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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: James Young Relying Too Much on 3-Pointer?

In a completely blind test, without any statistics, I would say that James Young has the prettiest shot of any player in the Calipari era.  Doron Lamb certainly had a good looking one too, but Young’s shot seems to have the best form of anybody.  Unfortunately for Young and the team, stats do matter.  And I’ve noticed that it seems to me that Young is spending a lot of time in the last month roaming the perimeter for his first chance to fire it up.  Which if you are Doron Lamb and shooting nearly 50% from 3 is a perfectly reasonable strategy.  Certainly it is playing to your strength.

But is 3-point shooting really James Young’s strength?  Below you will find the 9 seasons in the Calipari era where a player took 43% or more of his shots from 3.  And then you will see those 9 seasons ranked by shooting percentage:

Darnell Dodson (2009-10): 144 of 192 (75.0%)
Julius Mays (2012-13): 175 of 247 (70.8%)
James Young (2013-14): 103 of 171 (60.2%)
Kyle Wiltjer (2012-13): 150 of 278 (53.9%)
Kyle Wiltjer (2011-12): 81 of 162 (50.0%)
Darius Miller (2011-12): 149 of 302 (49.3%)
Brandon Knight (2010-11): 231 of 513 (45.0%)
Doron Lamb (2011-12): 163 of 369 (44.2%)
Doron Lamb (2010-11): 140 of 324 (43.2%)

Doron Lamb (2010-11): 48.6%
Doron Lamb (2011-12): 46.6%
Kyle Wiltjer (2011-12): 43.2%
Brandon Knight (2010-11): 37.7%
Darius Miller (2011-12): 37.6%
Julius Mays (2012-13): 37.1%
Kyle Wiltjer (2012-13): 36.7%
Darnell Dodson (2009-10): 34.7%
James Young (2013-14): 32.0%

I don’t know but that is fairly concerning to me.  The reason being that not only is Young shooting a worse percentage from behind the arc than all those guys, but at the end of the season he will have taken more shots than anybody else on the list other than Brandon Knight.

With that said, I am not sure there is another player on the team I would want taking 3’s more than Young, even with the lower percentage.  But I wonder if this idea there has to be a designated 3-point shooter is a good idea for this squad.  Because it seems to have limited Young to doing something he isn’t doing particularly well right now.  Maybe he is just in a kind of slump and will soon break out of it and finish the year shooting above 35%.

But what do you think after watching the team all season?  Is James Young’s ability being used to its fullest with him primarily shooting 3-point jump shots?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

60 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: James Young Relying Too Much on 3-Pointer?

  1. rick
    9:05 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Its people like you that keep him from hitting more 3s, I say keep shooting the 3s, he happens to be the best player on the team and a pure shooter . KEEP SHOOTING.

    • louie
      9:28 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      I concur, rick. We need to shoot MORE threes and shoot them more confidently. You don’t shoot “reluctantly”.You take what the opposing team gives you. And most of them play zone on us most of the time. It’s an inside/outside game. Shooting threes will open up the paint. It’s easy to say “score in the paint and shoot more runners and tear drops”. But often that is not possible when a team is using a zone defense. You take whatever they give you. You don’t force it inside when the inside is jammed. If you do, you turn the ball over and do not get a chance to use your rebound advantage for put backs. SHOOT confidently,,..and then shoot some more. Don’t force it into a clogged up paint, trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

    • We Hang Banners
      9:37 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Forget about the 3’s, James take a few dribbles before you shoot your free throws. It will help lots.

    • BB McBride
      2:54 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      The only pretty shot is one that goes in, and James’ shots are NOT going in. He is shooting a lower percentage than the 2012 team averaged, which shows you how bad it is. I don’t care what a shot looks like going in. Old school. new school. pretty, ugly, hitch, whatever — if you can’t hit it, stop shooting. A missed shot is a turnover (because the other team almost always gets the ball back).

  2. the_ghost_of_ronnie_lyons
    9:05 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    James IS relying on the jumper too much. He needs to show ball, drive and dunk or dish as well. It would open up his game tremendously if he would, and make him very tough to guard……

    • lonnieb
      11:06 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Read louie’s post above


  3. UkNeal7
    9:11 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    My problem isn’t with the AMOUNT of threes he takes, but with the selection and quality. If he takes 8 good threes a game I guarantee his percentage would be much higher. Instead he consistently takes them from 25 ft out and with one-two defenders in front of him.

