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Quin Snyder vs. Himself: A Few Thoughts On Shots

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What can we learn about Quin's coaching and the team's trajectory by analyzing shot selection?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Newsflash: Quin Snyder still has a losing record. Also a newsflash: He’s a talented coach, and we’re lucky to have him here in Utah. To be honest with you all, I’m not really a stats guy when it comes to looking at things beyond what one would find in a box score. That said, I’ve been wondering lately about the developing Utah Jazz offense in terms of where our players take their shots. Here’s what I found.

Let’s look at Quin Snyder’s first season with the team using the data from vorped.com. One caveat to these statistics is that they may not represent every shot taken by the Jazz during these seasons, only what Vorped was able to record. Here is the shot chart:

http://vorped.com/1-nba/2014-2015/team/461/utah-jazz/

Here are some things that jump out at me right away:

  • The team shot 514-1519 from beyond the three-point line, (33.8%) good for 19th in the league.
  • Of the team’s 2902 two-point shots, 1524 of them were taken outside the paint, so when the Jazz put up a two-point shot it was taken outside the paint 52% of the time. The team shot just 37% on long two-pointers, while in the paint went 1604-2902, or 55%.
  • The Jazz had 1519 three-point attempts during this season, compared to 1524 long two-point attempts. In this case, I’m a glass half-empty kind of fellow: 50% of the Jazz’s shots outside the paint were long two-pointers, which is bad. In contrast, the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors “two-point shots outside the paint frequency percentage” (2PSOTPFreq%) was around 42%. As I said, I’m not a stats guy, so if there’s an actual word for this please tell me.

What this means:

Every year we seem to hear more about how the league has changed and evolved to a point where teams live and die by the three-point shot. I don’t think it’s completely unfair to say that the ‘14-’15 Jazz were a jump-shooting team, (51% of all shots were taken outside the paint) or to say that too many of those jump-shots were long two pointers. When you compare percentages of the “long two-pointers” to the three-point percentages just a few feet back, you see that 4/5 of the corresponding areas are within two percentage points of each other. The left-corner three-point percentage was even higher than the area a few feet inside the arc, yet the Jazz shot 34 fewer times there. Is it worth a taking 1.5% less chance of making a field goal if said field goal is worth 50% more points? I would argue that it is.

In addition, 37% on two-pointers outside the paint is a low number. With the players making 55% of shots inside the paint, one would think that Quin would try to get the team to slash to the rim more.

NBA: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at last season to see if Quin agreed:

http://vorped.com/1-nba/2015-2016/team/855/utah-jazz/
  • The Jazz took and made more three-pointers than the season before, making 649 on 1818 attempts, (35%) rocketing them up to 15th in the league in attempts, 12th in percentage.
  • Last season, the Jazz made 602 long two-point shots on 1542 attempts, improving to 39%, both higher numbers than ‘14-’15. Even better, the team’s 2PSOTPFreq% was a much-more acceptable 46%. [Ed. Note — There should be a more elegant way of expressing what 2PSOTPFreq is, but I cannot find one. Pray for our stat souls.]
  • As far as the story of the paint goes, that 39% from long two-point range I just mentioned compares to about 54% in the paint on fewer attempts. The good news here is that many of those drives to the rim ended up being cleared beyond the arc for three-point attempts, which partially accounts for the fact that the Jazz attempted about 300 more 3PT shots during last season than in ‘14-15.

What this means:

It appears that Quin Snyder learned from the mistakes of the ‘14-’15 season, improving the team in all the metrics that I spotlighted. He even fixed the left-corner three problem, with the team taking 34 more shots from that spot compared to the one a few feet inside the arc. As a result, the Jazz finished with a better record than the year before, scoring 209 more points.

Quin probably saw similar data to what I saw, and took corrective actions. We’re not there yet, but it is encouraging to see positive trends. Look for the Jazz to take more shots from three-point land, more shots in the paint, and fewer shots in less-productive spots inside the arc this season.