94% of Gary Neal’s shots are jumpers and other shot type stats

Ersan, pondering how he should approach offensive rebounds in the future. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Ersan, pondering how he should approach offensive rebounds in the future. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s 5:30 AM on Saturday morning. The sun won’t be up for another hour and a half in Milwaukee. I’m sitting at a desk next to a window that doubles as an air conditioner in the winter. When I glance outside I see cars that haven’t been moved in days in the parking lot outside my apartment. Snow blankets their windshields and rear windows. It’s a sad reminder of what winter is like here. Cars sit unused, either due to a dead battery or an owner uninterested in stepping outside. There are filthy strips of snow laid out like carpets between orange barrels and pieces of construction equipment that have gone untouched for days due to what I’m assuming are record low temperatures. It seems like new records are being set every day. It’s cold and miserable outside.

February in Milwaukee. Rarely has there been a time more conducive to intensive research of basketball shot locations and types.

Why venture out when I can stay in and transfer data from the unfathomably thorough Basketball-Reference.com into Excel and pour through spreadsheets? There’s no good reason, at least good enough to get me outside. So here I sat, moving numbers from one screen to the other, hoping something cool would emerge.

I’m satisfied that it has. So let’s journey through a variety of shot types and shot locations and how the Bucks have fared across them this season. Let’s start with jump shots.

Jump Shots
Player FG FGA % of Shots FG %
Gary Neal 82 224 93.72% 36.60%
Caron Butler 108 291 90.37% 37.10%
Luke Ridnour 72 193 88.13% 37.30%
OJ Mayo 137 377 81.60% 36.30%
Khris Middleton 159 379 78.63% 42.00%
Brandon Knight 152 424 73.36% 35.80%
Ersan Ilyasova 96 295 72.30% 32.50%
Nate Wolters 43 150 63.56% 28.70%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 33 119 48.77% 27.70%
Ekpe Udoh 20 58 47.54% 34.50%
Zaza Pachulia 14 44 36.07% 31.80%
Miroslav Raduljica 10 24 23.76% 41.70%
John Henson 19 83 22.68% 22.90%
Larry Sanders 5 33 20.75% 15.20%
Team 950 2,694 60.09% 32.86%

If you’re wondering what percentage of shots a jump shooter has to make before you start thinking it’s going in as soon as it leaves the player’s hand, it seems like the answer is 42%. When Luke Ridnour, basically Milwaukee’s second best jump shooter, releases a shot, I have zero confidence it’s going to land in the bottom of the net. But when Khris Middleton has shot a jumper this season, I prepare for the other team to inbound.

Raduljica’s appearance on the list with the second highest percentage of made jumpers (small sample size theater alert!) is moderately interesting, if only because Larry Drew spoke about Raduljica as a jump shooter recently.

“The thing that really impressed me about him when we brought him in to work out, was his ability to shoot the ball,” Drew said before the Knicks game. “And he hasn’t’ really shown that yet, to where he can step out on the floor. He’s got a really nice stroke, good rotation, good release. Lot of good things about him.”

Yet Raduljica, likely because he both knows his truest strengths and because of his general role when the Bucks have the ball, rarely strays from the rim. Layups and dunks make up the majority of his efforts. If only everyone on the Bucks knew and stuck to their strengths with such vigor.

Take Caron Butler for example. Most fans that have watched the Bucks this season HAVE to have at some point said, “It seems like all Caron Butler does is shoot jump shots.” That sounds, on the surface, like hyperbole. It really isn’t. Better than 90% of his shots this season have been jumpers and he’s made only 37%. Of course, he’s hit some threes, which makes that percentage a bit more tolerable, but he’s only making 35% of his threes, so he’s not completely off the hook.

Actually, he doesn’t even shoot the highest percentage of jump shots on the team. Gary Neal wears that crown. Butler, Neal and Ridnour do have the distinction of being the only players on team team with a jump shot percentage higher than 88%. I wonder what the offense is like when all three or any two of them ar….

