What’s Behind KeVaughn Allen And Jalen Hudson’s Struggles?

One of the mysteries surrounding the frazzled start to the Florida Gators’ season has been the regression in play of their senior wings KeVaughn Allen and Jalen Hudson. With Allen being named to the preseason Jerry West Award watch list and Hudson being the Gators’ returning scorer big things were expected from the duo but instead we’ve seen Allen only score 8 points per game on a sputtering 23.8% from three while Hudson’s 15.5 points per game last season has cratered to 7 points per game on only 33.3% shooting from the field. The lack of scoring pop from what was expected to be Florida’s number 1 and number 2 options has left the team’s attack stagnant and uninspired with the basketball at times as it currently ranks 55th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency.

What has lead to the drop in production from the upperclassmen? I took a look into the numbers to try and find out.

KeVaughn Allen 2018-19 Stats

8.0 Points
2.0 Assists
1.7 Rebounds
2.0 Steals
1.2 Turnovers
37.5% Field Goal
23.8% 3-Point
81.3% Free Throw

Jalen Hudson 2019-19 Stats

7.0 Points
0.5 Assists
2.0 Rebounds
0.7 Steals
0.5 Turnovers
33.3% Field Goal
19.0% 3-Point
71.4% Free Throw

Usage Rates

The first thing I thought I’d look at was how often Allen and Hudson have been utilized this season versus last. Hudson’s minutes are down from last year after being relegated to the bench in the final two games of the Battle 4 Atlantis so it would be unfair to look at raw shot totals so I instead looked the percentage of possessions they were a part of when they were on the floor and the percentage of the team’s shots they took when they were on the court.

Percentage Of Possessions Used

’18 Allen: 19.0%
’19 Allen: 18.1%

’18 Hudson: 25.8%
’19 Hudson: 23.8%

Percentage Of Shots Taken

’18 Allen: 20.6%
’19 Allen: 18.5%

’18 Hudson: 28.9%
’19 Hudson: 27.9%

You can see their usage numbers are down a bit but it’s probably not as much as you would have expected, and you could argue their usage numbers have gone down slightly because of their poor play. Though Deaundrae Ballard becoming the team’s highest usage player (24.1% of possessions used and 30.9% of shots taken) may appear to be a reason Allen and Hudson’s roles have changed, their usages are actually really similar to last season.

Shot Changes

Okay, so their usage rates and shot numbers have actually been similar to last season, but have the kinds of shots they’re taking changed?

Let’s take a look at Jalen Hudson first. Here is it the breakdown of where most of his shots came from last season and through the first 6 games of this season.

2017-18

Spot Up: 26.8%
Transition: 23.7%
Pick and Roll Ball Handler: 22.7%
Off Screen: 7.6%

2018-19

Spot Up: 34.7%
Transition: 22.4%
Pick and Roll Ball Handler: 16.4%
Cut: 8.2%

As you can see the biggest changes are that he has taken a lot more spot up jump shots and has had less shots coming off the pick and roll. Both of these numbers show that he has had the ball in his hands a lot less than last season.

Let’s remember that Hudson was one of the best shooters off the dribble in college basketball last season with a 51.6 affective field goal percentage off the bounce. He also had nearly the amount of shots off the dribble (91) as he did catch and shoot (102). So you can see that a big difference with him from last season to this season is that he has the ball in his hands a lot less. For a player that relies so much on rhythm I’m sure feeling the orange in his hands less has affected him.

Now, Allen’s shot distribution from last season and this season.

2017-18

Spot Up: 26.7%
Pick and Roll Ball Hander: 25.2%
Transition: 18.9%
Off Screen: 9.5%
Isolation: 8.7%

2018-19

Transition: 30.9%
Pick and Roll Ball Handler: 23.6%
Spot Up: 18.2%
Isolation: 9.1%
Off Screen: 3.6%

The difference in Allen’s shot distribution is quite interesting is well and could have a lot to do with his struggling efficiency. The massive rise in transition attempts is interesting to me because as much as you’d think Allen’s powerful frame and jumping ability would lead to success in transition, that hasn’t been the case. Where the league average on shots in transition hovers around 50% Allen was 31.1% last season, putting him in the bottom tier of transition players in college basketball. He has been better this season at 46.2% but he still is a below-average player finishing in transition.

