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The (Shot Chart) Legend of McBuckets - and His NBA Future

Expanding the shot chart series to accommodate the new data - and the NBA draft - yB and corollary will be focusing on some ex-Big East players now playing in the league.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports


Region Makes Attempts FG% Expected Average
1 53 67 79.10% 58.06%
2 82 123 66.67% 62.00%
3 13 30 43.33% 37.68%
4 14 27 51.85% 40.58%
5 3 6 50.00% 41.55%
6 4 11 36.36% 43.16%
7 6 25 24.00% 34.80%
8 5 11 45.45% 39.13%
9 9 26 34.62% 31.70%
10 3 9 33.33% 38.78%
11 1 7 14.29% 37.50%
12 27 56 48.21% 31.95%
13 26 60 43.33% 37.46%
14 18 37 48.65% 36.42%

From: youngBUCK

Subject: Doug McDermott's Shot Chart

To: corollary

Doug McDermott will forever haunt the dreams of anyone associated with the 2013-2014 Villanova Wildcats. First, there was his role in the ‘The Shot(s) Heard 'Round the World' game at the Wells Fargo Center. Then, in game two, McDermott squashed any chance of Nova getting revenge with a dominant 13-17 from the floor, 39 point performance. It wasn't just the volume of the shots taken, or the percentage of the shots going in, or even the ‘so likable that they are hate-able' Creighton team dynamic. McDermott single-handedly put a black eye on what was, to most, a very successful Villanova season. For this reason, I have pretty much refused to give that Creighton team, and McDermott specifically, any honest credit. But now that the shot charts for every player in the country are ready, it only seems right to set the stage with Nova's kryptonite, Douglass McBuckets. There are few, if any, prettier charts from the 2013-14 campaign. At least he gave the Big East something to brag about, even if it was at Villanova's expense.

First takes

  • Otherworldly around the rim. 79.1% from the right side. 66.7% from the left.
  • Excellent on left wing threes, making 27/56 for 48.21%
  • Similarly spectacular on right wing threes, making 18/37 for 48.65%
  • Below average on corner threes. Made only 4/16 for a 25% clip
  • Solid straightaway 3's, making 26/50 for 43.3%
  • EVEN DOUG MCDERMOTT CANT SHOOT 2 POINT JUMPERS! Overall, he made only 24/73 for 33%

Anyone who watched five minutes of Creighton basketball expects to see a chart like this for DM. When he faced a smaller defender, he muscled his way to the basket and finished at an elite level (79.1% from the right side!!!). When Creighton pushed the ball in transition, they found him for three on the right wing (48.65%) or straightaway (43.3%) and... swish. Besides two point jumpers, most of which were off-balanced leaners at the end of the shot clock that at least had SOME chance to go in, Doug stayed away from low percentage shots. Lecturing a player with his basketball IQ and self-awareness is totally unnecessary. He knew he wasn't great from corner threes, so he took only 16 of them. He knew the 2 point jumper from the top of the key is the least efficient in basketball, so he only took 6 ALL SEASON. The takeaway from these charts for every player should be taking their highest percentage shots most often. Doug did exactly this, and he didn't even need our help. His ability to avoid his cold spots on the court and gravitate towards the hot ones is something every player can learn from.

The value of this chart goes beyond his own personal numbers, as the spacing he allowed his other teammates led to Creighton shooting 41.5% from three as a team. For the season. McDermott developed his game to the point that he could beat you from in close on off-nights, and make it rain from three on good ones. The offensive evolution of his game, season to season, left almost no holes in his offensive repertoire. So it is only natural that his chart is the bloodiest we've seen. No team looked better when firing on all cylinders than Creighton, and it all started with Doug McDermott. More on this below.

I'm going to take a page out of your book and supplement the chart with some KENPOM rankings so we can really solidify just how good of a year he had. McDermott ranked second in overall ORtg, behind Billy Baron of Canisius (Rhode Island, stand up!). He ranked third in kPOY (behind Russ Smith and Shabazz Napier), which essentially uses advanced metrics to rank player value. He averaged 26.9 ppg while being the most closely defended player in the country. He turned Creighton from also-ran to an offensive juggernaut, as they finished the year with the best offense in the country, per KENPOM. They finished first in 3p% at 41.5%. They finished second in 2p%, at 26.3%. They finished sixth in A%, at 64.2%. All of these statistics can be attributed either directly or indirectly to Doug McDermott's presence on the basketball floor. We see it on his chart and we see it in the stats. Very rarely do we see a player at any level so dramatically benefit a team. It is not out of the question to consider McDermott one of the most valuable, and transcendent, offensive players college over the last 20 years.

Whether or not McDermott's game translates to the NBA is yet to be seen. I'm hoping you pick this up in your response. He's not fast enough to guard the typical 3, and not strong enough to guard the typical 4. He'll likely have to be a situational shooter/scorer, unless he makes huge leaps in athleticism. But regardless of his professional success, there is no doubting his collegiate career was something to be remembered. I had to make myself hate him because of Villanova allegiance, but when he was on, his game was awe-inspiring. This directly rolls over to his charts/stats, and he's an advanced metrician's wet dream. No player in the country did more for their team on the offensive end than Doug McDermott, and I'm still looking for a shot chart with more red splashed over it. McDermott recognized his offensive weaknesses year by year, worked tirelessly at them, and turned into a dominant offensive player. His chart is one of absolute efficiency, and is the product of this hard work and self-awareness. We can only hope that someone on Villanova (I'm look at you, Darrun), can take a page out of Doug's book and work on becoming THIS efficient. I apologize for the Ode To Dougie, but the fact is, his hard work accomplished exactly what we analyze/extrapolate from these charts for.

