As a personal preference, I tend to favor following college basketball over following the NBA. I think that's just because I feel more of a connection to a team from my home state, and for whatever reason, I was never a huge Michael Jordan fan growing up. But one thing I do like about the NBA, that college basketball does not yet offer, is a website that offers in depth statistics. College basketball has kenpom, and for as awesome as Ken Pomeroy's website is, it can't tell us things that the NBA can. For instance, thanks to advanced technology, we know how many miles per game a player runs, and how fast their average movement on the court is. One of my favorite things that the NBA tracks, though, is individual player shot charts.
I've always wanted to be able to do this for Iowa players, but up until now it has been relatively impossible. Now, however, thanks to Austin Clemens at the website Nylon Calculus, we can view shot charts from the 2013-2014 season (and hopefully for the upcoming season, as well).
As magnificent as this news is, I should probably mention that these shot charts are not 100% perfect, and I'm not sure where the data comes from exactly. I'm also not sure if there is data from every game played last year. Basically, the disclaimer at the bottom of the site says that this data is not as accurate as the NBA's, so don't take these to be 100% precise.
With that being said, these do seem to pass the eye test from what I remember last season, and I think they are pretty awesome. I also feel that they are worth going through each player to see what they did last year. And maybe they will allow us to get some ideas of what could happen this year.
We'll start with the guys who are no longer on the roster and then move to the guys who we will be watching in 2014-2015.
Let's start with Iowa's best player on the team last year; who I might also add has had himself a pretty good NBA preseason. The son of Iowa's all time leading scorer was a balanced scorer himself, last year. That trend developed over his career, but it really came together last season, when pretty much took equal parts shots near the rim, mid-range, and from beyond the arc. The odd part about last year, was that Marble didn't finish near the rim quite as well as he had in the past, and this shot chart shows that. According to Nylon Calculus, he was an average shooter from right near the rim, and if you click on the chart at the website (it is kind of interactive), it tells you that he took 35% of his shots from there and made 61% of those attempts. That's fairly close to the numbers I had last season, in which he took about 33% of his shots from there and made 66% (pulling numbers out of the play-by-play data is never perfect). In past seasons, Marble was higher, and would almost certainly have been more orange or red near the rim.
Another nice thing about Marble's game that we can see from this shot chart, was that mid-range jumpers were clearly his most low percentage shots. That's where most of his blue squares are, and that's where my spreadsheet had him knocking down only 24% of his attempts on the year. The growth in his game was very clear last season, seeing how he took the fewest amount of two point shots away from the rim of his career. He replaced them with higher percentage two pointers and more valuable three pointers, and it paid off with the best offensive season of his career.
Oh, and he apparently had a sweet spot from beyond the arc. He was clearly feeling that left side more than the right side. I wonder if that was the case in previous seasons?
There's nothing real surprising or interesting about Melsahn Basabe's shot chart. He was primarily a scoring threat down low for the Hawkeyes. He did lot of his damage cleaning up missed shots and throwing down alley-oops. He was second on the team in offensive rebounding rate last year, so he got plenty of opportunities for second chance points. He was also pretty good at making the most of his limited opportunities away from the rim. Nothing you didn't already know.
Zach McCabe had an... interesting season last year. He looked good in November and March, but his shot abandoned him December through February. As you can tell by the shot chart, McCabe struggled from beyond the arc and at the rim, which was an especially bad combination, considering that was where about 80% of his attempts from the field came. For whatever reason, the right side was more friendly to him from downtown than the left side was, but he also seemed to be more comfortable from the top of the arc. This is where I wish we had more than just one season of data. It would be interesting to compare last year to past seasons, and see if the top of the key and right side were always a comfort spot on the court for him.
Next, let's talk about guys who are still presently in Iowa City.
If this isn't the least surprising shot chart you've ever seen, I don't know what is. Aaron White's shot chart looks much more sparse than Marble's did, but his squares near the rim are a lot larger than any of the ones on Marble's chart. That signifies that White's volume of shots near the rim was much greater than anywhere else on the floor. Every offseason we talk about how it would be nice if Aaron White developed a more consistent outside shot, and every season we are resigned to the fact that it just isn't happening. White still has one final season to find some more range, but I don't think any of us are really predicting a change in the way he gets his points. Aaron White is what he is, and that's not a bad thing at all. He's at his best at the rim and he's very good at drawing fouls and gets a good chunk of his points from the free throw line. White took almost three quarters of his field goal attempts from at the rim last season, and that was a very smart thing for him, as he made over 70% of those shots and just about 25% of his shots from any other distance. As a matter of fact, he took the highest percentage of shots at the cylinder of his career in 2013-2014. It's no coincidence that he posted (by far) the best shooting numbers of his career last year. Let's hope for more of the same this season.
Gabe Olaseni's chart gives us our first evidence of these shot charts not being 100% accurate. According to official stats, Iowa's big Brit has never attempted a three point shot in a game during his career. Yet, this chart has him attempting two of them last season. To be fair, the disclaimer does say:
NCAA Data Disclaimer: Shot location data is not as accurate in the NCAA as it is in the NBA. This can sometimes lead to strange artifacts, like boxes that probably consist of 3-pointers appearing inside the arc.
