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Season Report Card: Quade Green & Marcus Tsohonis

What did we make of the primary ball handlers for Washington this past season?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 20 Colorado at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You can check out the previous editions of our report card series at the links below. A reminder that the final grade are a combination of overall performance as well as how well the player lived up to my preseason expectations. In order to get an “A” you had to be both good and better than I thought you would be. In order to get a “D” you had to be both bad and worse than I thought you would be.

Nate Roberts & Riley Sorn

Hameir Wright & Cole Bajema

Jamal Bey & Erik Stevenson

RaeQuan Battle, J’Raan Brooks, & Nate Pryor

Quade Green- Senior, 6’0, 170 lbs

Max’s Per Game Predictions: 14.2 points, 5.0 assists, 49.2% FG, 41.7% 3pt, 80.0% FT

Actual Per Game Averages: 15.4 pts, 3.0 rbd, 3.6 ast, 42.9% FG, 31.3 3pt%, 86.8% FT

Prior Seasons

In Green’s first season at Kentucky he started alongside fellow freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who broke out into a lottery pick. Green shot nearly 38% on 3-pointers that first season while averaging 9.3 pts and 2.7 ast per game. It seemed like he would become “the guy” in year 2 at Kentucky but incoming 5-star freshmen Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyler Herro all stole some of Green’s playing time which led to him forcing things and ultimately deciding to transfer 9 games into the year. After a short search he came to Washington due to his familiarity with Hopkins who recruited him when at Syracuse.

It was a close call but Green ultimately received a waiver to play immediately rather than sit out the first two months of the season and secured the starting point guard spot. After a bit of a slow start, Green caught fire towards the end of the non-conference schedule with double digit points in each of his last 8 games including 3 of more than 20. However, just before Washington’s 3rd conference contest the team announced that Green was academically ineligible for the rest of the season.

Season Summary

After the dismissal of Naz Carter it became evident that the Husky offense would probably go as far as Quade Green could carry it. The answer unfortunately was not that far. Green saw his shooting percentages plummet without an adequate supporting cast as he often settled for contested jumpers due to a lack of trust (warranted or not) in others to do better.

Coming into the year Green had shot 52% on 2-pt attempts and 41% on 3-pt attempts for his career. He ended this season at 49% and 31% respectively. Turnovers were also a major problem for Green. More than half of Quade’s games ended with him committing 4+ turnovers as it seemed he was prone to forcing the issue with low chance looks when he was frustrated with the results the offense was putting up.

It was also unclear what the real story was when three times this season Green reportedly had battled a non-COVID illness during the week in practice. Twice Green didn’t get the start but then played a substantial number of minutes and once Green didn’t play entirely.

For the most part Quade was reliably able to score in double digits but there were certainly highs and lows. He had just 2 points in the season opener against Baylor and also had 4 other games where he scored 5 or fewer points. The only one of those that Washington even got within 15 points in the final score was the loss versus Montana when Green fouled out after going 1/11 from the floor against the worst team the Huskies played all season.

Despite all of that, Green made honorable mention all Pac-12 and was the only Husky to earn any postseason honors. He scored a career high 31 points in the last game of Washington’s season on 10/18 shooting while going 9/9 from the free throw line. His 86.8% FT shooting ended up a top-60 mark in the entire country and Green finished 8th in the conference in assist rate.

2020-21 Quade Green Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

Advanced Stats Breakdown

Perhaps the easiest way to see how the Husky offense’s struggles affected Green is to look at the relative percent of his contested jumpers. Last year when Washington was cooking with Isaiah Stewart down low drawing the defense’s attention, 55% of Green’s catch and shoot looks were unguarded and he made 57% of those shots. This year only 27% of those shots were wide open and Green made just 40% of them. Green made 32% of the contested shots which is essentially average but the much higher frequency dragged down his shooting splits.

