If you missed Part 1 of this series feel free to check it out here. I would typically say going back a month to digest four week old statistics is a waste of time, but who are we kidding, we’ve watched regular season games from 20 years ago multiple times. We’re all insane.
Since the previous post on this same topic the Cards have played NC State, Pittsburgh, North Carolina, and Duke at home while traveling to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. According to KenPom the average defensive efficiency of those eight teams is at 50th in the country, or about 120 spots higher than an “average” defense in all of Divison-I. A better metric for me though is that prior to the first post on this topic Louisville had played 8 teams that currently rank 50th or higher in KenPom’s Adjusted Defense. Since that time, 7 of the eight teams mentioned above are all ranked 47th or better (thanks Wake Forest).Playing better defenses should likely result in lower field goal percentages, more contested shots, and more shots away from the basket. Let’s see if that holds true.
This time last month CC was doing teams dirty, sitting at close to 60% in terms of effective field goal percentage. He was shooting decent around the rim but hovering around 50% on both his jump shot and his 3 point shot made him a challenge to defend. Fast forward four weeks and CC is still near the top of the list in eFG% but has been passed by Nwora, Sutton, and the new leader in the clubhouse Steven Enoch. Enoch has become more efficient around the rim, more efficient with his jump shot, and extremely more efficient (+10%) from beyond the arc. The funny stat in all of this is that his % of assisted shots is lower in all three categories as well. On paper Enoch is shooting better everywhere on the court while being forced to create his own shot at a higher frequency. Ummm...what?!? Let’s check on the updated field goal percentage for everyone below.
- Sutton has boosted his percentage around the rim and from 3 point range. Would love to see him in the paint more often as he is connecting on nearly ¾ of his attempts down low.
- Nwora has declined slightly in all three areas but is still at good percentage overall.
- Enoch likely needs more shot attempts having improved in all three areas.
- Malik and McMahon have improved beyond the arc but declined up close.
- Eight players are shooting over 60% around the rim. Would like to see more penetration and post up play.
While the numbers haven’t made any drastic changes over the last eight games there is certainly some fluctuation in ‘when’ the Cards are getting up their shots in each of the various scenarios. I think we as fans enjoy the transition buckets and watching them push the ball up the floor, but that isn’t necessarily always the best decision. Of course this chart only reflects the shot attempts that actually occur or else the after ‘opponent score’ percentage would have dropped 6 or 7 points in the last 10 minutes of the Duke game alone (still getting over it).
- A slight bump in the Cards getting up more transition shots (0-10s) after a defensive rebound but in all three areas (rim/2pt/3pt) their actual FG% has dropped.
- Highest effective FG% in all scenarios is still pushing the ball fast (0-10s) after an opponent score.
- When taking a shot at the rim, the FG% in all three scenarios improved when the Cards wait until late in the shot clock.
- When taking a 2pt shot the FG% only increased from previous post when in transition after a steal. Every other scenario the 2pt FG% dropped.
- When taking a 3pt shot the FG% increased late in the shot clock after a defensive rebound (~5%), late in the shot clock after an opponent score (~1%), and early in the shot clock after a steal (~13%)
- Of the 18 combinations (shot type/shot clock) the Cards increased their FG% in 6 scenarios at an average of approximately 7.1%
- Of the 18 combinations (shot type/shot clock) Cards decreased their FG% in 10 scenarios at an average of approximately -7.6% (2 scenarios remained unchanged)
Most of us reading this feel that we obviously have all the answers about who should be taking what shots, and ‘where’ on the court they should be taking them. After taking a peek at the FG% above for each shot type now we can see how often each player is attempting those shots. As I stated last time, in a perfect world you would like each player to be taking the highest % of shots from the spot on the floor where he shoots the ball at the highest %. That rarely happens unfortunately but we can see below that from a high level we have some guys who need to ‘diversify their portfolio’ so to speak…
- Nwora has remained consistent over the past month with his shot selection having only a slight movement from more shots at the rim and less jumpers.
- Sutton has also taken less jump shots and decided to take a few steps back to shoot almost 2% more shots beyond the arc.
- Malik and Enoch are both attempting over 4% more shots from beyond the arc in the last month.
- McMahon has somehow found a way to shoot more 3pt shots, bumping his 3pt % up a few tenths to 80.9%
- VJ has moved in from beyond the arc and is attempting over 6% more jumpers in the last month.
- VJ and Khwan are the only players getting significant minutes whose highest FG% aligns with the highest % of shot type taken (at the rim).
After seeing a ton of data it’s often easier to digest in a quick and dirty view that basically shows us on the offensive side of the ball who we want taking shots and where we want them to do so. In a late game scenario where the Cards have the ball and will likely attempt the last shot (i.e. no defense) this is who I would expect to see
PG: Christen Cunningham (55% eFG)
SG: Ryan McMahon (54.6% eFG)
SF: Jordan Nwora (56% eFG)
PF: Dwayne Sutton (59.6% eFG)
C: Steven Enoch (60.9% eFG)
And who would be looking to score where…
*Just as I pointed out last month, interesting to note that Nwora isn’t the highest percentage shooter at any one spot but is in the Top 5 on the team in all four categories.
While a slight dip in offensive production is to be expected having played tougher defenses over the last month the Cards production has remained fairly consistent. After navigating through a tough stretch in the middle of the conference schedule things appear to be slightly easier down the stretch with the exception of the two games against Virginia. On February 16th, with six conference games remaining the Cards are still fielding one of the Top 20 offensive teams in the nation according to KenPom. If the season ended today their ranking of 19th would be the highest we’ve seen on that side of the ball since 2014.
Just like we all predicted.