The Offbeat: Where does an efficient Utah Jazz shot come from?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the team's most effective players in the paint, in midrange, and from three. Which players, from which ranges, give the Jazz offense the most points?

The goal of any offense is to get good shots for its team. Hopefully, that much we can agree on, but how a team accomplishes that goal, and what we mean by good shot, is debated. Some teams, like the San Antonio Spurs, find the corner 3 the most efficient shot in basketball, and run an offense that always has the corner three as an option. On the other hand, teams such as the Jazz seek to get open shots as close to the basket as possible, both for the bigmen and cutting wings (For more information on this, see Yucca's excellent Flex post). Layups and open mid-range shots count as successes in the flex.

It's then informative to see how the individual Jazz players rank to see if the Jazz are accomplishing these goals effectively or not. Let's take a zone-by-zone approach. These stats are all thanks to NBA.com's stat database. When looking at these numbers, compare to the team's average 45% FG percentage.

Restricted Area

Player

FGM

FGA

FG%

Paul Millsap

172

267

64.40%

Al Jefferson

147

232

63.40%

Derrick Favors

114

186

61.30%

Gordon Hayward

78

149

52.30%

Enes Kanter

85

148

57.40%

Marvin Williams

55

88

62.50%

DeMarre Carroll

52

74

70.30%

Randy Foye

28

58

48.30%

Alec Burks

27

58

46.60%

Mo Williams

34

56

60.70%

Jamaal Tinsley

18

34

52.90%

Earl Watson

13

30

43.30%

Jeremy Evans

7

14

50.00%

Kevin Murphy

3

3

100.00%

Thanks to his isolation skills and off the ball cuts, Paul Millsap's number of restricted-area makes and attempts lead the team, and put him 26th in the league. Millsap makes 64% of those shots, which is 2nd on the team, only Carroll's career-year at the rim is surpassing Millsap's. This 64% is good, but not great. It ranks about 106th in the NBA, and represents a downturn from last year, when he shot a few percentage points higher. We've noticed a loss of athleticism from Millsap this season, and while the differences aren't huge, they do exist.

Meanwhile, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors also convert at high levels in fewer attempt; these represent good opportunities for them and the team. Hayward, disappointingly, doesn't look good in this analysis: it's still better than the 45%, but you'd hope for better from a player with as many transition attempts as Hayward gets. Maybe he's trying to do too much. Worse, Burks and Foye convert at 20th percentile levels, suggesting that they're trying not finishing like they should (though perhaps Burks should get a free pass here, his free throws drawn don't count in these statistics). For a player who nearly exclusively dunks, you'd hope better than 50/50 from Evans, though it's in a low number of attempts.

The Jazz 3 headed PG "attack" comes up disappointingly at the bottom of attempts made, indeed, no other team gets as few shots from the restricted area from their point guards. Mo Williams can perhaps be excused, as his shooting prowess means it may make more sense for him to stay outside, but... it's not a pretty picture. When they do venture inside, only Mo puts up good finishing numbers, the other two can't seem to buy a basket even from the closest region of the court.

Non-Restricted Area Paint

Player

FGM

FGA

FG%

Al Jefferson

83

185

44.90%

Paul Millsap

43

114

37.70%

Derrick Favors

18

65

27.70%

Gordon Hayward

16

43

37.20%

Enes Kanter

20

33

60.60%

Mo Williams

13

33

39.40%

Randy Foye

8

29

27.60%

DeMarre Carroll

8

28

28.60%

Jamaal Tinsley

12

28

42.90%

Marvin Williams

10

25

40.00%

Alec Burks

6

22

27.30%

Earl Watson

3

12

25.00%

Jeremy Evans

1

2

50.00%

Kevin Murphy

1

1

100.00%

This range can get players in trouble: the basket still seems tantalizingly close, but it gets significantly harder to make shots from just the other parts of the paint. Note that Enes Kanter is the only player who shoots over the team's FG% average from this area, he leads the entire NBA in this category (minimum 20 attempts).

Al Jefferson is 2nd in the NBA (behind David West) in the number of attempts from this range, luckily he's pretty good at them: he manages to approximate the team's offensive production when most other bigs wouldn't. In particular, note how much Millsap and especially Favors struggle here: If I coached the team, I might point these stats out to Favors, and ask him to really cut down on these low-efficiency attempts. The same advice would apply to Foye, Carroll, and Burks, though they shoot these kinds of shots in much lower volumes.

Kevin Murphy can't miss from the paint!

