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Which Pistons attempt end-of-quarter desperation shots? (Or why we should cut Rodney Stuckey a break)

Kevin Durant, via Royce Young of Daily Thunder, said he sometimes won’t take an end-of-quarter heave for fear of lowering his field-goal percentage. Durant is one of the few players with the cache to admit that, and Brandon Knight went further than I expected by even acknowledging that ‘you’ consider holding the ball an extra split second.

But asking players whether they employ such a strategy goes only so far.

I reviewed the end of the first, second and third quarters in the Pistons’ 54 games this season, counting how often a player shoots and how often he holds the ball.

Before showing the results, here’s a disclaimer: There are plenty of gray areas. Here are a few ground rules I used for determining what counted as an end-of-quarter-heave situation and whether the player got a “yes” for attempting a shot or a “no” for letting time expire:

  • It’s too difficult to determine intent, so I didn’t try. Sometimes, players appeared to want to shoot before the buzzer, but if they didn’t, I counted the play as “no” attempt.
  • Some situations presented easier opportunities to get off a shot than others, but I didn’t weight that. It’s a binary “yes” or “no” system.
  • All attempts or would-be attempts beyond regular 3-point distance counted.
  • Could the player reach or pass to the area just behind the 3-point arc with time to shoot? If the answer was yes, I did not count the play as a heave situation, and it doesn’t show up in the “yes” or “no” columns.
  • By rule, a player must have at least 0.3 seconds to attempt a jumper, so, if he receives the ball with 0.2 or 0.1 left and doesn’t shoot, that play also doesn’t count.

Here’s a count of whether each Piston took a long field-goal attempt when presented with an end-of-quarter situation:

Player Yes No
Rodney Stuckey 9 2
Will Bynum 3 4
Kyle Singler 4 2
Brandon Knight 3 1
Tayshaun Prince 0 4
Greg Monroe 0 3
Jonas Jerebko 2 0
Andre Drummond 1 1
Charlie Villanueva 1 1
Jose Calderon 1 1
Austin Daye 0 1
Corey Maggette 0 1
Kim English 0 1

I’ve been hard on Rodney Stuckey for shooting too many 3-pointers this season, and so has Patrick.

Have we treated Stuckey unfairly? I don’t think so.

This information certainly exonerates him, but not much. Strike those nine attempts from his record, and Stuckey’s 3-point percentage improves from 28 to 31, still well below the league average.

But Stuckey deserves praise for his unselfishness. Most fans don’t care about a player’s field-goal percentage. We care whether our team wins, and attempting these desperation shots makes our team more likely to win. Stuckey clearly shares that same mindset.

More observations:

  • I doubt it’s a coincidence that not only does Stuckey lead the team in yesses, he also leads in total end-of-quarter situations. I bet his teammates know he’s willing to take these shots and pass him the ball when these scenarios come up.
  • In fact, on my second-favorite reviewed play, Jason Maxiell, inbounding the ball with 0.5 seconds left, looked at Brandon Knight. Knight immediately pointed to Stuckey, who caught the inbound and did not attempt a shot.
  • Twice, Brandon Knight (who else?) turned the ball over in these situations. I counted those as yes attempts, because if the goal was protecting stats, he could have dribbled away from defenders and a potential shot.
  • Will Bynum and Kyle Singler each had attempts that came after the buzzer and should not have counted, but the official scorekeeper credited them with a missed shot. Stuckey also had a similar play, but I’m not certain the quarter had ended. Following the official record, I counted those as attempts, though they shouldn’t have been. That’s a real lose-lose for those guys.
  • Lawrence Frank, via David Mayo of MLive:

"We haven’t had it with this team, but I have seen teams and I have coached teams that you had to address a guy that two … one … you hold onto it,"

Frank is correct, because the most blatant violator is in Memphis and no longer part of this team. But the coach might want to address Greg Monroe, whose sample isn’t as conclusively nefarious as his 0-for-3 would suggest, but still has displayed warning signs of stat-padding.

