Take it to the tin, Sheldon!
Despite only playing one minute against Iowa State as Texas coach Rick Barnes attempted to make a statement about his effort level, Sheldon McClellan still ranks not only as Texas's No. 1 scorer at 14.3 points per game, but also as the Big 12's sixth-best per-game scorer.*
* Prior to the sitting out, McClellan averaged more than 15 points per game, third in the Big 12 at the time.
But one of the knocks on McClellan is that he hasn't scored at an efficient level. McClellan is shooting just .397 on his two-point attempts and .288 on his threes. It's no secret: McClellan is struggling to shoot the ball, and the data available on www.hoop-math.com reflects that.
But it also suggests a possible solution: taking the ball to the basket more often. McClellan shoots 65 percent on his shots at the rim, a nice percentage for a backcourt player. But he takes just 19 percent of his attempts at that range.
That means that 81 percent of the shots McClellan takes are jumpers, and he's making both 29 percent of his two-point jumpers and the aforementioned 28.8 percent of his three-point jumpers. Additionally, McClellan hasn't succeeded at creating his own three-point looks. Every one of his 19 three-pointers made has been assisted.
So if McClellan could tweak his shooting rate and get to the bucket more, he'd likely see a rise in his field goal percentage, and his efficiency overall. The only Big 12 wing player ranked ahead of McClellan in scoring average prior to the Texas guard's benching is Kansas's Ben McLemore, who gets 35 percent of his shots at the rim. Even mighty mite point guard Pierre Jackson, the league's highest scorer, gets a higher percentage of his shots — 24 percent — at the rim than McClellan does.
Interestingly enough, McClellan shot 27 percent of his attempts at the rim as a freshman, and made 68 percent of those. So he's a proven finisher, and someone that shot a higher percentage of his shots at the rim in the past. Also interesting, at least to me, is that previous high scorers under Barnes have also seen their shots-at-the-rim rate drop. Jordan Hamilton took just 21 percent of his shots at the rim while leading the team in scoring in 2010-2011, while J'Covan Brown saw his at-rim rate go from 24 percent as a sophomore to 20 percent as a junior.
Of course, going to the basket more often also has the side benefit of drawing more fouls. And McClellan makes 80.6 percent of his free throws. So either way — a shot at the rim or a foul drawn — Texas comes out ahead.
Felix working without help
If it seemed at times like Texas point guard Javan Felix had to create all of his own shots off the dribble … well, that's because he's pretty much had to.
Felix gets 24 percent of his shots at the rim, not bad for a 5-9 point guard. But he's creating those looks himself. Only 22 percent of his makes at the rim were assisted by another player, the lowest percentage on the team by 11 percent. The next-highest rate was Julien Lewis, who saw 33 percent of his makes at the rim assisted.
But here's the thing: he's even less likely to take a pass and knock down a jumper. Felix gets the bulk of his offense — 62 percent — on two-point jumpers. And of his makes, only 11 percent were assisted. Like the shots at the rim, that's the lowest percentage on the team, but by an even higher margin. The second-lowest assisted rate on two-point jumpers? That's put up by Jonathan Holmes and Ioannis Papapetrou, who are both at 29 percent.
If you're looking for an underrated place where Myck Kabongo could come in handy, it could be to get Felix more assisted looks. Don't be surprised if the two of them play some minutes together, and if Kabongo kicks the ball into some in-rhythm Felix jumpers.
Looking for a low-post threat
Still, the above information focused on two of Texas's top three scorers, and the Longhorns have gotten the lion's share of their production from the backcourt trio of McClellan, Lewis and Felix, who have combined to score 35.5 points per game, more than half of the Longhorns' 64.1 PPG average.
The real need at this point is for somebody to emerge as a low-post scorer. And in Holmes and freshman Connor Lammert, the Longhorns have a pair of options that look appealing.
Both players are converting 76 percent of their shots at the rim, though Lammert is more efficient at knocking down two-point jumpers and Holmes hits a higher percentage of his three-point tries.
Lammert could learn something from Holmes though, one of the rare players whose shot rates mirror his efficiency at knocking down those shots. Holmes is most efficient at the rim (76 percent), and that's where the bulk of his attempts (44 percent) comes from. Holmes's next best area is behind the arc, where he makes 29 percent of his threes, and he takes 30 percent of his shots from three. And lastly, Holmes's weak spot has been on his two-point jumpers (26 percent), and he shoots the smallest percentage of shots from that range (26 percent). It's not perfect, but it does seem to indicate that Holmes has a general idea of where he's at his best.
Lammert, unfortunately, is the opposite. He's making just 18.2 percent of his three-point attempts, yet he's attempted his highest percentage of shots from behind the three-point line, taking 39 percent.
Lammert shoots 30 percent of his shots at the rim (remember, he's making 76 percent there) and about 30 percent on his two-point jumpers, where he makes 35 percent. That's the third-best shooting percentage on two-point jumpers on the team, behind only Lewis (40 percent) and DeMarcus Holland (36 percent).
So Lammert is (tied with Holmes for) first on the team in field goal percentage at the rim, and is third on the team in two-point jumper field goal percentage, but elects to take the most shots from three-point land? Like McClellan, a few tweaks here and there, and Lammert could see his scoring jump.