Settling for Jump Shots: The Skiles system and the Bucks on-court decisions in the pick and roll analyzed

John Salmons, looking for better options than his jump shot.

Basketball Prospectus this week published a great analysis of the Bucks offensive tendencies, commonly referred to these days as “the Bucks offensive woes.”

LINK to Basketball Prospectus article “The Bucks Stop There.”

It’s no secret that Bucks GM John Hammond and his coach, Scott Skiles, have not made good shooting a roster priority and have either traded away (Jodie Meeks) or let go (Luke Ridnour) of the decent shooters the Bucks did have.  But given this well known deficiency, why do the Bucks so often insist on settling for jump shots?

And why is the Skiles offense determined to result in spot-up jumpshots?

According the Basketball Prospectus analysis, the Bucks run plays that result in spot-up jumpers 23.4 % of the time — 2nd in the NBA.  That’s incredible given the lack of shooting on the roster.  The Bucks make 38.4 % of their spot up jumpers — 22nd in the league.

That’s “not good enough to justify taking the shots,” the article notes.  Yet that’s what the Skiles offense dictates, just as it did during his four-plus seasons coaching in Chicago, when the Bulls offense featured Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni.  The Bucks, unfortunately, don’t shoot as well as those former Bulls, not here in Milwaukee, and not prior to joining the Bucks.

Brandon Jennings, we learn, isn’t as horrible running the pick and roll as some perceive.  He’s actually “average” – delivering 91 points per 100 possessions coming off ball screens and shooting 41.8% out of the pick and roll — not great, but average in the NBA, according to Basketball Prosepectus.

John Salmons, on the other hand, has been as bad as perceived this season.  When he’s settling for jumpers off the dribble on ball screens, he’s scoring a meek 75.5 points per 100 possessions and shooting a god-awful 33.3 percent.  This is both by offensive design (Skiles and Boylan) and player choice (Salmons).

Were Salmons to simply become “average” shooting off of ball screens, he would have to hit about one more shot per game than he normally makes.  That’s two points, three if it’s from Downtown, where he has continued to shoot well; it’s his jump-shooting inside the arc that seems to have left him.  The Bucks have needed more than a three-point bump from Salmons to win, so, ideally, what the team needs him to do is stop settling for jumpers off the pick and roll and take it to the rim.

In the paint, Salmons stands a much better chance of generating the 4 or 5 points per game — either by scoring, drawing fouls and defenders, or opening up weak side rebounding opportunities for the Bucks front court — that the Bucks need to get over the top in these games down the stretch.

Up to this point, Salmons as been settling for the jump shot off the ball screen 78% of the time.  That’s OK if you’re Ray Allen and shooting 50 percent from the floor and 46.6 percent from 3-point-land (yes, those are his current shooting numbers in Miami) but it’s clearly not what the 2011 Bucks need now from Salmons.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE, and I hope you do. It’s well worth the read and includes play-by-play video to illustrate the Bucks’ offensive tendencies.

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Salmons, Delfino on fire against the Nets

With Bogut still struggling with offensive efficiency and needing more arm surgery in the off-season, the Bucks in their game tonight at the BC against the Nets needed a smart floor game from point guard Brandon Jennings and some efficient offense from their top scoring options, Salmons and Carlos Delfino.

They got it.   Jennings had eight assists and one turnover in 40 minutes.  Salmons and Delfino shot the lights out, rippling the nets with a combined 20 of 29 shooting and 51 points.  Delfino shot 8-11 from downtown and led the scoring with 26.

The game wasn’t televised in Milwaukee, but we know that 13 of Salmons’ 16 shots were from inside the arc, a good sign for a Bucks offense that has desperately needed smart shot selection and efficient offense to stay in the playoff hunt.

The Bucks stay home to play the Knicks Sunday afternoon.

4 thoughts on “Settling for Jump Shots: The Skiles system and the Bucks on-court decisions in the pick and roll analyzed

  1. Critical Bench

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  2. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Redd’s delayed until Friday, according to the latest.
    Skiles had hoped and wanted to have Ersan back Sunday, if possible, but that was put off. It’s not clear where that’s at right now, whether he had a setback or not.
    Gooden’s not in game shape, Skiles said. But he practiced today.
    So it looks like Maggette’s probably closest to getting some minutes. That’s probably for the best because I was a little concerned that they would be introducing too many new things at once against the Kings, which sounded a little like the arrogance that cost them games early in the season against lesser teams.

    Sacramento’s an improving team (though without Tyreke Evens at the moment) that started Dalembert and Cousins against the Bulls — and they bring big Jason Thompson off the bench. Dalembert’s always tough on Bogut, so Sanders is going to have to play well, and this would be a good game for Gooden to get in there and bang the two younger guys around.

  3. Kevin

    Also, Corey Maggette needs to get back in. He hasn’t started since that back injury a few weeks ago.
    Sacramento is coming in 1-1 on their trip, both blowouts. Could be a tight one, as wer’e somewhere in between Minnesota than Chicago.
    The return of Ersan and Gooden will be a huge improvement over Sanders and Brockman. Also, Barron should play more. Redd’s return could make Boykins inactive. Earl shoots a better %, but Michael has big game ability.

  4. J.D. Mo. Post author

    The Knicks game Sunday was a less efficient outing for Salmons, but he was able to get increased production (those four or five points per game that the Bucks need from him now) by working into the lane off of on-ball screens in the pick and roll offense.

    For the game 30 possessions can be attributed to Fish (shots + FTs/2 + (assists adjusted for team shooting percentage) + turnovers.

    Salmons scored 22 himself and handed out 3 assists, giving him 29 points credit (Carlos Delfino hit a three off a Salmons pass). That’s a 96.3 pts per 100 performance, still below the league average (107) but much better than what the Bucks had been getting from Salmons this season.

    So how did the Bucks get to 100 on the scoreboard and beat the Knicks? Carlos Delfino continued his great shooting, and, due to the ability of Salmons and Jennings to draw defenders, he was open at the three point line. Del shot 6 of 11 from downtown and scored a career high 30 points.

    On this Nets and Knicks weekend, Delfino shot 14 of 22 from 3-point-land, an effective shooting mark of 95%. Yikes! But the Bucks ought to know by now that they can’t rely on Del’s threes to win games, which gets us back to the routine offense of Salmons and the pick and roll.

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