Key Question: Can Theo Pinson Replace J.P. Tokoto’s Production?


During the months of May and June, we here at Keeping it Heel will be going in-depth to preview the 2015-2016 North Carolina basketball team.  We will be spending one day each on all twelve players, profiling each man on the Heels’ roster. Today, as you may have guessed, is Theo Pinson day!

The buzz is back around the Tar Heels entering next season. The entire squad is coming back with the exception of JP Tokoto who, I would say, questionably declared himself for the upcoming NBA draft. Theo Pinson, will likely be taking up many of the minutes that are now open with Tokoto’s absence.

While I think Tokoto’s got the athletic ability to make it in the NBA, his skill level and production are going to likely leave him in the D-League unless he really impresses a few teams during the draft combine.

What this means for the pre-season #1 ranked Tar Heels is that they have 29.1 minutes per game to account for with Tokoto’s departure. Last season, the junior averaged 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game for the Heels. His biggest Achilles Heel was his abysmal shooting percentages.

Tokoto’s shooting percentages:
Field Goals – 42.8%
3 Pointers – 37.5 %
Free Throws – 61.5%

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I don’t think it should be a problem for Pinson to match Tokoto’s production with the reports that the team expects him to be back to 100% for the start of the 2015-16 season.

Pinson came in with Justin Jackson and Joel Berry as the highest ranked Tar Heel class in a few years. Those three have some expectations for Tar Heel fans and this upcoming season will be Pinson’s chance to breakout.

Last season he had his season cut short when he had an injury to his foot. His time on the floor was limited after missing 10 straight games. With more minutes coming his way he will have more than enough chances to improve upon what he did as a freshman.

Pinson’s season stats:

24 games (12.5 MPG, 2.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 61% FTs, 27% 3PTs)

Pinson has the athletic ability to play the role that Tokoto played the last three years. I believe he’s going to be a better offensive threat and a more reliable option for Roy Williams.

This season nothing off the stat sheet in an individual game jumps off the page at us. His season highs were:

Minutes: 20 (twice)
November 28th, vs. #18 Florida (0 points, four rebounds, four assists).
December 30th vs. William & Mary (six points, four rebounds, four assists).

Points: 7 (twice)
November 22nd, 2014 vs. Davidson
December 27th, 2014 vs. UAB
January 5th, 2015 vs. #13 Notre Dame

Rebounds: 8 
January 5th, 2015 vs. #13 Notre Dame (7 points, 8 rebounds in 16 minutes)

So as you can see, there isn’t any big time games from Pinson this year, but the limited sample size shouldn’t deter you from having faith in the returning sophomore.

If the two incoming freshman, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams, can step in and contribute as outside shooters for the Heels, Pinson will be able to maximize his ability in the open floor by getting to the rim.

So as far as can he replace Tokoto’s production next season? With the news of his health being back to 100% for the upcoming season, I give it a resounding yes.

If you want to get some more information on Pinson done by UNCTarHeelAthletics on YouTube, check out the below video.