Mid-Range

Player

FGM

FGA

FG%

Al Jefferson

128

325

39.40%

Paul Millsap

50

165

30.30%

Gordon Hayward

51

136

37.50%

Randy Foye

46

123

37.40%

Mo Williams

40

96

41.70%

Marvin Williams

31

83

37.30%

DeMarre Carroll

30

73

41.10%

Derrick Favors

24

70

34.30%

Enes Kanter

21

51

41.20%

Alec Burks

17

48

35.40%

Jamaal Tinsley

10

31

32.30%

Earl Watson

3

15

20.00%

Kevin Murphy

1

8

12.50%

Jeremy Evans

1

2

50.00%

This rather large area covers everything outside the paint, but inside the three-point line. The Jazz really struggle here: the best performer, Mo Williams, is still only 120th in the league from this category. Al Jefferson ranks 5th in the league in attempts from this zone, but doesn't convert them at a great rate. Again, it may help to point these stats out to Jefferson, in the hopes that he considers those moves that take him into the paint, rather than those that don't.

Paul Millsap's very low percentage here also deserves to be chided: He ranks 317th in the NBA in this category; the only player lower than him with more attempts is Josh Smith, a particularly famous bad-shot taker. Again, given his effectiveness when he can drive to the hoop, he's probably much better served going in for an isolation layup, or passing the ball off when he can't get that shot.

When these shots are taken by Mo, DeMarre, Kanter, or Jefferson at the end of the shot clock, they're below-average efficiency, but still probably livable. It's when players take these shots quickly, when other (any other) location would serve the team much better.

Corner 3

Player

FGM

FGA

FG%

Randy Foye

22

56

39.30%

Marvin Williams

17

55

30.90%

Gordon Hayward

13

32

40.60%

Mo Williams

3

12

25.00%

DeMarre Carroll

6

12

50.00%

Alec Burks

3

10

30.00%

Paul Millsap

6

9

66.70%

Jamaal Tinsley

2

7

28.60%

Al Jefferson

0

4

0.00%

Earl Watson

1

3

33.30%

Derrick Favors

0

1

0.00%

Enes Kanter

0

0

Kevin Murphy

0

0

Jeremy Evans

0

0

The Jazz are not big practitioners of the corner three, but top 50 shooters Randy Foye and Marvin Williams give the Jazz some looks here. When these threes are taken by Randy Foye or Gordon Hayward, they're reflective of a good possession: I'd rather have a G-Time or Foye corner three than a typical Hayward or Foye layup. Marvin Williams has clearly been struggling, but even that results in an above-averagely good possession for the Jazz.

In small sample size theatre, Paul Millsap is awesome at these, Al Jefferson can't buy a bucket, and Kanter really needs to start taking these, if only for what I assume would be an excellent three-point celebration when he makes one.

Above the Break 3

Player

FGM

FGA

FG%

Randy Foye

94

211

44.50%

Gordon Hayward

38

98

38.80%

Jamaal Tinsley

26

85

30.60%

Mo Williams

29

73

39.70%

Marvin Williams

21

59

35.60%

Alec Burks

10

29

34.50%

DeMarre Carroll

5

22

22.70%

Paul Millsap

6

21

28.60%

Earl Watson

4

19

21.10%

Al Jefferson

2

6

33.30%

Kevin Murphy

1

3

33.30%

Derrick Favors

0

1

0.00%

Jeremy Evans

0

1

0.00%

Enes Kanter

0

0

Randy Foye ranks 12th in these attempts in the league, in terms of percentage, he's 5th (minimum 20 attempts). That brings huge value to the Jazz offense: in fact, there's no shot you'd rather see on the floor than a Randy Foye three, with the lone exception of a DeMarre Carroll layup. In fact, everybody here is above the team average of 45% FG percentage once adjusted for points except for Paul and Carroll, who average less than one of these shots between them. Yes, even Tinsley's slow, often from several feet behind the line, at the end of the shot clock threes convert at a higher rate than the Jazz average.

This kind of data can help a coach give his players informed instructions. Let's say there's 5 seconds left on the shot clock, and Paul Millsap has the ball on the block. For Paul, there should be no question: his midrange game has been bad enough that he should go to the basket in all of these situations, where he can either finish inside the restricted area or pass it out to a three-point shooter, hopefully one who was helping on Millsap's action. While an effective mid-range game might keep an opponent guessing, one as poor as Millsap's simply can't make up for the efficiency he loses by not going to the hoop. Even passing out to Tinsley for a deep, last second three turns out to be a better decision.

On the other hand, a player like Randy Foye must realize the sheer value he brings to the table through his three point shooting, and recognize what he takes off of said table when shooting anything else but a layup. That sort of player should stay outside the three-point line, unless he is involved in opening up better opportunities for other players early in the shot clock (for example, screening for a DeMarre Carroll layup). Anything else is a waste of his talent and probably underperforming the team's potential.

That being said, these stats also reflect the value of the Jazz' inside-out approach: more shots on the inside where they're most efficiently taken. It's the mid-range shots, especially those when there are other options still available, that ideally would be passed over in favor of some reasoned patience.

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