The stats bear out that Green was Washington’s only legitimate option to run the pick and roll. The Huskies ranked in the 71st percentile with Green running that play type while no one else was above average. Ultimately Green ranked between the 27th and 71st percentile in every play type. He wasn’t terrible at anything this season but he also wasn’t truly spectacular at anything either. In past seasons his shooting had been exceptional and Washington greatly missed that skill this season.

Green played enough minutes this year that it’s tough to get much in the way of useful information out of his on/off court splits. Overall the Huskies were identical on defense with Green on versus off the court and about -2 points per 100 possessions worse on offense. The Huskies ended up narrowly winning the game at Pullman which was Green’s only miss of the season. If you look at the difference in games that Green actually played then the team was slightly better with him on the court.

Overall, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that Washington was worse when Green played but it’s also clear that the team didn’t exactly fall apart when he left the game.

Conclusion

During his time at Washington it felt like Quade Green was a force multiplier. The better the team around him was, the better he would play because the things he did well got easier against a divided defense. When Green played under control and didn’t try to drive wildly into the paint because no one’s open then he was an incredibly efficient player. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see very much of that guy this season.

Green technically could return next season but the expectation is that he will move on and graduate. Washington still very much could use his skillset next year. Quade was the only Husky guard able to consistently beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim. He was also by far Washington’s best finisher at 56.2% in the paint. Without him it remains to be seen if there’s anyone on the roster who can consistently set the rest of the team up to succeed over the course of an entire game.

Final Season Grade: B-

Marcus Tsohonis- Sophomore, 6’3, 190 lbs

Max’s Per Game Predictions: 7.5 points, 1.7 assists, 43.3% FG, 38.9% 3pt, 66.0% FT

Actual Per Game Averages: 10.4 pts, 2.2 rbd, 1.1 ast, 44.7% FG, 37.0 3pt%, 70.8% FT

Prior Seasons

It looked like Tsohonis was going to redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility but he was pressed into service when Green became ineligible. There were clear ups and downs for the freshman guard perhaps none so evident than when he torched Oregon in the 1st half to give the Dawgs a giant lead but missed the front end of multiple 1-and-1’s down the stretch as the Huskies blew it. He managed to shoot much better than expected from deep though as he led the Pac-12 during conference play making 42.6% of his 3-pt shots.

Season Summary

I’m sure that Marcus Tsohonis found his usage frustrating, particularly in the early part of the season. In Washington’s first 12 games Tsohonis got a DNP 3 times and played 7 or fewer minutes 3 times. It can’t be said though that Hopkins was necessarily wrong for withholding playing time. Marcus started out the first 6 games shooting 1/10 on 2-pt shots and 0/5 on 3-pt shots.

Things started to turn late in a blowout loss at Colorado when Tsohonis scored 14 points in just 12 minutes. He managed a career high 24 points a few games later against Stanford although it required 21 shots to get there. Then shortly after that Tsohonis was instrumental in an upset win over Colorado with a new career high 27 points in just 26 minutes on 9/13 shooting. Marcus’ last time setting a new career high happened in a road win over WSU with 29 points on 13/20 shooting.

Tsohonis ended up playing at least 14 minutes in each of Washington’s final 15 games and scored double digit points 8 times including 4 of 20+ points. It was all about the scoring with Tsohonis because he didn’t do much in the way of passing. Marcus finished the year with 26 assists and 32 turnovers and his 31.2% of shots taken while on the court during conference play was 3rd in the Pac-12.

2020-21 Marcus Tsohonis Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

Marcus was great from deep everywhere but on the right side of the court. He also was money pulling up on long 2’s which isn’t a high efficiency shot for most players. He really liked that floater but struggled from around the free throw line and also was not very efficient finishing around the rim.

Advanced Stats Breakdown

The Synergy sports points per possession numbers are favorable for Marcus. On the offensive side given Tsohonis’ shooting stats that isn’t terribly surprising. The only play type where Tsohonis wasn’t at least average was coming off a dribble handoff when Tsohonis made just 4 of 12 shots. He also put up only so-so totals trying to run the pick and roll at 0.69 points per possession.

