Do the Evolution

Note: all numbers in this piece do not include the Boston College game– only the Heels’ 15 non-conference contests.

With the non-conference slate now in the rear-view mirror (OK, OK, enough with the Pearl Jam references already) and ACC season nearly upon us, let’s take a few minutes to analyze how Carolina’s returning players have evolved as scorers.

Harrison Barnes

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (FR) 73.2 105.8 25.0 29.3 49.0 52.2 24.9 7.2 12.8 1.4 1.4
 2012 (SO) 65.0 114.2 26.0 29.2 53.7 57.1 38.1 7.9 9.7 2.0 1.4

The numbers is the above table are pulled from Ken Pomeroy’s terrific site (well worth the $20 annual subscription). For those unfamiliar with the metrics that he employs, here’s a primer. As one might expect, Barnes’s offensive efficiency (representing by his ORating) has dramatically improved so far as a sophomore. While on the floor, he’s using nearly an identical percentage of the team’s possessions/shots as last season– he’s just doing so in a more efficient manner. One reason is the spike in FTRate. Barnes is now earning 38 trips to the stripe for every 100 field goals he attempts– up significantly from last year’s 25. To examine some other reasons for Barnes’s improved scoring efficiency, let’s take a look at some charting data that I collected. %FGA can be interpreted as the percentage of a player’s total field goal attempts that fall within a given category of shot (e.g., 29.0% of Barnes’s attempts this season have been close shots). FG% is just a standard shooting percentage.

How Barnes Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 24.3 62.8 29.0 76.4
5-10 feet 10.5 34.6 15.3 37.9
10-20 feet 26.0 38.0 35.3 31.3
3-pointers 39.2 34.4 20.5 48.7
Dunks 4.2 90.5 10.5 100.0
Lay-ups 20.1 57.0 18.4 62.9
Close: off-dribble 8.9 56.8 12.6 75.0
Floaters 9.7 37.5 9.5 44.4
Mid-range: off-dribble 17.1 37.6 28.4 29.6
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 2.4 58.3 3.7 42.9
Turnaround jumpers 4.4 31.8 7.4 21.4
2nd-chance/putbacks 9.5 57.4 7.9 53.3
Weak hand 3.4 70.6 2.6 60.0
“And 1s” 4.0 75.0* 6.3 66.7*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

It’s no surprise that Barnes’s rate of 3-point attempts has dropped dramatically as a sophomore (from 39.2% of all attempts as a FR to 20.5% this year). So where are those extra attempts being taken? The majority (9%) are being used from mid-range distance (between 10 and 20 feet). Barnes is also using about 5% more of his total FGAs from both close range and 5-10 feet (generally floaters/post moves). He has been incredibly efficient on lay-ups and dunks this season, increasing his close FG% from 62.8 to 76.4. This is spurred by a big spike in dunks attempts and increased conversion efficiency on lay-ups; he’s just been a much better/more aggressive finisher at the rim as a sophomore.

After starting the year 11-of-38 with 9 turnovers off of multiple dribbles through the first 11 games (prompting me to pen this piece), Barnes has really picked up his off-the-dribble efficiency. Over the past five contests, he’s 14-of-23 with zero turnovers when using two or more dribbles. He has definitely seemed to turn the corner in regard to attacking off the dribble. This, along with his proven catch-and-shoot prowess, has made him one of the most versatile scorers at the collegiate level. He’s still taking too many mid-range jumpers for my taste (35% of his total attempts, of which he’s making just 31%), but these have been declining too in favor of more efficient drives all the way to the rim (or at least into the 5-10′ range).

Tyler Zeller

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (JR) 70.1 120.1 23.0 23.6 54.7 60.0 54.9 10.8 15.3 1.4 4.2
 2012 (SR) 64.3 118.3 23.5 22.7 52.4 57.9 51.7 14.8 18.4 2.2 3.4

How Zeller Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 49.0 71.8 53.8 62.8
5-10 feet 37.2 37.8 40.7 44.1
10-20 feet 13.8 39.6 5.5 12.5
3-pointers 0.0 * 0.0 *
Dunks 8.6 93.9 11.0 87.5
Lay-ups 40.4 67.1 42.8 56.5
Close: off-dribble 2.9 72.7 10.3 46.7
Floaters 0.0 * 0.0 *
Mid-range: off-dribble 0.0 * 0.0 *
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 8.9 38.2 4.1 16.7
Turnaround jumpers 1.1 50.0 0.0 *
Face-up jumpers 0.6 0.0 0.0 *
Hook shots 36.7 41.1 36.6 41.5
Leaners 3.4 15.4 4.8 42.9
2nd-chance/putbacks 16.7 62.5 20.7 63.3
Weak hand 18.5 71.8 17.9 53.8
“And 1s” 5.5 60.0* 7.6 45.5*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

Zeller, a paragon of consistency, has been essentially the same player he was in 2011. A couple key differences:

1.) He’s been much better on the offensive glass this season (and more of his offense is coming on 2nd-chance opportunities). We’ll see if this changes against bigger, more athletic, more physical ACC frontcourts.

