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February 8, 2011
The Clipboard
Nets' Morrow Adds to His Arsenal

by Sebastian Pruiti

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Anthony Morrow came to the Nets as a knockdown three-point shooter, but he didn't seem to have much else to offer. This year, Morrow has added a mid-range game to his repertoire, and he has been very successful with it. This mid-range game is what has allowed Morrow to post a career high True Shooting Percentage (TS%) of 61.6 percent despite shooting a career worst 43.3 percent from the three-point line. So far this season Morrow has been able to improve his shooting percentages from both mid-range locations, shooting 54.0 percent from 16-23 feet (after shooting 43.0 percent last year) and 56.4 percent from 10-15 feet (after shooting 48.2 percent last year).

It isn't just that he is shooting better from the mid-range, but he is also shooting more mid-range jumpers, adding to his game and becoming tougher for the defense to defend. Here is a chart of the percentage of total shots for Morrow by location:

Morrow Shot Locations

Morrow has always been a good shooter, but when it came to his mid-range game in past years, Morrow has had a tendency to float and not use proper form on his shots off the dribble. In spot-up opportunities last year, 13.3 percent were labeled as off the dribble. He shot 43.8 percent in these spots:

Morrow's biggest problem off of the dribble last year was the fact that he never seemed to get himself set. Often times, Morrow wouldn't be using the form that made him one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA. Here, on Morrow's shot, you see his feet actually switching position in the air instead of keeping them in the same position when he takes off for his jumper.

This year? Morrow seems much more under control when he pulls up for a jumper off of the dribble. With that, Morrow has been able to shoot better off the dribble (46.4 percent), and because of that Morrow seems more comfortable using the pull-up jumper from the mid-range. That is to say that he seems to be on balance when shooting from mid-range. The result is that now out of his spot-up opportunities, 21.2 percent of his shots are dribble jumpers:

In both of these clips, you see that Morrow has gotten much better at his mid-range jumpers off of the dribble, mainly because of his footwork. Morrow takes off and lands in the same spot on the floor, and he generally seems on balance and more comfortable.

So now that we know Morrow is a better shooter in the mid-range, we have to ask, why is he getting more attempts? Well it all comes down to the way the Nets are using him. Specifically, the Nets are putting Morrow in a lot of pick-and-roll situations where he is the ball handler. Last year, Morrow was put in pick-and-roll situations as the ball handler 8.3 percent of the time. This year, Morrow is running the pick-and-roll 12.8 percent of the time.

Because of Morrow's shooting ability, defenders need to go over the screens because if the defense goes under the screen, Morrow is simply going to pull up for a three-point shot. So every time Morrow runs a pick-and-roll, there is going to be a good chance it turns into a pull-up opportunity from the mid-range.

Part of the reason why the Warriors didn't put Morrow in the pick-and-roll as much last year is because he really seemed to struggle. Morrow only shot 28.6 percent when coming off of a screen. Again, it was because he didn't look comfortable and he tended to float when pulling up for jumpers:

In this clip, you can tell that Morrow never really looks comfortable as he comes off of the screen. He doesn't trust his shot, and he seems unsure about when he actually wants to pull up. The result is Morrow taking a jumper as he is falling backwards that he misses.

Here, Morrow comes off of the screen and he wants to pull up for the jumper right away, but his feet aren't properly set. He needs to take another dribble and adjust his feet before pulling up for a shot. As a result, Morrow is off balance and floats, not landing in the same spot, resulting in a miss.

If you watch Morrow working in pick-and-roll situations this season, he just looks much more comfortable. Maybe it is because of the coaching, maybe if it is because he is more confident in his mid-range jumper, but the difference is notable:

Here, Morrow comes off of the screen set for him and quickly makes a decision. There is no extra dribbles or wasted motion as he pulls up for his jumper. He takes off and lands in the same general area, and everything just looks smooth. The result is a make:

In this clip, Morrow comes off of the screen, and once again he is very decisive. Once he feels his defender going over the screen, he takes one dribble and pulls up using perfect form. Once again, the result is a make.

To me, the improvement in Morrow's mid-range game is what happens when you have a player working hard to improve an aspect in his game and a coach who is able to put him in a position to take advantage.

Morrow obviously has put in the work this offseason to turn his pull-up jumper from a weakness into a strength, and you can see it paying off with the difference in his shooting form/release from last year to this year. As far as coaching, Nets' head coach Avery Johnson is putting Morrow in more pick-and-roll situations, allowing him to get more mid-range opportunities.

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is now available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at twitter.com/@SebastianPruiti.

Sebastian Pruiti is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Sebastian by clicking here or click here to see Sebastian's other articles.

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