  • When these situations came up, Tayshaun Prince became John Stocktonish for his willingness to pass. His 0-for-4 in getting a shot off is bad in itself, but that doesn’t count the times he made sure the ball ended up in someone else’s hands.
  • May favorite reviewed play: Prince rebounded an opponent’s miss with 1.5 seconds left. Rather than even look up for a shot, he walked off the court for what could have been a travel if it occurred before the buzzer (questionable whether the quarter ended before Prince completed the travel).

NBA.com/stats and Synergy provided statistical support.

11 Comments

  • Feb 15, 20131:21 pm
    by CNA5

    Reply

    That is interesting.  I’m kind of curious if this also extends to bail out shots late in the clock as well. 
     
    It seems that Stuckey and Bynum take a lot more late in the clock shots too when possessions don’t go right.  I’m sure their decisions influenced that possession, but it also seems like they have to bail their teammates out a lot as well.
     

  • Feb 15, 20131:37 pm
    by Tommy B

    Reply

    Great analysis, Dan.  Thank you.
     

  • Feb 15, 20132:47 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    Good job Stuckey for taking these shots. Now just stop taking non desperation 3 point attempts.

  • Feb 15, 20133:02 pm
    by DasMark

    Reply

    Too hard on Stuckey? 

    If I were Dumars, I would trade him for a bag of sun chips and pocket lint at this point.  

    • Feb 15, 20133:17 pm
      by Sloppy Joe

      Reply

      Yeah, ’cause we are so deep with quality 2 guards right now.

    • Feb 15, 20133:38 pm
      by RalphHau

      Reply

      At one time I had a lot of respect for Stuckey, but the end of last year and pretty much alll of this year he has been doing absolutely nothing.  There are flashes of what he might have been but in general he looks more like a bull in a china shop than a basketball player.  I would definitely trade him.

  • Feb 15, 20133:22 pm
    by Bryan

    Reply

    This is very frustrating as a fan. I always hated watching this.  

    I also completely understand the players trying to save their percentages (3% for stuckey is significant). Let’s face it, for a guy like Stuckey, the difference of 3% could be more money than your average American makes in a lifetime if he is perceived as a good, improving or bad 3 pt shooter.

    It’s also a huge problem for the NBA and a very easy fix. All the NBA needs to do is rewrite the stats part of the rulebook that if you shoot with time expiring from the defensive side of the court, it only counts as a shot if it goes in. Then, everyone will do it!!

    • Feb 15, 20136:42 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      And then you encourage guys to shoot from just behind halfcourt instead of just past halfcourt even though they had time to take another step.

      Players always have ways to play for stats. Let GMs sort out which ones are actually good and which portions of stats are meaningless. If they can’t do so and pay guys wrong, it’s their own damn fault when their teams suck. 

  • Feb 15, 20136:19 pm
    by The Rake

    Reply

    This has been and will always be a problem in the NBA, where guys truly care more about their money (thus their stats/percentages) than they do winning. They figure the odds are so low then why bother. In college I can’t imagine that the problem would be nearly as severe, because it IS about winning and not about self. It is what it is. Guys admitting to it does little to help the matter though at all. KD and BK, whats the point?
    In the fourth quarter with the game within 3 points, then I sure hope guys would be more willing to take the chance, but even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is not a 100% ratio where guys work to get the shot off, it is just a league mentality. No doubt about it. 

    • Feb 15, 20136:44 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      I’m pretty sure in that scenario, absolutely every player would take the shot. One such made game winner will help them more than 20 missed ones in terms of what GMs remember and how they get paid.

      But it does remain a problem that players play for stats. That’s why GMs should and do look at more than stats. 

  • Feb 16, 20139:41 am
    by Andrew H

    Reply

    I think we should consider the personality of the players in this analysis as well.  To me it’s more probable that Prince and Monroe don’t attempt these shots because of their laid back demeanors  rather than stat padding. Now if you’re looking at end of the shot clock shooting, I’d predict that Prince has taken more of these shots than any other Piston,

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