Sconnie Sports Talk

Bucks: Can Rashad Vaughn make the leap in his sophomore season?


Rashad Vaughn is coming off a subpar rookie season with the Bucks. Vaughn struggled in his first season, shooting 30.5% from the field and 29.3% from beyond the arc.

In his 23 games at UNLV, Vaughn demonstrated a dynamic ability to put the ball through the hoop, averaging a shade under 18 points per game, and doing it with an efficiency not many freshmen possessed. He shot 44% from the field and a very high 38% from three. While it was his jump shooting ability that had most scouts drooling, Vaughn had the IQ and strength to leverage hard closeouts into attacks at the rim. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring any of that to the NBA.

A good catch and shoot player in college, the former Rebel was anemic shooting off a pass with just a 30.1% clip. The biggest issue for the Bucks was that 59% of Vaughn’s field goal attempts were catch and shoot situations. Defenses quickly adjusted their game plan to leave him open. Almost a quarter of his shot attempts were wide open, and he still couldn’t punish teams with a meager 33%, when the closest defender was over 6 feet away.

Defense was never Vaughn’s calling card in college, so his deficiency on the other side of the ball was expected, but it might have been just as bad as his offense. Players shot 6% above their average, when Vaughn guarded them and inside of 6 feet that number skyrocketed to 14% above average.

Simply put, Vaughn was very ineffective whenever he was on the court. Bucks fans are optimistic that Vaughn will improve in his second year as he’s only 20 years old.

However, after Summer League, it might be time to begin to rethink. The Bucks handed him the keys to the team, making Vaughn the number one option. He responded in name only, leading the team in shot attempts by a wide margin. While he did lead the team in scoring, efficiency was non-existent, as it took him 16 shots per game to average 14.4 points. His three-point shooting inexplicably regressed to 24%, despite playing against less talented players. Of the seven other players on the team who attempted a three, only one shot worse than Vaughn. Thon Maker shot better from beyond the arc than Vaughn did. Despite this, Vaughn took 33 shots from 3-point range, oblivious to his own ineptitude.

Vaughn was drafted to be a role player meant to spread the floor and provide an offensive spark off the bench, but his rookie season and lackluster Summer League have been a bit concerning. While any growth is simply contingent upon just shooting better, Vaughn does have a few things going for him.

Young players who were dynamic scorers in college tend to have very poor shot selection. With that being said, 63% of Vaughn’s shots came at or after 15 seconds on the shot clock. While it may seem simple, Vaughn is at least taking shots within the flow of the offense. As he becomes more comfortable playing in Jason Kidd’s system, there’s a good chance that he doesn’t have to think, as much on the court and can just focus on shooting.

Vaughn’s high volume of catch and shoots also indicates that he understands his role and isn’t trying to force the action. While a little aggression doesn’t hurt from time to time, Vaughn certainly knows his limitations and isn’t putting himself in situations, where he won’t succeed. 93% of his shot attempts came from him dribbling the ball less than twice, which means that he’s not holding on to the ball for too long and disrupting the offensive rhythm of the team.

While he may still be adjusting to the length and strength of perimeter players in the NBA, Rashad Vaughn has demonstrated in college that he can score the basketball. This means that it should only be a matter of time before he rediscovers his form, and combined with his maturity offensively, the Bucks may still have a player, who can develop into a scoring weapon.

Photo courtesy of Associated Press.