Group
GP
 
MIN
 
OffRtg
 
DefRtg
 
NetRtg
Butler,Caron – Neal,Gary – Ridnour,Luke 6 35 91.3 116.7 -25.4
Butler,Caron – Ridnour,Luke 21 260 90.2 112.1 -21.9
Butler,Caron – Neal,Gary 15 181 93.5 113.6 -20.1
Neal,Gary – Ridnour,Luke 13 141 90.8 109.8 -19.0

OH MY GOD MAKE IT STOP. Last season no player on the Bucks had a jump shot percentage of higher than 80.6% (Mike Dunleavy), but this year’s Bucks, the worst offensive team in the NBA, have three players who almost ONLY take jump shots and largely mid-range jump shots at that. That helps clarify a bit the team’s struggles.

Milwaukee’s jump shooting numbers are also where the Kevin Durant - Giannis Antetokounmpo comparisons go to die for me. As a rookie, 73% of Durant’s shots were jump shots and he made 36.7% of them. Giannis is a completely different type of player, with a totally different offensive style. Let’s just stop those forever. Thanks!

Essentially, for the Bucks as a whole, Middleton is a very good jump shooter and most other players need to get better. Obviously the jump shot is the most common shot at the NBA, but Milwaukee both struggles to make that shot and takes too many of the least valuable jump shots. Any NBA team would love a group of players that largely takes shots at the rim or from three. The Bucks don’t have that, as our next chart will illustrate.

Shots at the Rim and 3-Point Attempts
Player FG FGA % of Shots FG %
Giannis Antetokounmpo 95 183 75.00% 51.91%
Larry Sanders 58 98 61.64% 59.18%
Brandon Knight 142 324 56.06% 43.83%
Miroslav Raduljica 41 56 55.45% 73.21%
OJ Mayo 104 255 55.19% 40.78%
Khris Middleton 116 239 49.59% 48.54%
Caron Butler 59 159 49.38% 37.11%
Zaza Pachulia 23 59 48.36% 38.98%
Ersan Ilyasova 75 191 46.81% 39.27%
Gary Neal 45 109 45.61% 41.28%
Nate Wolters 49 106 44.92% 46.23%
John Henson 110 151 41.26% 72.85%
Luke Ridnour 37 90 41.10% 41.11%
Ekpe Udoh 19 39 31.97% 48.72%
Team 973 2,059 50.17% 47.26%

This chart also shows love to the occasionally maligned, occasionally praised Brandon Knight. Contrasting Knight to Nate Wolters illustrates his value as an offensive presence. Questions remain about whether or not Knight is an ideal fit as a point guard, but there’s no question he’s an ideal fit as an offensive player … somewhere. His athletic ability and strength has been a huge asset as he’s gotten to the rim all season and it nicely complements his ability as an outside shooter.

We also have another reason to love Giannis. 75% of his shots are coming either from behind the arc or at the rim. He’s roughly the anti-Ekpe Udoh, who, despite being a center, can’t seem to get many looks near the basket. It’s obvious and expected that he isn’t stepping out behind the arc, but it’s amazing to see how many times Udoh is settling for mid range shots in comparison to a Miroslav Raduljica for example.

Wolters lacks the quickness to get all the way to the rim or 3-point shot to make defenses have to react to him on the outside. So he’s been forced all season to settle for more in-between shots. Wolters career would get a significant lift going forward if he’s able to develop a reliable 3-point shot that will open up some driving lanes and keep his defenders off balance. He’s shooting just 10.7% on threes this season and, as our first chart illustrates, just 28.7% on all jump shots.

We’ve covered basic things like shooting and efficient shots, but let’s get down to what’s most important: HOOK SHOTS.

HOOK SHOTS!
Player FG FGA % of Shots FG %
John Henson 64 129 35.25% 49.60%
Miroslav Raduljica 10 22 21.78% 45.50%
Ekpe Udoh 11 26 21.31% 42.30%
Larry Sanders 9 20 12.58% 45.00%
Zaza Pachulia 7 14 11.48% 50.00%
Khris Middleton 4 11 2.28% 36.40%
Ersan Ilyasova 4 8 1.96% 50.00%
Luke Ridnour 0 2 0.91% 0.00%
Nate Wolters 1 2 0.85% 50.00%
Gary Neal 1 2 0.84% 50.00%
Brandon Knight 3 4 0.69% 75.00%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 0 1 0.41% 0.00%
OJ Mayo 1 1 0.22% 100.00%
Team 115 242 8.50% 45.68%

HOW MUCH DOES JOHN HENSON LOVE HOOK SHOTS?

