Friday, December 07, 2007

Hot Spot Snapshots

Where have we been? We went on a brief posting strike until Kelly Dwyer was returned to his rightful place in the hoop universe. Welcome back, KD.

I stumbled into the Hot Spots feature on, which offers something of a season-long shot chart per player by tracking FGM-FGA in different areas of the floor, and was reminded what a cool feature it is.

Here's what I found for a few selected players, when comparing 2006-07 Hot Spot charts with the early returns from 2007-08.

In logical fashion, reddish-orange means hot, blue means cold, grey means so-so.


LeBron displayed what appeared to be a vastly improved jump shot over the summer while playing for Team USA, and I simply wanted to see if his mid-range accuracy had carried over in LBJ's extraordinary start to the 2007-08 season.



For each of these players, I calculated their numbers for each of the four concentric areas measured in the Hot Spots: At the Hoop, Close Range, Mid-Range, and 3-Pointers, plus I included their percentage of shots in each of those four areas.

HOOP: 453-685 .661 (42.2% of total shots)
CLOSE: 85-236 .360 (14.5)
MID: 136-391 .348 (24.1)
3PT: 99-310 .319 (19.1)
TOT FG%: .476

HOOP: 101-153 .660 (43.5)
CLOSE: 15-45 .333 (12.8)
MID: 31-81 .383 (23.0)
3PT: 24-73 .329 (20.7)
TOT FG%: .486

Overall, LeBron's .486 FG% is a modest improvement on his .476 from '06-07 and .480 in '05-06.

Sample size is still small, but it looks like LeBron's numbers are up solidly in the mid-range area and mildly from behind the arc, though judging by the numbers you'll see below, his mid-range J still seems to have plenty of room for improvement, and hasn't made quite as much of a leap as we thought it might.


When I was perusing the league leaders in FG%, I was fairly shocked to see Rajon Rondo sitting 19th in the league at .529, a massive improvement from the .418 mark of his rookie season.

I was curious to find out if there were any patterns to his improvement, and his Hot Spot chart was fairly striking.



HOOP: 144-298 .483 (67.4)
CLOSE: 21-62 .339 (14.0)
MID: 17-61 .279 (13.8)
3PT: 5-21 .238 (4.8)
TOT FG%: .418

HOOP: 35-64 .547 (55.7)
CLOSE: 5-10 .500 (8.7)
MID: 22-41 .537 (35.7)
3PT: 0-0 .000 (0.0)
TOT FG%: .529

Rondo certainly seems to be finishing at the basket better, but man oh man, check out those mid-range numbers. It might be a shocker to anyone who watched him launch those backboard-breakers which killed the C's in OT vs. CLE recently, but he is up from .279 to .537 on his mid-range jumpers.

Not only that, but Rajon clearly has much more confidence in his shot, as he's made more mid-range shots so far than he did in all of last season, and launched nearly two-thirds as many. He's eschewed the three, and mid-range jumpers now account for twice as large a share of his total shots as last year.

C's fans: maybe there's hope yet that the kid can knock down an open shot or two in a big moment, DJ-style.


I was curious to find out if Rick Adelman's tactic of moving Yao up to the mid- and high-post a little bit was affecting the Big Fella's shooting. Oddly, Yao's FG% is almost exactly the same (.513 vs .516 last year), even though his shot distribution has changed dramatically.



HOOP: 261-460 .567 (56.2)
CLOSE: 150-331 .453 (40.4)
MID: 12-26 .462 (3.2)
3PT: 0-2 (0.2)
TOT FG%: .516

HOOP: 82-133 .617 (44.3)
CLOSE: 57-131 .435 (43.7)
MID: 15-36 .417 (12.0)
3PT: 0-0
TOT FG%: .513

Yao has attempted a much higher share of mid-range shots (closer to long-range shots for him, really) - already making and taking more than he took all of last season. Yet his accuracy has decreased from the outside while improving from in close.


Since Marc Stein was pondering the whereabouts of Dirk's shot just the other night, we thought it made sense to dig into the numbers.



HOOP: 175-316 .554 (23.6)
CLOSE: 187-379 .493 (28.3)
MID: 239-473 .505 (35.3)
3PT: 72-173 .416 (12.8)
TOT FG%: .502

HOOP: 49-90 .544 (29.1)
CLOSE: 28-73 .384 (23.6)
MID: 52-94 .553 (30.4)
3PT: 15-52 .288 (16.8)
TOT FG%: .466

Beyond the fact that Dirk has been dismal behind the arc, he's really struggled in the "Close Range" area in the paint and around the basket, falling from .493 to .384 in that area so far.

And while his mid-range numbers are up, they are wildly uneven this season - red-hot from the right side, just decent from the left - whereas last year they were pretty uniform across the board.

In fact, stop for a second and go back and look at Dirk's 2006-07 Hot Spot chart: that is a 7-foot-tall man, people! Spreading orange zones of sharpshooting all over the court. Just another example of his incredible efficiency. I'd imagine this year's numbers will start to climb and even out before too long.


Speaking of which, I really just offer these as things of orange-area Hot Spot beauty:




One of the many amazing things about Steve Nash's career explosion after age 30 has been that his FG% continues to climb to stunning new heights. Here are his season-by-season FG% numbers since his career really took off in '00-01:

00-01 (DAL): .487
01-02 (DAL): .483
02-03 (DAL): .465
03-04 (DAL): .470
04-05 (PHO): .502
05-06 (PHO): .512
06-07 (PHO): .532
07-08 (PHO): .534

Shooting in the .530s is of course remarkable for a guy who shoots as many 3s as Nashy does. Here are his Hot Spot breakdowns for the last three seasons:
HOOP: 201-303 .663 (28.8)
CLOSE: 69-156 .422 (14.8)
MID: 121-255 .475 (24.2)
3PT: 150-338 .444 (32.1)
TOT FG%: .512

HOOP: 170-256 .664 (26.4)
CLOSE: 95-188 .505 (19.4)
MID: 96-184 .522 (18.9)
3PT: 156-343 .455 (35.3)
TOT FG%: .532

HOOP: 27-43 .628 ( 19.4)
CLOSE: 22-48 .458 (21.6)
MID: 33-58 .569 (26.1)
3PT: 35-73 .479 (32.9)
TOT FG%: .534

While the numbers by zone have fluctuated a bit here and there, Nash really seems to have improved his mid/long range accuracy in the last couple years.

What's especially striking is how he's improved in the mid-range area on the left side of the court, compared to 2005-06, when he shot just 38% from the left mid-range areas.

I wonder if the improved numbers in those zones are just a matter of coincidence, or based on better shot selection or a change in offensive sets (maybe he happens to shoot more spot-ups instead of runners from there for some reason, for ex.), or if Nash possibly knew he was deficient from those zones of the court and worked to improve specifically from those areas? I wonder if the indefatigable Jeramie McPeek's reading? He's the man who can track down the answer if anyone can.