Shot Chart Studies: Marcus Paige


Today, Keeping It Heel continues its offseason studies of UNC Basketball with a look at the shot charts of Marcus Paige. 

Marcus Paige is a talented, smart basketball player.

When he is good, he is good. When he is a hero, he is a hero.

The challenge for Marcus Paige last season was fighting through nagging injuries to be a consistent hero. He had his moments, like the video above. However, Marcus Paige did not get any better statistically from the 2013-14 season to 2014-15 season. Check out his stats from


Paige’s stats regressed in many major statistical categories. His field goal percentage, made field goals per game, three-point percentage, even free-throw percentage all declined.

The big question surrounding Marcus Paige is will a healthy Paige mean a return to the form of his sophomore year, or better?

And, looking at the bigger picture, can he still be/should he still be the number one option for this team, or is it Justin Jackson’s turn to shine?

To answer that key question of who should be UNC’s number one option, we have to understand the offensive games of both Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson. Keeping It Heel already took a look at Justin Jackson’s game. Now, let’s explore the game of Marcus Paige by looking at his shot chart from the past season.

The first thing you probably notice is the red around the right wing. Marcus Paige shot 47% from the right wing last season, per, which is approaching Kyle Korver levels of proficiency from that spot. At the very least, Marcus Paige is an excellent scorer from that right wing and to a lesser extent, from the top of the key and from the left wing. Those are his favorite shots, as any die hard Tar Heel fan could probably tell you.

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There is a lot of usage from deep for Paige — he attempted 238 three-pointers last season — and was pretty good at shooting them. Paige ranked 12th in the ACC, per, in three-point percentage, finishing the season with a 39.5% mark from deep. Again, the issue for Paige isn’t from three. He is still a great shooter, despite some early struggles from deep early last season. There is no reason to believe Paige won’t again be an excellent three-point shooter next year.

The issue with the shot chart lies within the three-point line.

When you think of Marcus Paige, you think of not only a good three-point shooter but also a good finisher at the rim. However, the numbers don’t seem to back that up, even though Paige has made some clutch shots and finishes (see YouTube video posted above.)

Paige shot 55% at the rim last season, according to That’s not great, earning a light blue hue on the shot chart. Remember, you want more reds and oranges and to avoid Duke and Carolina blues. Paige also didn’t take a lot of shots from the midrange and wasn’t particularly good from those spots when he did shoot.

I was interested to take a look at Paige’s shot chart from the 2013-14 season, when he wasn’t injured, to see how it compared to this year’s shot chart. In theory, Paige’s injury should have inhibited his ability to drive and finish around the basket, because he couldn’t be as explosive with that foot injury.

Here is Paige’s shot chart from the healthy 2013-14 season.

All in all, the usage is about the same from beyond the arc. However, there is a big difference between the two seasons in the paint. Paige shot 63% at the rim in 2013-14, per the database. That is better than the 55% mark he posted playing injured in 2014-15.

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This is good news for Tar Heel fans. I believe a healthy Marcus Paige in 2015-16 will return to the form from his sophomore year in the paint, leading to more points per game overall. If Paige can return to his form there and keep up his strong three-point shooting, that is great news for Heels fans.

The bigger picture question, though, is whether Paige should even be the primary ball-handler or primary option on offense at all anymore. UNC’s young players, like Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson, made significant strides over the course of last season and will continue to do so over the summer and into next season. Justin Jackson is an efficient, effective scorer both from deep and around the paint. He can drive and shoot the ball well and still has a lot of room to grow as a player.

Paige is also still an efficient player though. Despite a drop in points per game, Paige’s efficiency dropped just a little bit (his true shooting percentage went from 59.2% to 57.0%) but still remained one of the more efficient players in the ACC.

The question is — should Paige slide over, take less shots and spend less time as a ball handler to let some of the younger players develop more? Or, in his senior year, is this still Marcus Paige’s team?

This is a difficult question. There really isn’t a good answer. I think if you asked Roy Williams today, he would say that Marcus Paige is the first option on his team, but that might change if Paige gets off to a slow start in the 2015-16 season. It is certainly a development to watch going forward into fall workouts.

All charts from