Shot Chart Studies: Theo Pinson


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. Part of the series will be taking a look at all the shot charts of the Tar Heels from the past season. Today, we take a look at Theo Pinson’s shot chart.

Theo Pinson, like Joel Berry II, saw a good chunk of his freshman season from the bench while out with injury. Pinson only really contributed in the first half of the season before missing most of ACC play due to his injury. He did come back and play a few minutes in early March and in the tournament games, but both his minutes and impact were minuscule. All told, Pinson played in 24 games and played just 19.6% of possible minutes played last season. That is really low for a Top 10 recruit — for comparison’s sake, the player ahead of Pinson on the 2014 ESPN 100, 9th rated Karl Towns Jr., played 52.2% of possible minutes played for Coach Cal at Kentucky, while the 11th rated player Kelly Oubre played 52.3% of possible minutes played for Kansas.

As a result, there isn’t a lot to go off when looking back at Pinson’s 2014-15 season. Most of the data comes from the first half of the season, when he was still getting his sea and adjusting legs playing big time college basketball. Tar Heel fans and the database missed the second half of the season when Pinson could really start to show his improvement both on the offensive and defensive end of the court.

The database did record 68 shots for Pinson (fellow freshman Justin Jackson logged 310), so we will take a look at those numbers while keeping in mind the low sample size for Theo.

A quick note about the shot charts — as the key explains, the biggest the hexagons, the more shots were taken at those locations. The shades of colors correspond to the field goal percentage at those locations. Red, orange and yellow colors are good, while blue hues are bad. 

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

The first thing you should focus on when reading any shot chart is the field goal percentage at the rim. Yesterday, when looking at Joel Berry II’s shot charts, it was immediately clear that he struggled to finish at the rim last season. That problem doesn’t exist with Pinson. He was an average to above average finisher at the rim last season, a great sign for the Tar Heels. That field goal percentage can be backed up with qualitative observation — Pinson’s great athleticism was apparent right from Late Night with Roy, and it makes sense that he would be able to finish around the rim using his jumping ability.

Remember, though, that his 65% field goal percentage at the rim was on just a few shots. While it is a good sign, there is no guarantee that this field goal percentage will hold up next season as he gains more attempts and as defenses key in on him a bit more.

Let’s look at the rest of the chart. Keeping in mind again the small sample sizes, you see Pinson really never developed into a true jump shooting threat last season. He was 7-26 from deep last season and didn’t attempt that many shots from the midrange area. This holds up with what his scouting reports were saying back when he was in high school. Check out this scouting report from the Daily Tar Heel…

"At the next level, Pinson will not be seen as an outside shooter, although he looks comfortable shooting from distance and lines up the ball well despite his slightly unorthodox shooting form. While he looks to have the ability to score right away as a freshman, much of that will come from utilizing his quick first step to get into the lane and then finish through contact and convert from the free-throw line."

The key sentence there is the first one. That scouting report pretty much held up after Pinson’s first season, and we will have to wait and see next year if Pinson develops more of a jump shot.

As for next year’s shot chart, expect similar efficiency at the rim and just more shots in general as Pinson gets more playing time. As for his efficiency at the rest of the spots on the floor, I’m just not sure. I think Pinson could develop into an average three-point shooter, but I think it will be during his junior or senior season and not next year.

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

Advanced stats, like %Mins, from

Shot charts from