The San Antonio Spurs can help Trey Lyles rediscover his three-point shot

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 28: Trey Lyles #7 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to a play during the game against the Utah Jazz on February 28, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 28: Trey Lyles #7 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to a play during the game against the Utah Jazz on February 28, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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On his third team in five years Trey Lyles comes to the San Antonio Spurs as a low-risk, high-reward player. Can the Spurs coaching staff help Lyles find consistency with his three-point shot in his first year with the team?

The San Antonio Spurs summer signing of Trey Lyles was a classic buy-low move. San Antonio was able to pick up the 6’10 former Kentucky Wildcat on a relatively short and cheap deal that could have a potentially large payoff.

Lyles does face an uphill battle to receiving playing time. Right now it seems like he will spend the majority of his time on the end of the bench or playing late in games when the ending is already assured. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If Lyles can develop a consistent three-point shot he can be a real asset to the Spurs.

The main attraction of Lyles’s game is his ability to spread the floor. He’s a skilled scorer with the ability to get buckets from every level. But he’s so inconsistent that it’s impossible to predict what kind of player San Antonio will get this year.

In his first four years in the league, Lyles’s three-point percentage has swung back and forth like a pendulum.  In his first two years with the Utah Jazz, he shot 38 and then 32 percent from behind the arc. He followed the same pattern in his next two seasons with the Denver Nuggets. His shooting percentage started well, 38 percent from deep in his first season in Denver. But in year two it plummeted to a measly 25 percent.

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There’s hope that Lyles can develop a consistent three-point stroke with the Spurs. It wouldn’t be the first time that a player has found their shot in San Antonio. From Tony Parker to Kawhi Leonard there are many instances of players gradually refining their shooting with assistant coach Chip Engelland.

A recent example would be the improvement that Rudy Gay has seen in his first two seasons with the team. In year one Rudy was connecting on 31 percent of his attempts. Last season he connected on a very impressive 40 percent of his three-point shots.

One immediate change that the Spurs can make to help Lyles’s improve his three-point shooting is to put him in position to capitalize on his opportunities. The corner three is a staple of every NBA offense, especially the Spurs. Luckily for them, that’s where Lyles is most efficient from. Unfortunately, he seems to have a strange aversion to shooting from the corner.

Lyles prefers to shoot his threes from above the break. Throughout his career, he has attempted 1.9 above the break three’s per game and connects on 31 percent of them. Conversely, he shoots an outstanding 49 percent on his attempts from the right corner. Bizarrely he’s only shot .3 shots per game from that spot throughout his career. If he wants to improve his overall percentage he can start with changing where he’s taking the majority of his shots from.

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If Lyles can find consistency in his three-point shot there’s a real chance he could see meaningful playing time. However, if his hot and cold shooting habits continue it’s unlikely he will be anything more than an end of the bench player throughout his time with the Spurs.

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