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About Those Glen Davis Jumpers…

In the loss to Atlanta on Friday night, the Celtics’ fourth quarter offense generated some egregious shots on its way to 15 points, the most frustrating of those being a trio of Glen Davis mid-range jumpers (from 18, 21 and 21 feet), which always feel like sub-optimal selections, even when they splash down.

I wanted to have a look at the Celtics’ mid-range shooting percentages to verify whether or not we should be cringing when Davis jacks up a shot from this distance. As Henry Abbott alluded to in his internet-overloading post on Kobe Bryant’s clutch performance, our memories often prove unreliable indicators of actual performance.

The league average for mid-range shots (16-23 feet) is 39.4%.

Here are Boston’s mid-range shooters arranged by overall shooting percentage:

Delonte West: 53% (46% in 2009-10) on 1.5 attempts/game

Kevin Garnett: 46% on 5.0 attempts/game

Ray Allen: 45% on 3.4 attempts/game

Nenad Krstic: 44% (OKC) and 41% (BOS) on 3.2 attempts/game (OKC) and 1.6 (BOS)

Jeff Green: 40%(OKC) and 44% (BOS) on 2.2 attempts/game (OKC) and 1.8 (BOS)

Paul Pierce: 40% on 2.7 attempts/game

Rajon Rondo: 38% on 3.3 attempts/game

Glen Davis: 35% on 4.5 attempts/game

It’s damning evidence. Not only does Davis shoot the lowest percentage, he takes the second highest number of shots/game, after KG. In fact, you could reasonably assert that anytime the defense forces a Davis mid-range jumper, it’s a strategic victory for Boston’s opponent. Doc Rivers wants his players to take “their” shots, particularly if they’re open looks. The problem is that somehow the Celtics have determined that a Davis mid-range jumper is one of “their” shots, when almost anyone else on the floor, Rondo included, should be taking it before he does.

So, shouldn’t the Celtics redistribute shots from this range to improve offensive efficiency? The arguments against that are based in part on the idea that within the Boston offense, Davis will get far more open looks than, say, Allen or Pierce, because of the perceived offensive threats those players represent. At the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this year, a presentation on optical tracking data suggested that tight defense (within three feet) drops expected shooting 12 percentage points. My evidence-free conclusion: Davis is much more likely to get shots free of these constraints than anyone else on the team but Rondo.

So, he should take them.


This is when we find ourselves down the analytical rabbit hole. If Davis is getting more open shots, shouldn’t he be hitting them at a far greater percentage than he does? Because we’ve already established that he’s one of the worst guys on the team from this distance, and below league average overall.

Which again suggests – fewer mid-range jumpers from Davis.

More on this topic tomorrow.

  • kricky

    Informative post!

    It would be great if they could find a way to run the same sets and get someone like Krstic, who is a better shooter, those looks.

    • Chris O

      Agreed Kricky, Krstic looks SOOO much better shooting those shots, I think BBD is still remembering that Orlando playoff game

  • MikeD

    I think those numbers are slightly unfair to Glen. His problem is when he steps outside his range (20-23 feet). From 16-19 feet, he seems very reliable. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but I feel like he shoots a very high percentage from that area when he stays in his comfort zone. Regardless, I don't think he is the problem of the teams offensive woes. He always gives them a big lift off the bench and is a proven crunch time scorer.

    • Chris O

      No offense Mike D because I'm not trying to think that Grown Man Ronald Davis does nothing but he needs to stop thinking he is the best offensive option. He is ÜBER inconsistent. He may be 7-11 one night then 3-14 the next and he's consistently inconsistent. He gets into 'hero ball' mode a little too much for a teams what 6th, 7th, best player?

      • Mike

        Yes you nailed it. The problem is that he is inconsistent and starts to force shots up. He is much better going to the rim and doing his thing.

      • MikeD

        I'll take Glen Davis being agressive taking shots any day over the rest of the team being passive and forcing someone to take a prayer at the shot clock buzzer. I'm just saying he is far from the problem in the C's offense. For whatever reason, towards the end of quarters and in the 4th quarter they stop being aggressive. They don't run on made shots like they do earlier in the game, they don't attack the basket. For some reason they slow down the offense to a halt and walk the ball up the floor, call out these intricate plays that end with someone shooting to beat the shot clock. This is not Babys fault.

        • CG12

          It would be impossible for me to agree with this more. This team is sooooo much better when they are pushing the pace. Not necessarily needing to score fast break baskets, but getting into their offense quickly and moving the ball around, without letting the defense get super-set. They absolutely move to the "walk it up, dribble for 10 seconds way above the top of the key, and really start the offense with 10 left on the shot clock" offense. Drives me nuts. And you can see guys not really looking to be aggressive with the ball. They just receive the pass and wait to make the hand-off – or whatever they are apparently under very strict orders to do – without even considering dribbling or shooting.

          Baby drives me a little nuts, but at least he is looking to make plays in the half court. he isn't just looking to give the ball to somebody else. Although it might be nice if he did look to pass on occasion – not a lot, just once in a while to preserve plausible deniability.

        • Chris O

          Mike D I don't think BBD or GMRD as he is now going to be called (yes Grown Man Ronald Davis) is ALL the offensive problem. But he is just an example of getting jump shot happy and unaggressive. Even though he is short and has a tendency to get swatted that boy belongs down low most of the time. Him playing out at 20+ feet and shooting is like us posting Ray Allen against larger players…in general its a bad move.

          • Mike

            Being aggressive is different from shooting forced jumpers. I agree that they should attack the basket more and more. Sometimes no calls under the rim or on the way to it affects the play calling too I'm sure especially when it comes to Pierce.