    Guys like Lamb and Knight didn’t take bad threes very often. 4 or 5 of the threes that young shoots are from WAY too far out and at bad times. They need to come natural with the offense. Not forced and rushed it he first 10 seconds of the shot clock

    • UkNeal7
      9:12 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Come naturally* and commas left out. My B.

    • CatsBBN
      10:07 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Im glad I read the comments before I wrote in or I would have said the exact same thing. He just seems to rush many of them. The open ones are there and I would be interested to see a percentage of makes based on how open he is. I like the green light with Young because of everyone on this team, with the exception of what Willis may be able to do(but we havent seen it yet), he is the guy I would want shooting the 3. In my opinion there is nothing to see here as long as he works on shot selection. I dont mind misses on good shots because you cant make every shot even if you’re wide open. Other than that, keep shooting Mr. Young.

  4. lou eaton
    9:18 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Probably does take some 3’s at bad times too far out BUT UK will face nothing else but zone defenses all season simply because teams recognize this as a weakness. He has too much talent to just rely on the three although we will have to make them to advance in the NIAAs. Again, I believe Cal could learn something from studying Pitino’s attack against the Syracuse zone which he has solved very well.

    • lonnieb
      11:09 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      The offense against a zone will not matter at end of year….b/c none of the top teams except syracuse play zone….the good teams play man to man D

  5. well
    9:20 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    he is above the team average.. so that tells you something…

    • ShagariObrzut
      9:42 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      But he’s well below the average for total FG%. He’s taken 19 more shots than anyone on the team, but he shoots 38%. Of the players who have played regular minutes this season, only Hawkins has a lower shooting percentage.

      I love Young, but his numbers don’t say that he should be shooting as much as he does.

  6. UKBoo
    9:30 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Prettiest shot? You obviously do not understand shooting form. I love the guy, but he has WAY too much motion in his shot and it takes three steps of daylight to get a shot off. The “prettiest” form is the form that happens so fast you do not even notice the form. Think Larry Bird. Willis’ form is 10 times “prettier” than Young’s. Stick to stats, BTI.

    • Bryan the Intern
      9:42 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      We can agree to disagree on what a pretty shot looks like, but Derrick Willis has a push shot. It’s absolutely not pretty.

    • Jwall
      11:23 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      It’s Derek.

    • DH
      11:44 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      For some reason I think lefty’s shots look better than right-handed shooters. Though the best form and quickest release I can recall is Jesus Shuttleworth. It looks so effortless to him.

    • Nashville cat
      1:00 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Willis does have a push shot. Its almost a line drive. But young does have alot of motion. Aaron Harrison’s is the best looking. Release at the top. Its the same every single time. Its pretty textbook.

      I would like to see dakaris tho. I bet its a thing poets would write about

  7. UK/Ark
    9:36 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Shoot the three, but learn to use a shot fake.

  8. ShagariObrzut
    9:36 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    James Young definitely doesn’t have the best shooting form in the Calipari era. Like someone else said..way too much motion and it takes way too long to get a shot off.

    I’ve always thought that Young shot too much. He’s been shooting at a very low percentage and I think it’s mostly due to the quality of his shot selection. He takes a lot of contested threes and often he does it very early in the shot clock.

    • lonnieb
      11:11 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Thats the key….if its a forced 3 with 4 seconds on shot clock okay…but he does tend to shoot defended 3’s with 23 seconds left on shot clock. Shot selection about sums it up…he is money when he is open

  9. John Ellis
    9:39 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    What is strange about James is when he misses, he misses so badly that it’s frightening. As was constantly pointed out when the shot was introduced, 33% of 3s is the same points as 50% of 2s. But his percentage should go up. And he should fake and drive, he’s got that as do the twins. And Willie and Randle to dish to. I don’t understand why Randle doesn’t cut more without the ball, we know he can create his shot one on one, but it’s always one on three. Cutting would change that.

  10. Post Police
    9:49 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    This post is second only to….

    “Pretty shot”? C’mon Man!

    • Bleed Blue
      11:31 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      James does have a pretty shot. Every commentator of every game we have played comments on how pure it is miss or make. There is a reason why NBA Scouts love him. He just needs to slash more and it will open up his shot.

