Perhaps the most perplexing team in the Big East last season was Georgetown. A dynamic lineup with positional versatility on the wings, an experienced scoring guard in D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and some serious size in the low post with Bradley Hayes and Jessie Govan. And yet, the Hoyas finished 15-18, with 10 of those losses being a one or two possession game. This is interesting to me because watching the Hoyas didn’t give the impression that they were a bad team. Yes, the offense was frustrating to watch when it featured questionable shots and stupid turnovers. But there were simply too many pieces to ignore: Isaac Copeland the 6’9 bouncy forward looked brilliant at times (32 points, 7 rebounds vs. Marquette); 6’10 freshman Jessie Govan’s three-point shooting was encouraging, though it came in a limited sample size; LJ Peak looked comfortable and explosive attacking the rim toward the end of the season. And guess what? All of those players are returning.
While I’m not a big believer in the “addition by subtraction” philosophy, this is a situation where that might actually be true. Don’t get me wrong, DSR had a tremendous career at Georgetown and finished as the school’s fifth highest all-time leading scorer. But, there are some obvious negatives: He was the team’s highest volume shooter (25.6% of shots) despite being one of its least efficient players (50.1% eFG). For lack of better options, he’s been stuck in a point guard role the last two seasons despite being more comfortable off the ball. And as a 6’3 guard with a 6’3 wingspan and average speed, he was of no particular value on the defensive end.
So, where does that leave us? With a lot of questions…
Does Georgetown really need a single go-to scorer?
What people say they want on a team is someone to give the ball to when in desperate need of points. What they really want is a multitude of scoring options so opposing defenses can’t predict who will get the ball. If everyone knows DSR is getting the ball on the final possession, life just became much easier for defenses. Even elite prospects can’t just score at will when facing double or triple teams. Think about how successful Villanova was by having scoring options at every position. That national championship game winner? Everyone thought Arcidiacono was taking the last shot and multiple defenders focused on him, leaving Jenkins virtually uncovered. Focus on Josh Hart? Booth, Brunson, Bridges, etc. can all score in the open floor. Fine, Georgetown might not have a team like Villanova’s, but they were pretty good at getting open looks last season (66th in 2pt FG%) and JT3’s offense generated a number of open perimeter shots, it’s just they couldn’t make them consistently.
On the bright side, there are a number of incoming players who will certainly bolster their point guard play:
- Jonathan Mulmore (26.1 PPG at the JUCO level)
- Rodney Pryor (18.0 PPG at Robert Morris)
- Jagan Mosley (NJ.com player of the year – led 32-0 St. Anthony in scoring)
Mulmore and Pryor didn’t have great seasons shooting the ball last year, but it could have been a product of playing a volume-dependant, ball dominant role on their respective teams. Pryor experienced a strange drop-off in which his 3PT FG% declined from 42.9% to 29.0% from freshman to sophomore year on a similar attempt rate. But either way, all are proven scorers and will offer a significant upgrade at the point guard position.
What’s up with the terrible shooting?
Georgetown might have had one of the worst relationships between 3PT FG% and 3PT attempt rate. It was the most trigger happy team since 2005 and a large reason why their games felt so unsatisfying. DSR attempted 221 threes last season, connecting on just 33% of them, while Isaac Copeland took 125 at an even lower 27.2% mark (he shot 38.9% the season before??). Both of these guys attempted more than their perimeter designated shooters: Marcus Derrickson (37.6%), Reggie Cameron (35.6%), LJ Peak (40.9%). So wiping off DSR’s attempts and replacing them with any of these guys should boost the team’s shooting efficiency, especially if Copeland finds his touch. More importantly though, with Mulmore, Pryor and an aggressively attacking LJ Peak, it figures that Georgetown will be taking more shots closer to the basket… which is a good thing. They don’t have great inside scorers, but they do have plenty of capable slashers and a number of forwards who can knock down shots.
Can they PLEASE stop fouling so much?
This is still the biggest question mark. Georgetown had a propensity for fouling last season (345th nationally in foul rate), especially in the post. It felt like Hayes and Govan were in foul trouble every game (they were) and the defensive commitment fell through when teams were constantly picking up easy points at the line. Will that change? Nobody knows. The perimeter defense needs to be better so Hayes/Govan aren’t constantly put in the position of stopping shots near the basket, and adding a couple of athletic guards should help. Peak should be good on the defensive end (6’9 wingspan and plenty of strength) if he puts the effort in. Copeland has proven that he can guard multiple positions, but the metrics are a bit head scratching (steal rate, block rate, rebounding rate are all well below average). And I’d expect Hayes and Govan to improve in their shot challenging decisions / positioning with experience under their belts.
So what’s next?
This has been my long-winded narrative to get to a rather open-ended conclusion. Whereas last season, while JT3 had the pieces in his arsenal, many didn’t have opportunity to showcase their talent. Now there’s opportunity. Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson, two promising sophomores who are perfect fits for the system, will take on larger roles. These two forwards have good passing and shooting skills and will threaten defenses when catching the ball at the top of the key. Moreover, the importance of having more natural distributors in the backcourt cannot be understated. Yet as always, it remains to be determined as to whether JT3 can put it all together.