It's crystal ball time here at Depressed Fan. Over the coming weeks, leading up to training camp, we're going to take a look at everyone on the roster and try to predict how they will perform in the 2009-2010 season. Jason Kapono is up first, after the jump.
This season, as opposed to seasons past, throws a new wrinkle in the process. Not only are we going to try to guesstimate a player's development (or decline), but we're also going to have to factor in a new coach, and his new offense. So, since we're starting with Jason Kapono, the first thing I did was comb over the stats of other teams Jordan has coached, looking for a similar player.
The results weren't very telling. In his eight full and partial seasons as a head coach, Jordan has only had two players shoot better than 40% from three, while attempting more than 100 in any given season: DeShawn Stevenson in 2006-07 (74/183, 40.4%) and Nick Young in 2007-08 (40/100, 40%). That's not to say he hasn't had three-point specialists on his teams, Roger Mason Jr. flourished as a deep gunner in 07-08, hitting 130 of 327 attempts for 39.8% in only 1,708 minutes of action. Kapono played 1,831 minutes last season and only attempted 229 threes, in Toronto's offense.
One thing about the Jordan's version of the P.O., or at least the version that has been played by every team he's coached up to this point, is that threes fly frequently. Think back to 2004-2005 when Jim O'Brien was coaching the Sixers, then add another 200+ attempts from three, per season, and you're in the neighborhood of Jordan's Wizards. In 07-08, 24% of the Wizards field goal attempts were from distance, only 16% of the Sixers shots were threes last year.
I don't think Jordan is going to have the horses to rely that heavily on the three this season, or at least I don't think it would be a particularly wise decision, but I do expect him to lean heavily on the one shooter he has, Jason Kapono. In fact, Kapono is the best shooter he's ever had, so I'd be shocked if Jordan wasn't already scheming ways to shake him free for threes.
From reading Raptors blogs (and Heat blogs before that), Kapono's biggest problem seems to be that he isn't enough of a gunner. He only averages 12.3 shots per 36 minutes over his career, which seems low to me for a guy who has always been an offense off the bench type of player. That's going to have to change if he's going to have success in Philly. Yes, having him on the floor should loosen up the defense, maybe make teams think twice before doubling Brand in the post, leave room in the lane for Williams, Thad and Iguodala to get to the hole, but if he isn't burying shots, he's a liability. Those other tangential gains aren't enough on the offensive end to make up for what he doesn't bring on defense. When this guy is on the floor, I want the team focused on getting him open looks, and I don't want him passing them up.
For my predictions I'm going to use per game numbers, simply because per 36 would've been tedious when I'm wrapping playing time into the predictions. Here are last year's numbers, along with what I'm expecting from him this season:
I see Kapono playing between 15-20 minutes per game, depending on matchup, how the team is hitting from the outside without him, and how he's shooting it on that particular night. As I said above, he's going to be shooting when he's in there, so the FGA/36 is up, and the 3PA/36 is way up, which also drags his 3pt% down to mere great shooter levels. He's the Sixers best, and maybe only weapon from three, I expect Jordan to lean on him, maybe a little too much. Then again, a portion of the minutes I'm giving him here is coming out of Willie Green's share, so we aren't talking about great options to choose from.
For the record, I have him playing 12 minutes at SF and 6 at SG, nominally, with Iguodala at the SF it won't really matter which position you pencil him in at.
Up next: Primoz Brezec