However, Tsohonis was Washington’s best scorer in transition and also was one of the best scorers in the country coming off screens, albeit in a small sample size. The proportion of guarded to unguarded catch and shoot looks was almost identical for Tsohonis and Green at 73 to 27. Marcus however shot better this year than Quade in both situations on the way to being an above average spot up shooter despite a late season slump (finished the year 2/21 from deep).

I normally don’t think of Tsohonis as a great defender but he had the 2nd best points per possession total on that end of the floor at 0.76 ppp only behind Nate Pryor. It was interesting to see the wide gulf between man and zone for Tsohonis. He finished in the 97th percentile nationally when playing man defense and in the 47th percentile when playing zone defense.

That gap is seen most clearly because Marcus was (per the stats) one of the best pick and roll defenders in the country. Opponents scored just 8 points in 26 possessions with Marcus guarding the ball handler during the pick and roll. Conversely, Tsohonis finished in the 7th percentile allowing opponents to shoot 54% on spot up opportunities. Ironically that’s the exact opposite trend of what we saw in Tsohonis’ freshman year. His first season Tsohonis was in the 89th percentile against spot up shooters and in the 2nd percentile guarding the pick and roll. I’m inclined to think the truth is somewhere in the middle on both fronts and small sample sizes are at play.

Unfortunately for Marcus I can’t delay posting the on/off court splits any longer. Over the course of the entire season the Huskies were much worse when Tsohonis was in the game. How much worse? The offense dropped off -6.76 points per 100 possessions when Tsohonis played versus when he didn’t and the defense got -4.57 pts per 100 poss worse with Tsohonis on the court for a net -11.14 margin. That was the 3rd worst mark on the team only ahead of RaeQuan Battle and J’Raan Brooks who quickly fell out of the rotation.

Things look a little better if you take out the first 6 games where Tsohonis really slumped. But not that much better. The Huskies were -7.89 pts per 100 poss on offense with Tsohonis playing starting with that breakout game against Colorado and actually a little better at +1.6 pts per 100 poss on defense. A -6.29 margin is definitely better than -11.14 but is still the 3rd worst on the team in that time frame.

Conclusion

There’s clearly a place for Marcus Tsohonis. Through 2 seasons he’s shown that he can be an elite scorer if a little bit streaky. He’s made almost 40% of his career 3-pt attempts and his inside game isn’t fantastic but it’s good enough especially when he’s on his game. In a perfect world Tsohonis would come off the bench and be able to prop up your 2nd unit’s scoring when your primary point guard is out of the game and if he catches fire then he can stay in the game as the SG for the crunch time lineup.

If he has to be more than that though then I don’t think you’re going to end up with a winning basketball team. Maybe if Quade Green had been out long-term then we would’ve seen some more restraint from Tsohonis. But there were just too many times last year when he took tough shot after tough shot. Several times throughout the season he made a good number of those shots but he has to learn how to set up teammates to be more than a gunner.

On the defensive end I tend to trust the on/off court splits more than the points per possession as the closest defender numbers. Tsohonis finished 2nd in the conference in fewest fouls committed per 40 minutes but also had 0 blocks and the lowest steal rate of any of UW’s non-bigs. From the eye test it just didn’t seem like the effort was there for Tsohonis to play defense within the team concept and to be willing to go the extra miler to try to get the deflection or steal.

How the next year of Tsohonis’ career goes is going to depend on the exit interview between him and Hop. I don’t think Hop is going to hand the keys over to Tsohonis to take 31% of the team’s shots again while playing starting guard minutes all season. If Marcus decides he wants to try to average 20+ points per game then that will need to happen somewhere else. If he commits himself to becoming more of a distributor then he’ll likely play 25-30 minutes per game either as the secondary ball handler or as the first guard off the bench.

Final Season Grade: B-