Monday, February 25, 2013

Ben McLemore's Aggression

It's not often that an NCAA wing player projected to go number one in the NBA Draft by some is perceived to be lacking a killer instinct closing out games. However, the narrative behind the play of Ben McLemore has been just that. The redshirt freshman is having an outstanding season by any measure, with shootings splits of 43/55/88. To put that into perspective, Kevin Durant (albeit at a much higher usage) was 40/51/82 at Texas. Still, in Kansas' 68-67 double overtime win against Oklahoma State, McLemore took just one shot in the two overtimes combined (an air ball three).

I decided to look further into McLemore's scoring. To do this, I looked at the 12 single digit games the Jayhawks have played in this season (essentially excluding blowouts). I then divided each of these 12 games into eight parts. I looked at McLemore's shooting from the 20 minute mark to the 15 minute mark of the first half, from the 15 minute mark to the 10 minute mark, and so on. My goal here was NOT to measure McLemore's "clutchness", as that would be impossible to do from a 12 game sample size. However, I wanted to see McLemore's assertiveness depending on time remaining in KU's close games this season. The results are as follows:

The table above shows McLemore's shot attempts and points scored during each portion of the game. The graph shows shot attempts in a way that is hopefully easier to visualize. I should note that the data is only from McLemore's play in regulation, so the three overtime periods KU has played in this season are omitted.

Key Takeaways

McLemore doesn't get to the foul line in the first half. This was the first thing that popped out at me. McLemore took just eight free throws combined in the first half of the 12 games. Even crazier, he took ZERO free throws in the first 10 minutes of these games.

McLemore has been most aggressive at the end of games. It appears that the overtimes against Oklahoma State were the exception and not the rule. McLemore has done the most scoring in the final 10 minutes of the game. The last five minutes of the game could be inflated by intentional fouls, but the 10-5 minute category shows that McLemore's both extremely aggressive and extremely efficient closing out games.

McLemore can shoot the basketball. Putting everything else aside, just look at the freshman's shooting efficiency. Regardless of whether or not McLemore lacks a closer mentality, his shooting numbers look straight out of a video game.

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