Thou Shall Not Shoot Long 2s Edition


In an interview, with the media yesterday, Coach Jay Triano said

We’re the seventh or eighth best shooting team in the NBA without being able to make a 3-point shot.

It is true they are tied for 8th in FG% (at 46.6%)

However, the Raptors are 19th for effective FG% (at 49.14%). Overall, FG% means very little. If you’re team cannot shoot the 3 ball, you’re likely in trouble.

Primarily, you want your players to:

  • get to the line (76.4% FT% league wide);
  • to the rim (64% FG%) – and perhaps an “and 1″; and
  • shoot beyond the arc (57.4% effective FG%).

Unfortunately, the Raptors are dead last in 3pt FG% (at 31.2% which translates to 46.8% eFG%) and 25th for Free Throw Rate (FTA/FGA).

This all translates to a 19th ranking in true shooting percentage – not horrible, but not great given the high percentages the Raptors allow their opponents to shoot.

This gets us to another quote (hat tip: Holly MacKenzie from RaptorBlog) from Mr. Triano yesterday when asked about Barbosa’s shot selection (vs CHA):

They were the same shots that he took when we won against Indiana … He is a shooter. He’s got to shoot the basketball.

The challenge is Leandro Barbosa is not a good shooter this season. He’s an excellent break-’em-down-and-get-to-the-hoop player, but not a good shooter.

Barbosa has the sixth worst “long 2″ (16-23 ft) field goal percentage for all shooting guards in the league at 30.0% (sample: 20+ GP, 15+ MPG). He is second worst for those shooting >1 attempt per game. While he doesn’t take many mid-range 2s (10-15 ft), he’s shooting only 33.3%. Short 2s (3-9 ft)? Worse: 32.4%. So from 3 feet all the way to 23 feet, he’s making less than one-third of his shots. Barbosa has shot a bit better in the past, so his poor shooting performance may be do to injuries this year. Regardless, he needs to alter his shot selection (or improve his efficiency) if this team wants to win more games.

As well, Barbosa is 45th in the league for shooting guards (on pace to play >500 min) in assist ratio [(Assists x 100) divided by [(FGA + (FTA x 0.44) + Assists + Turnovers]. It tells us there is room for improved ball distribution when he is tightly defended.

However, all is not lost – not even close. Barbosa can be (and often is) a quite effective player. His on/off court offensive rating is +4.7. And he appears to have a slight positive impact on defense. He is gets to the rim the sixth most for shooting guards in the league overall and third per 40 minutes (just a bit behind some guy named Dwyane Wade).

The good news is he doesn’t take too many of his shots where he’s weak. But, he’ll need to improve these areas as it remains a significant drag on his overall shooting effectiveness.
While his 3pt percentage is reasonable, its certainly below the league average eFG% of 54.8% for shooting guards in my sample. Not a huge difference, but he needs to get towards (or better than) that average. A few better decisions on passing versus forcing the 3 should do it. He takes 43% of his shots within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock (and yes, a number of those will be fast breaks). Pair this with his assist rate and it suggests further ball movement would benefit the team.

DeMar DeRozan has the long two down, now needs master the 3 ball.

This analysis brings up an important connection to DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan has significantly improved his mid and long 2 efficiency – he’s now nicely above the league averages for shooting guards in both ranges. Despite this, his overall effective FG% is actually ever so slightly below Barbosa’s.

Why?

He’s done a terrific job at getting to the rim this year – he is 8th in the league for shooting guards for attempts per 40 minutes. Another bonus? DeRozan is 4th best among shooting guards for “And1%”. He’s also taking a lot more short jumpers (while still being effective).
The challenge? While his “blended” 43%-ish mid and long 2 FG% is quite good, its only as effective as a 28.7% 3 point shooter. That is, if DeRozan would move back a average of four-ish feet and replace some of his long 2s with 3s, he could hit 14 less threes out of every 100 and be as effective. (Note: probably for another day, but we would want to see a little higher eFG% for 3 than FG% for long 2 as increased 3 point shots add significantly to volatility – which can be good and bad). Given DeRozan’s strong work ethic and the marked improvement in his mid and long jumpers, I foresee him improving his 3 point range significantly this off-season.

And it would be a very good thing.

Questions? Email me: [email protected] or find me on Twitter.

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