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Archive for the ‘Player Breakdowns’ Category

Can Tobias Harris become a go-to offensive player in 2013-14?

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One of the breakout stars from the 2012-13 season was Tobias Harris, after a midseason trade moved him from Milwaukee to Orlando, where he immediately gained a spot in the rotation. In his Orlando debut, he 14 points in 24 minutes, two of his highest outputs up to that point in the season. He went on to average 17.3 points per game in 36 minutes while shooting 49% on 2’s and 31% on 3’s. The question for this season is whether these 27 games were an anomaly, with Harris being able to produce offense on a poor team or whether Harris will be able to replicate this production over an entire season.

To do so, we need to examine Harris’ offensive game and see what his strengths and weaknesses on offense are and whether defenses will find it easy to stop him or not. To provide some context before we dive into the video, the below shows Harris’ shot chart for the entire season. There are a few areas where he is below average but most of the zones have him at league average levels or above.


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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 18, 2013 at 3:14 am

Can Codi Miller-McIntyre be the point guard for Wake Forest?

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After scouting fellow sophomore Devin Thomas’ strengths and weaknesses, our attention turns to Codi Miller-McIntyre and will investigate whether he can be a point guard for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons this season or whether he is better suited to playing off the ball.

First, let’s review some of his statistical measures from last season to start determining about whether he should play more with the ball in his hands. Per, his assist rate was 19.4%, which ranked behind teammate Madison Jones’ 22.6% and 17th in the ACC. He struggled a bit with turnovers, turning the ball over 20.4% of the time, which is a poor mark, even for a freshman. Draft Express has his pure point rating at -0.64.

In the video, we see similar mixed results. CMM can attack the rim well with the ball off the dribble but he doesn’t always make the best decisions, which leads to turnovers.

Off the Dribble

In the first few clips below, you can see CMM penetrate off the dribble into the lane and finish at the rim or find a teammate for a layup attempt. He has a quick first step that allows him to beat the defense and get to the rim. One thing he can improve on for next year is drawing more contact in the lane, which would allow him to get to the foul line more often. Last season, he shot only 46 free throws (19.2% free throw rate) while shooting 56.5% on these free throws.

This sample size is a bit too small for us to determine if he is a poor free throw shooter but regardless, he needs to get to the line more. In the first two clips, you see him avoid the defense to attempt the shot instead of absorbing the contact to draw the foul. He can work on driving into the teeth of the defense, drawing contact and finishing or drawing the foul to make the offensive possession a successful one.

At the end of the clip, you can see where CMM struggles with turnovers. He is careless with the ball at times, which allows the defense to take the ball from him. If he wants to play with the ball in his hands more, he’ll need to cut down on these turnovers.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Why did Tyler Zeller struggle in transition?

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When trying to determine the top transition bigs in the league last season, I expected Tyler Zeller’s name to pop up based on his collegiate production. Looking at his rookie season though, Zeller did not get a chance to run in transition as much which took away one of his biggest offensive strengths.

Cleveland was an average team in terms of pace, as they averaged 92.3 possessions per game last season, which ranked 13th in the NBA. While Zeller used 10% of his possession in transition opportunities his last collegiate season, he saw a decrease to only 8.1% his rookie season, according to My Synergy Sports. On these possessions, he averaged 1.09 points per possession (PPP) which is below average for transition opportunities.

When looking at the video, there are a few reasons why Zeller did not find the same success in his rookie season in transition as did while at North Carolina. To break down the first reason, Zeller’s shot chart must be examined. When looking at his shot chart, you can see that he struggled from two point territory outside of the paint.


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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Player Profile: Devin Thomas, Wake Forest

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Due to Wake Forest’s poor outputs of the last several years, none of their players have registered on a national scale. Devin Thomas may be the next example of this player after a freshman season that saw him outplay his #169 RSCI ranking to become arguably the best Wake Forest freshman last season. Thomas posted 9 points per game on 55% shooting while grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game to lead the team in that category. His 11% offensive rebounding rate ranked 8th in the ACC while his 22% defensive rebounding rate ranked 4th. He still has room to grow obviously, but he looks like he could become a productive ACC player over a four year career.


Post Offense

Thomas’ offense is derived almost exclusively from the paint, as 72% of his shots were at the rim, as categorized by Hoop-Math. His most utilized possession type was a posted, where he posted an adequate field goal percentage, especially for a freshman player of his size.

