The Offbeat: Jazz' Performance in the Shot Clock

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

What's the best way for the Jazz to use possessions as the shot clock winds down?

One neat feature of 82games.com's data is the ability to break down how each player is doing in different phases of the shot clock. Doing this allows you to see the ability of a player to complete possessions in various types of plays. From a coaching perspective, it also allows you to see if players are being correctly used within an offense, Let's take a look at how the Jazz perform in the shot clock periods broken down as 82games does:

0-10 Seconds

Player 0-10 secs Att% 0-10 secs eFG% 0-10 secs Ast% 0-10 secs Blk'd % 0-10 secs PPG
Mo Williams 46% 61% 40% 6% 6.3
Millsap 35% 60% 55% 14% 4.6
Hayward 43% 49% 71% 5% 4.3
Foye 35% 54% 79% 3% 3.5
Marvin Williams 39% 56% 77% 8% 3.3
Favors 43% 50% 52% 12% 3.2
Jefferson 21% 51% 57% 9% 3.2
Kanter 48% 60% 45% 18% 2.8
Carroll 51% 48% 65% 14% 2.2
Burks 45% 39% 47% 18% 1.8
Murphy 33% 100% 100% 0% 1.3
Tinsley 23% 56% 42% 8% 1
Evans 53% 78% 57% 0% 0.9
Watson 42% 25% 17% 4% 0.6

A quick glossary may be in order. The "Att%" is how many of a player's total FG attempts are used in that phase of the shot clock. eFG% is simply FG%, but adjusted to give threes 50% more credit than 2s. "Ast%" is how many of that player's field goals during this time of the shot clock were assisted, where as "Blk'd%" is how many of the FGs were blocked. PPG is the standard points per game.

0-10 seconds into the shot clock is usually either a primary, secondary fast break, or offensive rebound situation, so you can see that the eFG% are relatively high across the board. Mo Williams, it turns out, is brilliant at this: not only does he lead the fast break, but he finishes at a very high percentage (1st among players with sample size). Mo realizes this, and so uses many of his possessions in this way, only superseded by DeMarre Carroll. Hayward, Burks, and Carroll realize the value of pushing possessions in this way, but perhaps aren't quite as efficient as doing so as Mo.

Big men typically don't use much of their possessions in this way, but it turns out that Kanter is excellent in these early shot clock situations. He takes fully 48% of his shots early in the shot clock, and finishes them at a 60% rate, just missing out on Mo's 61% title. Big men are typically good finishers, but rarely do they get as many opportunities as Kanter. Kanter's hustle on the offensive glass, as well as his tendency to leak out on fast breaks, helps him keep his percentages high.

11-15 Seconds

Player 11-15 secs Att% 11-15 secs eFG% 11-15 secs Ast% 11-15 secs Blk'd % 11-15 secs PPG
Jefferson 28% 51% 61% 6% 4.2
Millsap 27% 45% 80% 6% 2.7
Foye 26% 50% 73% 2% 2.4
Hayward 21% 47% 74% 10% 2.1
MoWilliams 17% 42% 56% 4% 1.6
Favors 21% 48% 65% 10% 1.5
MarvinWilliams 21% 40% 88% 6% 1.2
Kanter 16% 56% 73% 11% 0.9
Burks 20% 43% 25% 0% 0.9
Tinsley 19% 58% 56% 5% 0.8
Carroll 19% 38% 89% 4% 0.7
Watson 21% 46% 80% 8% 0.6
Murphy 33% 0% 0% 0% 0
Evans 12% 0% 0% 0% 0

This is still part of the shot clock where it is expected to get a good shot, though eFG percentages drop across the board. Looking at the percentages, Paul Millsap may be forcing up shots where he doesn't need to here (although, 80% of his attempts are assisted, usually indicating better shot quality), thus hurting his, and the team's overall efficiency. Likewise, Marvin Williams is missing a lot of shots in this phase of the shot clock, which is strange, as 88% of them are assisted. Ditto with DeMarre Carroll's attempts.

Kanter, Favors, and Hayward all get over 10% of their shots blocked here, but despite that, have quite good shooting percentages. Jamaal Tinsley also does well here, perhaps getting his open looks from 3.

