Villanova Advanced Stats: Josh Hart's Shot Chart- "Attacking the Rim"

Drew Hallowell

Corollary and youngBUCK take a look at Josh Hart's shot chart, and what they hope for from him in the upcoming season.

Joshhart

Region

Makes

Attempts

FG%

Expected Avg

1

16

23

69.57%

63.87%

2

25

31

80.65%

63.04%

3

4

5

80.00%

40.78%

4

5

10

50.00%

44.05%

5

0

0

#DIV/0!

28.57%

6

3

4

75.00%

38.89%

7

0

2

0.00%

20.75%

8

1

1

100.00%

40.00%

9

1

3

33.33%

37.25%

10

5

14

35.71%

40.00%

11

5

11

45.45%

37.97%

12

5

23

21.74%

32.81%

13

2

5

40.00%

40.46%

14

6

21

28.57%

38.31%

From: youngBUCK

Subject: Josh Hart's Shot Chart

To: corollary

Now that we have successfully over-analyzed the Wildcats who took the majority of last season's shots, let us now transition into the ‘guys who showed flashes of utility last year but didn't do enough to earn large chunks of the shooting pie.' Up next is Josh Hart, a player whose energy and ball-hawking skills couldn't possibly be quantified. I'll keep this short so I don't step on your toes, since I'm pretty sure you have adoption papers pending for him.

Main takes:

  • Very solid from three from the right corner (5/11, 45%)
  • Below average from three elsewhere, as he shot a dismal 18/60 (30%)
  • Sticking with the ‘Villanova Way,' he took only 10 two point jump shots, making half of them
  • He was one of our best players at getting to, and finishing, at the rim. He went 16/23 (69.6%) from the right side and 25/31 (80.7%) from the left.

Obviously with the limited sample size (21.4 mpg, 7.8 ppg, 50% from two, 31.3% from 3) it is hard to put too much weight in Hart's shot chart. However, we can still draw some conclusions and use them to suggest an off-season plan for someone so important to Nova's future successes.

The most exciting thing we see from this shot chart is Hart's propensity to get to, and finish at, the rim.

It is very obvious from the diagram that Josh Hart needs to stop jacking up threes anywhere besides the right corner. My issue isnt necessarily with the fact he is taking the threes, but the fact he is taking 5 times as many from spots where his percentage plummet. Too many possessions were cut short by him forcing a contested three, and unlike Jenkins, his misses did NOT look pretty. He has poor ball rotation, an uneven fluidity/jump, and a herky-jerky motion that gives defenders time to get their hand in his face. Simply put, he is not a natural shooter and without a quantum leap forward, forcing a shot from the outside is shooting the team in the foot. Every possession counts, and a shot with under 1.0 projected points is not one to fall back on.

Jay Wright generally prescribes a very liberal dose of freedom to his guards, and I doubt he tells Hart to reel it in. But the stats do not lie: with the shot clock ticking down, he is not who should be rushing a three. Hopefully Hart fixes this hiccup in the off-season and improves his form, and thus efficiency when shooting. Maybe move him from the Dominic Cheek Barracks of Bricks to the more suitable Corey Stokes School of Shooting. Again, he is still very young and has time to work on his shot. But IF he continues to make threes at such a low rate, then shooting them is not best for the (high-powered?) Villanova offense.

College basketball players with less than 5 vowels in their last name do not take two point jump shots.

The most exciting thing we see from this shot chart is Hart's propensity to get to, and finish at, the rim. For a freshman playing limited minutes, his volume and efficiency at and around the rim has us both salivating about his future. He looked most comfortable in transition when he was penetrating on the run. You covered this in great detail in your transition article, so I wont go too far into it. Simply put, Hart attacks the rim with a reckless abandon that is rarely slowed by his defender. He has deceiving lateral quickness and agility that allows him to sidestep the opponent and use the space created to blow past him. If he can start doing this in the half court offense, it will be a monumental boost for the Wildcats. Every starter has their go-to shot when we need a bucket. Ryan Arcidiacono pumps from three and steps in to nail a long jumper. JayVaughn PInkston bodies his defender into at least a foul. Hilliard rains down threes from Father Peter's heaven above (press box). Penetration leading to lay ups, fouls, or kick outs can be Hart's. He has shown the ability in the open court, so corralling that energy in the half court CAN happen. Learning to do so will increase Hart's (and thus Villanova's) efficiency.