I wish I knew how many were left-handed hooks. Probably 85%? Maybe higher? He’s right-handed. It’s chaos. He’s taken nearly six times as many hook shots as Milwaukee’s second most active hook shooter. It rarely looks real pretty, but he’s actually been very competent as a finisher on hook shots, which is likely why he sticks with them. He may be no Brandon Knight, hook shot pro, but he’s reliable.

In terms of volume, John Henson is a little bit to hook shots what Ersan Ilyasova is to tip shots.

Tip Shots
Player FG FGA % of Shots FG %
John Henson 12 24 6.56% 50.00%
Ersan Ilyasova 2 20 4.90% 10.00%
Larry Sanders 6 15 9.43% 40.00%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 1 9 3.69% 11.10%
Ekpe Udoh 2 7 5.74% 28.60%
Zaza Pachulia 3 7 5.74% 42.90%
Khris Middleton 1 5 1.04% 20.00%
Caron Butler 4 4 1.24% 100.00%
Miroslav Raduljica 2 4 3.96% 50.00%
Brandon Knight 1 3 0.52% 33.30%
OJ Mayo 2 3 0.65% 66.70%
Nate Wolters 0 2 0.85% 0.00%
Team 36 103 3.69% 37.72%

I can’t decide if I’m less surprised by the volume of Henson’s hook shots or the inaccuracy of Ersan tip shots. It’s pretty close. Ilyasova nightly looks like one of the worst finishers in the league and I’m now feeling confident it’s because of how often I’m watching him attempt a tip shot that has absolutely no chance. His lack of athleticism or length seems to hurt him here the most, as both Henson and Larry Sanders blow him away as tip finishers.

It’s surprising to see Giannis struggle so bad on these looks too, given the traits that he shares with Henson and Sanders, but this could be an indictment of his current lack of strength and experience around NBA players near the rim. Tip shots are by no means easy shots, so I get how a rookie would be struggling with them. What I don’t get is how Ersan has been so dreadful. Oh, Ers. For the record, Ersan was 13-for-26 on tip shots last season, so maybe this year’s struggles are an indication of how much injuries have sapped him of what little athleticism he had.

All shot location and shot type data via Basketball-Reference.com. Numbers are accurate through the end of play, 2/7/14.

Categories: Stats and Stuff

I watch the Milwaukee Bucks often and write about what I see…

7 Comments

  1. I’m wondering how realistic it is for Miroslav to get anywhere near to resembling Marc Gasol, who I think took awhile to develop as an NBA player.

    Khris looks a little like Dale Ellis to me on his jumper. It’ll be interesting to see how his driving game develops over time. Would he be a junior in college this season?

    To give credit to the front office, the trade for Brandon Knight and Khris could turn out to be one of the best in the history of the Bucks.

    As much as I’d like to add another point guard, I’m majorly concerned about not trading our young nucleus, or being extremely reluctant to do so unless we get a great deal — especially Giannis, Khris, Brandon, Larry and John, but also Miroslav and Nate. I’m more inclined to give up a draft pick in 2015 or later if necessary, to help move any veterans who might be good to trade of their sake and ours.

    • so, you just listed 7 guys. the Young Nucleus.

      Yeah the nucleus of a team that’s 9-43.

      dude. seriously think about it. this is by far the worst team in the league during an HISTORICALLY bad season in the Eastern Conference.

      they should explore every means possible. Giannis and the 2014 1st round pick should be the only assets they cling to.

      • The year before Lombardi, the Packers had only one win all season, to go along with 10 losses and a tie; Lombardi’s first year, the team was 7-5; the next year, the Packers made the championship game but narrowly lost. After that, there were five championships in seven seasons.
        I may be wrong in my high regard for the young players on the Bucks, but it could also be a problem with coaching and general management — in which case, all the lottery picks in the draft won’t make much of a difference.

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  5. Care to explain to me why the Durant-Giannis comparisons have to stop forever? Sorry, if you expected the Greek Freak to be comparable to a much more advanced Kevin Durant who played an entire College season prior to his rookie season in the NBA, then that’s on you.

    Giannis isn’t even done growing. He’s as raw as you can possibly get. The kid has a nice stroke, and struggling with his jump shot this early into his basketball career is hardly a surprise. He played inferior competition and started playing the game much later than Durant.