One of the reasons he has struggled to finish in transition is that he struggles to finish at the rim. College basketball’s average rate of conversion at the rim is about 54% but last season saw Allen finishing at 35.9%. That made him 3169th out of 3318 players that qualified in that category.

On a side note, that was part of the reason I didn’t like how Florida used their final possession against Oklahoma when they were down three and used Allen to try and get a quick two at the rim with about 10 seconds left. Curling off a screen from Keith Stone, Allen was tasked at getting to the rim and finishing through his defender. Unfortunately, the ball spilled out and Florida was out of luck. I know that Coach White likes analytics, and I’m genuinely curious if he was aware of the fact Allen was not the guy you want to try to get a quick two at the rim with. I know there is an element of going with your gut and not just going with what the computers say but analytically speaking I don’t think Allen was the guy you wanted to use there.

Anyways, Allen’s spot up attempts and shots off of screens have also gone down, a curious number considering that like Hudson his pick and roll ball handler possessions are down and hypothetically that should mean Allen should get more looks off the ball. Now, maybe his 23.8% 3-point stroke doesn’t merit him getting extra looks off pin down screens but it is interesting to not the difference between last year and this year.

Needing Space

Another interesting note about Allen’s shooting stroke is that he is a guy that really needs to be open to convert. During last season Allen shot 43.8% on open jump shots while only shooting 28.3% while guarded and this year he has been 50% on open looks while only shooting 16.7% when guarded. He’s not a guy that can hit tough shots and he might be someone who benefits when the offense on the whole improves and he can get more open looks. This also makes me think about the way his spot up and off screen attempts have gone down and how his shooting percentages have gone down with. The Gators should try to run him off screens and get him some catch and shoot looks while trying to limit the shots he takes pulling up off the dribble with a defender in his face.

Scheme Changes

The Gators are using 5.5% more pick and rolls this season as opposed to last season and as you’ve seen, Allen and Hudson’s pick and roll usage has gone down. That means someone else is getting a whole lot of pick and roll possessions as the ball handler, and that man is none other than freshman Andrew Nembhard.

For a reference point, Chris Chiozza ran 32.4% of Florida’s pick and rolls last season. Knowing that, would you care to make a guess at what percentage Nembhard has ran so far?

Get those guesses in.

It’s 48.4%. A lot higher than you’d expect.

With Nembhard running pick and rolls those plays have been a hair better than last year (41.6% versus 40.0% last year) so I can see why Coach White keeps rolling with the rookie. However, the fact that Hudson and Allen have seen their pick and rolls dropping and their efficiency dropping with it makes me wonder if Coach White should try to get the ball into their hands a bit more. Nembhard has been great and I don’t think his is deserving of getting his role lessened but right now I think the team needs to do whatever it takes to get their senior wings going.

Final Word On Allen

If I had to boil down what I think the source of Allen’s struggles have been I’d say it’s his struggles to finish at the rim and the way he hasn’t gotten free for open looks on the perimeter. Mike White needs to find ways to get him clean looks on the perimeter if he’s going to be a shooter and if not I’m not sure he’ll get to another level offensively as a guy who hasn’t punished teams when he’s gotten into the paint. The fact of the matter is that Allen is a career 33.6% 3-point shooter and because of that I’m not sure Coach White is going to base an offense off running Allen around screens and really, he probably shouldn’t. The advantage of Allen is that he is a strong defensive player and will warrant tons of minutes because of it and add value on that end, but he’ll have to try to learn to be a more efficient offensive player.

Final Word On Hudson

Shooting off the dribble is one of the toughest skills in basketball and Hudson did it at an extremely high level last season and did it consistently in a way I could never have imagined. Did he use up all his magic last year? Maybe, but I think he’ll catch lightning in a bottle and have a few explosive games this season. It appears he won’t be able to bring a level of consistency that would warrant a regular starting role but I could see him finding his way back into becoming one of the best 6th men in the SEC. His incredible shooting last season gives me hope that it will come back but he’s a player that unlike Allen doesn’t bring value when his shots aren’t falling. He needs to bring some level of effort on defense and be a player that moves the ball on offense instead of letting it stick and slowing down the progressions. A player with NBA dreams and NBA potential, his future is riding on the next few months and I hope he figures it out for both himself and the Gators.

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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.