Aaron Harrison got all of the headlines during the NCAA tournament, James Young is thought of as someone who will be a good scorer in the NBA, and Julius Randle’s ability to finish around the basket is well known. However, when you watch Andrew Harrison play and look deeper into the advanced stats of his shooting you will begin to see that he has as much, if not more, scoring potential than any of them.
First off, let’s look at the simple numbers that everyone knows and understands. Andrew scored 10.9 points per game on 36.7% shooting from the field. From 3-point range he shot 35.1% (33/94) and from the free throw line he was second on the team at 76.4% (159/208). In this day and age though, these numbers barely even begin to scratch the surface.
When you take a look at Andrew’s shot chart his scoring potential, especially at the next level, begins to become more apparent. According to this shot chart from shotanalytics.com Andrew shot 41% from beyond the arc on the left wing and 43% from the top of the key. These numbers are well above average, however he is well below average when he moves to the right wing. This pattern continues when he moves to mid-range jump shots. He shoots 41% (above average) from the left side and 36% (average) on the right.
Here is the reason why I think he has such offensive potential: the types of shots Andrew excels at are the easiest shots to get at the next level. In the NBA the high ballscreen at the top of the key is the most commonly used play. Nearly every time opposing defenses will “shadow” this ballscreen, meaning that the defender guarding the man setting the screen, generally a big man, drops back into the paint while the on-ball defender forces the ball handler to take the screen and trails in his “back pocket.” The reason that this ball screen defense is so popular is that the shot it allows the ball handler to take is a mid-range jump shot, which is the least efficient shot in basketball. Andrew will have an advantage because he has shown he can be efficient, as seen by his above average percentages, from these areas. Also, keep in mind that with a three-point line that is three feet deeper in the NBA, his above-average 3-point shooting from the left wing and top of the key will now be in that “soft spot” of the high pick-and-roll.
A great comparison for this sort of high-efficiency mid-range game comes from former Wildcat turned NBA star John Wall. The Washington Wizards point guard is well above the league average from 3-point range on the right wing, 45/94 (47.87%) and is also very good around the right elbow area were he took a higher volume of shots than nearly anyone in the NBA. The chart below shows Wall shooting nearly 41% from this zone, but when you break it down further to include just the right elbow he knocks in an amazing 51% of shots, up from just 33% his first two seasons.
So what does John Wall’s success from mid-range have to do with Andrew Harrison? Well, it shows that you can be a great player while straying away from the common mold of corner 3’s and shots at the rim. Also, and even more importantly, it shows the improvement that can come just from one season to the next. In 2012-2013 Wall was considered an inefficient offensive player in large part because he took so many “long 2’s” and was only making 33% of them. This season he has made the leap to becoming a star on the back of a huge improvement in his mid-range jump shooting.
If Andrew Harrison can continue to shoot an above average mark when moving to his left, and can make improvements, a la John Wall, when going to his right, there is no reason to think that he can’t be a very good scorer in the NBA.