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Pourover: D’Moi Hodge has a real chance to stick in the NBA

Hodge has his time with Dennis Gates to thank for a new approach which could help him become a fixture with the Lakers.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League - Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

In basketball the term Catch & Shoot is used to describe a shot attempt when the shooter receives a pass and shoots a jump shot. Really the term is so much more than just catching and shooting. It’s much more about preparation. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years which have led you to the position to just be ready to receive the pass. Then it’s locating to the right space, having your feet ready, your hands ready, and your mind ready. As you receive the pass, the footwork, the shot pocket, the jump, the release, the focus on the rim.

All the preparation leads to a result. A make or a miss.

For D’Moi Hodge, I don’t know if there were any who looked at this skinny kid from the British Virgin Islands and projected him as a future NBA player. But there was something Dennis Gates saw in him while recruiting him at State College of Florida. He saw a defensive menace with great anticipation on defense, and a guy who plays at a breakneck speed. He would be a good fit at Cleveland State.

After signing him the project began. Hodge became one of the more impactful players in the Horizon League. When Gates brought his party to Columbia, he bet Hodge could scale up his production to the SEC. How Hodge scaled up was by applying what would work for any fringe professional level player in the NBA: make outside shots.

After going undrafted, Hodge signed a two-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. And Hodge has used the opportunity in the summer league to make an impression.

When Hodge signed with Gates the first time around, he was not a flame thrower from outside. His first season he shot just 29.9% from 3FG, last year he shot 40.0% from deep. More importantly, he did so while focusing on taking and making more catch and shoots.

  • 2020-21 — 44.7% of his shot total at 30.4% make
  • 2021-22 — 46.9% of his shot total at 33.7% make
  • 2022-23 — 56.8% of his shot total at 40.9% make

So he went from shooting 30.4% on catch and shoots to 40.9%, while taking just 44.7% of his shots on C&S to 56.8%. He’s played three games in the Summer League so far and he’s shooting 40.7% from 3FG. Remarkably consistent after his last season in Columbia. Three quarters of his shots have been from behind the 3-point line.

This was by design.

By streamlining Hodge’s shot selection (it helps he also shot much better), Gates and the staff made him much more effective. He took just 49 shots that were not Catch and Shoots or at the rim. A model which is exemplified in the modern NBA.

Kirk Goldsberry, an ESPN NBA analyst keeps a fairly regular update on the most common shots in the NBA. Last season’s shot chart shows a consistent theme for the league:

This is Hodge’s present. He attempted just 9 mid range jump shots last year.

The phrase “midrange is dead” is bandied about far too often these days. Mostly because it’s just not true. No data analysis lands on the theory of “stop shooting mid range jumpshots”, but rather the idea that players who are BAD at shooting mid range jump shots should not shoot those shots. And even if someone like Hodge is good at them, he’s just as good if not better at shooting a three, which is worth more points. If you are Kawhi Leonard or Lebron James, feel free to take any shot you want. But most of the league is not made up of superstars, rather the guys who surround them. if you’re trying to catch on in the NBA, your goal should be three simple things, convert at the rim, knock down open 3s, and defend.

D’Moi Hodge had good success at the rim, and he was a disruptive defender. All he had to do was make sure he could knock down open 3s and he could be a valuable piece in the NBA.

The benefit of Gates helping not just Hodge, but Kobe Brown also, into the NBA should go a long way with recruiting. Developing a plan for how he can be valuable, and working hard to make sure he’s good at the things he needs to be good at is how you end up averaging 16.3 points per game in the summer league and how you end up with the fan base being excited about you on the roster.

All these things add up to D’Moi Hodge putting himself in position to be the answer for someone in the league, and maybe even Lebron James’ Lakers.