Hot Spots

Hot Spots
He splashed color and magic on Milwaukee. He created the MECCA Arena basketball floor design in 1977. On Tuesday, Sept. 24 here in 2013, the Bucks will unveil a new home court design at the Milwaukee Art Museum that is inspired (inspired, not designed) by him – Robert Indiana, art icon.
By November, the nights will be sharp and crisp and the team will win some games and lose some games, and they will do so on a court with some drops of residual magic. If you care about basketball in Milwaukee (and you do), this matters.

The photo above is not a portrait of the new court. The above is just an empty shot chart. But the empty shot chart and fresh court design both represent a clean newness, a blank canvas on which the city can daydream about the past and then paint new history by night.

And here and now are some recommendations for where players on the 2013-14 team should and should not shoot the basketball on the new court. Shot charts are all from 2012-13. Notes are 100 words or so. Apologies to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Miroslav Raduljica, and Nate Wolters. I hope they shoot in all the right places as well; I just don’t really know exactly where that might be yet. Thanks also to nba.com/stats.

Caron Butler
Caron Butler

Hot Spots: Butler has bloomed as a three-point ace here in the second half of his career. The 32 year-old has made more threes in the past two seasons combined (220) than he made in all of his first six pro seasons combined (207). The righty was better from the right side of the perimeter last season, which follows a career-long trend. Butler is not the slasher he was in Washington, his attempts around the hoop are down, but his field goal percentage in that area (53.0 %) last season marked his best since back in 2008-09. He is picking his spots, to make them hot.

Carlos Delfino
Carlos Delfino

Hot Spots: Back in the Fear the Dear year and throughout his first tour with the Bucks, you might recall he actually was more accurate from the left corner than the right corner. Last year in Houston that changed, but not so dramatically. In any event, one thing that has been consistent is that Delfino loves to shoot threes from the right side center. For five straight seasons, that has been has favorite three-point shot area. Overall, Delfino tends to take high value shots, either at the rim or beyond the three-point line. Last season his three attempts were more frequent than ever and his shots around the hoop arrived less often (though you know he is always good for a couple where-did-that-come-from dunks).

John Henson
John Henson

Hot Spots: Here is where I am going to spend a minute typing about the Henson Hook. This subject will probably (hopefully) have its own column here on these pages soon enough. His basketball-reference hook shot chart has the details on his soft, go-to, and somewhat unorthodox lefty hook attempts as a rookie. He ranked 43rd in the NBA in hooks made last season, but keep in mind that he didn’t even play in half of the games. His 47.1 % conversion rate – already better than guys like Dwight Howard, Robin Lopez, and Greg Monroe – absolutely needs to and will go up. It’s a shot that he showed off in college and often felt comfortable deploying against all sizes of defenders as a rookie. It’s not there yet, he sometimes treats it as more of a resort than a forceful finish. But hopefully he can turn this into a major threat, a la David Lee, Emeka Okafor, and so on. Watch for this.

Ersan Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova

Hot Spots: You probably caught this by now, but to clarify, green is hot and red is cold. (Not necessarily intuitively color-coded.) So yes, the big chunks of Ilyasova green are rolling meadows of happiness. Turkish Thunder adores popping out to the three-point line in pick-and-roll situations, and we adore him for that. In fact, Mike Prada of SB Nation recently highlighted this play and coined the “pick and split” as the team’s pet play in an excellent video breakdown. As an elite three-point shooter for two straight running, teams will mention this threat on their dry erase board in the locker room before games, but as showcased, Ilyasova moves skillfully off the ball and the team aims to confuse defenses with a simultaneous Sanders cut to the basket. Of course, Ilyasova is still a relatively low-volume three-point shooter, and it would be great to see him establish a bit of a rapport with Knight early on and increase those three attempts this season.

Brandon Knight
Brandon Knight

Hot Spots: Knight, a righty, likes to shoot from the left side center three-point area on this grid. Both as a rookie and sophomore, he shot threes from that spot more than any other, by a fair amount. Yet that hasn’t really proven to be his hottest spot necessarily so far, although his composite numbers show he is pretty equally adept from each area around the arc. For the sake of comparison, former point guard Brandon Jennings always shot more from the right side center in each of his four seasons. The right corner has been fruitful in both of his seasons, but it’s a relatively low-volume area. Knight would also be well-suited to a find a groove in the mid-range and improve at the rim this season.

O.J. Mayo
OJ Mayo

Hot Spots: This shot chart is easy on the eyes. No major problem areas to speak of (not worth getting caught up about that little red blemish), and as far as selection, he shot threes more than ever and made the best percentage of his career last season. Inside the three-point line (I feel like I keep writing about threes for everyone, which I suppose is a good thing), Mayo historically finds more success on right side center mid-range jumpers, and he attempted many more on that side last season though the percentages evened out a bit.

Khris Middleton

Hot Spots: Small sample size here. He likes corner threes. Let’s see.

Gary Neal
Gary Neal

Hot Spots: Some elaboration about Neal from The Best Things in Life are Three story, if I may borrow: “Neal is a little bit different. Watch him and you will see that he actually creates a relatively larger number of his threes. Actually, Neal finds threes in a variety of ways. In addition to spot-ups, he will hit threes as the pick-and-roll ball handler, or in isolation. In the best season of his life, 2011-12, Neal was assisted on by far the fewest number of his threes (54.2 %, which is quite low). Point is: Neal can make threes all on his own, off the dribble, which is valuable.” The “different” part refers to the fact that Neal is not a classic catch-and-shoot type, which is the type of granular data that doesn’t show up these charts. Another thing, for those who watched the playoffs: Neal’s regular season and postseason shot charts have some major differences, and he actually put up better numbers in the regulars season overall.

Zaza Pachulia
Zaza Pachulia

Hot Spots: Apparently he takes more halfcourt shots than anyone on the team (that 0-3 at midcourt), but other than that Pachulia knows his strengths and plays very close to the basket on offense. He is 0-17 on three-pointers in his NBA career, and 72.2 % of his shot attempts are within that area closest to the hoop. Plays aren’t exactly run for him.

Luke Ridnour
Luke Ridnour

Hot Spots: As you know, Ridnour is a dream on the pull-up mid-range jumper. Not many people have all of those wide open green spaces, especially considering how often he shoots there. Ridnour is consistent and glorious in that respect. The bigger variable is the three-point shooting. After leaving Milwaukee, Ridnour shot 44.0 % on threes in his first season with Minnesota, but that number fell to 31.1 % by last season. It’s a great, great bet that his 2013-14 accuracy will fall somewhere in the middle, but whether it shades toward the 40s or not will go a long way to determine his overall offensive efficiency.

Larry Sanders
Larry Sanders

Hot Spots: Don’t let all of that red scare you; Sanders shoots almost exclusively around the basket. I am all for diversifying offensive arsenals, but I am even more for finding your niche and maximizing areas of strength, so I wouldn’t mind seeing Sanders keep the mid-range jumpers to a minimum (I do like the 13-27 from left side 8-16 footers) this season. If he can find some proficiency shooting the ball, fantastic, truly fantastic. But I am far more interested in Sanders continuing to improve (and then, become dominant) around the rim.

Ekpe Udoh
Ekpe Udoh

Hot Spots: Udoh has a little hook shot in one of his pockets, and he actually wasn’t so bad in that 16-24 foot range during the rare times that he released from there. But overall, Udoh somehow tends to avoid all box score types of numbers, good or bad. And herein, the crux of the article: you will really just want and need to watch, watch, watch.

 

Alex Boeder

My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at adboeder@gmail.com.

 

 

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