Category 4 Wings: 3&D Plus

Category 4 Wings: 3&D Plus

(Skills: Off Ball Oriented Offensively: Spot Up/Off Screen Shooting, Some On-Ball Creation in Post/Shooting Off The Dribble/Secondary PNR, Defense)

  1. Klay Thompson (Junior) #11
  2. Wesley Matthews (Senior) Undrafted 

I. What Sets Them Apart

The term “3&D” gets tossed around too loosely too often without important modifiers.  There is a significant difference between a Danny Green type, the poster boy for the
“3&D movement” and the two players listed above.  Green is solely an off-ball spot up player who does not add any on ball value via posting up or running a pick and roll.  This makes him far easier to guard, as teams can hide 1 position defenders on him without the threat of Green exploiting that matchup in a creation setting.  Green still has immense value because he’s (typically) a plus shooter and an excellent 1/2 defender, but his impact offensively has an off ball only ceiling.

Conversely, both Klay and Wes can exploit mismatches in the post, and have enough handle to run a secondary pick and roll (albeit very infrequently), placing them in an entirely different category than Green types. They are still predominately off ball shooters who can both spot up with range on high frequency and run off screens (Klay commands full gravity of defenses in this fashion at all times), but they have enough juice with the ball that you can’t just hide anyone on them.  In a playoff setting especially where matchups dictate success the difference between Klay/Matthews and players with no on-ball scoring skills is significant.

Klay is one of the three best shooters in the game, and both he and Curry are the biggest off-ball gravitational threats in the league.  His outlier shooting, even off the dribble, renders him deserving of his own category as a truly unique talent, but archetype wise these players are similar.  People forget what a fantastic player Matthews is, a hyper competitor who was able to rebound from a horrific injury in ways few players have.  At his peak he was a tremendously versatile defender, knockdown high usage shooter and someone who could bully smaller perimeter players inside.

Overall, I modified 3&D here to capture mostly off-ball  + defensive impact, while shedding light on the on-ball nuances that separate these two from the 3&D masses. Neither are good enough dribblers or passers to  be confused with the playmakers in category 3 or have enough in on ball scoring to the extent of the primary scorers in category 2 (lacking elite on ball skill and usage). You can argue guys like J.R. Smith when engaged belong in this category, but he’s not quite the on-ball threat to beat mismatches, especially in the post.  Since the separation factor here is on-ball skill, the analysis starts there.

A.On Ball Creation Threat

2015/16 Regular Season Isolation Playtype

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  • Neither Matthews or Thompson are high frequency isolation creators, a combination of skill limitation and scheme (the Warriors especially rarely iso), but both are capable in a pinch of creating offense off the dribble in “have-to” situations.
  • Matthews’ FTr has been on a steady decline since his early years, which impacts his creation ceiling.

2015/16 Regular Season PNR BH Playtype

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  • Notice the lack of plus frequency, albeit still a respectable amount for an off ball wing.
  • Klay posts an elite PNR ball-handler finishing metric mostly because he’s a scheme changing threat to shoot threes off the dribble.  Mathews is the inferior shooter and suffers as a result.

2015/16 Regular Season Post Up Playtype

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  • Here’s where Matthew separates himself with his advanced frame drawing fouls especially.  Both players are capable of beating lead guards and smaller wings in the post routinely.

2015/16 Regular Season Off Dribble Pull Up Shooting

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  • Klay’s ability to shoot off the dribble over a lot of wings is his main on-ball offensive skill.  Both add the element again to shoot threes off the bounce, either side stepping on closeouts or in pick and roll.

2015/16 Regular Season Drives Per Game

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  • Both players are low usage overall drivers, but post respectable marks relative to their position/role.  I’d wager a majority of these drives come in the form of attacking closeouts.

B.Off Ball Shooting/Off Screens

2015/16 Regular Season Spot Up Playtype

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  • Klay is a deadly off ball shooter armed with arguably the fastest release in NBA history and the ability to shoot without his feet totally set (though this was an issue in transition during the playoffs).  Wes is similarly a lethal spot up shooter, sporting a quick release himself, which is especially crucial for him as an undersized wing.

2015/16 Regular Season Off Screen Playtype

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  • Klay had the highest possessions finished off screens of any player in the league last year by a comfortable margin.  The pillar of the Warriors offense is off-ball screening/motion with Klay and Steph running off a ton of floppy sets.  This opens up a lot of back cuts and overall cutting action.
  • Wes is adept shooting off screens and does so frequently, but isn’t in Thompson’s class here.

