Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Story of Andrew Bynum's Hook Shot

The Experiment and Hypothesis

Ever since he entered the league and the Lakers put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in charge of his individual development, Andrew Bynum has, according to reports, been learning and becoming more comfortable with the hook-shot.

The hook-shot, besides being an elegant and powerful scoring weapon, might be an indicator of offensive polish. After all, it's not something even college-educate players come into the league with, let alone players straight out of high school. In that sense, the hook represents hours and hours of practice on footwork and fundamentals. In the case of Bynum, we'll use his development of his hook shot as an indicator of his development as a player.

(Side Note: I will do a future post looking into the true relationship between hook-shots and offensive polish)

What we know

In 2005-2006, when Bynum was played sparingly, he shot 38% on hook-shots. The next year, with a year of experience under his belt, he increased his hook-shot FG% to 48%. Finally, during his breakout season this past year, Bynum shot 55% on hook-shots before getting injured.

So that looks pretty good. Now, another way of looking at shot opportunities is % of shots assisted. A post player who scores an unassisted basket has to create the opportunity himself by establishing post-position, calling for and receiving the ball, and making a move with the ball toward the basket. It makes sense to look at unassisted baskets as expressions of skill and polish. Since he's entered the league, the percentage of Bynum's made non-hook-shot baskets that were assisted has actually increased due to the improved motion in the offense. However, the portion of his hook-shots that have been assisted have gone down from 60% to 53% to 39%. So, Bynum has been creating more and more of his hook-shots by making his own post moves with the ball, and in doing so has not only maintained his FG% but actually increased it.

I don't know if any of this means anything, but it's worth throwing out there, right?

For comparison

Tim Duncan over the last 3 seasons shot 52% on hook-shots and 31% of his made hook-shots were assisted.

In 2006-2007 Eddy Curry shot 67% on hook-shots and 54% of his made hook-shots were assisted.

Other Notes

It's not a given that a hook shot represents greater skill or polish, but since there has been so much written and said about Bynum's relationship with Kareem and the related yuk-yuk about Kareem teaching Bynum the secret old-school ways including the mysterious and terrifying sky-hook, it seemed reasonable to take a look at this. Also, although an unassisted shot results from a particular type of skill (creating a shot), assisted shots can also be indicators of a player's offensive awareness and ability to get to the right place at the right time, so take the above assumptions about unassisted shots with a grain of salt.

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