The shot chart only really illustrates the tangible value, or lack thereof, of a player's offensive efficiency. Hart's biggest contributions to the team thus far can't be measured this way. The importance of his energy, basketball IQ, and feel for the game was a season-long narrative started by JW himself. There were several games that Villanova came out flat and it wasn't until Hart was inserted into the game that they started playing ‘Villanova Basketball.' It was a roller coaster season for him stat-wise, and he seemed to hit the freshman wall ¾ through the season. Insert Hart attack joke here. But he undoubtedly exceeded all expectations, and contributed immediately as an 18 year old kid. His offensive rebounds, often in the form of a tipped ball to a ready shooter, extended countless possessions. He averaged one dive for a loose ball per half. He erected the offense in the moments it looked the most flaccid (does the name Manu Ginobili ring a bell?). All of these intangibles point to a very promising future for Hart, no matter what the stats might say.

Now it's time for him to make the leap from sporadic contributor to consistent cog in JW's machine. That begins with improving his offensive efficiency, which starts with dramatically cutting down on threes and instead focusing on getting to the rim. Improving his three point jumper will be an added bonus. Josh Hart's style transcends shot charts, but that doesn't mean he can't clean his up a bit.

Take it away, discuss your teenage Hart throb.

P.S. Never forget:

Ybcommentcropped

From: corollary

Subject: Josh Hart's Shot Chart

To: youngBUCK

You're not invited when the papers clear.

Josh Hart, in his freshman season, was one of my absolute favorite Villanova players ever (fine, since 2007) to watch. The tenacity and skill with which he attacked the offensive boards and the rim, his activity level (though not always success) on the defensive end, the nasty streak, the you-only-love-this-shit-if-he's-on-your-team instigations and, let's face it, cheap shots - plus, he even had a 3 point shot for 10 games there!

Put simply, Hart was the team's best rim attacking weapon from the perimeter as a freshman last year, and it wasn't close.

I agree that his shooting form, especially as his confidence in it deteriorated as the season wore on, is quite possibly the ugliest thing he does on the court (and off). But I'd like to stress a few things: the relatively small sample recorded in our shot charts, and in total his freshman year, should not be regarded as the final word on whether he can ever be an effective threat from outside. He took just 174 shots this year - about ¾ as many 3 pointers Arch took last year - and 83 total from 3 (71 in our counts). While I'm certainly not going to pretend I'm qualified to discern whether a shot can be fixed (though I'm forwarding video to Chip Engelland now) by watching film, I find it difficult to believe Hart can't shoot 34-35% from 3 by the end of his time here. Secondofly, I'm not sure a wing player in the JDub offense is allowed to NOT shoot his share of 3s - so it may come down to seeing Hart's percentages go up, or his minutes eventually slide down. He should probably never be a high volume bomber for this team, especially with the other things he already does so well - but being able to properly space is key to any offense, and having more than one tool (driving straight at the rim being his only one right now?) in the box is required to become a legitimately effective offense player. Personally, I'm betting on the competitor and work ethic inside my favorite Villanovan (sorry, Darrun - I know it's crushing) - don't be afraid to shoot 3s, Josh. Just do it better.

What's most striking about his shot chart - and, therefore, his game, as it'll be discussed here - is his incredible prowess at the rim. In our sampled games, Hart hit 41 of his 53 shots attempted at the rim, good for 76%. That's just barely worse than Daniel Ochefu, who (mostly) uncontestedly dunked his way to almost 80% at the rim in our sampled games, and miles ahead of every single other player on the team. Expanding our sample size using the always-excellent hoop-math.com, Josh Hart took 40.2% of his shots at the rim, and converted 77.1% of them - 7 percentage points better than everyone on the team, including Ochefu (who dives to 69.5% in hoop-math's numbers). And, I'll have to mildly differ with you here - it's not as if this was simply a case of uncontested layups in transition, either - Hart made just 4 less shots at the rim than Darrun Hilliard, on 23 less attempts, in the half-court: good for 74%!

Put simply, Hart was the team's best rim attacking weapon from the perimeter as a freshman last year, and it wasn't close. For as much as I love banging on people who scream (or politely say) ‘Too many 3's' and ‘good offensive teams take a lot more mid-range shots,' this team is in desperate need of wings more committed to taking the ball to the rim. Expecting JVP's microwave post efforts and Ochefu's hook shots/post-ups/drop-offs-for-easy-dunks to carry the day at the rim is a fool's errand. Hart was the team's single deadliest weapon attacking from the perimeter; he may not have matched Hilliard and James Bell in quantity, but he took it to the rack as a much higher percentage of his overall shots (40% vs. 35.9% and 26.0%), and his finishing ability speaks for itself.

I think there are a number of ways Jay W can leverage the elite rim-finishing and driving skills Hart flashed last year, and help to make him an integral part of the offense even if his jump shot doesn't develop to an acceptable level next year. A few of them are outlined below:

1. Give him the freedom to roam on the offensive boards

Hart does possess another elite (yet related) skill on offense aside from finishing at the rim - his prowess on the offensive boards. Last year, he grabbed a higher percentage (10.2%) of available offensive rebounds while he was on the floor than JVP (9.6%), and finished just behind Ochefu (10.4%). That 10.2% was good for 276th best - basically in the top 10 percent - of the entire country. Remember, we're talking about a 6'5" freshman SG-SF among the absolute best offensive rebounders in college basketball. His positioning, nose for the ball, and flat-out effort in ripping down offensive boards was a thing of beauty in action.