C.Overall Shot Locations/ Finishing

Thompson 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

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  • Klay is a 3 phase scoring threat and actually finishes better than expected (and associations like “Klayups” would suggest).  He gets to the rim over twice as much as Wes, but that number is likely a product of the Warriors’ off ball screening/cutting.

Matthews 2015/16 Regular Season Shot Chart

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  • Wes is proficient from beyond the arc and in the midrange area, but really struggled last year both getting attempts at the rim and was an outlier bad finisher.  He never had a ton of burst/pop in his game as a leaper, but his struggles finishing last year can at least be partially attributable to injury.

D.Defense

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  • Neither metric really supports these two being two-way players, but I’m far more inclined to operate by the eye test here. Klay works his ass off getting over screens defending ones at the point of attack, and is excellent in recovering to challenge shots with this size and length.  Matthews has an elite DRPM season a year ago, and his frame allows him plus versatility on that end.  He’s a tremendously tough defender who can play down positions and challenge even Durant types as seen in R1 of the playoffs.

II. College Indicators/Translations

1.Measurements:

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  • Klay had plus size for a designated “two guard” with an average wingspan.  While Matthews’ measurements were only taken at Portsmouth, his 220 pound frame was his biggest calling card and helped offset his lack of height.

2.40 Minutes Pace Adjusted

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  1. Thompson: Klay’s scoring ability in his final two years, 3pt attempts, 3pt% and FT% all contained categorical outlier positive seasons.  Klay was a clean shooting prospect on incredibly high usage.  There were concerns, such as the low 2p% which indicated a lack of finishing pop as well as below average rebounding (indicative of lack of athleticism?), but the positives largely outweighed the negatives.  His assist numbers and defensive numbers were also better than expected, especially his assist total his Junior year which indicated some playmaking for others potential.
  2. Matthews: Matthews’ consistently plus FT% on healthy attempts helped alleviate some inconsistent 3pt% and 2pt% numbers, but Matthews across the board contained far less positive outliers.  He looked solid enough to get drafted, but nothing stood out in his profile here to suggest he’d progress to the level he has.

3.Efficiency

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  1. Thompson: Thompson’s efficiency profile was pretty average, with two negative indicators in A/TO and FTA/FGA on the record.  His 3PA/FGA numbers were right on the precipice of elite every season.
  2. Matthews: Matthews really excelled getting to the foul line, and profiled more pass first than I would expect in retrospect, boding well for his fit in a team construct.  His shooting numbers were mostly aided by his foul shooting prowess, as he struggled from the floor most of his time at Marquette.

4.Usage

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  • Klay’s usage numbers his Sophomore and Junior years were outlier elite for a wing, especially impressive in a big conference (albeit a less talented team).  Matthews only posted sub-elite usage his final year.

Sports-Reference All Time Usage Rate (All Positions Since Inception)

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  • To put Klay’s usage in context all time…

5.Skill Translation

Thompson: 

  • High Volume Efficient Shooter/Range on High Usage
  • FT Shooting Proficiency (Buttressing Overall Shooting Projection)
  • Average Playmaking
  • First Contract Translation: Mostly Starter, All Star Year 4 (AS Yr 5)

Matthews:

  • Range Capable
  • Foul Drawing Ability in Early Career
  • Average Playmaking
  • First Contract Translation: Rotation (Arenas Provision Post Yr 1)

III.Overall Takeaways

  1. Marquette Wings Inefficiency?: Matthews, Butler and Crowder are all upperclassmen Marquette players with plus frames and fantastic toughness who have all fallen to 30+ in the draft and all have significantly outperformed their draft stock.  Maybe a coincidence. Maybe not.
  2. Outliers Galore: Did anyone expect Klay to be what he is now coming out?  He projected as a plus shooter with good size, but every other facet of his game, including defense, had a negative outlook for most at the time.  Klay worked his ass off to defend at a high level and found himself in probably the most ideal personnel/team fit position in the entire league.  Wes Matthews overcame all odds as a rare undrafted player who got legitimate opportunity in year 1 and capitalized with a quick year 2 Arenas Provision signing with the Blazers.  Not only do undrafted players rarely make it, but they rarely get an opportunity so early in their careers to ascend like Matthews did.
  3. Shooting Release/Form: The importance of a lightning quick release to shoot over closeouts is paramout, especially for undersized wings like Matthews. It’s just hard to be under 6’6″ and get off the the kind of volume that Matthews has consistently been able to given his height.

Next Up: Category 5 Wings: 3&D Versatile

Stats provided by NBA.Com, ESPN.Com, Draftexpress.Com, Sports-Reference.Com, Hoop-Math.Com and Basketball-Reference.Com

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