  11. ilovestats
    9:52 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    great post! I have thought the same thing all year, and it’s really interesting to see the stats behind it in comparison to the other great UK shooters. Very insightful.

  12. Thomas
    9:53 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Personally as a coach and someone who has been around the game for almost 20 years, the team as a whole relies too much upon the long ball. A team with this size has no business shooting 20+ threes per game when they have the advantage with driving and inside nearly every game.

    • ShagariObrzut
      9:57 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Totally agree. We have size all around on this team. We have to go inside as much as we can. However, you need to be able to hit the open threes to keep other teams from collapsing in the paint.

  13. BigbluehAbbott
    9:54 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    I agree with #1. I Love the green light to shoot for Mr. Young. 2 additional components that will take us into turn 3 and down the stretch dominating: 1) Randle keeps collapsing that D and dishing the ball out to the two/three open players. 2) the new era of players these past couple of years need to recognize and utilize the mid-range jumper. Everyone wants to drive or shoot the 3. I don’t care if it’s backboard every single shot…. If you’re open from 6 8 10 feet… Pop the J. Here’s where our silent assassin Aaron Harrison will come into play (amongst plenty of others that are more than apt).

  14. bluegrass79
    10:02 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Cal is letting him run wild and out of shot control. Never seen him let a player shoot like he does James. five 3’s a game is enough imo for anyone to shoot in one game.

  15. Bluecreeker
    10:17 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Shoot the damned 3’s. Get set and shoot the damned ball.

    Any/all UK opponents have been packing the lane, double teaming Randle without the ball, and tripple teaming him with the ball.

    The purpose of shooting the 3’s for UK would be to spread the opponents defense, and hopefully get them to switch to a man-to-man defense.

    It isn’t always about scoring, it is sometimes about setting the tone of the game an how it is to be played.

    Hell, its hard to drive the lane when you have 3 defenders collapsing into it…….now if they have to spread out to defend 3 point shooters you might have a lane to drive…..which Mr. Harrison does quite well sometimes.

    • Cotton Nash
      10:26 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      You are 100% correct!!!

    • M
      1:49 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      The purpose of the zone is to force the opponent to settle on 3 pointers which are lower percentage shots. Knocking down 3’s is a simpleton answer to forcing a team out of a zone. If they are less athletic, they still may feel that is their best bet to stay in the game. The way to truly force a team out of the zone, is to use some skills to beat the zone. When Randle gets the ball and the defense collapses, they lose their zone discipline. When he kicks it out, good ball movement and the ability to cut and drive leads to easy higher percentage shots. So yes, obviously you have to shoot some 3’s to spread the defense, but you can’t always settle on the 3. If it was as simple as every team just knocking down 3’s at will, the zone wouldn’t exist.

  16. rnewton22
    10:40 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    I’d take Lamb over Young in a shooting contest any day. Agree that Young shoots too many bad threes. Better shot selection will improve his accuracy.

    • lonnieb
      11:17 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      I mean who wouldnt….thats not even fair….lamb is uk’s best 3 point shooter since ive been alive and im 33. He shot about 50% for his career on over 300 attempts

  17. rick
    10:43 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    James, Don’t listen to most of these post, keep shooting and if you miss shoot agian. You do not take bad threes you are always open. Glad you have the gren light from your coach. SHOOT THE BALL, DONT HESITATE.

  18. Bluecreeker
    10:45 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    #10 – You are right, Kyle Wiltjer would have been huge for UK this year, if Cal would have played him, and played a match-up zone D.

    Defending a 6’9″ “point forward” who can shoot lights out from the trey line takes a “big”. This would have taken a big off of Randle and spread the opponents D.

    Sadly Kyle left (probably a good move) and we will never know. I do know that the 3 point shot is a leathal weapon when used correctly. There are teams who, lacking in talent must shoot 3’s in order to stay in the game. Sometimes these teams get lucky and win….then there are teams like UK who could use the 3 to spread the opponents D, thus murdering them in the paint with the Randle, WCS, tag team of “in the paint” enforcers.

    The lane needs to be opened somehow.

