Just Take The Shot

Just Take The Shot

Submitted by Brian on January 12th, 2018 at 1:21 PM

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this shot was just tooken [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I've been poking around Hoop Math a bit and saw something that jumped out at me: Michigan's late clock offense (ie: shots that go up with 5 or fewer seconds on the clock). There's a lot of it, and it's awful. This is a significant departure from previous seasons and is probably where the various problems with Michigan's offense collect and express themselves. Here's a chart:

YEAR % LATE NT EFG LATE EFG
2018 21 54 42
2017 26 56 50
2016 22 53 49
2015 15 48 49
2014 13 53 47
2013 11 52 50
2012 12 52 43

(NT: non-transition.)

The only Hoop Math Era team with a late EFG anywhere near as bad as this year's team was the frosh Burke team in 2012, and that offense had significantly fewer shots fall into the Bin Of Crap Late Offense. This year's team is humping up a fifth of their shots in a 0.84 PPP bin.

Everything else is fine. (Almost.) Michigan doesn't turn the ball over, they are hitting 56% from two, and their meh team three point shooting is heavily influenced by a bunch of these terrible late shots. They're hitting 28% on 96 late threes, down from 35% last year. Threes in the first 25 seconds of the clock are dropping at a 40% rate. If Michigan was converting late clock opportunities at the rate they have over the past five years, the only thing separating them from their usual lethal offense would be free throw shooting.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a simple Give The Ball To Player X answer to this. No Michigan player has been at all efficient late except Jordan Poole, who's just taking threes other people set up. MAAR: 46% on 45 FGA. Wagner: 42% on 39 FGA. Matthews: 36% on 39 FGA. The closest player to efficiency has been Zavier Simpson, of all people, who's at 48% and has a huge number of his shots (40%!) in the crappy late clock bin.

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if this was late in the clock it was a good shot [Bryan Fuller]

Michigan just isn't as good at creating good shots as they usually are, and unlike last year they don't have a guy like Walton who can rise up for a good-idea contested three, or a guy like Hardaway who can get a decent look at a long two whenever he wants. Even the "have Matthews thunder at the rim because he's a great athlete" approach is seriously compromised by his free throw shooting.

Unfortunately this feels like an "it is what it is" situation. Michigan should be more open to taking decent-but-not-great shots earlier in the shot clock, because chances are that is going to be the best look they get. Other than that, they just have to live with too many offensive possessions that bog down into nothing at all.

The good news is that this should be a blip, not a trend: Jordan Poole is an unassisted 3 point shooter who figures to inherit most of MAAR's minutes next year and the next recruiting class has a couple of unapologetic in-your-face-Charlie-Murphy shooters in David DeJulius and Adrian Nunez. Also you have to figure that continued development of the point guards—and everyone else—should get Michigan better, earlier shots.

For now, Michigan should take anything that comes their way. Pull-up threes against Purdue switches? Yes. A good look at a long two with 15 seconds on the clock? Sure. A semi-contested three? Okay. Whatever it takes to get the ball up before the doom of the world kicks in 25 seconds into the shot clock.

Hoops Mailbag: More Weezy, Late Clock Offense, Best Five

Hoops Mailbag: More Weezy, Late Clock Offense, Best Five

Submitted by Ace on December 30th, 2016 at 4:36 PM


What's German for "you should play me more"? [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan begins Big Ten play on Sunday at Iowa. As the team's long holiday break comes to a close, it's a good time to take some mailbag questions. I got enough good questions this time around that I'll probably do another one of these next week; a couple of these required deeper dives than I expected.

I'll begin with this: I'm less concerned about the team making the tournament than most Michigan fans, or at least that's the sense I get. They're 10-3 with no resume-crushing losses and a couple neutral-site blowout wins over top-40 teams. While it's early yet to keep tabs on this, the Wolverines are a nine-seed in the Bracket Matrix with eight at-large teams below them. A handful of the teams ahead of them have the look of paper tigers. I'm not ready to believe Minnesota and Northwestern are tournament squads; both are currently ahead of Michigan in the matrix. This team is in better shape both statistically and resume-wise after the nonconference schedule than last year's team, which had Caris LeVert through the Big Ten opener. Unless there's an injury to a major contributor, which we obviously can't rule out, then this will be a tournament team.

With that out of the way, the key to season is Moe Wagner earning John Beilein's trust enough to become the focal point of this team. This is both on Wagner and Beilein. Wagner, for his part, needs to cut down on the oft-inexplicable mental errors that he makes on defense; those have been Beilein's focus when he explains why Wagner got pulled from a particular game or doesn't have a bigger role in general. Beilein, for his part, needs to realize that Michigan is usually better off with Wagner in the game even when he's made a couple mistakes. While I understand the need for teaching moments, they don't always need to come during games, especially when they may be at the expense of the team's chances to win.

There are already encouraging signs on this front. Wagner has played 25+ minutes in three of the last six games; the exceptions were UCLA, when he got in foul trouble, and the blowouts over Central Arkansas and Maryland Eastern Shore, when Beilein had a chance to give Jon Teske some extended playing time.

Meanwhile, Wagner's relatively low minute total—he's still playing a shade less than half of the available minutes—partially obscures the reality: when Wagner is on the floor, he's the lead offensive player. His 24.0% usage rate is the highest on the team, as is his 26.2% share of shot attempts when he's on the floor. His seven assists already outnumber last season's total by three. He's cut his turnover rate nearly in half, an especially difficult feat given the major uptick in usage. He's drawing more fouls. Most importantly, he's obscenely efficient as a scorer, shooting 71% on twos and 50% on threes. While those numbers will fall back to earth as Wagner can no longer feast on the Kennesaw States of the basketball world, it's clear that Wagner has the highest ceiling as a scorer of any of Michigan's rotation players, and it may not be close.

Wagner has done an excellent job of cutting down his foul rate, which has dropped from 7.3 fouls per 40 minutes last season to 3.9 this season. As long as that continues, it's time for Wagner to play closer to 30 minutes per game than his current mark of 19.2.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]