clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What void does Mizzou have to fill with Isiaih Mosley out the door?

Replacing the guard’s scoring instincts requires the Tigers to spread out touches, drill jumpers, and have veterans show more assertiveness. 

Iowa State v Missouri Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

Every so often this offseason, Isiaih Mosley posted updates on Snapchat and Instagram showing the sweat equity he was trying to accrue in workouts.

The setting was the same: Mizzou Arena’s practice gym. The attire? Program-provided apparel. In those snippets, whether alone or with trainers Pep Stanciel or Devin Griffin, Mosley projected the image of a player intent on sticking around and rehabilitating his stock after a disjointed senior season.

To be clear, there was always a path back to a roster spot – albeit without taking up a scholarship. And while inconsistent minutes kept his shooting stroke from coming online, a close inspection of his floor time showed a pathway back to productivity. Yet that was premised on circumstances allowing Mosley to be a more consistent presence in the lineup.

Instead, Mosley opted to depart and explore his professional stock, which might offer a longer-term source of income than NIL proceeds. His decision also effectively wrapped up MU’s roster retooling and posed a question: How will the Tigers adjust without his presence?

The short answer: trust the process.

But that doesn’t make for an exciting read. So, let’s tease it out a bit.

Fully optimized, the Columbia native riffs in pick-and-rolls, using an array of dribble moves to manipulate pace, carve out space, and punish defenses. No doubt, last season was frustrating, but the Rock Bridge product boasted a strong track record from Missouri State. As we documented shortly after the season, MU was better with him on the floor – even with his shooting stroke slightly awry.

Instead of rehabilitating his stock at MU, though, circumstances prompted Mosley to seek a steadier source of income professionally.

Two things are now accurate. First, this roster has talented pieces, with MU importing a top-10 transfer class and a top-30 prep class. Second, none of the newcomers have a similar history of providing steady production in a high-major conference.

The staff’s pursuits of Caleb Love and Matthew Cleveland tell us it wanted at least one perimeter player capable of breaking a play off to get a bucket. Inefficient as Love or Cleveland could be, landing one of them would have been an insurance policy if personal matters again forced Mosley into prolonged absences. Now, it’s a roster without that line of coverage.

Loose projections by Bart Torvik and our esteemed Matt Watkins called for Mosley to sport a usage rate of around 29 percent next season. Assuming Mosley played 28 minutes per game at a similar tempo, roughly 13 possessions would flow his way each time out. Multiplying those touches with Mosley’s career efficiency yields a peak scoring average of 18.2 points per game.

That would have ranked second in the SEC last season.

Even if we ratchet back his usage to 24 percent and pare down his efficiency by 15 percentage points, the combo guard would still average 13.8 points for the Tigers. You get the idea: Mosley would carry a substantial load in the scoring column – and backfill the output that Kobe Brown will take with him to the NBA.

Synergy Sports data lets us understand how Mosley preferred to operate over four seasons. It’s outlined in the table below, along with how per-game estimates for next season.

Isiaih Mosley | Possession Profile | 2020-2023

Play Type Poss PPP %Poss Per Game Estimate
Play Type Poss PPP %Poss Per Game Estimate
Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler 341 0.964 22 2.9
Spot Up 307 1.046 19.8 2.6
Transition 302 1.126 19.5 2.6
Isolation 186 1.059 12 1.6
Handoffs 88 0.727 5.7 0.7
Miscellaneous 88 0.83 5.7 0.7
Post Up 73 0.932 4.6 0.6
Cut 72 1.306 4.6 0.6
Put Back 53 1.226 3.4 0.4
Off Screen 38 0.684 2.4 0.3
Pick-and-Roll Roll Man 4 0.75 0.3 0.1
Total 1552 1547 100 13.1
Source: Synergy Sports

Mosley’s niche isn’t surprising. The man loved a good pick-and-roll, particularly those run in the middle of the floor. It was practically a given Mosley would use that screen, string together a couple of funky moves, and often get to the rim. But if he had to play in the mid-range, that was fine. Those pull-ups were still worth 1.094 PPP, per Synergy data.

Gates didn’t construct his offense with ball screens as a keystone, but the system wasn’t so rigid it excluded modern concepts. Those actions might have been ideal as a contingency plan in late-clock situations this season. Balance the floor, dispatch Noah Carter or Connor Vanover to set a middle ball screen, and then get out of the way.

Parceling out Mosley’s possessions isn’t a big deal. The stickier matter is whether a reconfigured rotation puts them to good use. For example, Mizzou did a stellar job maxing out catch-and-shoot jumpers and converting layups via a cut or on the break.