2.) He’s been finishing worse at the rim this season. Last year, Zeller made 72% of his close attempts (including 67% of his lay-ups). This year, that number is down to 63% (including 57% of his lay-ups).

3.) He’s shooting less frequently (and less accurately from mid-range this season). After attempting 14% of his shots from 10-20 feet last season (and connecting on 39.6%), that number is down to 5.5% (with a mid-range FG% of 12.5) through 15 games. Zeller did nail an open secondary break 17-footer versus Boston College, so maybe that will get him started from this range.

4.) Instead of always settling for the jump hook, Zeller has been putting the ball on the floor some in the paint to create close opportunities with his dribble/post footwork. He’s had mixed success with this (more TOs, mediocre finishing rate off the dribble), but it’s a nice counter to the hook– especially against single coverage. But as Zeller has been learning as the season progresses, his bread-and-butter is still the quick-decision/quick-release jump hook.

Speaking of that hook, it has been remarkably consistent, too. Last year, Zeller attempted it on 36.7% of his shots with a conversion efficiency of 41.1%. This year, those respective numbers are 36.6% and 41.6%.

John Henson

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (SO) 66.6 97.6 23.7 23.6 50.1 50.2 39.0 12.7 25.4 1.2 11.6
 2012 (JR) 68.8 112.7 23.0 25.6 56.0 55.3 34.3 10.4 24.1 0.8 10.8

How Henson Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 55.0 65.5 45.1 67.1
5-10 feet 23.1 35.7 20.0 48.6
10-20 feet 20.3 27.0 34.9 45.9
3-pointers 1.6 16.7 0.0 *
Dunks 15.7 96.5 17.1 96.7
Lay-ups 39.3 53.2 28.0 49.0
Close: off-dribble 11.8 67.4 9.7 41.2
Floaters 3.9 14.3 1.1 0.0
Mid-range: off-dribble 3.6 38.5 0.6 100.0
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 11.0 27.5 14.3 40.0
Turnaround jumpers 3.3 33.3 13.7 45.8
Face-up jumpers 0.0 * 5.7 60.0
Hook shots 17.0 37.1 18.3 53.1
Leaners 5.0 27.8 1.1 50.0
2nd-chance/putbacks 18.7 64.7 14.9 46.2
Weak hand 25.3 56.5 19.4 58.8
“And 1s” 3.6 53.8* 1.7 33.3*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

As seen in the first table, Henson has been a far more efficient offensive player this season– raising his Offensive Rating from 97.6 to 112.7 while maintaining a prominent role in the offense (used 24% of the team’s possessions last year during his minutes, 23% this season). The biggest reason for his improvement is no mystery to Carolina fans: his vastly improved mid-range game. Last year, Henson made just 26.3% (21-of-80) of his shots from beyond 10 feet. This season, that figure is up to 45.9% (28-of-61). He’s added both a turnaround jumper and face-up jumper to his post repertoire, moves that were essentially non-existent last season. He’s also shooting more catch-and-shoot mid-range jumpers, and making them much more consistently. Henson has struggled to convert his lay-ups, falling to below 50% on the season on such attempts (because he dunks so frequently, his overall close FG% is still fairly strong). He’s also been less effective on the offensive glass this season– in part because his expanded offensive game takes him away from the hoop more (both in terms of distance and fade-away moves).

Kendall Marshall

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (FR) 61.4 100.4 18.6 12.8 47.3 51.8 46.2 0.7 7.7 2.4 0.3
 2012 (SO) 76.0 112.6 14.9 8.9 47.8 50.1 40.3 0.2 8.1 2.2 0.4

How Marshall Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 45.1 45.1 43.3 62.1
5-10 feet 10.4 31.6 4.5 33.3
10-20 feet 15.4 46.4 13.4 11.1
3-pointers 29.1 37.7 38.8 30.8
Dunks 0.0 * 0.0 *
Lay-ups 45.1 45.1 43.3 62.1
Close: off-dribble 41.8 44.7 40.3 59.3
Floaters 11.0 30.0 4.5 33.3
Mid-range: off-dribble 14.8 48.1 13.4 11.1
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 1.1 0.0 0.0 *
2nd-chance/putbacks 0.6 100.0 0.0 *
Weak hand 7.1 53.8 4.5 66.7
“And 1s” 3.3 66.7* 1.5 0.0*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

After shooting just 12.8% of the team’s shots during his minutes on the court as a freshman, Marshall has further reduced that figure to 8.9% in 2012. He did hunt for his shot a little more aggressively against Boston College, and I suspect his %Shots will creep up as the season progresses and the caliber of opponent improves. He’s finishing better at the rim so far (making 62% of his close attempts vs. 45% last season), but it was during league play last year that his close FG% really plummeted. I thought the 15-footer off the dribble in transition vs. BC was a promising sign– he was effective from mid-range as a freshman, but has really struggled (in limited attempts) this season.

