Matt Bonner’s value

Bonnershoots3As if dealing with injuries to two All-Stars is not enough, Matt Bonner is on a shooting slump.

It’s not a secret that his ability to stretch the floor is an important part of the San Antonio Spurs’ offense and it could be argued this is one of his better season as a Spur as his shooting accuracy has improved steadily for the most part of the season until this month.

Month Field Goal % 3PT Field Goal %
November 40.6% 56.1%
December 52.1% 44.4%
January 54.2% 54.2%
February 54.5% 57.7%
March 43.2% 37.7%

Bonner’s outside shooting will be crucial for the Spurs towards the end of the regular season especially with Tim Duncan being sidelined due to a sprained ankle injury. While Bonner’s offensive production may not be the gauge of the Spurs’ success he has certainly helped the team win some ball games.

Here are some interesting numbers.

The Spurs are:

14 – 0 when he scores 11 points or more.

11 – 0 when he makes three or more 3-pointers.

11 – 0 when he makes five or more field goals.

25 – 2 when he shoots 42.9% or better from beyond the arc.

25 – 2 when he has four or more rebounds.

12 -1 when he attempts five or more 3-pointers and

29 -3 when he shoots 42.7% or better from the field. 

The sudden decline in Bonner’s shooting percentage should be a cause for concern for the Spurs because he has history of disappearing acts in the post-season.

Could he be feeling the pressure again, thinking that the playoffs is just around the corner?

In 2008-09 regular season, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds on 49.6 percent field goal shooting and 44.0 percent from the 3-point line. In five playoff games that year, his numbers plummeted to 3.0 points and 3.2 rebounds on 21.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 23.1 percent from behind the arc.

Last season, Bonner averaged 7.0 points and 3.3 rebounds on 44.6 percent field goal shooting and 39 percent from the 3-point area in 65 regular season games. And in 10 playoff games, his numbers declined a bit as he averaged 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 37 percent from beyond the arc.

In 57 regular season games this year, he is averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds on 47.9 percent field goal shooting and 48.0 percent from the 3-point line. Will he once again disappear in the post-season? If we consider his shooting percentage for the month of March, things are not looking good.

Nonetheless, since the start of the season he has steadily played well and gradually improve his shooting despite suffering an injury that caused him to miss some games earlier in the season. But with the playoffs fast approaching, the sudden drop in his shooting accuracy could be a case of lack of self confidence or is it just the law of averages catching up with Bonner?

Whatever the reason behind his recent shooting slump, we still have to give Bonner some credit for consistently attempting open shots. Gone are the days where coach Popovich has to beg or yell at him just to take the open jumper and for that he gets some reward.

Take for example his perfomance against the Portland Trail Blazers, Bonner went 100 percent from the field, including 2-of-2 from behind the arc good for eight points and four rebounds in 18 minutes of action as he almost helped the Spurs to win the game. 

Could this be a sign of things to come? His latest performance against the Memphis Grizzlies where he scored seven points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, including 1-of-4 from behind the arc, tells us otherwise.

However, Bonner is a veteran and is one of the best shooters in the league. Despite his recent struggles, his 48.0 percent from the 3-point line remains an NBA best. He may not be a ‘big hand’ as some would say, but if he can shoot the ball in playoffs, the way he did it for the better part of the regular season; that would be make a lot of a difference for the Spurs.

What do you think? How important is Bonner’s outside shooting in the playoffs? Will he be able to deliver this time? Send us your thoughts.