Scott-Hollins Syndrome is a sickness that afflicts certain NBA coaches, players, and broadcasters.
Named for Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins, two coaches who were the ultimate examples of it, symptoms include eschewing the three-point shot in favor of the midrange jumper, settling for floaters rather than attacking the lane, and perilously low FT/FGA ratios on two-point shooting and nearly nonexistent opportunities for and-ones.
It has been a byword for inefficient basketball here on Pace and Space and on my Twitter (@RealFoxD) since we launched, but until now I’ve never actually bothered to define it.
And it’s been on my mind lately to a degree where the inaugural Pacers Tuesday of the season asks the question of whether perhaps coach Nate McMillan has it…and whether that should be a key factor in giving Nate his walking papers despite having just signed him to a four-year contract extension.
The Pacers are 2-2 so far, with two big wins at home and two double-digit losses on the road.
And in one of those losses, well…let’s do a little Rorschach test, shall we? Look at this picture and tell me what you see.
Presented without comment: pic.twitter.com/yVy52N74MQ
— Tony East (@TEastNBA) October 20, 2018
(big hat tip to Tony East, who has forgotten more about basketball than I’ll ever know.)
See all those blobs inside the arc and outside the paint for the Pacers? See how the overwhelming majority of them are hollow circles to indicate missed shots?
And see how Milwaukee has nearly none of those shots, while they have a big circle of three-pointers like a cross-section of Saturn with its rings?
Even if the Pacers shot the ball well in that game on Oct. 19 (they didn’t, but that’s another issue), they’d have still lost. Because three is more than two and Nate just doesn’t understand that.
Indiana leads the NBA in two-point attempts per game, at 64.8. They’re 14th in two-point percentage.
Meanwhile, they’re 20th in threes taken per game despite hitting them at the third-best clip (42.6 percent) even after stinking out the joint from long range in Minnesota on Monday.
Look at just one Bucks player, Khris Middleton, and his shot chart:
— Milwaukee Bucks’ Film Room (@BucksFilmRoom) October 23, 2018
Sure, it’s a three-game sample size, but he’s got a PER of 25.7.
Now let’s contrast Myles Turner, the $80 Million Man, who’s shooting 47.5 percent so far this season.
He’s taken 31.8 percent of his shots for his career from between 16 feet and the three-point line, and he’s hit just 44.2 percent of those shots.
If we start with the reasonable assumption that he is almost never getting fouled on those, then we’re talking about a basic offensive rating of 88.4. In a league where the league average this year is around 110.
That is Scott-Hollins Syndrome in action. No way does Turner shoot that shot in Milwaukee or Houston; he’d either be converted into a pure center and bulked up to play in the low post (a la Clint Capela) or he’d have his shooting skills worked on, his lack of ability to rebound diminished in the practical run of play, and turned into a stretch 4 or even an oversized small forward like the black Dirk Nowitzki.
Instead, Nate’s created the worst of both worlds and turned Turner into one of the least efficient shooters among NBA big men while at the same time leaving him to get bullied on the boards as he can’t track his own offensive rebounds and doesn’t gain an understanding of positioning that would help improve his rebounding on the defensive end.
If we look at Scott at his worst, when he coached the Lakers during Kobe Bryant‘s last two seasons and went a combined 38-126, what did we see?
Well, the 2016 Lakers were 29th in Offensive Rating, dead last in three-point percentage, dead last in two-point percentage, and never looked like they had the ball movement (30th in assists per game) to generate good looks at any range.
And for Lionel Hollins? In his last full season in Brooklyn (when the team went 38-44), they were 26th in three-point percentage, rescued by at least being a decent two-point-shooting team (12th overall) but condemned to being 20th in Offensive Rating.
Their teams never embraced modern pace-and-space basketball, and it’s why neither guy will ever likely coach in the NBA again.
Look at this shot chart from the 2017 preseason, featuring the grand maestro of efficient basketball, Mike D’Antoni:
Think the Raps were firing away in their opener? Check out the Rockets shot chart from tonight. 55 3PA, ONE mid-range shot. What a time. pic.twitter.com/DLADtWSTwh
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) October 4, 2017
If the Rockets hadn’t utterly shat the bed in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, shot charts like that would’ve propelled them possibly to a title.
Speaking of the Finals and shot charts, check this one out from early in Game 3. Not for nothing were the Warriors and Cavs in the Finals to begin with!
Shot chart basically the same but 13 free throws for Warriors, none for Cavs. pic.twitter.com/vcnpwVq5tA
— 6ROWN (@MrSuperJay) June 7, 2018
Indiana simply isn’t putting up those shot charts. McMillan is drawing up isolation plays, he’s letting Turner shoot way too many shots from the midrange rather than getting him to either attack the basket or spot up on the perimeter beyond the arc, and the rest of the team is constantly losing the efficiency battle one possession at a time.
Teams that win titles don’t shoot midrange jumpers. They don’t post up with their backs to the basket.
They attack the lane and get fouled, or they hit wide open threes coming off a great inside-outside passing attack.
When a coach has Scott-Hollins Syndrome, it’s the team’s won-lost record that gets sick. And it might just be time to cut the disease out at the source.
It’s going to be a long season for Pacers fans if this keeps up.