    • M
      11:13 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

      It’s debatable that Wiltjer is a light’s out shooter. Maybe if he isn’t relied on as heavily he’d shoot better. He had plenty of opportunities last season and couldn’t deliver. He had some games where he knocked down a lot of 3’s but for the most he was average and hit about 25% the last 2 months of the season.

    • Bluecreeker
      1:02 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Only debatable because he was pressed on many of the shots. Just as Randle would benefit from a Kyle Wiltjer, Kyle Wiltjer would have benefited from a Julius Randle last year.

      Based upon comments like this, would we not then assume Archie Goodwin sucked as well.

      Kyle Wiltjer did not get to UK based upon his in the paint moves. He got here because he was a 6’9″ forward who could step out and hit the trey.

    • M
      1:26 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      He had plenty of open looks last season and couldn’t deliver. It really is that simple. I understand that a low post player gets a little less attention if you have shooters on the wing. I also get that a shooter gets a little more space with someone demanding attention in the paint. However, Kyle had A LOT of open looks last season and couldn’t knock shots down. Then he was abused on the defensive end. People always say to hide him in the zone. Maybe this would work. Maybe it wouldn’t. When UK ran the zone in spurts last season when Noel went out (because they were thin athletically) Wiltjer was lost. My point is you still have to have some awareness to play an effective zone defense. IF a team runs an efficient zone offense, it can still expose you for being poor fundamentally. Also, in case you weren’t aware, Cal hates to run a zone defense.

      I think if he stayed he may have served a simlar role as he did his freshman season, and having better defenders around him could have put a band-aid on his awful D. I think he realized this too, and left as a result. I think Willis could potentially fill that role in spurts.

  19. CatsRUs
    10:56 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    I hope the Cats won’t rely on the 3 in road games. Its a killer. Other unrelated subjects come to mind:

    1. Concerns me that our interior D allowed Damian Jones of Vandy to score 18 and I suppose no one was putting a body on him.
    2. BTW Kansas looks a lot like UK with their youth and talent. We may be matched vs them in the NCAA. The Upside down ranking is slowly righting itself as young teams gain experience.

  20. CATS UP
    10:58 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Leave James alone. Sometimes he is the only motivating factor the team has, and he does have an excellent jumpshot. He’s the one that gives the team the energy and the spark they desire at times. He’s a freshman..Cal let’s him take the shots because he knows he can deliver, when noone else has the ability. They are coming together as a team with each game. He may not hit every 3-pointer, but he is a huge asset to this team!!! GO CATS!

  21. NYC Cats Fan
    10:59 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    That Cox’s Smoker’s Lounge commercial music is seriously funky. Would love to have that song. Wonder what it is?

  22. RICK
    11:07 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    #20, You tell them.Hawkins want shoot and its killing Randall, can you imagine if Young stoped shooting the 3 what it would do .

  23. Brian P
    11:10 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Young gets the green light because we need him to shoot well, and we don’t have anyone else lighting it up from outside. Like everyone else, I am waiting for him to shoot better.

    What’s kind of silly though is saying his shot is not pretty. That’s ridiculous. He was heralded as a shooter, shown signs of doing it, and needs to get better. But saying Willis has a “prettier” shot – and I like Willis – is just stupid.

    • Wyman Hoten
      4:38 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      We do have other shooters. I believe Polson should be taking more treys (3 for 4 on the season) and Poythress is a 40% three point shooter since arriving at UK, but rarely shoots threes. I mean if we are talking statistics here then why are they not shooting more of the treys?

  24. Lance
    11:23 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    If you notice Lamb had the highest % of made threes, and he had the lowest % of threes taken. Lamb did not live and did at the three. However, he was a good enough shooter that teams had to keep honest on him, which opened up the driving ability. Young has not shown enough consistency from outside, opposing teams know it, and they are not going to allow him to beat them with his athleticism on drives to the basket till he proves it is a mistake to leave him open on the perimeter. That’s why I said at the beginning this team would be similar to the John Wall team, no pure shooters. Other teams with smart coaches will eventually go back to the WV type zones that beat the Wall team; unless something happens and someone starts hitting a high percentage of threes to prevent it.

