I was stuck in one of those KenPom fueled time sucks last week when I found myself on the Horizon League page. Although Valparaiso and Detroit seem to be on a collision course toward a rematch in the Horizon League title game, what I found most interesting was that the league does not have a single player who plays at least 40% of the team's minutes while using 28% of possessions. The Great West conference is the only other conference like this after having zero conferences with this balance last year.
Predictably, Ray McCallum Jr and Kevin Van Wijk lead the league in Offensive Rating, at 119.1 and 118.6, respectively. I was impressed with Van Wijk last year and with the little I have seen him so far this year, so I wanted to investigate him further. Per his KenPom page, his offensive rating has increased substantially from last year's mark of 106.9. What is pushing him to this level of success? One main reason is his ability to create easy points around the rim.
According to hoop-math, Van Wijk takes 77% of his shots at the rim while shooting 69% on these shots. How is he so proficient at these shots? Let's take a look at the video.
The first thing we want to look at is his ability to gain strong position in the post. In the following clips, you will see him work tirelessly to pin his defender on the block and receive the entry pass. He must be one of the hardest workers at posting up his defender as he is constantly moving to get into post position. Look at how he seals his man with his body, rendering his defender useless against the easy finish.
Once he has his defender in an advantageous spot, he raises his hand signaling where he wants the entry pass and his teammates are very good at feeding him the ball. According to hoop-math, 79% of his shots at the rim are assisted. This is somewhat to be expected, as most scorekeepers will give an assist even after a complex post move is utilized, but it shows how the rest of the Crusaders make this a strength of Van Wijk.
The second part of Van Wijk's game that contributes to his strong around the basket game is his subtle movements that put him in position around the rim or, more importantly, in the passing lanes. Van Wijk seems to have a very high basketball IQ, at least on the offensive end, as he is constantly sliding into space allowing him the better opportunity to receive the pass for the easy layup.
When the drive by his teammate is started, Van Wijk is behind two defenders, making a pass impossible. However, if we watch the play develop, Van Wijk shuffles a few feet to his left, putting him in perfect position to receive the dump off pass on the block.
The movement is minimal but it is just enough to allow the pass to be made. There are several other clips that demonstrate this which lead to several easy layups for Van Wijk.
Van Wijk is adept at both getting favorable position in the post against a defender and moving away from the defense to get the open layups. These factors contribute to his high field goal percentage around the rim, leading to his high offensive rating. His game isn't flashy but he is one of the hardest workers in the country and it shows in the amount of easy baskets he gets around the rim, thanks to his tireless movement.
Follow on Twitter @JoshuaRiddell