Zavier Simpson 3 point shooting

Submitted by Bambi on December 12th, 2018 at 4:29 PM

Obviously Z's inability to shoot, whether it's 3s or FTs, is a concern and one of the few glaring weaknesses on our team right now. Unfortunately based on the numbers it seems like he's regressed from this year compared to last. Last year he shot 28.6% from 3 and 51.6% from the line, compared to 21.7% and 41.2% this year.

From 3 especially the numbers aren't pretty. I was looking through Z's game logs this year (link) and last year (link) and noticed a few things I wanted to point out:

  • Z is 5-23 (21.7%) from 3 this year. 4 of those made 3's were against GW, the other one was in the opener against Norfolk St.
  • Z is currently in the middle of an 0-10 streak from 3, spanning 4 games back to the UNC games. In those games he's had 1, 3, 5 and 1 attempts from 3.
  • Last year in a 6 game span starting with first NW home game and ending with the home game against OSU, Zavier went 1-17 from 3 (he went 1-2 against OSU but missed his first 3 which was the 17th miss).  Within that stretch he had a 2 game stretch where he went 1-12 from 3.
  • The only make was when he went 1-8 in an OT win at home against Minnesota. He made his only 3 of OT, making him 0-16 from three in regulation during this stretch. 
  • The two games prior to the UNC game Z didn't attempt a 3. This equals the amount of games he didn't attempt a 3 all of last year, despite not starting all year last year and playing 41 games last year compared to 10 so far this year.
  • Z went 0-5 from 3 in our game against NW this year. Last year Z went 0-4 from 3 @ NW and 0-2 from 3 at home vs NW. His freshman year he went 0-2 from 3 @ NW, making him 0-13 from 3 career against NW and 0-11 @ NW.
  • Last year Z shot 84 3's in 1085 minutes, or 1 attempt every ~13 minutes on the floor. This year he has 23 attempts in 309 minutes, or 1 every ~13.5 minutes. Excluding the NW game where he was being dared to shoot, this drops to 1 every ~15.5 minutes.
  • Z shot 71% on 31 attempts from the line his freshman year. That's small sample size but based on what we've seen I didn't think Z was capable of shooting 71% from the line over any sample size.

So there's a lot of numbers and notes here. I'm not sure how relevant any of this is or if you can take anything from it, but to me there are a couple key takeaways.

  1. Obviously sample size caveats apply but it seems like we're seeing a significant drop in 3 point attempt rate from Z. Without the NW game we've seen a drop from 1 every 13 minutes to 1 every 15.5 minutes, and even with that NW game there's a drop to 1 every 13.5 minutes. He's also gone 2 games without attempting a 3, which is the same amount of times he did so last year. In my opinion this is a positive. Obviously you'd like to see him get better as a shooter but that doesn't seem too likely, so until that happens limiting his attempts is the best option. The worry here is that teams start adopting the NW strategy of never guarding Z at the 3 point line and daring him to shoot.
  2. Z's biggest shooting slumps seem to correlate with games against NW. Last year his 1-17 streak included 0-6 in 2 games against NW, and this year half of his misses in his current 0-10 streak are against NW. NW hasn't been great either year at preventing 3 point attempts or makes, so this could be randomness or an effect of going against Billy Donlon. 

Once again I don't know how much you can take from this but it leaves me slightly encouraged about Z being a 30%ish 3 point shooter, which is probably where he needs to be to prevent the NW strategy from being repeatable.

The fact that he's reduced his 3 point attempt rate is the big thing to me. If you're not a good shooter the best way to help your percentages is by only taking good shots. Despite his poor percentages I don't think Z's taken any bad 3's this year. Most of his attempts have been wide open, and most of those late in the shot clock (minus one or two against NW where Beilein even said he has to take those shots). I also don't think he's really looked terribly off where we're seeing shots completely air ball, hit the side of the rim or something along those lines. His shots look like they're mostly online but not falling. He obviously doesn't have a great shooter's touch so that's a big part of it, but I also think part of it is just luck. Beilein has said that he wants Z to continue taking the shots he has been from 3, that he's happy with his shot selection and how his shot his looked, and eventually his shot will start to fall. With Z it's all relative, but I do think he's gotten unlucky and we should see some significant improvements for him the rest of the way.



December 12th, 2018 at 4:37 PM ^

tldr - suffice to say, he ain't that great of a 3 pt. shooter but still adore him.  Lock down Z.


and Bambi is a great poster - I don't mean to be a jackass (but probably am)

Mike Damone

December 12th, 2018 at 4:38 PM ^

Love Z - but if he never took another 3 point shot again, would be good with me. 