How Marshall Passes: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
Assists* / 40 12.1 16.2
Potential Assists* / 40 26.2 29.6
Assist% 46.1 54.8
Potential Close Assists / 40 8.7 12.2
Passing Turnovers / 40 2.9 2.7
Passing TO% 11.1 9.3
FT Assists / 40 2.1 2.9
“Hockey” Assists / 40 2.2 2.8
%Open Created 21.1 22.6
%Open/Lightly contested created 73.4 75.2
* Including FT Assists

But what really matters for Marshall is his passing/ability to create opportunities for others. So we’ll give him an extra table that compares his passing statistics from the past two seasons. As seen, his passing numbers are up across the board– more potential close assists (passes leading to lay-ups, dunks, to shooting fouls), a higher assist% (assists  / potential assists), more FT assists, more “hockey” assists (the pass leading to the assisted pass), and more open/lightly contested shots created. He’s also reduced his rate of passing turnovers. While he’s still figuring out how to consistently score at the collegiate level, there’s no denying that Marshall is a sublime passer who’s having a historically great season in terms of setting up others.

Dexter Strickland

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (SO) 67.3 104.0 15.2 13.2 47.6 53.0 58.7 3.6 8.1 2.5 0.0
 2012 (JR) 63.3 110.1 14.3 13.0 56.1 58.6 50.0 2.2 5.6 2.8 0.5

How Strickland Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 59.2 58.2 57.3 66.0
5-10 feet 1.9 75.0 0.0 *
10-20 feet 23.3 25.0 42.7 42.9
3-pointers 15.5 25.0 0.0 *
Dunks 7.3 80.0 13.4 81.8
Lay-ups 51.9 55.1 43.9 61.1
Close: off-dribble 36.4 56.0 30.5 56.0
Floaters 1.9 75.0 0.0 *
Mid-range: off-dribble 18.0 24.3 23.2 31.6
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 5.3 27.3 19.5 56.3
2nd-chance/putbacks 4.4 11.1 0.0 *
Weak hand 6.8 35.7 13.4 45.5
“And 1s” 3.4 57.1* 4.9 75.0*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

Strickland attempted his first 3-pointer of the season vs. Boston College. Last year, 15.5% of his total attempts were behind the arc. This year, all those additional attempts are simply being shifted to the mid-range– he’s attempting 43% of his shots from 10-20 feet as compared to just 23% last year. Like Henson, his mid-range efficiency has also improved dramatically (from 25% last year to 43% this season). Even without the occasional bonus point from behind the arc, Strickland is far more efficient this season from 10+ feet (eFG% of 42.9) than he was last season (eFG% of 30.0). He’s been especially accurate on catch-and-shoot opportunities, as his off-the-dribble jump-shooting mechanics are still very much a work in progress. With 57% of his field goal attempts coming on lay-ups/dunks, getting to the rim is still Strickland’s bread-and-butter offensively. He’s finishing 66% of his close attempts so far– up from 58% last season, and a phenomenal percentage for a 6’3″ guard who gets to the rim as frequently as Dexter.

Reggie Bullock

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
 2011 (FR) 26.4 102.2 20.5 27.6 45.3 46.1 13.6 5.9 13.6 2.5 0.7
 2012 (SO) 45.3 127.8 17.5 23.3 63.3 64.1 8.6 6.4 15.3 2.5 0.7

How Bullock Scores: A Comparison between 2011 and 2012

2011 2012
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 18.3 67.7 26.7 71.4
5-10 feet 11.2 31.6 2.9 66.7
10-20 feet 12.4 28.6 3.8 25.0
3-pointers 58.0 29.6 66.7 41.4
Dunks 1.2 100.0 0.0 *
Lay-ups 17.1 65.5 26.7 71.4
Close: off-dribble 3.0 60.0 6.7 57.1
Floaters 13.0 26.7 2.9 66.7
Mid-range: off-dribble 4.1 28.6 2.9 33.3
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 4.7 25.0 1.0 0.0
2nd-chance/putbacks 4.1 85.7 4.8 60.0
Weak hand 1.2 50.0 1.0 100.0
“And 1s” 1.2 100.0* 2.9 66.7*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

