Florida’s Best And Worst Shots

After a slow start that caused the coaching staff to scrap the initial offense and move in an entirely different direction the Gators have drastically improved in the scoring department. They’re up to 28th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric and considering the fact that they dropped down to the 50s a couple of weeks into the season they’ve been playing like a top-15 offense in the last month to get up to their current ranking. The Gators’ best offense under White was the 2017 Elite Eight team that finished 25th, though they took a 31st ranking into postseason play before improving to that mark so it’s looking like this current group could be the best scoring team in the last half-decade.

That isn’t to say this group isn’t without it’s offensive problems. They have been prone to major scoring droughts going 3, 4, or 5 minutes (or even longer in a few cases) without scoring and those dry spells have cost them games. It nearly led to a disaster against Georgia and forced them to mount an incredible comeback, nearly an identical scenario to what happened earlier against Alabama, and even though the team has shown the fortitude to get back into games they certainly don’t want to make a habit out of letting their opponent get double-digit leads.

Part of the reason their offense has run hot and cold is their shot selection. An example of this was the first half debacle against Georgia where the Gators were left searching for points. Players who aren’t good off the bounce forced up dribble jumpers and instead of taking drives all the way to the rim they settled for floaters. Despite an improved offense on the whole the Gators have still been prone to taking tough shots and some of these attempts have come in such volume that it’s likely the team isn’t aware of how poor these shots are from an expected shot value standpoint.

Expected shot value is the amount of points you can expect from a particular attempt. For example, if someone gets a layup attempt that has a 50% chance of going in you’d multiple 50% by the 2 points the attempt is worth and you’d get an expected shot value of 1. If some got a 35% chance at a 3-pointer the expected shot value would be 1.15.

This is a great way of evaluating a shot and classifying it as good or bad. As a reference point, the Gators are at 0.929 points per possession on the season. With that average of their season in mind you can mostly frame what a good shot is—if it’s higher than that number it’s a good shot and if it’s below that number it’s a bad shot. Ideally you’re shooting for that 1 PPP or expected shot value number, but considering Florida’s average possession is 0.929 PPP that’s a fairly good cutoff of what’s a good shot for this team.

Here are some of the best and worst shots for each Gator and it’s something you can keep an eye out for moving forward. Sticking to the shots that each player is efficient at would help their individual efficiencies as well as the team’s offense and could go a long way in preventing the droughts we continue to see over and over again. This should be some interesting insight into the offensive makeup of each Florida basketball player.

Andrew Nembhard

Best Shots

Around The Rim: 1.182 PPP
Short Jump Shots (<17 Feet): 1 PPP
Unguarded Catch And Shoot: 1.125 PPP
Post Ups: 1.2 PPP

Worst Shots

Guarded Catch And Shoot: 0.176 PPP
Floaters: 0.762 PPP
Three-Point Shot Off The Dribble: 0.789 PPP

For starters, a crazy stat about Nembhard needs to be brought up. Last year as a freshman he was an absolute elite catch and shoot 3-point shooter hitting 47% of his attempts (1.48 PPP) but this year has been the exact opposite. He’s only hitting 26% (0.78 PPP) of his catch and shoot threes and that has drastically changed his offensive game. What has really hurt his shooting is the fact that he hasn’t been able to hit shots when guarded, as you can see from that dismal 0.176 PPP number that’s so low it’s almost tough to believe and he’s shooting only 5.9% on catch and shoot attempts with a defender in the area. He’s still shooting well enough when open, but to be a good shooter at the high major level you’ve got to be able to hit shots when guarded.

He also loves the floater, a shot that he’s actually more efficient at than most of his teammates but one that’s still not a great shot because, well, the sample size of floaters in the history of basketball has always shown it’s a bad shot. Far less of them go in than you imagine and due to the nature of the shot it doesn’t draw many fouls.

Instead of settling for floaters Nembhard should get all the way to the rim where he has been excellent at finishing. He also could stop and pop for a short jump shot since he has been really efficient at those attempts as well. His shooting off the dribble has really improved this year and while he hasn’t been able to make a lot of threes off the bounce his midrange ability has come through big time for the Gators at important moments this season. Overall, when Nembhard can get to the hoop Florida is at their best.

Kerry Blackshear Jr.

