Creating your own shot is extremely important for perimeter players in the game of basketball (insert duh or any applicable smart remark here). For the North Carolina Tar Heels the players with that are the best at this skill on the roster aren’t necessarily perimeter position players. Head coach Roy Williams has talked about how much better of a shooting team he believes this years team will be over last years. With Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston taking on larger roles and the return of Leslie McDonald along with the arrival of Marcus Paige that assessment is logical.
As we have seen with arch rival Duke, when you live by the jump shot, often times, you die by the jump shot. In order to combat that successful teams have a blend of shooters and play makers who can take the ball to the basket and create offense for themselves and others.
James Michael McAdoo the teams starting power forward and freshman point guard Marcus Paige are probably the best and most likely to attack the basket on a regular basis on this roster. While it is nice to have a PF that can face up and create mismatches with his versatile skill set, it does not bode well for the team if McAdoo is the best at penetrating on the roster.
Dexter Strickland is extremely valuable to this team not only as the best perimeter defender but also the only experienced PG on the roster. Nobody will ever confuse Strickland as a scorer though, that’s just not what he does on the court. Three players need to expand their games and not only step up in the shooting department but become players the team can rely on in the creative department also.
Reggie Bullock: Bullock stepped up in a big way last season when Strickland tore his ACL ending his season. Defensively he did a great job and towards the end of the season asserted himself as a scorer. As the fifth option on offense he didn’t have the ball enough last season to be expected to show everything he’s got. He has commented a few times this off season that nobody has really seen what he’s got and seems mentally ready to take the next step.
Known as a big time shooter coming in as a freshman, Bullock has done a nice job mostly in that role. This season he needs to expand his game to the mid range and get to the basket. He has pretty good size for a wing and learning how to utilize that size advantage is key.
PJ Hairston: PJ’s freshman year was mostly a struggle as he shot less than 30% from the field. After a hot start he hit what seemed like a season long skid and his confidence took a big hit. Hairston has tremendous athleticism, he’s terrific at finishing at the basket and has deceptive rise when attacking the rim. His handle is very good and his size is a big advantage over the vast majority of perimeter players in the country.
The key for Hairston this season, like Bullock is learning to incorporate those strengths and utilizing his entire game on the court. Both he and Bullock enjoyed excellent summers in the NC Pro-Am. Hairston still fades a little too much on some of his jumpers and doesn’t attack the basket enough. Still he thrived in several games in which he put his whole game together. On a roster stacked with perimeter talent, putting it all together is what will separate him from just another player in the rotation to a potential star.
Leslie McDonald: Before his injury last summer, Roy Williams and Harrison Barnes were both quoted as saying that McDonald was one of the best players on the roster. The last time he donned the Carolina Blue uniform he was the best shooter on the team in a limited role off the bench on a stacked team. McDonald is also a great athlete with the skills to put it all together and become a star. Coming off an injury that kept him out the entire season he has some rust to shake off and the best way of doing that is by taking more high percentage shots.