UNC Basketball: Juniors failing to show progress for Tar Heels

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Jan 14, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto (13) is congratulated by teammates Isaiah Hicks (22) Kennedy Meeks (3) and Justin Jackson (44) after a steal and basket during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at PNC Arena. The Tarheels won 81-79. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

J.P. Tokoto (#13, Guard)

First, the good with Tokoto. Man, he can still dunk.  Tokoto has always been a great athlete and lock down defender, but fans have been patiently waiting for the rest of his game to come around, especially his shooting numbers. But, Tokoto just hasn’t made a big enough improvement as a shooter to make an impact for the Heels.

Tokoto’s percentages have been steadily climbing since he stepped on campus as a freshman.

2012-13: 1-11 from three, 09.1%

2013-14: 8-36 from three, 22.2%

2014-15: 10-29 from three, 34.5%

That last mark is respectable, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Tokoto just isn’t confident enough to shoot the ball when open. Check out Tokoto’s shot chart, from shotanalytics.com. Remember, the more dots, the more shots a player takes, and the more red, the more of those shots he makes.

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Tokoto’s chart just has way too much blue for defenses to consider him a threat from anywhere outside the paint. Even his shooting has fallen a bit from the paint from this season to last (shooting 58% per shotanalytics.com, compared to 69% last year, per the same source).

Tokoto is shooting a bigger share of his shots from the midrange as well, a shot that he doesn’t shoot particularly efficiently. Put it all together and the picture isn’t pretty. PAE, or Points Above Expectation, is a stat calculated by shotanalytics.com that calculates “the number of points that a player or team scored (or defender) from a collection of shot locations compared to the number of points that the average shooter would have scored from those same locations.”

In 2013-14, shooting better percentages at the hoop and shooting less from the mid-range, Tokoto’s PAE was a respectable 12.96, ranking 32nd out of 100 players listed on shotanalytics.com’s ACC leaderboard.

In 2014-15, his PAE is -1.34, which ranked 53rd out of 81 ACC players on the same leaderboard from the 2014-15 campaign.

Kenpom.com’s offensive statistics agree with the PAE numbers. Tokoto’s effective field goal percentage has fallen seven whole points, from 50.4% last year to 43.6% this season. His effective field goal percentage ranks 50th out of 54 eligible ACC players this year.

Alright, enough of picking apart Mr. Tokoto. As I said earlier, his defense and athleticism are really impressive, but his offensive game not only has failed to improve this season but has slightly regressed in 2014-15. Williams seems to also be concerned with Tokoto’s play, removing him from the starting lineup the last two games. Maybe it is just a blip on the radar screen, but it could also be a harbinger of something bigger — that Tokoto isn’t showing enough progress to Roy to stay on the court, and his minutes could keep falling going forward.

Let’s finish by looking at Marcus Paige’s game.

Next: Marcus Paige