Through eight games, what has really been impressive about Bronson Koenig’s season is his ability to get his shot up off the dribble and his aggression getting to the rack.
Koenig has been very comfortable in the pick-and-roll this season as he and Ethan Happ have developed some chemistry in that action. Koenig also has shown significant improvement with his handle—he is much more confident off the bounce, making him a dangerous threat.
In the clip below, Koenig receives a ball screen from Happ leading to a Georgetown switch. Koenig doesn’t even hesitate before he turns the corner as he takes it to the rim. Georgetown shows some solid help side defense here and it leads to a touch layup for the Badger guard, but the aggression to the rim is a pleasant sight to see from Koenig.
A gripe that many had with the Badgers after their early-season loss on the road to Creighton was that they didn’t get to the line—only five attempts for the game, all of which came in the final six minutes—and Koenig’s ability to get to the rim this season could lead to more free throws for a very efficient free-throw shooter and the Badgers as a whole. Not to mention that Koenig’s size in the lane give him the advantage over many point guards that he’s going to face this season. Put Koenig in the lane and the entire floor will open up for him to either shoot or kick out to a teammate along the perimeter.
As for his shooting, Koenig’s three-point shot has been a bit erratic to say the least early on, but his mechanics are as strong as ever. As seen in the above play, Koenig pops straight out to the right corner following his miss and has a strong, square jumper from three. Koenig is arguably the Badgers’ best option as a perimeter threat, so 25 percent from beyond the arc (his mark before Tuesday’s three-point outburst against Syracuse) was not going to cut it, but the fact that he is looking confident while shooting from deep is a positive sign as the season progresses. After going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc against the Orange en route to 20 points, Koenig is now shooting 30.3 percent from three-point range this season.
However, Koenig may shoot a little too much for his own good. As the floor general of UW, he may want to create for others more often. Happ and Nigel Hayes could use more post looks and Koenig could look to use his great handle to command attention to himself, freeing up his teammates. The La Crosse, Wis., native is posting an average of less than two assists per game this season, which is not what the team’s primary ball handler should be having.
A valid solution to this problem, maybe not this early in the season but soon, is inserting true freshman D’Mitrik Trice into the starting lineup to run the point, opening Koenig to more off-ball opportunities. Trice is small at 6’0, but there is no doubting his talent. Trice is silky smooth from three but does seem to be more open to being a facilitator, showing that he can create for others efficiently.
The question becomes who comes out of the starting lineup for Trice in this scenario? The answer is Zak Showalter, who has been a staple of Wisconsin’s starting lineup dating back to last season and is the glue to the Badgers’ starting rotation. Showalter brings a lot of energy to the floor and his defense is admirable, but in order to utilize Koenig to his maximal potential the move for Gard may be to swap the senior Showalter for Trice.
Koenig’s impressive start is something to track throughout the season. Once his three-point shot becomes a bit more consistent and Wisconsin becomes part of the national conversation, Koenig may garner some All-American chatter. There is a different feel to his game this season as it seems that Koenig has finally realized his talent and honed his craft during the offseason.
The handle is better, the shot is there, and with Wisconsin poised to make a deep run in March, Koenig will only continue to impress the nation with his play.