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Comment Section Queries: Hitting “Momentum Shots”

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Listening to RTRS, Mike and Spike stated that JJ Redick never hits so called momentum shots. Let’s see if that’s true for all the Sixers players.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

While listening to some recent Rights to Ricky Sanchez episodes on the Nets series, Spike and Mike mentioned that prior to the dagger last night (see below), JJ Redick never hits momentum shots, which they defined as shots late in the game that either extend the lead away from a 1-2 possession game, or cut the lead into a 1-2 possession game.

I thought this was a perfect line of thought to investigate. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to define a momentum shot as one that cuts the lead to five or less than five, extends the lead from five to more than five, or any shot that is made while the margin is within five. Primary focus will be given to the fourth quarter, but there will also be breakdowns for the rest of the game as well. We’ll work in first name alphabetical order by the starting five plus Mike Scott and Boban. Momentum shots will be henceforth referred to as an mShot. This does not take any free throws into consideration, and is only limited to field goals. Given the high percentage and/or volume free throw shooters in this group, this is a massive part of the offense and obviously not be discounted.

Ben Simmons

Q1-3 mShots: 245/451 (54.3%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 1.09

Q4 mShots: 33/57 (57.9%)

Q4 PPmShot: 1.16

Figure 1: Ben Simmons FGA relative density by mShot status

Yep.

Boban Marjanovic

Q1-3 mShots: 30/55 (54.5%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 1.11

Q4 mShots: 0/0 (NA)

Q4 PPmShot: NA

JJ Redick

Q1-3 mShots: 199/453 (43.9%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 1.11

Q4 mShots: 33/96 (34.4%)

Q4 PPmShot: 0.927

Figure 2: JJ Redick FGA relative density by mShot status

Seems like a substantial decrease in wing three attempt density and shots at the rim, possibly indicating an increased level of difficulty in the shot attempts. More of the late shot clock bail out shots maybe?

Jimmy Butler

Q1-3 mShots: 146/330 (44.2%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 0.939

Q4 mShots: 41/99 (41.7%)

Q4 PPmShot: 0.960

Figure 3: Jimmy Butler FGA relative density by mShot status

Looks like Jimmy takes a few more long twos/short threes off the right free throw line extended area in his mShot opportunities.

Joel Embiid

Q1-3 mShots: 238/503 (47.3%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 1.00

Q4 mShots: 51/129 (39.5%)

Q4 PPmShot: 0.837

Figure 4: Joel Embiid FGA relative density by mShot status

Given Joel’s huge free throw rate and efficiency, this metric is extremely unkind to him. He’s the best player on the team and one of the best in the league - full stop.

Mike Scott

Because I can.

Q1-3 mShots: 24/73 (32.9%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 0.863

Q4 mShots: 9/24 (37.5%)

Q4 PPmShot: 1.04

Figure 5: Mike Scott FGA relative density by mShot status

More corner threes = more buckets.

Tobias Harris

Q1-3 mShots: 102/222 (45.9%)

Q1-3 PPmShot: 1.03

Q4 mShots: 18/41 (43.9%)

Q4 PPmShot: 1.02

Figure 6: Tobias Harris FGA relative density by mShot status

Steady, professional Tobias. Getting a wide variety of buckets at all times.

Wrap Up

Now, this is three things that make drawing conclusions very dicey.

  1. Strips all context from every shot - is it assisted, is it a high difficulty attempt, late shot clock, opponents, etc.
  2. Totally ignores free throws, a massive part of the 76ers offense
  3. Is categorized based on an entirely arbitrary concept of “clutchness” or “momentum”. Is a shot that cuts a lead from ten to seven leading to a comeback win inherently less valuable than the shot that cuts it from seven to four just because it came first? (I say no.)

However, this was a fairly interesting exercise in shot distribution at least.