On Washington State, Ken Bone and Faisal AdenPosted by AMurawa on January 10th, 2012
A couple weeks back, Jeff Nusser at CougCenter made a compelling argument that Faisal Aden, despite being the team’s second leading scorer, was actively hurting Washington State’s chances. Why? Because despite the fact that Aden is one of the least efficient offensive players on the Cougars, he was taking at that time 37.5% of his team’s shots when he was on the floor. That number has since fallen to 37.2% (fourth in the nation), but the fact remains that Aden is taking too many shots and using too many possessions while other more efficient offensive threats go relatively unused. And to be clear, his position was not so much that Aden was to blame for his role in the offense, but that head coach Ken Bone was putting his team and Aden into a bad position by using him as the focal point of the offense.
WSU is now four games into Pac-12 play and Nusser’s theory looks pretty spot on. In the Cougars’ three conference losses, Aden’s trigger finger has actually gotten itchier. He has put up 33 field goal attempts in 65 minutes of action, good for 38.8% of his team’s shots. He’s also turned the ball over five times while handing out just two assists, but that’s another issue. In the sole WSU Pac-12 win over Oregon State, Aden only played nine minutes and attempted just one field goal. He did somehow turn the ball over three times in that stretch though. Couple that little bit of information with the fact that the Cougars played arguably their best stretch of the season this year when Aden was on the bench for three games recovering from a concussion (for those keeping track at home, Aden had 0.0% of his team’s shots in those games) and it seems pretty clear that he would be more suited to a more limited role in the WSU offense.
Now, that doesn’t mean that Aden should completely disappear from the Cougar offense, just that he needs to be dialed down a bit. Bone rightly points out that he is the team’s best perimeter shooter, and clearly he has little or no trouble finding his own shot, and as such could play the role of an offensive spark off the bench. But with players like junior forward Brock Motum and freshman guard DaVonte Lacy producing better offense and more than capable of increasing their usage, they need to get more of the offense. In the four conference games, Motum has taken 45 field goal attempts in 133 minutes (26% of his team’s shots), while Lacy has had an up-and-down stretch. Against Oregon and Oregon State, he shot the ball 21 times in 55 minutes of play, accounting for 28% of his team’s shots, but in the freshman’s first conference road trip to Colorado and Utah, he put up just six field goal attempts in 48 minutes of play, just 10% of his team’s shots.
If Motum and Lacy are capable of taking a bigger role in the offense, it is likely that their efficiency numbers will take a bit of a hit, but given the struggles that the Cougars are going through with Aden as their primary offensive weapon, they would still be much better off.