Most likely like you, I too cringed many times this season whenever Emeka Okafor put up mid/long range jumpers, but I’d just tell myself that ‘hey – while we’re not making the playoffs, he might as well try to add it into his skill set.’ But looking at an earlier breakdown of Okafor’s season grading, his shot chart seemed to say that ‘look Emeka – you tried to add this to your game, but it didn’t work. Please don’t do this again next year!’
Because the Wizards have been plagued with injuries, and because bench depth is like a unicorn in D.C. (resulting in most of our hopes/expectations for next year being pinned on our starters’ successes/failures/trends/etc.), I was interested in seeing how Emeka’s shooting did this season while our team was healthy. Since the Wizards didn’t start resembling the team we expected till John Wall returned, I first looked at Okafor’s stats for the season while both John Wall and Nene were on the court:
Okafor+Wall+Nene: 38 Games, 10.81 PPG on 48.51%
This is slightly better than his season average of 9.6 PPG on 47.7%. But things become interesting when you look at Okafor’s shooting during that stretch alongside Wall and Nene, with and without Bradley Beal:
Okafor+Wall+Nene: 18 Games, 7.33 PPG on 41.98%
Okafor+Wall+Nene+Beal: 20 Games, 11.10 PPG on 53.6%
Raw shot data retrieved from hoopdata.com. Link to Table.
Despite averaging around the same MPG with or without Beal, Okafor was better in almost every shooting way with Beal on the court. Not only did his overall shooting drastically go up with Beal spreading the floor, but he attempted around the same or less mid-long range shots and made more of them (10-15 Ft and 16-23 Ft respectively: 54% and 37% with Beal vs. 32% and 28% without Beal).
Having Beal on the floor even drastically boosted his attempts around the rim (At Rim and 3-9 Ft respectively: 2.94 and 1.89 attempts without Beal vs. 4.00 and 4.10 attempts with Beal – highlighted in blue), which are the types of looks that should be the first option for Emeka. It’s also interesting to note that his 10-15 footers were a lot more assisted shots when Beal was on the floor than without him, highlighting the ball movement that this team is capable of.
This sample size or 18 and 20 games maybe a bit small, but nonetheless I think this is indeed interesting. If we can pick up another guy to help spread the floor a bit more and keep our core healthy, I’d love to see Emeka further develop this part of his game. I think it can be done, and I think it should be pursued.