Postseason Player Review: James Blackmon Jr.

Stu Jackson, Staff Writer
The Hoosier

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Jordan Wells / TheHoosier.com

TheHoosier.com will review each IU player's 2016-17 season.

We continue the series with a look at junior guard James Blackmon Jr.

Stats

Averaged team-high 17 points per game, also chipping in 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in team-leading 30.5 minutes per contest ... Shot 47.7 percent from the field, including 42.3 percent from 3-point range ... Started in all 30 games he played in, missing four due to injury.

Season In Review

Blackmon appeared to play with a chip on his shoulder throughout his junior campaign, and for good reason. He missed the final 18 games of his sophomore season due to a season-ending knee injury, and given how Indiana performed in his absence, many wondered if the Hoosiers performed better with him sidelined because of his defensive struggles - struggles that outweighed his offensive production.

The Marion, Indiana, native silenced his critics by scoring a team-high 26 points in a season-opening win over then-No. 1 Kansas in the Maui Invitational. His rebounding also proved be an asset, averaging 4.8 boards per game - best among all IU guards last year.

Blackmon's offense proved critical for IU this season. He saved the Hoosiers at Penn State Jan. 18 with the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer and put up a career-high 33 points in a home win over Michigan State three days later. His 23 points helped IU advance past Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

However, single-game point totals only tell part of the story when it comes to Blackmon's role in the offense. Using advanced statistics from KenPom.com helps explain this.

Looking at his usage or percent of possessions used - KenPom utilizes this metric to describe a player's role in the offense by explaining how the number of his team's possessions the player is "personably responsible for ending while he is on the floor" - Blackmon accounted for 23.1 percent, highest among IU's significant contributors, or players who used 20-24 percent of possible possessions. He also had the highest shot volume of any Hoosier, taking 27.7 percent of possible attempts according to KenPom.

Overall, his performance garnered him Third Team All-Big Ten recognition from conference media and an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten from conference coaches. He also was one of 10 finalists for the Jerry West Award, given annually to the nation's top shooting guard.

On April 11, Blackmon officially declared for the NBA Draft but chose not to hire an agent, leaving the door open for him to return to school if he so chooses.

Outlook

Blackmon will test the NBA Draft waters for the third year in a row. However, his NBA prospects don't look promising.

Neither DraftExpress.com, ESPN NBA Draft analyst Chad Ford nor NBADraft.net have Blackmon getting selected in this summer's draft. DraftExpress doesn't include Blackmon in its latest Top 100 player rankings, nor does NBADraft.net analyst Aran Smith. Ford's Big Board only ranks 30 plays but doesn't include Blackmon either.

Blackmon, who still has one year of eligibility left, previously said he intended to graduate this year. Because he declared and didn't sign with an agent, he has until May 24 to withdraw his name from consideration and return to school or stay in the draft.

Is returning the best option? That's the biggest question for Blackmon, who will have to decide whether his best professional development opportunities will come from another year at Indiana, or as a projected undrafted free agent who would have earn his way onto an NBA roster through the Summer League or Development League.

Previous Postseason Player Reviews

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