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Extrapolating Offense – Sean Kilpatrick

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This season, Sean Kilpatrick proved that he belongs on an NBA roster. He was the Nets’ third-leading scorer, and provided plenty of highlights. With the Nets roster in limbo, how does he fit within the team’s offense?

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Previously, I broke down the offensive strengths of Brook Lopez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson two of the Nets’ key starters. This time, I’ll look into a player that had a solid 2016-2017, Sean Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick was a reliable scorer for the Nets, averaging 13.1 points per game. He shot 41% from the field and 34.1% from the three-point line, good for a 54.6% true shooting percentage. His 3.5 free throw attempts per game trailed only Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin. The second-year Net converted 84.3% of his free throws. Kilpatrick also chipped in 2.2 assists per game. His usage percentage was 23.9%, again behind Lopez and Lin. Here’s a look at his shot chart…

Kilpatrick’s “hottest” shooting zone is right above the free throw line. He shot 65.5% from that area, with the league average at 39.9%. From the free throw line extended, he uses his shifty, patient handle. Below, SK dribbles around a Trevor Booker screen like a safety cone to free up space for an open mid-range J. He dribbles slowly, but uses a nice hop to gain rhythm for the jumper.

Here, Kilpatrick uses a Luis Scola screen to knock a mid-range jumper in his hotspot. Al Jefferson drops back deep, and Monta Ellis is sealed off well by the Scola screen. (I loved Scola’s ability to set sneaky screens. Some of that rubbed onto Rondae Hollis-Jefferson this season. But I digress.) Kilpatrick isn’t the quickest leaper, but he launches his shot quickly off the bounce.

Drives

Some of Kilpatrick’s most effective offense came off of his drives. He shows a decent first step off of the catch when darting into the lane. It compliments the methodical rhythm of his perimeter game. Kilpatrick averaged 4.9 drives per game this season, with 3.8 of his 13.1 points stemming from rim attacks. Here, Kilpatrick torpedoes to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks…

He’s already on the move before catching the pass, speeding by Devin Harris and using a nice two-step gather for the finish. Kilpatrick shows toughness around the rim, fighting through contact. Against the Utah Jazz, Kilpatrick shows just that. He takes the ball right into big man Trey Lyles’ grill…

While Kilpatrick hails from Yonkers, his fearlessness when knifing to the rim is a gritty NYC baller trait.

SK also shows solid deceleration on drives, allowing him to wriggle past defenders occasionally. Off the bounce, Kilpatrick relies on an arrhythmic dribble that may leave defenders hypnotized. His go-to dribble move is his in-and-out-hesitation dribble He uses head fakes and jab steps to stun defenders into paralysis. Check out this Kilpatrick head fake, leaving his defender spinning…

Kilpatrick may not have been the most efficient scorer at the rim, ranking below league average at 51.1%. That stems from his lack of elite athleticism. Despite that, Kilpatrick draws fouls reasonably well. His 0.329 free throw rate (FTr) ranks higher than Brook Lopez. FTr is the ratio of free throw attempts per field goal attempt. Later in the season, Kilpatrick would often drive to the rim looking for fouls. While the Harden-esque moves may not have been super successful, the ability to draw contact and convert free throws could benefit the Nets when the offense encounters droughts.

Perimeter Threat

Kilpatrick shot lots of three-pointers this season, with his 308 attempts only trailing Brook Lopez, newly crowned king of the perimeter. 42% of Kilpatrick’s field goal attempts came from deep. Oddly, Kilpatrick averaged essentially the same three-point percentage when launching off the dribble (34.4%) or the catch and shoot (34.5%). It displays Kilpatrick’s versatility as a long-range threat. Here, Kilpatrick sinks a three-pointer as the primary ballhandler after denying a Quincy Acy screen…

Below, Kilpatrick buries the open three off of the catch and shoot, generating rhythm with a nice two-step hop and holding his follow through.

While Kilpatrick shot the three at a decent 34.1%, he did have some streaky games. There were some games where he shot lights out (6-of-7 against the Portland Trailblazers on March 4th) and others where he failed to find rhythm (0-of-6 against the Knicks on March 12th.) Kilpatrick’s solid shooting contributed to his rise from D-League obscurity. Greater consistency will propel him further.

Pick and Roll Ballhandler

Surprisingly, 27.2% of all of Kilpatrick’s offensive possessions came as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, per Synergy. That may have been out of necessity – as he assumed lead guard duties with fellow undrafted standout Jeremy Lin injured. While Kilpatrick may not have been effective at setting up his teammates at the point, he was solid as a scorer. He scored 0.811 points per possession as a pick and roll ballhandler.

Below, Kilpatrick scores the basket plus the foul after a Quincy Acy screen. Acy’s screen forced a switch. Derrick Favors keeps up with Kilpatrick’s downhill attack, but bites on a crafty Kilpatrick fake and commits the foul.

Trevor Booker was a frequent partner in the Kilpatrick pick-and-roll. The two formed a nice chemistry, especially after Booker’s move to the bench. Below, Kilpatrick assists an easy Booker layup…

Here’s a cute play where Kilpatrick tosses the pass between Kristaps Porzingis’ legs for an open Booker layup after a Quincy Acy screen.

Kilpatrick may need to tighten his handle. He turned the ball over 21.2% of the time as pick-and-roll ballhandler, often having the ball poked away from him or simply by over-dribbling. That happens here against the Denver Nuggets…

He may not be a true floor general, but Kilpatrick may have some life as a secondary ballhandler and creator in Nets reserve units.

Isolation

I know. The Nets’ motion offense focuses on slick ball movement to generate offense. This season saw a Nets migration from the Iso-era seen in previous years. But isolation and the mid-range game still have a place in the NBA. That’s been one takeaway throughout the NBA Playoffs – ball movement is nice, but players may need to create, especially late in the game. When defenses tighten up, teams will need players that can generate and create offense – essentially the ability to make weird shots.

Kilpatrick does that.

Per Synergy, Kilpatrick was one of the best isolation players in the NBA. He ranked in the 96th percentile of all scorers off of isolation, scoring 1.136 points per possession. His offensive arsenal, including soft floaters and midrange creation led to his effectiveness in the isolation. Here, Kilpatrick bails the Nets out with a rhythm jumper over Michael Beasley...

Kilpatrick’s Iso-ball heroics anchored the Nets’ victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in November, where he scored 38 points. While it may not flow with the Nets offense, Kenny Atkinson can rely on SK to get buckets when needed. Unfortunately, the @SKGetBuckets social media handles belong to a former Net with the same initials, Sergey Karasev.

Outlook

After flourishing as a 10-day contract pickup in 2015-2016, Sean Kilpatrick verified his NBA scoring prowess in 2016-2017. Despite the Nets’ disappointing record, Kilpatrick was a consistent scoring option for the Nets. When his shot was falling, he was one of the Nets’ most dangerous scorers. His offensive punch was missed at the end of the season, with the Nets’ second unit struggling to cultivate baskets. While his game may lack the versatility of other Nets, every NBA team could use a scorer that can generate baskets on his own. His role down the line could be as a solid bench assassin.

Sean Marks’ first signing has continually displayed gratitude for granting him an NBA opportunity. Kilpatrick also has shown incremental improvement – losing weight over the summer and improving his effort on the defensive end throughout the year. But Kilpatrick’s future with the Nets is uncertain. His contract for 2017-2018 has a guarantee date of June 30. SK may also garner some attention on the trade market. Regardless, Sean Kilpatrick proved that he belongs on an NBA roster this season.

References

All stats via NBA.com/stats or basketball-reference.com, unless otherwise noted.