Examining Volume Shooters in the Big Ten: Why Jarrod Uthoff Should Shoot MorePosted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on December 14th, 2013
Who among college basketball fans hasn’t been frustrated by a volume shooter on their team? We all know the volume shooter, right? That player who hasn’t seen a shot he didn’t like. He starts off the game, seemingly, unable to buy a bucket. But then, all of a sudden, he gets hot and makes everything, maybe even the game-winning shot. Wash, rinse, repeat. The emotional roller coaster a volume shooter puts his fans through, while frustrating, is another example of the up-and-down nature of college basketball that diehards love about the sport. But how many players are really “volume” shooters? To clarify, how many players become more efficient the more often they shoot the ball? According to the numbers, the answer is not many, and they’re likely not the players you’d expect.
For this post, we did a quick analysis to determine the Big Ten’s volume shooters. To start, we only looked at players averaging double-figure points per game and measured player efficiency by using true shooting percentage to take into account the full spectrum of scoring opportunities: three-pointers, two-point field goals, and free throws. We used “true” shots (the denominator of true shooting percentage) as the measure of quantity or “shots taken.” Next, we counted each game as one observation and plotted each player’s game efficiency and quantity of shots on a graph. Lastly, we ran a simple regression analysis for all players to determine which ones had the most positive relationship between efficiency and the number of shots taken. From this analysis, we found that Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff (10.3 PPG), Wisconsin’s Ben Brust (12.0 PPG), and Frank Kaminsky (14.7 PPG) were the three players with the most positive relationship between efficiency and shots taken. To illustrate this, the graph below maps each player’s regression line with one another. As a comparison, we included the regression lines of the Big Ten’s leading scorers: Michigan’s Nik Stauskas (18.9 PPG) and Penn State’s D.J. Newbill (18.5 PPG). Keep in mind that a regression line maps a player’s expected efficiency given the number of shots he takes in a game. Click on the graph for a larger view.
From the graph, we can see that Uthoff and Brust have the steepest regression lines, which signals that they are true volume shooters in the sense that the more they shoot, the more efficient they become. Statistically, Uthoff has the most positive relationship between efficiency and shots taken. He has been an important asset to the Hawkeyes this season because of his ability to come off the bench and score while the other starters rest. But as this analysis shows, the sophomore transfer apparently needs to put up enough shots to really get going (at least six shots to break 50 percent TS%). For example, against Xavier, Uthoff only managed to attempt three field goals in 17 minutes and walked away with zero points. On the flip side, against Penn, Uthoff went 6-of-7 from the field and made all six of his free throws to end the night with 19 points and true shooting percentage of 98.5 percent. But Hawkeye fans need not worry because the sophomore wing is averaging over 20 minutes per game with a true shooting rate of 67.3 percent. So, don’t panic when he misses his first few shots — just hope he keeps on shooting. The graph below maps Uthoff’s actual game observations (efficiency and shots taken) this season. Even without the regression line, a trend between efficiency and shots taken is evident.
Along with Uthoff, only 12 of the 34 double-figure scorers in the Big Ten have a significant positive relationship between efficiency and shots taken. Additionally, the players whose efficiency increases along with the number of shots taken are not household names — no offense to Uthoff, Brust, or Kaminsky. Perhaps this is just further proof of the value coaches place on consistency trumping other factors.