Hoop Insights: Kentucky’s Shooting Woes

credit – https://ukathletics.com

by Aaron Hanshaw / Just Play Solutions – Analytics Academy

In a year where so many things look different than they once were, it’s no surprise this college basketball season has begun in equally unusual fashion: Bill Self is playing small ball, Frank Martin is bald, and the highest-profile tournament took place in New Jersey.

While those are all interesting early-season developments, there’s another that has grabbed a lot of headlines this week: Kentucky is 1-3. And if we’re being honest, that might be the strangest one of all.

Big Blue Nation isn’t accustomed to starting the year off with a big bummer, but here we are. And although there are a number of factors people might point to in explaining the Wildcats’ woes—inexperience, tough schedule—they aren’t productive in explaining where Coach John Calipari’s group should go from here.

Instead of talking about the things this group can’t change, let’s look at an area they’ll have to change if they want to have a decent year: three-point shooting. Through four games, Kentucky is shooting 25.4% from beyond the arc. None of the three guys that average more than two attempts per game are even at the 30 percent mark.  

It’s not like they’re taking many threes either. Of the 307 Division I teams that have played a game so far this season (through 12/8), Kentucky is 270th in three-point frequency, with only 28.7% of its shots from three.

As you can see from the above shot chart from Just Play, the Wildcats have been relatively efficient from two, with average to above-average numbers from mid-range and in the lane. But from three, it’s obviously a different story.

And when are they taking these threes? If you break it down, a good chunk (29 of 67) of their three-pointers are coming in the first ten seconds of the shot clock.

With such a young team early in the season, this can happen. Instead of reigning in his young guys, Calipari is letting them make some mistakes and take some quick ones.

It’s worth noting that, of the three guys with double-digit attempts—Davion Mintz, Brandon Boston Jr., and Terrence Clare—two are freshmen. Given some time, they’ll get a better feel for when to pull the trigger from deep and find some confidence.

Davion Mintz – Shot Chart
Brandon Boston Jr. – Shot Chart
Terrence Clare – Shot Chart

For more Hoop Insights, visit Just Play’s Analytics Academy: https://justplaysolutions.com/analytics-academy/

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