  25. bung
    11:23 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    we need more transition offense after a def rebound before the zone can set up…quicker outlet passes etc…then we wont need so many 3’s being shot…

  26. Bleed Blue
    11:26 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Shoot more 3s? As a team we are at 29%. Young coming in to college was known as a pure scorer not just a spot up 3 point shooter. I want to see him slash more. He has a very good first step and is strong and athletic. If he keeps the defense honest by slashing it will be harder for them to guard his 3-point shot. I’m not saying to stop shooting them, just cut down on them. Right now the scouting report is to just stay up on him because when he gets the ball above the 3-point line he doesn’t do much but shoot it.

  27. UK/Ark
    11:43 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Okay, something no one is mentioning on this post is I wonder how many put back baskets UK gets from JY’s missed 3’s? UK does have the number one offensive rebounding team in the nation. Sometimes it seems like a missed shot is UK’s best offensive weapon when the lane is packed solid!

  28. Go Cats
    11:52 am January 14, 2014 Permalink

    James Young needs to shoot fewer threes. Poor field goal percentage is one of the biggest killers of a team’s chances to win championships – especially when Willie, Randle and Aaron Harrison are shooting such high percentages. Keep in mind he has a nice mid range game that he is abandoning to shoot threes – and there are plenty of open spaces in a zone to shoot a 14 foot jumpshot.

    Cut his threes in half – he has shown he can’t hit them consistently – and don’t let Randle touch the ball outside of 6 feet from the basket, and we will not lose another game until the NCAA tournament.

    • Wyman Hoten
      4:43 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      You mentioned Aaron as one of the high percentage shooters. His three point percentage is 27%!!! Looks like James is not the only one shooting a low percentage from long range.

  29. Mudcreekmark
    12:49 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

    The reason James Young is shooting so many threes is because we have no clue how to attack a two-three zone. All we do is pass it around the perimeter. There are certain spots on the floor that you have to get the ball into to beat the zone unless you want to settle for threes all night. One thing that we could do better is when Randle gets triple teamed, instead of standing there watching him, cut to the basket to an opening. I guarantee there is some open spots inside when the triple team or double team comes. If we would exploit this and Randle makes the right pass, that would stop a lot of this horse shit of triple teaming one man. Instead we stand around and Randle is late getting the ball out of his hand and we get nothing easy out of it. Randle needs to forget about getting his numbers and just play team ball.

    • ShagariObrzut
      1:18 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Towards the beginning of the season we looked clueless against a zone. I think we’ve looked better lately. They’ve done a better job at driving the ball, getting the ball in the middle, and getting the ball to that short corner.

      Whether it’s against man-to-man or zone, our spacing needs to improve. We make it too easy for defenders to help and recover

    • M
      1:39 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Exactly. When I played against the zone we always had someone running the baseline, and either someone at the free throw line or cutting through the middle of the zone to force the defenders to get uncomfortable and to lose their discipline. Good ball movement and spacing is important too. I just think Cal wants to prepare players for the NBA. In the NBA the zone isn’t used as much. So since Cal doesn’t like running a zone, they don’t practice against an effective zone. A lot of their practice comes in games, and they have gotten a little bit better.

  30. Bluecreeker
    1:04 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

    Good lord some of you really know nothing about basketball.

    • Larry
      2:02 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink


    • Bluecreeker worshiper
      3:05 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Please enlighten us oh choosen one. Without you I am nothing. I just wish someone would make Cal see the light and join me in rejoicing in your greatness.

    • bluecreeker
      3:24 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Um, Hey thanks for the compliment, but alas Calipari does not need to read my junk to see the light…..he has seen the light, and that is why Young keeps shooting the 3 ball.

      Oh yea, Larry…..great commentary.

  31. Hal
    1:05 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

    love how ppl can look at these stats & just completely ignore the facts and think nothing should change. cal’s noticed it & that’s why polson & willis got more minutes. james is not even hitting 33%. we need someone to shoot 3s to open up the lanes though. either james needs to up his average or someone else needs to be taking some of those 3s. we cannot continue to go 2-14 in games and win a title.
    you know who hits over 34% of his 3s like everyone else on that list who’s on the team right now? poythress: career 18-45 (40%). poythress can go 1-2 or 1-3 each night like a patterson or miller did and take some shots from young.

    • Wyman Hoten
      4:47 pm January 14, 2014 Permalink

      Very good, Hal. And don’t forget Polson, who has taken only 4 treys all season and made 3 of them.