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Mizzou Hoops Player Review: Aidan Shaw

Far and away the most athletic player on the Missouri roster this past season, what might the future hold for Aidan Shaw?

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Much was made over the course of a few years about getting Aidan Shaw on campus. He was both a huge recruiting win for Cuonzo Martin and staff, and a gigantic save by Dennis Gates and his staff. The 62nd ranked prospect in the 2022 class, Shaw was a prototypical wing with his size and length, and he’s an all world athlete. If a player like that could take the raw tools he’s blessed with and convert them into a more complete basketball player then you have a potential NBA level player.

Matt Harris did a nice job writing about Shaw in the week after he committed, and he also previewed Aidan this past fall. I’d recommend re-reading those because he was able to properly set expectations for Shaw’s first season.

By reading the above pieces, you’d know going into the season to have moderate expectations for Aidan Shaw. The tools are intriguing, but he’s still a work in progress. Some of the best highlights on the season were from Shaw, usually catching a lob but nearly always involving a dunk.

Shaw played in 32 of the 35 games, but only played double digit minutes in 17 of them. In 18 SEC games he eclipsed 10 minutes in less than half of them. He was a role player this past season. His limited ball handling meant he was pretty much going to be a catch and shoot guy, or a finish around the rim guy. And well, that’s what he did.

By the numbers

Aidan Shaw | By the Numbers

Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
Games Starts %Min ORtg Usage%
32 2 23.9 117.6 11.6
10.6 2.7 1.7 0.1 0.3
  • 97.2%

That’s how many of Aidan Shaw’s made baskets were either Catch & Shoot jumpers or at the rim attempts. Shaw had 20 dunks, 7 layups, and a tip in. He also had 8 made jumpers. His one shot which wasn’t? A running hook shot in the lane against Vanderbilt. Basically, Shaw was a player who knew his role this season, and he rarely ventured outside of what he was asked to do.

Aidan Shaw | On/Off Splits | 2022-23

Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
Status Poss Margin Off. PPP Def. PPP Net Rating eFG% ORB% FT Rate TOV% PPS - RIM PPS - Mid PPP - 3FGA
On 570 8 117.05 115.65 1.4 57 27.1 20.8 15.3 1.24 0.98 1.08
Off 1776 150 117.96 109.51 8.44 54.4 26.1 22.4 13.8 1.17 0.75 1.08
Pivot Analysis

We have to be careful in how we talk about Shaw’s impact on lineups, because his floor time and usage rate each qualify as modest.

Offensively, Shaw certainly qualifies as a play finisher, whether that’s catching a lob after a back screen at the elbow or spacing out to the slot for catch-and-shoots. You probably can’t attribute any gains in shooting efficiency to the freshman, but Shaw didn’t weight his lineups down, either.

At the opposite end, though, you could lodge a light critique. Shaw’s tools are undeniable, and when fully engaged, he’s stout as an on-ball defender. He’s also a freshman, which comes with growing pains, learning how to play team defense. That’s doubly true for a scheme that was extra reactive in rotating toward the middle of the floor, making recoveries or closeouts a tad longer.

That’s a prelude to sharing that Shaw allowed 1.316 points per possessions on spot-ups, according to Synergy Sports tracking data. That includes a 52 percent clip (13 of 25) for jumpers, and 15 of those attempts were unguarded. Opponents also saw their largest gains in shooting efficiency from behind the arc when Shaw checked in.

But a freshman struggling to defend off the ball and in rotation? Yeah. That’s not exactly unheard of.

Shaw, despite his athleticism and frame, also struggled at times to provide sorely needed relief in the rebound column. Opponents didn’t see their rebounding rates improve when he logged time, but they didn’t decline, either. If nothing else, coach Dennis Gates will want to see Shaw boost his defensive rebound rate (12.3%) as a sophomore.

