Kansas Basketball 2012-2013: What Is Behind Travis Releford's Shooting Improvement?

USA TODAY Sports

KU Senior Travis Releford is one of the most efficient scorers in the country. How has he improved so much?

Travis Releford wasn't a bad shooter by any stretch of the imagination last year: a 55.2% eFG and 57.6% true shooting percentage isn't elite but it is certainly very good, especially for a guard. But this year he has been out of this world. His 67.7% eFG ranks 4th nationally and his true shooting percentage of 70.4% is 2nd in the nation. Other than the fact that I wish he would shoot more, he has had virtually no flaws this year.

But why has Releford improved so much from last year to this year? Is he a much better shooter? Or is he just better at getting to better areas on the floor? A closer look:

The first chart is Releford's shot locations for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. If you click the dot at the top you can scroll between seasons, and if you hover over the sections of the pie you can see the exact percentages of how many shots he took at the rim, as two point jumpers, and from three:

As you can see, Releford has done a much better job of getting to the rim (he has always been good in transition, but this year he is doing very well at getting to the hoop in the half court as well) and he is taking more threes as well. We'll see why in a bit. The net effect of this is that he is taking fewer two point jumpers which, as we have seen, is the most inefficient shot out there.

Next, let's take a look at Releford's percentages:

Oddly enough (or maybe not oddly enough, what do I know, but fortunately enough) Releford has made huge gains at the rim and from three. Some of this, again, is due to him being so good in transition, but he's making a concerted effort to get to the rim more in the half court as well.

The major plus here is from three: Releford showed some signs of future prowess in 2011, when he shot 37% from beyond the arc. But that was in just 37 attempts and it appeared I would be incorrect in proclaiming him to be a good jump shooter before last season, when he shot just 32.5% on 80 attempts. He's over 80 attempts already this year, and making 45% of them this season. Or, in other words, he took his eFG on three pointers from 49% to 68%. I would be remiss if I didn't mention his 10% increase in free throw percentage as well, but those threes have driven his eFG improvement and have turned him into not just one of the most underrated players in America, but one of the nation's most efficient scorers as well.

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