          • Chris O

            O I agree Mike. I have loved Pierce's play recently though. He drives a lot more recently. Sometimes he gets this facial expression like 'I am not letting us just go out like that' and gets really aggressive. I love it.

  • Chris O

    Yes I hate BBD certain days, the loss to Atlanta I felt was completely HIS fault. Other than the 1 KG passed last in the shot clock he should not have been shooting those jumpers…..he SUCKS sometimes

  • James Patrick

    I love Baby, but there's no denying he cost us that Atlanta game. Doc needs to wrangle him in. He's not one of our stars but an important part of the puzzle. If this blog can effectively display the shooting percentages, then you've gotta believe Doc knows this. Just a matter of wether Baby is listening and if he's not, he needs to sit, cry at the end of the bench, then get back in there and do what he does well.

    • Chris O

      Haha that just reminds me of Doc chastizing him for shooting a 3 that one time.

  • Chris O

    Both Krstic and Murphy were back @ practice today…SWEET!

  • Morpheus

    Ah, i've been waiting for this article to come out.

    Baby shooting long 2s = good if they're falling which is 50/50 or 40/60

    Baby operating in the post = efficient, PLEEEASE give me more of that

    • Morpheus

      In conclusion, Baby STOP shooting so many long jumpers, even if you are open.

  • Tim

    Dude do you know anything about statistics? Davis' numbers are lower precisely BECAUSE he takes more shots than anyone else on the floor… more looks means more opportunity to make shots AND more opportunity to miss them. Davis hits them when it counts, his mid range shot spreads the floor, and he's only going to get more accurate by getting more game-time experience. Do you seriously want Rondo taking MORE mid-range jumpers? What in the hell kind of analysis is that…

    • Chris O

      Sooo by your logic #1 and #2 hitters in baseball or someone like Paul Pierce and Kobe shoudl all regress to the mean because they get more attempts. That is not the case, usually great players in any sports get/take more attempts because they are better. Glen taking more attempts and being basically the worst in this analysis at the long 2 ball (in itself a very ineffective shot because of its lower % and no greater point value – SEE DUNK, LAY-UP and 3 POINTER for comparison) means he is doing a disservice to the team by settling/shooting so many. Maybe he should back a 220lb body guarding him down since you know he is a beast that could body slam Shaq when BBD was still in H.S.

      • Dropstep

        Big Baby is taking as many shots as KG from that range. Look at KG's percentage and then come back and say that the only reason Big Baby's shooting percentage is low is because he is taking more shots or realize that that is not the only reason. He's just not as good at shooting from outside as he thinks he is. I like Big Baby but when he gets jumpshot happy (and then starts missing shot after shot), it doesn't help anything. It's a weapon as long as he makes them. Look at how many attempts Pierce has from that area and his percentage (40%). Both Big Baby and Rondo should be taking less shots from there IMO. They both need to play inside more.

      • Tim

        No, by my logic in this specific context – celtics players taking reasonably deep mid-range jump shots – I am saying that Davis' percentage looks lower because he gets more looks at that shot than any of these other guys. In case you noticed, being able to body slam Shaq and being able to work effectively in the post, especially above the rim, don't always coalesce. Gravity, ya know? Paul Pierce and Kobes have nothing to do with this question… they're clearly in a category Davis will never come close to, and any kind of comparative analysis there is whack. I seriously hate how most basketball fans and bloggers have literally NO CLUE how stats work, yet love to troll around Hollinger articles on ESPN or whatever to glean themselves some little nugget of trivia involving numbers, probability, and basketball, then regurgitate it in some completely unrelated and inappropriate context in a sad, sad attempt at intelligent/meaningful discussion.

        • J-Bone

          If someone takes enough shots, eventually they'll miss all of them. Is that what you're saying?

  • kricky

    He does som good things in the post and going to the basket. He was even able to drive on Horford an dunk it in ATL. I want to see more of this!

    The problem is he is playing way too many minutes and being asked to do too much as there is no one else to back up the starting bigs. He's there to shake things up, create some mismatches, and then go back to the bench before the mismatches he is giving up bite the team in the ass.

    Still if he could ever get in better shape I think he would be a borderline All Star with the skills he has.

  • Celtics Freak

    Wouldn't be awesome if Doc taught BBD how to handle the ball like a PG

    • Celtics Freak

      *Wouldn't it

    • Batman

      It would almost be as awesome as Rondo being taught how to fly

      • Morpheus

        You mean shoot.

        • Renato Afonso

          I think he meant fly. Flying would be a great skill to have…

          • Batman

            Yes. If Rondo could fly maybe his turnovers would cut down….

          • kricky

            Maybe he'd finish better at the basket too – not having to rely on getting the ball to go in with "english" but throwing it down like D-Rose.

  • Batman

    Also I think this data tells us something important: Rondo has a decent jumper. He is kinda streaky but he is only a little below average. His main weakness is free throw shooting not jump shooting.

  • torpid bunny

    Glen needs shoot less and take it to the basket more. And work to get open deeper in the court.

  • Janos

    ah Ryan. Is good post, but is too much math, you have to remember the players are professional and make best decision based on game flow. Is reporter job to say what happen but decision is best left to player. Is good post though. Thank you.

  • ozcelts

    The C's defense emphasises stopping the opponent scoring at the rim and behind the arc ie it wants opponents to score long 2's because thats a low % shot. Given that- why does the C's offence have BBD's long 2's as a big part of it's offense- the opponent defenses will give the C's that shot all day :(

  • J-Bone

    Is it true a large percentage of his shots from this range are when the shot clock is winding down and he's the only option? I realize this is due to good defense, but it might be unfair to him if we look at his stats cold like this.