Overall Grade: A
Fan Grade: A
Traditional Stats (Team Rank)
10.1 Points (3rd)
3.7 Rebounds (4th)
1.5 Assists (3rd)
2-point FG%: 55.7% (6th)
3-point FG%: 37.2% (4th)
Everybody expected Kamar Baldwin to be the freshman making the biggest impact last season. Nobody expected him to impact the game like this. Baldwin hit a last second game winner at Hinkle in only his second game and never looked back from there. Altogether Kamar posted one of the best freshman seasons in Butler history and is poised to become a superstar for the next three years…if Butler is lucky enough to see him stick around that long.
Offensive Grade: B+
Advanced Offensive Stats
True Shooting Percentage: 57.4% (5th)
Offensive Rebounding Percentage: 2.1% (6th)
Assist Percentage: 10.7% (4th)
Turnover Percentage: 14.5% (6th)
Usage Percentage: 20.4% (3rd)
Offensive Rating: 107.5 (9th)
There are plenty of aspects of Kamar Baldwin’s game to marvel at. Somewhere near the top of that list is Baldwin’s ability to use his right hand. This freshman sensation is left handed, but if you never saw him shoot a jump shot you wouldn’t know it. He possesses a rare ability to use both hands equally well, frequently leaving Hinkle “oohing” and “ahhing” at his circus layups and floaters over shot blockers around the rim.
Baldwin does need to refine his offensive game to get to the next level. He was constantly showing flashes of brilliance but would also disappear for long stretches of the game. Baldwin is tremendous at creating for himself but didn’t use his speed with the ball to create much for others. He also was second worst on the team at getting to the free throw line. With his quickness and craftiness he should be able to draw more contact and get more easy points at the free throw line.
Despite all of that it’s clear Baldwin is bound for stardom. He became just the 5th Butler freshman since 1992 to average double digit points per season, and the only player to do so since Butler left the Horizon League. The other 4 (Gordon Hayward, Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, and A.J. Graves) all went on to have pretty impressive careers. Half of them departed early for the NBA. Only Matt Howard accomplished this with a higher field goal percentage.
Defensive Grade: A+
Advanced Defensive Stats
Defensive Rebounding Percentage: 15.1% (4th)
Steal Percentage: 3.8% (1st)
Block Percentage: 2.4% (2nd)
Defensive Box Plus/Minus: 8.7 (1st)
Defensive Rating: 98.3 (1st)
Spoiler alert: Kamar Baldwin is the only Butler player to earn an A+ grade in these report cards. He was without a doubt the best defender on Butler’s team and arguably the best defensive guard in the Big East. Baldwin has a rare combination of quickness and length that makes him a real pest for ball handlers. He finished 2nd in the conference in steal rate and finished a remarkable 14th in the conference in block rate despite being only 6 feet tall.
Baldwin introduced his elite defensive skills to the country in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. He drew the assignment of guarding Keon Johnson, a dynamic scorer who finished 11th in the country in points per game last season, scoring 22.3 points per game with unbelievable efficiency. Baldwin shadowed him around all night, holding Johnson to 7-19 shooting and helped Butler advance past Winthrop.
If Baldwin plays 4 years at Butler he will be all over the record book. One stat in particular to keep an eye on is the single season and all-time steals record. Thomas Jackson holds the record at 207 career steals and is tied with Alex Barlow with 74 steals in a single season. Kamar Baldwin had 59 steals playing 26 minutes per game as a freshman. As one of the most electric players on the court, Baldwin’s defense alone is worth the price of admission.
It would be faster to list the ways Kamar Baldwin won’t impact the 2017-2018 season. He will be a candidate for the All-Big East teams as well as defensive player of the year. If the Big East threw all the returning players in a pool and held a draft for next season, Kamar Baldwin would be one of the first players taken. His elite defense and ability to play on or off the ball make him a perfect fit in any offense with any roster. Future recruits should be banging on the door begging to play next to this kid. He’s going to leave Butler, whenever that is, as one of the most valuable players in program history.
Coming up next in the series will be sophomore Nate Fowler. You can vote for his grade on the forums here. You can see the previous grades below: