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Just The Sports: Former College Sharpshooters

Just The Sports

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Former College Sharpshooters

In basketball, as in life, one must take advantage of those opportunities that come his way. For NBA players who do not fit the prototype of what an NBA player at their position should look like, it is especially important that they adhere to this lesson because the number of opportunities that they will be given are limited before they even step out onto the court. When these types of players succeed, it is a testament to their hard work and ability. Yet, when they fail, the failure not only affects the players individually, but is doubly damaging since it perpetuates the myth that a guard or center or forward will only have success in the NBA if he is this tall or can jump this high or can run this fast, which may cause the players behind them who also do not measure up to the physical ideal to receive fewer chances than they deserve.

Luckily, for former college sharpshooters, their path to NBA success has just gotten a lot smoother thanks to the inspired play of Charlotte Bobcats shooting guard Matt Carroll and Miami Heat guard/forward Jason Kapono.

In this, Matt Carroll's fourth NBA season and third getting significant run, he is averaging a career high in minutes per game (22.2) and field goal attempts per game (8.1). He is also averaging a career high in points per game (11.2), but that is not the result only of his increased number of field goal attempts. Carroll has actually posted a 54.4% effective field goal percentage along with a 60.5% true shooting percentage, which as you probably already guessed are also career highs, meaning he is becoming a more efficient shooter. Usually, one would expect a player who shot more to be unable to improve his shooting percentage since he would have more of a chance to miss his field goal attempts. Not so with Carroll.

Lest the data and the post title try to pigeonhole Carroll as only an excellent shooter, let it be known that this season he has, in addition to becoming a better shooter, increased his assist rate while decreasing his turnover rate. Before this season, Carroll had a career assist rate of 5.9 and a career turnover rate of 8.6. This season, the numbers are 11.0 and 8.0, respectively.

Like Carroll, this season has seen Jason Kapono average a career high in minutes per game (23.9), thanks to various injuries to the Miami Heat roster. Unlike Carroll, though, Kapono has not attempted a career high in field goal attempts per game in the 2006-07 season. His one-year stint with the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004-05 where he shot the ball 8.3 times per game trumps this year's 7.5 attempts a contest. Where a mere mortal might allow that fact to keep him from reaching a career high in points per game, Kapono has not, averaging 10.0 points and having a 63.7% true shooting percentage; his shooting percentage is 18% higher than the true shooting percentages he had in his first three years in the league.

Using these two players as models, NBA teams should not be fearful of giving significant minutes to college players whose top and sometimes only attribute is the ability to the shoot the ball well. After all, pure shooters can score even if they can't jump 40 inches in the air.



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