Tired of watching him get ready to launch, screaming "NO" at the TV, followed by a whispered "c'mon, please, just this one" prayer while it is airborn.


December 13th, 2018 at 9:38 AM ^

The problem is he has to shoot them.  He has to shoot them until he makes them at this point or it is going to kill our offense.  I think Simpson has the capacity to make enough of them to keep people honest but nothing is going to change until he sees a few go it and he can only do that if he shoot them.  I would rather just get them and jack it in the next few games instead of taking that "pause of low self-esteem" before he shoots it.  That is a big part of why they are not falling.


December 12th, 2018 at 4:45 PM ^

Z is just trolling Izzo and MSU.  He's just waiting for those games where he'll go 3/4 and Izzo will whine about guys making 3s that don't normally make them.  Just watch, it will be beautiful.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:03 PM ^

Zavier brought the flared right elbow shot with him from high school.  The attempt to cure it was last year's pre-freethrow process where he turned to his right and then back to face the basket with his elbow under the ball.  He appears to have reverted to the old form. 

Stop the game as he shoots.  Watch the side rotation on the ball.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:04 PM ^

I've noticed he never shoots a jump shot. Either a flat footed three attempt or a layup. 

I don't fret when he misses though. He does a lot of things help the team. Can't wait to see him go against Cassius Winston again.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:09 PM ^

He has to hit a couple 3s here and there.  I think it's part of Beilein's offense that he has to shoot the open 3, sorta like he forces Teske to shoot it.  

I don't think Coach B will tell him to stop shooting it.  If he's cold, put Brooks in. 

S.G. Rice

December 12th, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

I can only imagine the hours X has put in trying to fix his shot.  It's a damned shame that someone who works as hard as he does has a significant flaw in his game.  Still glad to have him and a couple of missed threes or FTs per game is worth what he brings to the table.


See also: Happ, Ethan.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

It's frustrating to watch and I'm sure he's that much more frustrated about his struggles.  But you are correct, many have looked good but just missed.  I think that's a good thing and the only thing that gives me hope he'll get up to the 30% mark as some of those HAVE to start falling, right?!


December 12th, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Can someone post picture of horse being beaten to death?


Can we just all agree from here on out that X/Z will not shoot well from the 3 pt land and if he does it's just a bonus. How about as long as he shoots at a 10% clip over a 10 shot period then we are all happy?

Indiana Blue

December 12th, 2018 at 7:42 PM ^

What's worse is that the lower bowl are simply NOT basketball fans.  It's the students and the upper arena that fires the team up.  Shit - the lower "season" tickets hardly even stand or cheer.  So sad ... such a good team and FUN to watch, we have the most wine and cheese alums with the best seats.  Just pathetic.

Go Blue!


December 13th, 2018 at 12:15 AM ^

Perhaps making a few in live games would calm him down. Ive gotta think he is pressing a bit with all the misses. Feeling pressure and the accompanying increase in heart rate can cause problems that don’t exist in practice. If it’s at least partially mental, then yeah, making a few with everyone watching could have a greater impact than all those practice shots.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:40 PM ^

Every bad free throw shooter needs to shoot underhand, it's so much easier and (not currently relevant) gets rid of the Shaq issue of 'my hands are too damn big.'


I have no idea why X can't make a wide open spot up three which are pretty much the only ones he takes (as it should be). If every team goes NW on him he's going to be unplayable. How does Rondo make it work in the pros with a 31.1% career mark? Is that good enough to stop people playing off? Hah, he's 42.9% this year.


December 12th, 2018 at 5:47 PM ^

True so true. Underhand works for people who struggle with free throws I remember reading that Wilt Chamberlain decided to shoot underhand free throws one game and shot 21/23. Now keep in mind he was around a 40 percent free show shooter but decided to stop after the one game he shot underhand because it didn't look manly. Barry shot 90 percent from the line shooting that way as well. 

If zavier can make 30 percent of his 3's its a win but im way more concerned with him free throw shooting. Atleast Matthews shot from the stripe has improved and teske as well


December 12th, 2018 at 5:42 PM ^

"Unfortunately based on the numbers it seems like he's regressed from this year compared to last. Last year he shot 28.6% from 3 and 51.6% from the line, compared to 21.7% and 41.2% this year."

You know you can do a test to see if these changes for the worse really are statistically significantly different. In this case, you probably want to use the.........Z-statistic...... 


December 12th, 2018 at 7:58 PM ^

Im curious as to why Z never gets a foul call when the defense completely wipes him out and bodies him to the floor damn near every layup attempt.