Miami Basketball: Chris Lykes Ready For a Breakout Season

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What’s Lykes Game?

Chris Lykes, Miami’s starting point guard, is a dynamic scoring option for head coach Jim Larranaga. At 16.2 PPG, the Junior averaged a single point shy of breaking into college basketball’s top-100. However, his height plays a role in which scoring opportunities he can take advantage of.

At 5’7″ Lykes is probably the smallest guy on the floor at any point in time. Despite that, his 40.2% career field goal average proves he can efficiently score the ball. However breaking down where he scores most of his baskets tells a more detailed story.

His 47.8% average inside of the 3-point line is high for a volume scorer, but the 32.9% mark behind the arc highlights where his height is a disadvantage. Defenders have a much easier time guarding and impacting his jumper than playing him off the dribble.

Lykes stature is a huge advantage in keeping on-ball defenders off-balance, as evidenced by his shiftiness. However, he needs to improve his outside shooting and ball distribution to show NBA scouts the talent is there to succeed at the next level.

Why Is There Reason for Optimism in 2019?

During his freshman season, Lykes was flanked by athletic NBA guards Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown. The Hurricanes possessed a more balanced roster and had each of their top 7 players shoot over 40%. Challenging teams from behind the arc and attacking the rim kept opposing defenses honest.

However in Lykes’ second season, Miami lost a lot of that talent. It increasing opportunities for the point guard to stand out, but also left little depth for the team to distribute scoring. He capitalized and carried the team on a nightly basis.

This season’s roster changes will allow fans to see what could have been in year 1 with Lykes at full capability. Oklahoma transfer Kameron McGusty and freshmen Harlond Beverley and Isaiah Wong restore high-end athleticism to the program in 2019. For Lykes, the incoming trio provide the offense with added danger and dynamics to improve his passing and shot efficiency.

The opportunities to score will be diluted and it’s unlikely Lykes maintains 16.2 PPG from last season. However, it’s very reasonable to expect a bump in assists this year and more spacing to shoot the jumper. If he can maintain 14+ PPG, 36+% from 3 and 5 assists a night, there could be potential for him to receive an NBA-team invite to Summer League and training camp.

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