The question came up from Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe today at the Sean Miller press conference about whether Allonzo Trier’s return has affected Lauri Markkanen in terms of distributing shots for the highly touted freshman.
It’s a valid question from Pascoe inasmuch as Markkanen attempted only 11 field goals (made just two) against Oregon State and Oregon last week in the fourth and fifth games since Trier’s return at UCLA on Jan. 21. Markkanen averages 9.9 field goal attempts this season. He averaged 10.4 attempts before the Oregon trip.
“No, the addition of Allonzo will only help Lauri because it will take pressure off,” Miller answered. “You have to worry about another scorer, somebody that can drive the ball, get to the foul line, another 3-point shooter. … There’s more balance and because of that it doesn’t allow the defense to focus their attention on just (Markkanen).
“Any time you can add another player out there who is versatile, who can score and have a big night, that only helps Lauri.”
The next graphic displays the average number of field goal attempts for each player in the now nine-player rotation before Trier’s return (denoted by FGA1). The FGA2 column indicates the average number of field goal attempts in the five games between Trier’s return and the Oregon game Saturday.
With only a five-game sample, attempts by Markkanen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright have been more at a lesser rate than others.
That could be a result of defenses concentrating on Markkanen, which Miller suggested happened during the Oregon trip.
It’s interesting to note that the attempt rate of Kobi Simmons and Dusan Ristic is the same pre- and post-Trier return. Chance Comanche has attempted slightly more shots.
Five games is not enough to completely judge how Trier’s return will affect attempts by Markkanen, Rawle Alkins and Kadeem Allen, etc. What this data shows now is that Trier has become the player taking the most shots, averaging 10.2 a game after his return. Markkanen had the previous high mark of 10.6 a game before Trier’s return.
Trier taking the most shots is a good thing, as Miller eluded to, because of his scoring threat and ability to break down defenses by penetrating and creating open shots elsewhere or drawing fouls.
To wit: Remember when Miles Simon returned from academic suspension in the middle of the 1996-97 season and cut into the field goal attempts by Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry, and to a degree, Mike Bibby? Remember how Arizona fared at season’s end?
Some of the shot reduction can also fall on Markkanen’s shoulders. Is he being aggressive enough? Is he passing up too many shot opportunities?
These questions will continued to be answered Wednesday night when Arizona hosts Stanford.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.