Welcome to the first edition of Beyond the Box Score! In this series, we will use advanced metrics and unique statistics to provide deeper analysis on the Bulls.
To start, we'd like to explore how the team has fared at the Small Forward position. This is one of the positions Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has experimented with the most this season, interchanging Tony Snell and Doug McDermott while Mike Dunleavy recovers from offseason surgery.
Since Hoiberg focuses so much on the flow of the offense, let's take a look at each of their contributions on that side of the court. Luckily for Hoiberg, both Snell and McDermott are making significant contributions scoring the ball.
|Pts/Shot||Open FG%||Contested 3FG%|
According to Vantage Sports - a site which tracks thousands of basketball actions for every NBA game - McDermott holds the edge over Snell on offense.
As we can see, McDermott scores 1.42 points per shot, to Snell's 1.05, meaning McDermott scores more efficiently, and makes the most of his chances. In fact, McDermott's 1.42 pts/shot lead the whole team.
We have to delve a little deeper to find out why McDermott is scoring at a better clip, however. The first thing that comes to mind, is to check how each shooter fares when they're wide open. Neither player has shot enough open 3's to show any true trend, so let's focus on their overall shooting when there's no defender in sight.
Bulls fans are happy to see that each man shoots very well when they're wide open, at over 61 percent. But since there's no real difference here, we have to look elsewhere to explain why McDermott boasts such a high pts/shot number.
We find one major factor when we explore how well each player shoots the 3, when a defender is contesting, or pressuring the shot. A defender contests, or pressures, a shot when he either gets a hand in the shooter's face, or runs late to challenge the shot, forcing the shooter to react quickly.
Here, McDermott shines, shooting a remarkable 56.8 percent lead the team. That's not to say Snell struggles. In fact, his 44.8 percent rate is second best on the Bulls. However, McDermott's impressive ability to knock down baskets, despite solid defense, separates him from Snell.
But what about the defensive side of the ball? In addition to experimenting with the starting lineup, Hoiberg has mixed up the defensive rotations at the ends of games. According to Vantage Sports, Snell outperforms McDermott when guarding the ball handler.
|Pts/Shot DEF||Contest %||Foul %|
We can see that Snell outperforms McDermott in some major defensive categories, including points allowed per shot against. This doesn't meant that McDermott is letting the team down, by giving up one point per shot. But Snell's stout defense gives him the second best pts/shot against number on the team.
To explain this, again, we need to delve deeper into the data. One number that jumps out is the Contest%. This metric illustrates how often a defender contests, pressures, or forces the shooter to alter their release. Here, McDermott only manages a paltry 37.5 percent, which is the worst among all Bulls forwards. Snell fares much better, with a 44.8 Contest%.
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What's more troubling is the fact that McDermott actually fouls more than Snell, even though he contests fewer shots. Conventional thought would say Snell should commit more fouls, since he challenges more shooters, however his 8.3 Foul% is fourth best on the team. Now that is good D.
So it's clear that each player brings his own special skill set to the court, and not surprisingly, Hoiberg has played each man situationally. What will be interesting to see, is how Hoiberg uses these two role players once Dunleavy returns from injury. Until then, it's fun watching these two do what they do best.