Aidan Shaw | Top-5 Lineups | 2022-23

PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Net
PG CG Wing Wing/CF CF/Post Poss Margin Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Net
Honor East Hodge Shaw Brown, Ko. 44 -6 121.49 135.25 -13.76
Honor Gomillion Hodge Shaw Carter 31 20 148.34 83.84 64.49
Honor East Gholston Shaw Brown, Ko. 28 4 116.44 102.33 14.11
Honor East Gholston Shaw Carter 28 -2 103.88 111.04 -7.17
Honor Hodge Gholston Shaw Carter 23 1 124 119.57 4.42
Pivot Analysis

It’s not surprising that lineups featuring Shaw performed better when D’Moi Hodge, Kobe Brown or Noah Carter were on the floor. And while Isiaih Mosley wasn’t fully available, groups featuring him and Shaw improved the Tigers’ net rating by 24.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Pivot Analysis data.

But you know who also made for an ideal running mate? Tre Gomillion. Seriously. MU’s efficiency jumped by 20.5 points per 100 possessions when he was a member of Shaw’s crew. Crucially, the Tigers’ defense allowed around 8 fewer points per 100 possessions when they were together.

We know Gomillion served as an extension of Gates on the floor, and you could often see it with Shaw. There would be possessions where Gomillion redirected the freshman within the shell or pulled him aside during stoppages for brief course correction. And the grad transfer was often the first to hype Shaw up after altering a shot or taking a charge.

The bulk of Shaw’s minutes came as Kobe Brown’s understudy at the four spot, and Gates could deploy him to give the All-SEC forward a break or pair him with Brown for small-ball lineups. In practice, keeping Carter on the floor tended to yield better results. Meanwhile, using Hodge on the wing produced a 28-point improvement in scoring margin over DeAndre Gholston.

In the bygone days before the transfer portal, Shaw’s progression would be one of the dominant storylines of the offseason. A decade ago, Kobe Brown’s eligibility would have elapsed, setting up Shaw to inherit ample minutes at the four. Or the departures of Hodge and Gholston — along with a more reliable jumper and steadier handle — could have offered a transition to a role as a jumbo wing.

Instead, Brown can exercise an extra year of eligibility thanks to the pandemic, and NIL funds could allow MU to carry him as a non-scholarship player. At the same time, Gates and his staff fished three perimeter players — John Tonje, Tamar Bates, and Caleb Grill — from the portal. At a minimum, Tonje and Bates would jockey for minutes on the wing.

Shaw’s upside is undeniable, and you can easily plot a progression to a larger role. The question is what kind of runway exists for him to get lift off.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi Valley State at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone looking for a big breakout season from Shaw were likely disappointed in the production offered by the 6’8 Blue Valley native. But there’s a reason we attempted to temper expectations coming into the season. Shaw as a prospect is special. His combination of size, length, agility, mobility are all elite. But he’s still coming into who he is as a basketball player.

Early on that growth is going to be paced by focusing on what he’s good at offensively. Attack the backboard, be ready on kick outs. Shaw graded out well on his C&S opportunities, averaging around 1.0 PPA. Not elite, but certainly serviceable, and something which should improve as he gets more time in the gym. At the rim though he’s excellent with a 1.33 PPA.

Overall you could see Aidan’s value to this team this past season. It was still limited because his offensive skill set it limited. Going into next season Shaw has some work to do. The next step in his progression will be in attacking closeouts, and being a more effective cutter. Most of Shaw’s cuts this season were designed lob attempts. The offense was working for him to get at the rim. But playing off his teammates is an area where he can be deadly. With the spacing and shooting the offense provides, a backside cut can be one of the most efficient ways to catch a napping defense.

Next season could be a pivotal one for Shaw. The talent level is obvious. Gates has spent his early portal season upgrading the team around the perimeter. There could be a deeper and more dynamic set of guards, and Shaw will be hunting for minutes in the 3&4 spots. His impact will largely need to be felt without the ball. Continuing to improve defensively, being a bigger factor on the glass, and improving his shooting are all key areas for Shaw to pay attention to this summer.