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Season Report Card: Jamal Bey & Erik Stevenson

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How did Washington’s wings fare against our expectations?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Arizona Rebecca Sasnett-USA TODAY Sports

We’re reviewing each member of the Husky roster’s performance this past season a few at a time. You can check out past editions with Nate Roberts & Riley Sorn as well as Hameir Wright and Cole Bajema at those links. The final grade is based on both how they performed and how they did compared to my pre-season expectations.

Jamal Bey- Junior, 6’6, 210 lbs

Max’s Per Game Predictions: 7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 37.8% FG, 32.5% 3pt, 77.5% FT

Actual Per Game Averages: 10.3 pts, 3.7 rbd, 1.1 ast, 45.8% FG, 50.7 3pt%, 73.0% FT

Prior Seasons

There wasn’t a lot of playing time available for Bey as a freshman with a veteran Husky team that made the NCAA tournament which included Jaylen Nowell, Matisse Thybulle, and Dominic Green on the wing. Still, he showed tremendous growth over the season and 3 of his 6 games playing 10+ minutes came in UW’s final 3 games: the Pac-12 tournament final and the two NCAA tournament games. During that time Bey clearly deferred to the veteran talent on the team but showed he was comfortable doing the dirty work.

Unfortunately, Bey’s seemingly guaranteed breakout sophomore season never came. At times he was played as a point guard in a jumbo defensive lineup and it didn’t play to his offensive strengths. Over the course of the season he lost confidence in his shot and passed down open looks while making just 25% of his 3-pt shots. His steal percentage though took a leap as expected playing at the top of the 2-3 zone.

Season Summary

It was a bizarre season for Bey but mostly in a good way. His extreme hesitance to shoot carried over from last season. Bey attempted just 8 three-pointers in Washington’s first 8 games while Washington was mired in a major offensive funk. Unlike the previous season’s dismal results however, Bey made 4 of those 8 shots. And it wasn’t a fluke. He finished the year hitting 38 of 75 long range shots which was 7th in the entire country and best for anyone with at least as many attempts.

Starting in that 9th game when Bey had a career high 15 points against Stanford he averaged 12.7 points per game the rest of the way including a 28 point outburst on 10/11 shooting night to almost singlehandedly upset Utah. Even with the sniper-like marksmanship Bey still never felt comfortable trying to take over. He used 16.6% of Washington’s possessions while on the floor which effectively tied him with Hameir Wright and J’Raan Brooks for 6th on the team. Thanks to his great shooting numbers Bey was 2nd on the team though in offensive efficiency only behind Riley Sorn who rarely attempted a shot further than 3 feet from the basket.

Bey’s defensive numbers slipped a little by virtue of being asked to shift down a spot in the zone. Last year Bey was sometimes the smallest Husky on the court once Quade Green went out. This season Bey had to play some power forward as the Dawgs went with more 4-guard lineups around one big. Bey’s steal percentage ended up less than half of the prior season although his block percentage picked up marginally.

2020-21 Jamal Bey Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

Advanced Stats Breakdown

Given the 3-pt shooting numbers it should not surprise you that Bey graded out well in just about every shooting subset. He finished the year shooting 55% on both guarded and unguarded catch and shoot opportunities. It didn’t matter if the defender got a hand in his face, if Bey had his feet set and shot in rhythm then it was more likely than not to go through the basket.

It was the other offensive play types where Bey struggled. He finished below the 50th percentile in points per possession on transition, post-up, pick and roll ball handler, isolation, and off screen play types. Bey turned the ball over more than 20% of the the time when posting up or running a pick and roll so either he needs to improve those aspects of his game or Washington needs to make sure that Bey takes as few dribbles as possible in the future.

Considering Bey’s reputation for defense it’s a little surprising that per Synergy he gave up over 1 point per possession and finished in the 12th percentile nationally. Some of that is potentially bad luck as opponents shot nearly 50% on uncontested catch and shoot jumpers with Bey as the closest defender and shot 44% off the dribble against him. Still, it suggests that Bey needs to recommit on that end of the floor next year.

Bey’s on/off court numbers are a little difficult to evaluate since he led the team in minutes played. He played 33+ minutes in 12 of Washington’s final 14 games with blowout losses the only 2 exceptions. The overall results aren’t necessarily that surprising given everything else profiled above. Washington was about +2 points per 100 possessions on offense with Bey on the court versus off and about -2.7 pts per 100 poss on defense. So slightly worse overall when Bey played.

As I mentioned though, Bey really took off starting in the 9th game against Stanford. If you only look starting with that game when he found his groove it becomes evident why he led the team in minutes. Washington was +4.5 pts per 100 poss better on offense with Bey in the game as well as +2.5 pts per 100 poss better on defense for a net +7.

Conclusion

Jamal Bey didn’t double his 3-pt shooting percentage between his sophomore and junior seasons. But it’s hard to get much closer since he increased it by 1.9985x. That’s just about unheard of improvement. Even Dominic Green in his breakout year only went from 28% to 43.5%. It’s likely unsustainable but even if Bey only keeps half of that gain and shoots 38% next year he’s still a very valuable floor stretcher. On offense he clearly exceeded my expectations from the preseason even if this kind of season seemed possible when he was entering Washington.