Best Shots

Around The Rim: 1.13 PPP
Post Ups: 0.889 PPP
Unguarded Catch And Shoot: 1.152 PPP
Straight-On Threes: 1.08 PPP

Worst Shots

Guarded Catch And Shoot: 0.48 PPP
Midrange Jumpers: 0.45 PPP
Wing and Corner Threes: 0.7 PPP

There has been a lot of talk about Blackshear as a stretch big but the numbers match up with the eye test in showing that he is only an effective 3-point shooter in very specific scenarios—when he’s wide open and when it’s a straight-on three. Like Nembhard he has been able to hit an okay amount of open threes but has really struggled when guarded only hitting 16% of his attempts. Blackshear should be let loose to shoot when he’s wide open and straight on but a decent sample size of information shows he is just not a great shooter from behind the arc.

Where he should live is near the hoop where he’s been at his best. Whether it’s off a dump off pass from Nembhard or off an offensive rebound he is unquestionably at his best near the rim using his size to carve out space before finishing. While his post up numbers aren’t as good as they were at Virginia Tech where he was comfortably over a point per possession it’s still a decent look for the Gators and I would bet on that 0.889 PPP number climbing between now and the end of the season. Additionally, when you factor in both the shots he takes on post ups as well as shots when he passes to a shooter or cutter the Gators are at 0.92 points per possession which is about their overall average.

Keyontae Johnson

Best Shots

Driving Layups: 1.17 PPP
Catch And Shoot: 1.216 PPP
Around The Rim: 1.29 PPP

Worst Shots

Floaters: 0.783 PPP
Dribble Jumper: 0.286 PPP

When it comes to evaluating players on individual shot quality there is no better Gator than Keyontae Johnson. Incredibly intelligent offensively he plays within himself and almost always takes really good shots, with the exception of the large amount of floaters he loves to take.

Other than the floaters he either lives right at the rim of behind the arc and he doesn’t take many tough shots off the dribble. He’s shooting nearly 42% from behind the arc this season and unlike Nembhard or Blackshear he isn’t fazed by defensive pressure. When guarded he’s shooting 42.9% and when he’s wide open he’s shooting 40%, so he can be relied upon to take catch and shoot jumpers with confidence.

One odd quirk about Johnson’s shooting that goes back to last year—he is lethal from the right corner and terrible from the left. Currently he’s shooting 60% on right corner threes and 16.7% on left corner threes, something to keep in mind when you see him moving away from the ball looking for a shot.

Noah Locke

Best Shots

Catch And Shoot: 1.345 PPP
Corner Threes: 1.9 PPP
Short Jump Shots (<17 Feet): 1.158 PPP

Worst Shots

Midrange Jumpers: 0.308 PPP
Floaters: 0.429 PPP
Around The Rim: 0.856 PPP

Make no mistake, the Gators have one of the best catch and shoot players in the country in sophomore guard Noah Locke. When he gets freed up there isn’t much a defense can do and if they lose him and he gets a shot from the corners, goodnight. Any time he has the chance to get his feet set underneath him and rise up off the catch he should have the green light to do so, even if he’s facing some defensive pressure. When guarded he’s shooting an unbelievable 50% on these shots and converting 42.4% of his open threes so it’s almost like he likes having someone on him and his ability to convert even when covered speaks to his ability.

Where his game needs work is when it comes to finishing at the rim. He’s not a confident finisher inside which has led to him taking a lot of unbalanced floaters, shots which, well, by this point in the article you know what the statistics say. Sometimes Locke gets overly aggressive offensively and wants to get into the midrange with his dribble and take a shot off the bounce and numbers have shown that isn’t a great look either. When Locke keeps to being a catch and shoot player he’s lethal and he only gets into trouble when he forces the midrange or puts up floaters on drives.

Scottie Lewis

Best Shots

Around The Rim: 1.158 PPP
Above The Break Threes: 1.286 PPP

Worst Shots

Corner Threes: 0.529 PPP
Pick And Roll Ball Handler: 0.692 PPP
Dribble Jumpers: 0.621 PPP

Finding an offensive role for Scottie Lewis has been a challenge for the coaching staff and often times he has been asked to do too much. As you can see, things haven’t gone great when he’s been asked to run pick and rolls and it seems he is a big fan of taking jump shots off the dribble even though they haven’t been falling for him.

A 28.6% 3-point shooter on the year, I was fairly shocked to see that he was actually shooting a fantastic 42.8% on threes above the break (threes above the free throw line extended, or essentially any three other than the corners) and a dismal 17.6% from the corners. Corner threes are usually a higher percentage shot than threes above the break but you often see young, unpolished shooters struggle from the corners as they don’t have the backdrop of the backboard helping with depth perception, something I suspect plays a huge role considering the amount of arc Lewis puts on his jumpers.

