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The Dreaded Long Two

Several times I've heard Doug Collins make a long-winded statement about team defense involving houses and neighborhoods and yards. I'm not sure he ever really gets the saying right, but the gist of it is that he wants the Sixers to limit open looks from three and keep opponents out of the paint. That just leaves two-point jumpers. A fine strategy on the defensive end, and one I'm sure opponents will utilize against the Sixers.

Unfortunately for Doug Collins, he's got a number of guys on his roster who love to shoot the long two.

Check out the chart below, you'll see every player on the roster, their total field goal attempts, and the number of attempts between 16-23 feet -- AKA, the worst shot in basketball:

I probably should've explained this above, but better late than never. The reason I call the long two the worst shot in basketball is (1) it's typically a low-percentage attempt. For example, the best shooter from that range on the roster only made 45.7% of his attempts (Jason Kapono), that translates into 0.914 points-per-shot, which is poor offense. A 31% three-point shooter produces more points with a three-point shot than Kapono does with a long two; (2) It's extremely rare to draw a foul on a long two. Take a three, you're probably going to score more points. Take a shot closer to the hoop and you're probably going to score more points and you're more likely to get to the foul line. The long two is the worst of both worlds.

Now, to the chart. First, how many times have we heard, "Andre Iguodala shoots too many threes," over the past couple of months? The answer is probably not enough times, but his three-point shot wasn't the biggest problem. 31.5% of Iguodala's attempts were long twos, that's just wasteful. His long twos were worth .78 points-per-shot. His three-point attempts were worth .93 points-per-shot. He would've been better off jacking up another 300 threes than taking all those long twos.

Here's my biggest problem with the roster, though. Check out the percentage of long twos the members of the front line took last season. Hawes was the lowest at 22.8%, then Brand (22.84%), Speights (32.2%), Songaila (50.2%) and Battie (52.5%). Battie hardly played, but I do believe he's in love with the long two. Songaila played plenty and that number is just ridiculous for a PF. Speights shot it well, but still, way too many attempts. And on down the line.

I think we have to handicap the guys who played for the Sixers last season a bit. I'm 100% convinced Eddie Jordan wanted them taking long twos. The reason: Eddie Jordan is a complete idiot. I'm willing to give them all a bit of a pass. The newcomers, well, they aren't so lucky.

If Collins believes in the philosophy he's shared with us, and I hope he does, he has to swing these numbers this season. A guy like Thad should be fined every time he takes a long two (0.58 points-per-shot). I don't have access to college numbers for Turner or Brackins, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn each of them was on the wrong side of 20% in this category.

A long two is a win for the defense, whether it goes in or not. Taking one early in the shot clock is basically surrendering the possession. Hopefully, Collins' cluster offense will limit these defeatist possessions. If that simple goal can be achieved, offensive improvement will be fairly easy to come by for this team.

by Brian on Oct 5 2010
Tags: Basketball | Doug Collins | Offseason | Sixers | The Long Two |