the category and has at least five in his last four games.

3.8 assists per game – Many people have raved about his passing, but this season it is really coming through. He is second on the team in assists behind Vince and so far has been a key part of the motion offense. Both he and P.J. only have a combined 22 turnovers as a starting back court, too.

52.9% FG, 75% FT, 56% 3FG – Dakota is shooting the lights out of the damn gym and the farther he gets from the basket the better he is. He has taken 50 threes, tied for most on the team with Carsen Edwards, but while Carsen is not quite there with his shot, Dakota is sniping. He is 28 of 50. In his last three games he has been even better at 10 of 16. Against Utah State he was 6 of 7 from long range and had 25 points. The only game where he did not make a three was an 0 for 2 night at Louisville. Unlike Ryan Cline, Dakota has not been strictly a three-point shooter, either. He has shown he can hit the midrange jumper and even got to the basket from time to time. He is still 9 of 20 on two-point attempts. Cline just had his first two-point attempt on Saturday.

72.9% eFG – I have no idea what effective field goal percentage is, but Dakota is a national leader in this category at nearly 73%. Among qualified players he is ranked 22nd nationally and 3rd in the Big Ten, just two-tenths of a point behind Illinois’ Tracy Abrams and 2.1% behind Iowa’s Cordell Pemsl.

We’re only 10 games into the season, but so far Dakota is having a fantastic junior year. He has been a pleasant surprise and when our back court had some questions coming in, he has been a positive answer.