A lot has been made of Seth Curry taking the ball to the hole more this season compared to last, this being the reason for his increase in points and efficiency. While this is a convenient narrative, the data doesn’t back it up. Last season, Seth shot 47% of his shots from beyond the arc, while this season he’s shot almost exactly the same — 47.2%. If this same point was made in the 2011 season, it would be highly accurate. That’s when the true transformation happened in Curry’s game. He went from taking 63% of his shots from 3-point land in his 2nd season to 47%. Take a look at his shooting charts of the 2010 (left) and 2011 (right) seasons via scacchoops.com.
Seth’s progression from an outside shooter to one with a more well-rounded game was quite dramatic, with 16% more of his shots coming from within the arc in his second season in Duke’s offense. While maybe not as noticeable, Quinn Cook is experiencing a similar transformation in his second year.
Looking at Quinn’s freshman year, he didn’t shoot a ton of shots from deep (48.6%) but for a point guard that is a high number. Whether due to his lingering knee injury, a lack of confidence or a lack of comfort within the offense Cook did not put an emphasis on driving the ball. Shooting just 25% from deep last year, he was not playing up to his strength as a penetrating lead guard.
Looking at Cook’s freshman shooting chart, it’s clear he was taking what the defense was giving him instead of forcing the action. 31.8% of his shots from the floor were from his “cold zones” (in blue) on the center and right hand side of the perimeter. In none of these areas of the floor did he shoot over 24%. Without his usually quick first step and footwork to create space, Cook allowed his defenders to force him into bad shots, which led to his low shooting percentage and inability to get on the floor.
Now healthy, bolstered by a full offseason of workouts for the first time in two years, and a newfound confidence instilled in him by the coaching staff and his teammates, Quinn is playing his game instead of being forced to play his opponents.
Now instead of taking nearly half his shots from deep, he’s taking just over 1/3 (35.8%). Cook’s game now consists of half shots from layups (up 10% from last year) and good shots from outside. He’s improved his 3-point shooting from 25% last year to 48% this year. Looking at Quinn’s shooting chart from this year, there is a lot more red and brown and a lot less blue.
With Cook taking good shots from the outside and showing the ability to force his way on offense, defenders are forced to respect both weapons of his game. Because of the increased attention being paid to him, his teammates are getting open looks to the tune of 5.7 assists per game. That’s the 34th-best number in the country. Cook is now back to being recognized as one of the best point guards in the country, just like he was three years ago before his injury.