Lewis needs to be a player that catches the ball near the rim and finishes without having to take too many dribbles. He’s best used as a cutter where he can showcase his athleticism and there has been some trouble when he has went to hunt jump shots. If he can look for catch and shoot opportunities above the break and then look to be a cutter he should really up his offensive efficiency.

Tre Mann

Best Shots

Dribble Jumpers: 0.967 PPP
Driving Layups: 1.112 PPP

Worst Shots

Catch And Shoot: 0.677 PPP
Floaters: 0.625 PPP

Tre Mann has had a tough offensive year but he is starting to really come on and had his best game against Georgia. When it comes to shooting off the dribble Mann is the best Gator and that skillset offers a lot of value when it comes to creating offense late in shot clocks. Another area he has shown his flash is when it comes to finishing layups creatively, something he has had to do when facing bigger rim protectors in the SEC.

His catch and shoot numbers have been quite poor and he’s at 26.4% from three on the season, but I’ll offer up an interesting observation from the data. He’s surprisingly shooting 44.4% on left wing threes and 15% from everywhere else. So, if he can find himself on the left wing for some catch and shoot opportunities like he did against Georgia he might be able to heat up.

Ques Glover

Best Shots

Driving Layups: 1.2 PPP
Unguarded Catch And Shoot: 1.25 PPP
Midrange Jumpers: 1.167 PPP
Left Side Three-Pointers (left wing and left corner): 1.29 PPP

Worst Shots

Guarded Catch And Shoot: 0.375
Non-Left Side Three-Pointers (straight on, right wing, right corner): 0.391 PPP

Here’s a wacky stat, Ques Glover is shooting 42.9% from threes on the left side of the floor but 13% on threes from anywhere else around the arc. This could have a lot to do with his shooting form that covers up some of his right eye, and he could be a mostly left eye dominant person who doesn’t get as good of a look at the rim when shooting from the right side of the court. This isn’t an uncommon phenomenon when it comes to young shooters and the differences in percentages are stark. For this reason, any time the Gators can have him spacing the floor on his good side would be hugely preferable versus his weak side.

Glover is an undersized player and that definitely seems to have an effect on his shooting. Any time he has faced defensive pressure he has struggled to shoot as evidenced by the points per possession on those attempts and he probably finds it difficult to get his shot off against longer players. Luckily he has been good when he’s been wide open, but for him to improve he’ll need to start hitting shots over defenders.

An area for props is Glover’s ability to get to the rim and finish. Despite being undersized he’s done well at this and has been an offensive spark when he can get downhill.

Omar Payne

Best Shots

Around The Rim: 1.276 PPP
Pick And Roll Roller: 1.263 PPP

Worst Shots

Post Ups: 0.8 PPP
Cuts: 0.9 PPP

Has Omar Payne taken bad shots this year? Yes, but not many. He has normally stuck to his role of pounding the offensive glass and dunking and his only bad shots have come when he has tried to post up and occasionally thrown up some crooked hook shots. Curiously he also hasn’t been very good on cuts, an area where most athletic big men like him are extremely efficient. These plays are when a guard drives and dumps the ball into the big man and that should be an area where Payne dominates. Overall he plays his role and does it well, so there isn’t too much to say about his shot selection.

Final Thoughts

Florida is a team that hasn’t always taken the best shots and part of that could be that they aren’t aware of the data for particular players taking shots from particular parts of the floor. To maximize offensive efficiency being aware of each player’s strengths would do them wonders and it would also help with their confidence. An example of this would be Noah Locke early in the season. He was hunting for floaters and dribble jumpers, shots that aren’t his strengths. When they spilled out over and over again it hurt his confidence and he proceeded to shoot poorly from the 3-point line because of it. Players feed off seeing the ball go through the hoop and taking the best shots will result in more makes and therefore a more confident basketball team. Taking good shots consistently would also likely eliminate the dry spells the team has had a lot of, and that’s something that could go a long way in them winning games.

Eric Fawcett
Eric hails from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His blend of sports and comedy has landed his words on ESPN, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Lindy's and others. He loves zone defenses, the extra pass, and a 30 second shot clock. Growing up in Canada, an American channel showing SEC basketball games was his first exposure to Gator hoops, and he has been hooked ever since. You can follow him on Twitter at @Efawcett7.