Much of Thomas’ playing time came at the center position, where he is a bit undersized at 6’9″, with only an average reported 6’11” wingspan. Despite the fact that he was over matched size wise on the block, he was often able to score with some impressive footwork for a young player.

Thomas likes to finish with his preferred left hand and attempts to get to the left side of the rim for his finishes. His main move is to drop step around the defender and has a wide drop step that can get past the defense. With the drop step, he is able to finish with either hand out of this move.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Defensive Strategies: Doug McDermott, Creighton

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how collegiate defenses can slow down the offense of Doug McDermott from Creighton.

Doug McDermott returns for his senior season as the top returning scorer in collegiate basketball after averaging 23.1 points per game on 57% shooting from 2’s and 49% from 3’s. He is able to score in a variety of ways although he is first and foremost, a deadly accurate shooter. What can defenses do to try to stop him this year on the offensive end?

Post Doubles

Although McDermott is mainly known for his shooting, he is more often seen on the block for the Bluejays, where was he one of the best post players last season (as well as his sophomore season). If defenses let him work 1 on 1, they are going to be grabbing the ball out of the net more often than not.

Therefore, defenses need to send two defenders at McDermott and take away post moves as an option while turning him into a distributor. McDermott has decent vision and passing ability for a player of his size, so defenses need to be organized to pull this off or McDermott will be able to shred the defenses with easy passes to wide open teammates.

Here, Mason Plumlee rotates over to help on the post move, which leaves his man open for a dump off pass. Duke needs to rotate properly, which they do, as the opposite corner defender rotates down which leaves the only open pass a cross court skip pass. McDermott has no viable options and turns the ball over.


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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 8, 2013 at 12:04 am

Player Profile: Channing Frye

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After missing the entire 2012 season after the Phoenix Suns’ training staff discovered that Channing Frye had an enlarged heart, Frye tweeted earlier this week that he is healthy and will be returning to the Suns. In the 2011-12 season, Frye averaged 10.5 points while shooting 47% on 2’s and 34.6% on 3’s. At 6’11”, he only averaged 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game, as he plays mainly around the three point line. He’s been away from the game for a year but we can review what his strengths and weaknesses on the court were from his last season.


Three Point Shooting

Frye’s most recognizable skill is his outside shooting, as he averaged at least 4 attempts per game the last three seasons. He reinvented himself as a player once he got to Phoenix, as he took only 70 3’s in his first four seasons before taking 392 in his first season with the Suns. He has actually seen a decrease in his shooting percentage the last three seasons, from 43% to 39% to 34.6% but he is still a dangerous outside shooter.

Here is Frye’s shot chart from 11-12, which shows that most of this attempts come from the top of the key, with very few coming from the corners.


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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Unconventional NBA Rank: Best Screeners

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This series will rank the top players in some intangible skills or statistical areas that do not show up in traditional boxscores. This will be for last season’s production and does not necessarily reflect upcoming potential. 

One aspect of the game that is overlooked and under appreciated on a regular basis is the ability to set screens. I believe that setting screens is a skill and needs to be given more attention. Brett Koremenos argued that we should find a better way measure and quantify screens, which would help NBA teams put a larger emphasis on this area.

In an attempt to bring some clarity to a muddled view of who the top screeners are the NBA, I tried to determine who the top four screeners were last season. I looked at who set the best ball screens, as well as the best off ball screens. This list then has an inherent bias toward players that are more involved in pick and roll while leaving some deserving players (notably Reggie Evans) out of this analysis. Therefore, this list should help start the conversation but is by no means the final discussion. This is one of the most qualitative aspects of the game at this point and there are plenty of great screeners not recognized here.

#4 Bismack Biyombo

After the Al Jefferson signing, it was clear to see how moving from Biymobo to Jefferson on ball screens could affect the offense of the Bobcats. Biymobo is a player who understands his role as a screener and works hard to set good screens. He is not a threat to roll to the rim, so he focuses on setting screens to free Kemba Walker.

Off the ball, he works well to free shooters but is not utilized often in this role and sometimes looks to slip screens in this area. He is much better on ball screens, as he pays more attention to getting to an area and making sure he slows the defender down. His limited offensive skills force him into a screening role to be an effective part of the offense and he does a nice job of taking out the defense with solid screens.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

September 30, 2013 at 12:48 pm

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