16-20 Seconds

Player 16-20 secs Att% 16-20 secs eFG% 16-20 secs Ast% 16-20 secs Blk'd % 16-20 secs PPG
Jefferson 30% 40% 62% 7% 3.7
Hayward 26% 46% 74% 12% 2.5
Millsap 24% 43% 50% 8% 2.3
MarvinWilliams 28% 56% 77% 3% 2.3
Foye 23% 53% 74% 0% 2.2
MoWilliams 19% 39% 50% 2% 1.7
Favors 25% 40% 70% 16% 1.5
Kanter 21% 49% 53% 17% 1
Burks 25% 40% 56% 8% 1
Tinsley 31% 43% 64% 3% 1
Carroll 14% 53% 75% 0% 0.7
Watson 19% 36% 100% 0% 0.4
Evans 24% 25% 100% 0% 0.1
Murphy 17% 0% 0% 0% 0

It seems that in these 5 seconds, the last few before things get really dire, the tables are turned: Those who were efficient just seconds ago (Jefferson, Favors, Tinsley) are no longer, while those who struggled do well (Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll).

My theory on this is that it's due to a Corbin's flex offense: if a possession is faltering, the ball is in the hands of one of the bigs to isolate or post up and get the job done, but if a possession is working, the ball is being sent to a cutting or spotting up Carroll, Foye, or Marvin Williams for an easy bucket. You can see this in the assist percentages, the wing players here have a higher likelihood of being assisted than bigs do.

I'm also somewhat impressed with Mo Williams' savvy: his percentages during this phase of the shot clock are pretty bad, but he doesn't take a lot of shots in this space either. Subjectively, it seems like his focus here is to either swing the ball of dump it in to the post for the last few seconds.

21-24 Seconds

Player 21+ secs Att% 21+ secs eFG% 21+ secs Ast% 21+ secs Blk'd % 21+ secs PPG
Jefferson 21% 50% 31% 7% 3.2
MoWilliams 17% 44% 50% 6% 1.7
Millsap 14% 43% 68% 0% 1.3
Foye 15% 43% 93% 4% 1.2
Hayward 10% 51% 64% 6% 1.0
MarvinWilliams 13% 40% 89% 7% 0.8
Kanter 15% 46% 45% 4% 0.7
Tinsley 27% 33% 63% 7% 0.7
Carroll 16% 38% 83% 15% 0.5
Favors 10% 23% 80% 14% 0.3
Burks 10% 30% 33% 10% 0.3
Watson 18% 20% 0% 0% 0.2
Evans 12% 50% 100% 0% 0.1
Murphy 17% 0% 0% 0% 0.0

Jefferson's ability to create on his own really stands out here: during the last 4 seconds of the shot clock, only 31% of his attempts are assisted, but he still finds a way to make fully 50% of them, as well as take a relatively high percentage of his shots as the clock runs out. If the Jazz were to lose Jefferson, they would almost certainly be replacing him with a player without this talent, probably costing them 1.0-1.5 PPG of end-of-shot-clock emergency offense. That's not insubstantial.

Hayward's ability to finish here also stands out, although he does use a team-low 10% of his possessions in these situations. Everyone else's eFG% is low (especially Favors' terrible 23%), though that's to be expected in situations like these, where in many cases it simply may be best to get an offensive rebound. That Tinsley's percentage of opportunities here is so high is reflective of the number of failed possessions that end up in his hands, it weighs his overall shooting percentages down pretty drastically.

Overall, these numbers give us a greater context to evaluate a player's performance as well as decision making. Mo's self-awareness and ability to push the tempo get high marks under this analysis, whereas Marvin Williams' strange tendency to shoot poorly relatively early in the shot clock (also true in his Atlanta days) seems like it should be correctable with simple instruction. It also allows us to see the key differences in how players use possessions: Millsap usually gets the opportunity to score earlier, whereas Jefferson often finishes his shots late in the shot clock. This analysis doesn't get to the heart of a player's production like some numbers do, but the shot clock stats give us an idea of how a player fits into an offense.

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