Shot Quality: A closer look at JDA Bourgogne Dijon
DIJON (France) - JDA Bourgogne Dijon are the best shooting team in the Basketball Champions League this season!
They are shooting 52.7 percent from the field (ranked #1), 63.3 percent from inside the arc (ranked #1) and 37.7 percent from deep (ranked #7), so of course they are the best shooting team in the BCL...
But none of those stats alone is the reason they are the best in the business so far in Season 8. We need to dig a little deeper to understand just how good they have been at putting the ball in the basket.
The chart below takes us into the world of Shot Quality (SSQ) and Shot Making (SSM) according to Synergy.
Shot Quality essentially measures an expected points value for each shot created by a team. For example, if a team creates 10 jump shots at the free-throw line and the metric expects them to make 50 percent of those shots, it will assign that shot an SSQ of 1 point per shot.
Anything above 1 point per shot is (excluding other context) a good shot from an analytics perspective.
Shot Making then calculates how far above, or below, teams are shooting in comparison to their expected points.
So, following on from our first example, if that same team scored 12 points from those 10 shots at the free-throw line, SSM will show that they have outperformed their expected shots by 0.2 points per shot.
With these explanations in mind, let's return to the data story above. As we can see on the right-hand side of the first chart, Unicaja and - perhaps surprisingly - Igokea are both producing the highest-expected-value shots, at 1.08.
Whereas at the top of the chart, Pinar Karsiyaka are the kings of outperforming their SSQ, at 0.18 more points per shot.
And which team sits out on their own in the sweet spot or the best of both worlds? You guessed it, it's Nenad Markovic's Dijon.
They create an expected shot quality of 1.06 per shot and outperform it by 0.15 per shot. Put them together and that is how we can see Dijon scoring at a league-best 1.21 points per shot.
It's all well and good describing a bunch of data but what does this actually look like on the floor?
The clip above is a jump shot off the dribble with 17 seconds left on the shot clock and, to make matters worse, it's a long two. Normally, this wouldn't be an example of 'shot quality' for any team in the world.
And, for pretty much every other team in the BCL, this would be a low-quality shot. Those teams don't have David Holston though.
For Dijon, this is absolutely a shot they are comfortable with, because Holston outperforms his SSQ on dribble jumpers by 0.5 points per shot.
So, whereas a dribble jumper for Dijon is 0.8 SSQ, Holston's ability to create so much separation and balance himself so quickly pushes this shot well over the 1 point per shot barrier.
The great news for Dijon is that Holston isn't the only player who can turn 'okay shots' into great shots.
In the clip below we see Cameron Hunt taking a pull-up jumper from the free- throw line.
Looking at the defensive coverage, this is actually the shot that Promitheas want Dijon to take, but Hunt has such a high-release point and efficient shooting motion, that he is able to outperform his SSQ by 0.22 on dribble jumpers.
And to quote DJ Khalid, "another one". Gregor Hrovat outperforms his SSQ on dribble jumpers by 0.59 points per shot, making him one of the very best shooters off the dribble in the BCL.
In fact, if we looked at a cross-section of how often a player takes a shot off the dribble vs SSM, or how much above expectations they score from them, Holston and Hrovat would probably be #1 and #2 in the whole competition.
None of this is to say that shots off the dribble are Dijon's only way of producing great shots.
"If we want to look at their highest-quality shots, the result would be a surprise to no one - they are certainly more traditional shots."
In the two clips above you see probably the type of basketball that every coach and fan loves to see from their team.
Promitheas were playing solid defense in both clips, and forcing Dijon late into the shot-clock to get a good shot, but Markovic's men had the patience to keep the ball and move it until the persistent probes forced a mistake, enabling them to produce a wide-open shot at the rim for Jacques Alingue.
We should probably finish up by saying that although Dijon are an impressive 4-0 in the Regular Season they will undoubtedly face tougher challenges in the Round of 16, if they make it there.
They might be the best shooting team in the BCL at the moment, but that is no guarantee of success in the next stage.