This week we look at the effect on the three point shooting of the Cavaliers by Shaquille O’Neal…
Three Point Percentage with Shaq (53 games):
Team Shooting is 401-1011 (39.7%)
Anthony Parker is 70-158 (44.3%)
Boobie Gibson is 59-124 (47.5%)
Mo Williams is 100-228 (43.9%)
LeBron James is 101-284 (35.6%)
Three Point Percentage without Shaq (22 games):
Team Shooting is 157-440 (35.7%), which is 4.0 percentage points lower
Anthony Parker is 29-82 (35.4%), which is 8.9 percentage points lower
Boobie Gibson is 12-24 (50.0%), which is 2.5 percentage points higher
Mo Williams is 43-113 (38.0%), which is 5.9 percentage points lower
LeBron James is 27-89 (30.3%), which is 5.3 percentage points lower
There is a dramatic difference with Shaq in the line-up and with him out of the line-up. Except for Boobie, who is having an incredible shooting season overall (ranking 2nd in the NBA), the other major three point shooters on the team are 5.3 to 8.9 percentage points lower without Shaq. The team is 4 percentage points lower. Even at his advanced age, Shaq is still a load to handle for one person in the post. Teams must account for him with an extra defender and this leaves the three point line more vulnerable (see Cavaliers defense versus Dwight Howard and the Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals). This is a big benefit to the Cavaliers, as they have for years been building a team to surround LeBron with quality shooters, taking advantage of his drive and dish ability. Shaq just adds to this as most, if not all, teams cannot guard him one on one…
One of the players brought in this offseason, Anthony Parker, fits the mold of a quality long range shooter to surround LeBron (and now Shaq). AP has made a living for the better part of this season sitting at the baseline and knocking down open three pointers. That open shot has been much harder to come by with Shaq not in the line-up, and Parker has been struggling to find his early season form. Teams are not forced to double J.J. or Andy down low, as neither are the physical and offensive force that Shaq is. This allows the perimeter defenders to stay closer to their man and make the shots much harder. Parker is shooting 8.9 percentage points lower without Shaq. This is a significant drop in accuracy. He is making the same amount of threes per game (1.32/game with and without Shaq), but he is taking 0.75 more threes per game without Shaq. This alone can account for 1 point per game we are missing (0.75 3FGA x 0.443 3FG% with Shaq x 3 Pts/Att = 0.997 points), which come playoff time can and will be significant.
Even LeBron James has been affected by the absence of Shaq. LeBron has, with great diligence, worked on his jump shot. You can see evidence of this by his increasing percentages, from 41.7 FG% / 29.0 3PT% as a rookie, to 50.4 FG% / 34.3 3PT% this year. He is deadly when he squares his shoulders and has an open look. With Shaq in the line-up he is getting many more open looks. Without Shaq his three point shooting is less than pedestrian (30.3%). On the other hand, in games that Shaq has played, he is shooting a very solid 35.6%.
Shaq reportedly is on schedule to return for the playoffs (or possibly sooner, with reports he participated some in practice earlier today), which is good news for the Cavaliers as a team. There are many things that Shaq brings to the table for us, but I believe his overall affect on opposing defenses is one of the biggest things he brings. I know for sure that there will be three shooters who will be very eager for his return!
Cavs Statistical History:
Against the Bucks on Wednesday night, LeBron James became the only person in NBA history with 75 blocked shots and over 600 assists in a single season.
This week, Mo Williams became the 49th player in Cavalier History to accumulate 5,000+ minutes played.
The last Cavalier power forward to reach the numbers that Antawn Jamison has put up since joining the team (15.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg, thru the Bucks game) was Shawn Kemp in 1999-2000 with 17.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg.
Mo Williams is currently shooting 89.7% (156-174) from the free throw line. This would be good for 7th place for single season free throw shooting in team history. If he were to finish at 90% or higher, he would join Mark Price as the only players in team history with multiple 90+% seasons. Price shot over 90% four times.
The magic number to clinch the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference is down to 2.
The magic number to clinch the #1 overall seed in the NBA is down to 2.
Scoring Title Update:
Current: 73 games, 2086 points, 29.73 PPG (-0.07 PPG change)
Last week: 3 games, 84 points, 28.0 PPG
Previous: 70 games, 2086 points, 29.80 PPG
Current: 74 games, 2195 points, 29.66 PPG (-0.01 PPG change)
Last Week: 4 games, 118 points, 29.5 PPG
Previous: 70 games, 2077 points, 29.67 PPG