From: corollary

Subject: Doug McDermott's Shot Chart

To: youngBUCK

Stealing all of the us-generated-stats discussion, stealing my stealing-from-other-sites-to-pad-out-my-own-stats shtick, and even stealing my KenPom account - WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO WRITE ABOUT NOW

I think McDermott's success in the pros, like so many things in the NBA within the next year, will hinge on Derrick Rose's health. After a draft-night trade from the team that picked him (the Nugs) sent his rights to the Bulls for their two first-rounders - a cost-cutting, shooting-adding move for the ever-dangerous and ever-more-so-stingy Chicago franchise, he's basically landed in the perfect situation for his skill set.

First, his potential defensive deficiencies can easily be hidden on a Thibs-coached team. The easy way to explain this is "They can hide Carlos Boozer, guys," but I'll develop a bit more on why with the ever-present-help-by-proxy of Zach Lowe. The principles of the Thibs-defense can be traced back to a 2004 rule 'relaxation' on illegal defenses, compounded with the introduction of harsher hand-checking fouls, that essentially allowed zone defense in the NBA while introducing other rules that promoted perimeter offense. The relaxation on illegal defense allowed defenders to spend up to 3 seconds in the lane while not 'actively checking' an offensive player, which essentially means being close to someone in another jersey. While obviously not explicitly allowing a Syracuse-style zone defense, this was a relatively large departure from previously permitted defensive schemes in the NBA, where essentially only man-to-man was allowed.

Thibs (Tom Thibodeau, for anyone that's unclear to), then an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets, began developing a scheme that took advantage of this rule change (while helping his team finish in the top 5 in defense from 2004 to 2007). Essentially, it developed into a hybrid man-zone look that overloaded the 'strong side' - where the ball is, especially when pick and roll action is taking place - sending aggressive help at the primary action of a play and forcing offenses to abandon their first/second/third options, to pass extremely well to try and swing it to the other side for an open look.

The extra help thrown at the strong side cuts off driving lanes AND cuts off passing lanes (when executed properly), forcing the primary options on a play to try and swing difficult passes to the options dotting the perimeter on the other side. Schemes like the Bulls' rely on contesting the open shots a team gets when it swings, betting that teams will hit a low enough percentage of these contested shots to justify allowing it in the first place. Of course, there are other rules - the Bulls stick incredibly close to excellent 3-point shooters, are loathe to give up corner 3's (best shot in the NBA), and it's not like I could coach this - there are plenty I don't know, but the essence of the scheme is contained in the previous 2.5 paragraphs. Many of these principles have been adopted by other teams as they adjust to the rules (and the effect of such defenses being so good) - but Chicago is still the best at it.

Why this helps Dougie McB is that the system is already in place, and near-perfect. Chicago has been one of the best defenses in the league since Thibs came over from the Celtics (it did also coincide with the arrival of Joakim Noah, now one of the best two-way centers in the league), and has 3 superb major-rotation-piece defenders in Noah, Taj Gibson, and Jimmy Butler. As Zach Lowe details in the piece I linked to above, even those less-talented players in Chicago's system ALWAYS follow the rules, maintain their footwork, and stick to the right players. If there are two things I'm certain about with Doug as a player, it's these - he can shoot from anywhere, and he's got an excellent basketball IQ (DADDY'S BOY). He'll learn the footwork, positioning, and rules required to at least be average on the defensive end. I believe he'll prove more than coachable (and coach-up-able) in Chicago's defensive scheme, and his deficiencies on that end can be folded into and nearly erased by the players and system around him.

Which brings me to the second skill I'm sure he has - the man can shoot. In our sampled games, he hit 44.37% of his 3's - and as you can see from the visual, many of them were from range. It's not only the skill he demonstrated in shooting - it's the volume. He's very near the top in shots taken (in our shot charts - he lead the country last year overall), and he hit such a high percentage from nearly everywhere, while being guarded as the best player in the country. 3 point shooting was something the Bulls sorely lacked last year - they shot just 33.3% from 3 on the year (just over 42% from the field), and their struggles were PAINFULLY obvious while watching them fall to the Wizards in just 5 games to open their playoffs. Doug's an incredibly smart, versatile offensive player - just look at his shot chart (and your breakdown of it). While it's unlikely he'll be used in all of the ways he was in college - driving, posting up, etc. etc. etc. - he'll likely be an excellent catch-and-shoot 3 point marksman with the first team, while potentially operating as the offensive focus (for stretches) on the second team.

The shooting numbers he put up in college are incredibly encouraging for the carryover of these skills into the NBA - he certainly won't have the same sort of defensive focus heaped on him in the NBA, where he'll be the 2nd or 3rd option - if - and here's the thing - the Derrick Rose Chicago once knew and loved is healthy. With Derrick Rose, McBuckets gets to be a dangerous, off-the-ball, spot-up shooter who can curl around screens and run all over the floor, looking for open looks that come after Rose bends the defense with a penetrating drive. He gets to enjoy the attention of the 2nd or 3rd best perimeter defender on the floor, and carries no real responsibility to create his own meaningful offense. Without Rose - and there are no comparable creators on the roster... I'm not confident McB can thrive (especially so early in his career) as one of the top offensive options on the team. His defensive limitations - and though they can be minimized, they do exist - will already make Thibs loathe to depend on him (he has characteristically, and this is being kind, run his best defensive players into the ground in terms of minutes), especially in crunch-time situations. If Dougie struggles on the offensive end under the extra attention/with the lack of an elite player creating shots for him against NBA players and defenses (which are all far, far better than the watered down Big East he plied his craft in last year), his tenure in Chicago could end up a disappointment. I think his shooting ability and smarts will, in the end, help craft him an effective NBA career - but there's definitely an element of worry in there, at least for me. Get healthy, D-Rose. Do what you were made to do, McBuckets.