Or maybe two point shots that appear outside the arc?
Anyway, the main takeaway from this chart is that Olaseni is a pretty average shooter at the rim. That's not bad, per say, but as a player who gets a lot of his value from dunking the ball, you would like to see that be a little more orange, like with White or Basabe. At the same time, though, Olaseni came to Iowa as a raw talent, so it's probably not all that surprising that he's not a great shooter outside of slamming it down with authority. Again, he's not bad (he shoots about mid-60s from up close, when you would like to see somewhere closer to 70%), he's just not great at shooting. But he's grown by leaps and bounds during his three years at Iowa, so it wouldn't be all that surprising to see him explode this season.
Iowa's resident long range shooter, Josh Oglesby, fought off a sophomore slump and an early season injury to turn in a resurgent junior year in 2013-2014. The secret to his success last year? He simply shot better. (Analysis!) He wasn't great from up close, but that's not his game, and he only took about 5% of his total shots from there. Instead, he shot better from further away than he had in his whole career.
At first glance, there looked like an awful lot of blue on this chart for someone who had the second best eFG% on the team (out of guys who played meaningful minutes). However, when you add up all his clear hot spots (top of the key to the left corner, and the left elbow*), that accounts for about 40% of his shots attempted. Again, this is where I wish we had multiple years worth of data for comparison, because I would love to see Oglesby's sophomore year shot chart next to his junior year one.
*I'm guessing a good chunk of those left elbow jumpers he knocked down came at home against Wisconsin last season.
Similar to Oglesby, there looked to me to be a lot of blue on this chart for a player who turned in a nice shooting season in 2013-2014. But it helps that Uthoff took a little over half of his shots from at the rim and in that little area to the right between the lane and the three point line. From the first of those spots, he made 64% of his up close shots, according to the shot chart tool, and 62% of his mid-range jumpers from the latter sweetspot. The rest of his attempts weren't clustered quite as much, and he spread in some nice shooting numbers from some areas of the floor and some poor ones in others. We should see an increased shot volume from Uthoff this season, so let's hope he continues to shoot the ball as well as he did last season.
Well, this is a very McCabesque shot chart. Mike Gesell was not the most efficient scorer on the team last year, but he was still capable of scoring double digits on just about any night. The efficient scoring issue stemmed from Gesell again only hitting about 32% of his shots from beyond the arc, the same way he had during his freshman year. Not to mention he also had issues at converting near the rim.
The main thing with Gesell on offense last year, was that he showed the ability to get by his man and get to the rim on a more frequent basis than he had demonstrated his freshman year. But while the process was good, the results weren't what we all would have liked, as you can tell by all the blue next to the rim above. Even if he's never a great three point shooter, Gesell's offensive value would be greatly improved if he could find a way to finish more often at the basket next year.
Oh, and that little hot area in the left corner gives credence to my memory that Gesell was pretty good from there. Let's hope that the addition of Trey Dickerson can help get him the ball in the catch and shoot position from there a little more this year.
Being a left-handed 7-footer, it probably shouldn't be all that shocking that Adam Woodbury may tend to favor the left block more than the right block. When you are left-handed, that's the more natural side of the basket to finish on. Additionally, he's going to pivot on his right foot, meaning that on the left block, he would be pivoting to the baseline, away from the help defense. I hope he's able to show more from the right side this year, as that will be important for his draft stock down the road. But what I do like is that little red cluster in the middle of the lane. That shows me that his little jump hook (that I've commented on before) is already a pretty effective weapon.
I'm not sure how much we can really gather from looking at Anthony Clemmons' shot chart from last year. On one hand, we may be able to see some tendencies. On the other hand, I don't know how confident we can be in where he may be the best at shooting from on the court. This is largely due to a disappointing season in 2013-2014, in which he saw his playing time cut pretty drastically from what he had experienced during his freshman year. If there is anything positive to take from last year, it's that Clemmons shot the ball well, when he actually, you know... played. He only had 16 attempts on the year, but he was one of the better three point shooters on the team. Outside of the free throw line, Sapp, as he so often goes by, shot better from everywhere on the court during his sophomore season than he did during his freshman campaign. He even showed a little bit of extreme range, as you can see above. That type of shooting on limited attempts, plus strong on-ball defense, would be a very welcome sight for this year's squad. Of course, the main problem that needs to be addressed is the turnover issue.
As a freshman last year, Peter Jok wasn't called on to do a whole lot for the Hawkeyes. The pleasant surprise came at the end of season, when first year player put together a nice March against pretty tough competition. Jok showed from the beginning of the season that he wasn't going to shy away from shooting the ball, and almost half of those shots were going to come from downtown. That ended up being a fairly positive development, though, as he shot 34.8% from beyond the three point line. Looking at the shot chart above, it's evident that he seemed to be better from distance from the left side, as opposed to the right side. I'm curious to see if that proves true as his career moves forward.
In other words, I really hope we have shot charts for this upcoming season.