We all know Michael Gbinije is enjoying a very good senior season. But, did you know it might just be the best all-around season in modern Syracuse basketball history?
I suppose you could go research it yourself, but I’ll save you the time and energy and share what I’ve learned.
No Syracuse player, since the three-pointer was adopted by the NCAA during the 1986-1987 season, has scored at least 17.0 points per game, grabbed at least 4.1 rebounds per game, dished out 4.3 assists per game or more, swiped at least 2.3 steals per game, shot 46.7% from the field, and hit on at least 39.3% his three-point attempts. No one besides Gbinije, of course, who has done just that through 28 games.
Different players have met those marks in as many as five of those categories, but no one has accomplished all six through an entire season.
During my research I came across a lot of great names, and a bunch of very impressive statistical seasons. Yet, there are only a handful of players that you could argue had a better all-around statistical output than Gbinije.
Recently, Michael Carter-Williams became one of only four players in Orange modern history (not counting Gbinije) to record at least four rebounds and four assists per game. I think that metric serves as a solid benchmark to be in this conversation for best all-around player, with one gigantic exception that we will get to later. During the 2012-2013 season, he averaged 11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.3 apg and 2.8 spg. But we all know what an awful shooter he was at 39% from the field and 29% from deep. Gbinije gets the nod over him.
Before MCW, Billy Edelin joined that club with his 2003-2004 performance. But Billy only played in 17 games, and averaged just 13.8 ppg and 1.3 steals per contest. He doesn’t measure up to Gbinije as an offensive weapon, nor defensive playmaker. Frankly, he doesn’t belong in this argument, but his numbers warranted mention.
That leaves two players from the good ‘ol days that deserve serious consideration. Current assistant coach Adrian Autry is the only player to hit the marks in two separate seasons. His best season, the 1993-1994 campaign, produced 16.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, 1.6 spg, 44.9% shooting from the field, with 37% on threes. Autry is right there with the scoring, and bests Gbinije in both rebounding and assists. However, Gbinije has the advantage with steals, shooting, and turnovers per game with only 2.8 to Autry’s 3.8. Autry was a true point guard so the turnovers aren’t unexpected, and his assist to turnover ratio was actually slightly better. Still, if you look at the 6 main categories, right now Gbinije has the nod in 4 of them.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s Billy Owens. Owens’ 1989-90 season featured a stat line of 18.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.24 spg, 48.6% shooting overall, and 31.7% shooting from behind the arc. Gbinije has Owens on three-point shooting, and by less than a tenth of a steal per game. Owens, Syracuse’s first athletic playmaker from the forward position, exceeds Gbinije in every other category. The question is whether or not Gbinije’s outside efficiency puts his current season ahead of Owens’ sophomore campaign.
There’s no such debate, however, when remembering Owens’ 1990-1991 junior year onslaught. While he didn’t quite meet the four rebounds and four assists per game mandate I set forth earlier, he did put up a line of 23.3ppg, 11.6 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 1.2 blocks per game, 50% shooting, and 39.7% from three. That’s just beastly. The only category he doesn’t beat Gbinije in is assists, but he absolutely dominates in points, rebounds and blocks. If you can find a better all-around statistical season in modern ‘Cuse history, I’m all ears, but this one stands up to the test of time as far as I can see.
Even if it’s not the single best statistical season in Orange history, Michael Gbinije’s senior year has to be one of the top three. If he can finish strong, and pick up his scoring after two subpar outings, it’ll undoubtedly be regarded as the best all-around statistical season for an Orange player in 25 years, and he’ll be in prestigious company among the all-time Syracuse greats.