After attempting 76.3% on his shots from behind the arc/at the rim last season, Bullock has raised that number to a staggering 93.4% this year. For a guy who can knock down catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, this “lay-up or 3-pointer” approach is a tremendous way to maximize offensive efficiency. By eschewing low-percentage shots in the 5-20′ range and minimizing turnovers, Bullock has emerged as a brutally efficient scoring option off the bench for the Heels. He still doesn’t do much off the dribble (the next frontier for him), but gets his close attempts by running hard in transition, moving without the ball, and crashing the offensive glass. And with a passer as gifted as Marshall on the scene, there will be no shortage of clean jumpers for a spot-up shooter like Bullock.

James Michael McAdoo/P.J. Hairston

 Year (Class)
 %Min. ORating %Poss. %Shots eFG% TS% FTRate OR% DR% St% Bl%
McAdoo (FR) 36.2 96.9 23.0 21.7 43.6 48.1 61.5 9.9 16.6 3.1 2.1
 Hairston (FR) 32.3 122.8 24.3 27.4 51.1 57.9 47.7 6.3 10.5 1.1 1.0

How McAdoo and Hairston Score

McAdoo Hairston
 Type of Shot %FGA FG% %FGA FG%
Close (lay-ups/dunks) 45.5 60.0 14.8 46.2
5-10 feet 27.3 33.3 6.8 33.3
10-20 feet 27.3 23.8 5.7 20.0
3-pointers 0.0 * 72.7 37.5
Dunks 11.7 100.0 3.4 100.0
Lay-ups 33.8 46.2 11.4 30.0
Close: off-dribble 9.1 42.9 2.3 0.0
Floaters 1.3 0.0 4.6 25.0
Mid-range: off-dribble 6.5 0.0 8.0 14.3
Mid-range: catch-and-shoot 10.4 50.0 0.0 *
Turnaround jumpers 19.5 26.7 0.0 *
Face-up jumpers 7.8 33.3 0.0 *
Hook shots 5.2 25.0 0.0 *
Leaners 3.9 33.3 1.1 100.0
2nd-chance/putbacks 11.7 55.6 6.8 50.0
Weak hand 18.2 42.9 1.1 0.0
“And 1s” 5.2 50.0* 2.3 50.0*
* This represents the percentage of (old-fashioned) 3-point plays converted.

Hairston is much like Bullock in that 87.5% of his attempts come from behind the arc or at the rim. Unlike Bullock (who has made 71% of his close attempts after 68% last season), Hairston has struggled to finish at the rim– making just 46% of his cl0se attempts (and just 30% of his lay-ups). But he’s also shown a proclivity for using his man-sized body to draw contact/fouls in the paint. In contrast to Bullock (a FT Rate of just 11.7 in his Carolina career), Hairston has drawn shooting fouls at a very high rate, which helps to mitigate some of Bullock’s advantage as a close finisher. Both of Carolina’s young bench wings have already figured out how to maximize efficiency in the modern college game– clean catch-and-shoot 3s, low-risk/low-turnover floor games, and avoiding the low-percentage spots on the court from 5-20′.

Carolina’s other rotation freshman– James Michael McAdoo– is still trying to carve out his offensive identity as a collegian. Like Henson, he struggles to convert his lay-up attempts (both are sub-50% this season). Also, like Henson and Zeller, McAdoo has shown the ability to use his off-hand around the hoop to finish (although, to this point, far less effectively than either of UNC’s starting posts). On non-close attempts, McAdoo is shooting just 28.6%, with those shots perfectly allocated between 5-10 footers and 10-20 footers (21 of each so far). His preferred post move so far has been the turnaround jumpers, but he’s made just 4-of-15 such attempts (26.7%). McAdoo shows the most promise as a face-up 4 who can take bigger covers off the dribble and hit the occasional face-up or catch-and-shoot mid-range jumper. But, for now, McAdoo is still adjusting to the speed of the game/Carolina system, and is best served doing his damage as a garbage scorer (in transition, crashing the offensive glass, receiving/converting drive, draw, and dish passes, etc.).

Adrian

About Adrian

I'm the editor of Maple Street Press's Tar Heel Tip-off, and live in Raleigh with my wife and 2-year-old daughter. I grew up along the banks of the Allegheny River, and terrorized the WPIAL as a pass-first point guard. Follow me on Twitter @FreeportKid.
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2 Responses to Do the Evolution

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  1. Scott Aycock says:

    Do you provide this info to the coaching staff? I know they have their own stats/performance rating system, but this is just so good that I think they’d at least be interested in it.

  2. Great work.. and a good shout out from Luke Winn to your website..Well done quantitative analysis

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