Which Pistons attempt end-of-quarter desperation shots? (Or why we should cut Rodney Stuckey a break)


Kevin Durant, via Royce Young of Daily Thunder, said he sometimes won’t take an end-of-quarter heave for fear of lowering his field-goal percentage. Durant is one of the few players with the cache to admit that, and Brandon Knight went further than I expected by even acknowledging that ‘you’ consider holding the ball an extra split second.

But asking players whether they employ such a strategy goes only so far.

I reviewed the end of the first, second and third quarters in the Pistons’ 54 games this season, counting how often a player shoots and how often he holds the ball.

Before showing the results, here’s a disclaimer: There are plenty of gray areas. Here are a few ground rules I used for determining what counted as an end-of-quarter-heave situation and whether the player got a “yes” for attempting a shot or a “no” for letting time expire:

  • It’s too difficult to determine intent, so I didn’t try. Sometimes, players appeared to want to shoot before the buzzer, but if they didn’t, I counted the play as “no” attempt.
  • Some situations presented easier opportunities to get off a shot than others, but I didn’t weight that. It’s a binary “yes” or “no” system.
  • All attempts or would-be attempts beyond regular 3-point distance counted.
  • Could the player reach or pass to the area just behind the 3-point arc with time to shoot? If the answer was yes, I did not count the play as a heave situation, and it doesn’t show up in the “yes” or “no” columns.
  • By rule, a player must have at least 0.3 seconds to attempt a jumper, so, if he receives the ball with 0.2 or 0.1 left and doesn’t shoot, that play also doesn’t count.

Here’s a count of whether each Piston took a long field-goal attempt when presented with an end-of-quarter situation:

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I’ve been hard on Rodney Stuckey for shooting too many 3-pointers this season, and so has Patrick.

Have we treated Stuckey unfairly? I don’t think so.

This information certainly exonerates him, but not much. Strike those nine attempts from his record, and Stuckey’s 3-point percentage improves from 28 to 31, still well below the league average.

But Stuckey deserves praise for his unselfishness. Most fans don’t care about a player’s field-goal percentage. We care whether our team wins, and attempting these desperation shots makes our team more likely to win. Stuckey clearly shares that same mindset.

More observations:

  • I doubt it’s a coincidence that not only does Stuckey lead the team in yesses, he also leads in total end-of-quarter situations. I bet his teammates know he’s willing to take these shots and pass him the ball when these scenarios come up.
  • In fact, on my second-favorite reviewed play, Jason Maxiell, inbounding the ball with 0.5 seconds left, looked at Brandon Knight. Knight immediately pointed to Stuckey, who caught the inbound and did not attempt a shot.
  • Twice, Brandon Knight (who else?) turned the ball over in these situations. I counted those as yes attempts, because if the goal was protecting stats, he could have dribbled away from defenders and a potential shot.
  • Will Bynum and Kyle Singler each had attempts that came after the buzzer and should not have counted, but the official scorekeeper credited them with a missed shot. Stuckey also had a similar play, but I’m not certain the quarter had ended. Following the official record, I counted those as attempts, though they shouldn’t have been. That’s a real lose-lose for those guys.
  • Lawrence Frank, via David Mayo of MLive:

""We haven’t had it with this team, but I have seen teams and I have coached teams that you had to address a guy that two … one … you hold onto it,""

Frank is correct, because the most blatant violator is in Memphis and no longer part of this team. But the coach might want to address Greg Monroe, whose sample isn’t as conclusively nefarious as his 0-for-3 would suggest, but still has displayed warning signs of stat-padding.

  • When these situations came up, Tayshaun Prince became John Stocktonish for his willingness to pass. His 0-for-4 in getting a shot off is bad in itself, but that doesn’t count the times he made sure the ball ended up in someone else’s hands.
  • May favorite reviewed play: Prince rebounded an opponent’s miss with 1.5 seconds left. Rather than even look up for a shot, he walked off the court for what could have been a travel if it occurred before the buzzer (questionable whether the quarter ended before Prince completed the travel).

NBA.com/stats and Synergy provided statistical support.