Creationism: Which Kings Need Help Getting Shots Off?

Shot creation is a huge, huge controversy in advanced basketball analysis circles. Many are certain there's a definite value to a player who creates many shots, in part because it's quite obvious not all players can create many shots. Others, led by Dave Berri, find shot creation to be overrated. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle (though I'd suggest the pro-creation crowd has already moved to the middle; John Hollinger might be the APBRmetrician who gives the most benefit of the doubt to the creator, and most other metrics seem to move closer to the middle than PER).

I'm of the mind that it matters. You can't have a team of three Fred Hoibergs in the backcourt and run an efficient offense, despite Hoiberg's amazing personal efficiency numbers. This really affects two types of players: catch-and-shoot wings/guards and finishing big men. (These days, you can have catch-and-shoot big men and finishing wings, but you get the point.) Take Peja Stojakovic, for example. With Bibby, Vlade and Webber setting him up, he could ace the scoresheet efficiently. When it just Bibby, or just Brad Miller, it didn't work out so well. When it was Chris Paul, it worked out again! I'm simplifying things for the sake of clarity, but that's essentially the core of it. Players who don't create their own shot well rely on teammates who do create shots for themselves and others.

Shot creation for others is pretty easy to figure out -- it's called an assist, and it's been in the box score since, well, Creation. Shot creation for self is also easy -- it's called a field goal attempt or a pair of free throw attempts. Of course, it's not quite that simple on either account. There's the whole matter of assist totals only representing successfully created shots; if Tyreke Evans sends a kick-out to [NAME OMITTED] for a wide-open three and [NAME OMITTED] misses, that's no assist and it disappears from record. In individual shot creation, FGAs/FTAs are imperfect because they include assisted shots.

So it's not quite that simple. But there's some data out there.

No one is compiling potential assists yet (publicly), but there's a general understanding that raw assist numbers in most cases fairly accurately represent potential assist numbers. In other words, it's unlikely a guard who averages two assists a game and a guard who averages eight assists a game both have 12 potential assists a game. If a player doesn't get many assists, he probably doesn't have many potential assists. If a player tallies many assists, his potential assist number is probably representatively high. If there are exceptions, they are few.

82games.com has made one key figure available for a long time that helps with shot creation assessment: percentage of FGMs assisted.

An example from Tuesday's Clippers game: Omri Casspi shot 7-11. Of those seven makes, six were assisted.  So about 86% of Omri's field goals were assisted.

We don't have data on DeMarcus Cousins and Pooh Jeter, so let's look at last season's assisted make percentage for the other rotation Kings.

Player Ast%: Jumpers Ast%: Inside Total Ast%
Evans 15% 24% 21%
Udrih 42% 39% 41%
Landry 58% 53% 56%
Thompson 78% 56% 66%
Greene 71% 61% 67%
Casspi 72% 57% 65%
Garcia 91% 50% 79%
Dalembert 56% 70% 66%

 

In Evans and Francisco Garcia, we have two extremes: Tyreke creates his own shot 80 percent of the time, and El Flaco relies on someone else to do so 80 percent of the time. (Note that previous season show Garcia's numbers closer to those of Greene and Casspi, so grain of salt, please.)

Of particular note is that Jason Thompson and Samuel Dalembert need more help with shot creation than does Carl Landry ... yet Landry is lined up to play primarily with two of the three Kings who can regularly create shots for others (Evans, Beno Udrih, Jeter). I have a feeling Cousins will come in around Landry when all is said and done; it's worth remembering, though, that Landry could do well in a low-playmaker line-up, whereas it seems unlikely Thompson could.

In my mind, this is just one of the myriad factors that goes into rotation-setting and roster-shaping. If Jeter is as good as we think he might be, there shouldn't be problems. But if he isn't, and the bench crew needs some help getting their shots off, we might see Beno moved out of the starting five to help with that in short order.

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