Beyond the tip-outs to open shooters you mentioned, Hart also used the rebounds he snagged as opportunities to generate easy points for the offense. Another great stat from hoop-math - and one I don't believe I've mentioned here before - is the tracking of ‘putbacks,' or shots taken within 4 seconds of a player snagging an offensive rebound. Hart trailed only JVP in putback attempts (16 vs. 26), and made a higher percentage of them (66.7% vs 60.0%). These putbacks accounted for nearly 20% of the total rim attempts Josh Hart attempted last year - a relatively large chunk of them.

Jay Wright needs to give him the green light to roam and crash from the perimeter on the offensive boards, assigning drop-back duty on transition D to the other wings. Hart is probably the most naturally talented offensive rebounder on the team, and enabling him to generate these easy buckets and (essentially) extra possessions could be a huge way to allow him to contribute without forcing him into a role as an outside shooter.

Drawing a comparison with Kawhi Leonard, the 22-year old NBA Finals MVP, is borderline insanity at this point, but just look at the way the Spurs unleashed him in the 2013 Finals for a blueprint. Kawhi, a superlative wing defender and rebounder with a (then) relatively shaky jump shot and dribble-drive game, destroyed the Heat on the offensive glass, averaging nearly 3 rebounds on the offensive end per game, and generating easy (and extra) offense for his team in a heroic losing effort. It should be noted the Heat were an especially poor offensive rebounding team that year, but still. I believe Josh Hart has a chance to be similarly destructive on the offensive boards, and JDubs should enable him to utilize these skills by coaching the other, less-effective-on-the-boards wings to get back on D while allowing Hart Attack to run rampant.

2. Get him going with a head of steam towards the rim, in the half-court and transition

Considering finishing (and rebounding) around the rim is Hart's only truly elite offensive skill at the moment, Jay needs to structure offense called and generated for Hart in a manner that emphasizes the use of these skills.

One easy way to do this is to allow Hart to leak out early from defense to offense, and be the primary attacking option (other than perhaps Hilliard) in transition. Remember that time I spent 3 articles writing on the transition game? I spent most of the article on Villanova's offense decrying the number of 3s taken in transition, as those opportunities are often the best chance to get a good look at the rim - the absolute highest percentage looks for a team's offense in transition. Hart follows those moneyball precepts (because of course he does), seeking out the rim nearly 60% of the time in transition, while converting about 80% of those looks. Allowing him to leak out early - maybe sometimes starting his run even before the team secures the defensive rebound - will put him in position to utilize those elite skills, and drive Villanova's transition attack in towards the rim.

Jay also needs to stress putting Hart in position to attack the rim in half-court situations. Dribble hand-offs after a screen or two to dislodge Hart's man, designed to give him some space with momentum rolling towards the basket, is one of the many wrinkles Jay can add to encourage Hart's attacks of the rim. His dribble-drive game isn't quite elite yet, but adding some skill to that portion of his game will help open up opportunities off catch-and-closeouts or pick and rolls. I like to look at these shot charts, especially for the younger guys, as chances for us to fantasize/make suggestions to a theoretically listening coaching staff (they're not, BUT DON'T CRUSH MY DREAMS) to leverage the things these players do best.

3. Penetrate, draw fouls, develop passing ability.

One nice consequence of Hart's propensity/ability to finish, even with contact, was a healthy fouls drawn/40 and free throw rate. Hart's 4.1 fouls drawn/40 was 3rd best on the team, the same place his 55.2% FTR finished. As we've seen before, fouls occur most often at the basket and in the paint area - Hart's ability to get there makes him a natural foul-drawing machine on offense. There are no points easier than those found at the free throw line - keep getting there (and hopefully slightly improve your percentages).

And, remember, I talked above about truly effective offensive players needing more than one tool in their belt. If Hart's jump-shooting development lags a bit behind (and even if it doesn't), I would absolutely love to see him add some playmaking wrinkles to his forays to the rim. His 8.1% assist rate was by far the lowest on the team - adding just a dash of drive-and-kick playmaking ability could make his drives that much more dangerous, and really help the team in terms of creating easy chances. He's the deadliest option attacking the rim on the team, and will certainly draw extra help when he drives - being able to find the easy pass to an open guy (or someone who can get it to the open guy) would be a great, great addition to his arsenal.

You're absolutely right in saying I love this kid (I was, too, when I mentioned it about 3 times above), and I hope he continues his promising development into a key cog of Villanova basketball. His mentality, game, and character are championship-caliber; let's hope he can be a big part of delivering some postseason success for this squad in the near future.

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