Shot Selection | Missouri | 2022-23

Type %FGA PPS Percentile Rating
Type %FGA PPS Percentile Rating
Catch-and-Shoot Jumper 34.1 1.089 79th Very Good
Layup 31.4 1.189 74th Very Good
Dribble Jumper 17.1 0.927 88th Excellent
Runner 6.4 0.956 98th Excellent
Dunk 6.4 1.708 43rd Average
Hook 1.9 0.902 69th Very Good
Early-Clock Jumper 1.5 0.906 62nd Good
Tip-In 1.2 0.885 30th Below Average
Source: Synergy Sports

If Mosley’s would-be touches turn into catch-and-shoot jumpers for someone else, data suggests there might not be a reason for much anxiety. Last season, nine Tigers who suited up for Division-I programs drilled 35.5 percent of those attempts, which were worth 1.058 points per shot. That’s a slight dip in performance, but still good enough for MU to rank first or second in the SEC.

Catch-and-Shoot Jumpers | Division-I Veterans | 2022-23

Player FG FGA PPS FG% eFG% Percentile
Player FG FGA PPS FG% eFG% Percentile
Connor Vanover 48 147 0.95 32.7 47.6 42nd
John Tonje 53 133 1.19 39.8 59.4 82nd
Caleb Grill 44 118 1.12 37.3 55.9 71st
Noah Carter 36 112 0.96 32.1 48.2 44th
Tamar Bates 36 93 1.14 38.7 57 74th
Nick Honor 36 86 1.26 41.9 62.8 90th
Sean East II 6 37 0.49 16.2 24.3 4th
Aidan Shaw 8 23 1 34.8 50 52nd
Kaleb Brown 1 5 0.6 20 30 -
Total 268 754 1.058 35.5 52.8 64th
Sources: Synergy Sports

However, it’s different if this roster relies on pick-and-rolls to generate offense. It’s also one that goes beyond Mosley. Kobe Brown thrived in spread PNRs that allowed him to stalk for switches, whether driving by a slower-footed big or backing down a smaller guard. DeAndre Gholston also enjoyed using ball screens to turn on the stove and cook in the mid-range.

Now? The table below tells the tale of veterans still in the fold.

Pick-and-Roll Efficiency | Division-I Veterans | 2022-23

Player Poss Points PPP Percentile Rating
Player Poss Points PPP Percentile Rating
Sean East II 71 43 0.606 22nd Below Average
Nick Honor 64 44 0.688 36th Average
John Tonje 63 53 0.808 62nd Good
Tamar Bates 31 23 0.742 47th Average
Caleb Grill 13 9 0.692 37th Average
Noah Carter 6 8 1.333 - -
Kaleb Brown 1 2 2 - -
Total 249 182 0.731 27th Below Average
Sources: Synergy Sports

Averaging 0.731 points per possession would have ranked No. 269 nationally last season. By contrast, Mosley averaged 0.967 PPP over three full seasons in Springfield. Even if you’re conservative and account for a 15 percent dip in performance, his output (0.822 PPP) would still be the best on MU’s roster.

Isolation Efficiency | Division-I Veterans | 2022-23

Player Poss Points PPP Percentile Rating
Player Poss Points PPP Percentile Rating
Nick Honor 25 37 1.48 99th Excellent
Sean East II 21 20 0.952 76th Very Good
John Tonje 14 4 0.286 4th Poor
Noah Carter 12 13 1.083 89th Excellent
Tamar Bates 7 11 1.571 - -
Caleb Grill 1 0 0 - -
Total 80 85 1.0625 97th Excellent
Sources: Synergy Sports

There is some modest consolation in the data showing Honor, East, and Carter occasionally ginned up some magic in isolation situations. However, Mosley’s career average for ISO touches in a season (46.5) is almost double Honor’s volume. But maybe the Judge decides he wants to make more late-clock rulings.

Bland as it sounds, the path forward is to work the system. Use your defense to create high-value transition chances. Deploy Carter and Connor Vanover in your triangle- and delay-series concepts. Let those actions churn out quality shots, keep the floor spaced, and try to exploit aggressive defenses with cutters. Along the way, the Tigers might find several combinations that thrive in ball screens.

That said, it’s June. Voluntary workouts just started last week, and there’s still installation work that must be done to integrate eight newcomers. The facets of this team’s identity will emerge in the dog days.

Maybe a new figurehead, too.