The Good and the Bad of Josh Christopher
As a late first-round rookie on one of the worst teams in the league, there weren’t a lot of good statistical indicators. With that being said, not having bad statistical indicators is usually a good sign for a player on as bad and young a team as the Rockets.
The most positive indicator from Christopher’s rookie season was his efficiency in the floater range. He converted 53.2% on shots three to ten feet from the rim, and they made up 18.8% of his shot diet. The league converted shots in that range at a 43.9% clip, which means Christopher has room to regress and still be well above average.
An excellent floater/short mid-range game has become an imperative for guards. It’s an area of the court that modern NBA defenses usually concede, and it’s crucial to open the lob game on drives. Christopher already showing touch from that range gives him a real shot to be an effective pick-and-roll ball-handler, especially if paired with a dangerous roll man.
The final positive from Christopher’s impressive floater production is what it portends about his ability to grow as a shooter. Shooting touch is largely an innate ability. Form and set shooting can be taught and drilled into a player, but the ability to guide the ball into the hoop on the move is something that players either have or don’t.
Christopher’s touch indicates that he may have untapped shooting potential that is just a few thousand reps away from being unlocked. There is a feel for the game and a feel for a bucket, and Christopher already looks like he has a feel for the bucket.
All things considered, there wasn’t a lot of bad from Christopher’s rookie season. As a late first-round pick with a second-round grade, it’s mighty impressive that there were so few glaring deficiencies in his game.
The single biggest concern for Christopher was his poor 3-point shooting. He only converted 29.6% of his threes on 2.6 attempts. He was similarly poor from the corner, a shorter shot, where he hit 31.7% of his attempts. His field-goal percentages on mid-range jumpers, 33.3%, and long-twos, 20%, on minimal volume, suggest that he may be more than a year away from extending his range beyond the 3-point line.
There are few guards that can make an impact without a credible 3-point stroke, and they almost universally possess elite traits as a defender, driver, finisher, and/or playmaker. If the 3-point shooting never becomes adequate for the guard position, a higher bar to hurdle, Christopher could struggle to become a starting quality NBA guard. For the 24th pick, that’s not a huge issue. If he ends up as an awesome bench player, that’s still great value.