## Wolves' Shooting by Location

As you may have read in my previous FanPost, the 2010-11 Wolves were 29th in the league in 2-point shooting percentage.  My statistical models estimated that this cost them 9.3 wins relative to an average 2-point shooting team.  Of the factors I examined, it was the single largest contributor to the Wolves being a 17-win team.  I subsequently found some interesting data on hoopdata.com that breaks down shooting performance by location.  How do each of the Wolves do?  Answers after the jump...

The statistics are broken down into five categories: shots at the rim, 3-9 feet, 10-15 feet, 16-23 feet, and three-pointers.  The table below shows two sets of stats for the Wolves and the average NBA team.  The share of shots by location is shown in the top panel; and the shooting percentage by location is shown in the bottom panel.  Two stories emerge for the Wolves:
• The Wolves take a relatively low share of their shots at-the-rim and a relatively high share of shots from 3-9 feet.  As you can see from the shooting percentages in the bottom panel, this is a very bad tradeoff.
• The Wolves have a below-average shooting percentage from everywhere on the floor except 3-point land.

Overall, the Wolves shot 0.459 from the field versus 0.487 for the average NBA team.  It may be interesting to calculate what the Wolves' shooting percentage would have been if they'd had the NBA average shot selection (i.e., the NBA-average shares of shots by location).  Replacing the Wolves' location shares with the average NBA location shares would have increased the Wolves' shooting percentage to 0.469.  In other words, only about a third of the difference between the NBA-average shooting percentage and the Wolves' shooting percentage is due to the Wolves having a comparatively bad shot selection (across locations, I can't say anything about shot selection within locations).

Therefore, the bigger problem is that the Wolves shot poorly from all 2-point locations, and not that the Wolves didn't get the rim enough.

Now I'll show how each of the Wolves did relative to the average player at his position.  I included all players who played 20 or more games and at least 10 minutes per game in the average calculation.  (The averages don't improve much if I tighten those up to better reflect starters' numbers.)

Point guards are shown in the table below.  The two-panel format is the same as I used above.  The first thing that jumps out to me is that none of them could get to the rim at an average rate or perform at an average rate once they got there.  The second thing I noticed is that Luke's a good outside shooter, which may make us all feel a little better when he pulls up for a jumper.

Next I turn to wings.  I deliberately combined SG and SF because so many of our players don't seem to fit nicely into one category.  There are a lot of things to notice here:

• Ellington is amazingly awful from 9 feet in, but shoots reasonably well from further out.
• Corey's gone, so I won't dwell on him.
• Wes shot 78.2 percent of his shots from 16 feet out or more (!) and he was a below-average shooter from everywhere on the court.
• Webster is pretty good at getting to the rim, but he doesn't have a very good shooting percentage once he gets there.
• Hayward was extended just before the lockout.  Sigh.
• Beasley's shooting percentages by location are OK (not great), but he needs to improve his shot selection.  Sound familiar?

At power forward, things are looking a little better.  Both Love and Tolliver do a good job of getting shots at the rim.  Love takes advantage of his 3-point shooting by taking a lot of them (for his position).  Interestingly, Love's shooting percentage isn't all that great at the rim.  His strengths are from 3-9 feet and at 3-pointers.  (He also draws a lot of free throws, which helps is TS%.)  Also, Tolliver is pretty good.

Now we turn to center.  First sit down.  Then look at Darko's shot selection.  Pek, on the other hand, looks pretty good if this is all that you look at.  If he can cut down on turnovers and fouls (a big "if"), he'll be OK.

So what did I learn from this exercise?  First, we need to be better at getting to the rim.  Second, our shooting isn't very good.  There aren't that many instances in which our beloved Wolves shoot better than an average NBA player, controlling for position and location on the floor.  This tells me that we may not be very good.  I suppose we can hope that improved coaching and a little Rubio magic will set players up for better shots within each zone, and it'll all come up roses.  I'll be interested to see how all of you interpret it.

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