Bey clearly didn’t meet expectations on the defensive end however. His role changed but Bey flashed early poor man’s Thybulle potential in his first few seasons. He was nowhere even remotely close to that this season and it contributed greatly to Washington’s defensive woes. There’s definitely a chance he could be that guy next year especially considering how well he rebounded on the offensive end. If Bey puts it all together then he could be one of the best two-way players in the conference next season. But we’ve yet to see if he can maximize his potential on both ends of the course all at the same time.

Final Season Grade: B

Erik Stevenson

Max’s Per Game Predictions: 12.2 points, 2.7 assists, 45.7% FG, 34.7% 3pt, 77.2% FT

Actual Per Game Averages: 9.3 pts, 3.6 rbd, 2.1 ast, 35.7% FG, 29.8 3pt%, 78.9% FT

Prior Seasons

Lorenzo Romar hadn’t offered Stevenson before he was fired but Mike Hopkins extended an opportunity within a few months of taking over the Husky job. It was too little too late though as Erik decided to commit to Wichita State a month later. Stevenson came in as a freshman and took on a 5th/6th man role for the Shockers. He struggled with his efficiency, shooting just 27.8% from deep on 158 attempts but flashed playmaking ability and was a great defensive rebounder for his size/position. As a sophomore his role increased although odd substitution patterns meant Stevenson played only an extra 3 minutes per game. Still, Stevenson increased his points per game by 67% and improved his efficiency a little bit while crossing over the 30% mark on his 3-point shooting.

There was clearly massive discontent internally over the way Gregg Marshall handled the season despite Wichita State being an NCAA bubble team and there was a mass exodus in the spring. 6 players transferred including most of the team’s starters. Things became clearer a few weeks ago when an incredibly damning report on Marshall’s conduct was released including several past incidents when he allegedly assaulted players and staff. Stevenson took the opportunity to return home and play at UW and gained a waiver to play right away.

Season Summary

It was a brutal start to Stevenson’s Husky career as it was for essentially every Dawg on offense this year. Stevenson didn’t score more than 8 points in any of UW’s first 9 games and played just 36 combined minutes in blowout losses against Colorado, Arizona, and Stanford. During that opening stretch Stevenson was shooting 4/23 from 3-pt range and 10/33 from 2-pt range. It legitimately looked like Stevenson’s play at Wichita State may have been a mirage at that he would be an instant bust.

Then against Cal Stevenson suddenly couldn’t miss as he had 27 points on 6/9 3-pt shooting in a narrow road loss. He had double digit points in 7 straight games before another mini-slump when he scored 15 total points across 3 games. Still, from the Cal game onwards Stevenson averaged 12.1 points per game on 32.7% 3-pt shooting. Those numbers are almost identical to the ones he put up while at Wichita State as a sophomore.

There were signs that Stevenson could be more than a volume shooter though. He took on more ballhandling responsibilities at Washington State with Quade Green out of the lineup and finished that game with 18 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Over the final 7 games of the year starting with that WSU game Stevenson had 25 assists against just 7 turnovers.

One of Stevenson’s strengths at Wichita State was his defensive rebounding and his rates dropped from 19.6% with the Shockers to 13.3% this year. Those are still good numbers for a 6’3 guard though and the mark was good for 5th on the team and the best for any Husky shorter than 6’9.

2020-21 Erik Stevenson Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

It’s not very common for players to be much more efficient in the midrange than anywhere else but that was the case for Stevenson. If he only took shots from the midrange or 3-pointers from the left side of the court then he would have been an amazing scorer. Instead all of those 3-pt shots in all of the blue zones were unfortunately attempted as well.

Advanced Stats Breakdown

I think 3 years into Stevenson’s career we can go ahead and conclude that he’s just going to be a below average but not completely terrible 3-point shooter. He actually shot slightly better on contested attempts than unguarded ones which stands in contrast to the previous season when he was much better when wide open. Stevenson graded out as well above average when receiving a dribble handoff or cutting to the basket (90th and 99 percentile) but was below average on every other play type.

On defense Stevenson graded out as one of UW’s better defenders per Synergy Sports as opponents shot just 22% on jumpers with Stevenson as the primary defender. He got roasted however when defending the pick and roll or having to guard against a post-up attempt so he was much better suited for the zone closing out on shooters.

Jamal Bey’s on/off court splits were mostly even over the course of the year but that wasn’t the case for Stevenson. Washington’s offense was identical whether Stevenson was playing or not but the team was almost +5 points per 100 possessions better on defense with Erik on the court.

Unsurprisingly that gap got even bigger if you just look at the numbers since the start of the Cal game when Stevenson’s offense took off. Washington from that point on finished +4 pts per 100 poss on offense and +4.7 pts per 100 poss on defense for a total net margin of +8.7 pts per 100 poss.

Conclusion

I had hopes that Stevenson might be able to see a major improvement in a new system but starting with game #10 he was almost the same player he had been in Wichita. Stevenson’s an above average rebounder for a 6’3 SG but just doesn’t have the self control in shot selection to be an efficient scorer. He does enough on the defensive end that his points aren’t all empty calories but if he could ever find a way to reign in the offensive aggressiveness by 10-15% it would really help the offense. If we could erase the first 9 games of the season from existence then Stevenson would bump up to a B but they happened and so this is what he gets.

Final Season Grade: C+