I’ll admit I’ve always been a little confused by the Jet’s game. Up until last year, I assumed he was just an unusually fine shooter who had the privilege of benefitting from the most consistent double-team in the league. I was therefore free to suppose there was nothing mysterious about his playoff disappearances. When the defense ramped up, what could he do? Wasn’t his fault he was supposed to be a shot-creator, and couldn’t.
Then, last year, he seared his name in Dallas lore forever with his terrific playoffs. And I didn’t know quite what to make of it. When Jason’s shot is not going in, you wonder what he’s doing on the court. Nobody looks worse out there than a Jason Eugene Terry who’s not shooting well. But he’ll do that for a week or two then do the other thing for a month or two, and then where are you?
This year, he has not been good.
According to mySynergySports.com, Jason Terry, like Dirk, is still shooting basically the same shots he was last year. He’s down to taking 7.9% of his shots in Iso, from 9.55% last year, up to 27.8% of his shots spotting-up from 25.2% last year, but nothing much stands out. He has, however, suffering a significant drop-off in points per play in every category except for P and R Ball-Handling (.8 PPP both years), and his shooting percentage has gone down in every category except that one as well (in which he’s up to 47% from 43.7%).
The weird thing, though, is that for the most part his numbers aren’t MUCH worse from most places on the floor. Shooting 42.1% spotting-up, down from 46.1% is significant, but not enormous. Shooting 45.6%, down from 48.3%, in transition is the same. There are two areas where he’s particularly struggling, however.
In Iso plays, Terry has dropped to a brutal 34.4% from a still relatively bad 40.4% last year, and his numbers off screens have absolutely cratered. Last year, he got 11.9% of his offense from there, shot 48.3% and scored 1.01 points per play. This year, he’s getting 7.1% of his offense from there, scoring .66 PPP and shooting a delightful 32.4%.
The same splits—not surprisingly, since the JET is taking nearly 40% of his shots from deep—appear in his three-point shooting. He’s actually shooting slightly better from three spotting up and in transition than last year. But he’s dropped from 43.8% off screens to 10% (1 for 10) and from 25% in iso to 23.1% (okay, so maybe he just shouldn’t be shooting iso threes).
In other words, what’s wrong with Jason Terry is that he’s doing poorly in isolation and extremely poorly off screens.
Why? Well, two things are possible. The first is that Terry’s eye-opening performance in the playoffs last year, despite the fact that he’s been around forever, has gotten defenses into really leaning on those JET pick and rolls. That’s relatively likely.
On the other hand, it could just just be what’s ailing everyone in the league. The lack of training camp and a frenetic schedule has plunged the game’s jump-shooters into a funk not seen since—oh yeah, the last strike-shortened season.
Pick and roll shots are rhythm shots. Isolation shots are usually just lightly contested jumpers. It’s not, then his movement or his shot selection (which, again, has remained basically the same), it’s his rhythm and his shot. That might be good news---we’ve seen throughout his entire career that that can just snap back into place and be good for a month or two at a go.
Last night the Jet hit 8-15 and 3-6 from three. It would be huge, huge, huge for the Mavs if he started producing consistently again and he certainly has the track record. Too early to say if he’s turned a corner—but after a 1-9 night Friday, it’s hard to think there’s anything else that would make more difference for the Mavs’ chances.
So here's hoping the Jet has gotten the maintenance he needs.