Kobe Webster faced a difficult transition as a grad transfer last year.
The 6-foot guard went from a three-year starter and No. 1 offensive option at Western Illinois to a reserve combo-guard role at Nebraska. He went from hunting shots with the ball in his hands against Summit League defenses to finding openings off the ball in the Big Ten.
Webster struggled a bit in the first half of the season, but he took off once he the calendar turned to 2021 as he settled into his role as a sixth-man sniper for the Huskers (though he did start the last five games of the season).
Webster averaged 8.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23.1 minutes per game while shooting 38% from 3 during his first season as a Husker, and then he decided to run it back for one more year.
The stark difference in Webster’s Synergy Sports Technology profile between his junior and senior (part one) seasons illustrates the transition he made. Before continuing here, it’s worth looking back at what I wrote about him after he committed to Nebraska.
Last season, Webster scored 0.902 points per possession (PPP), ranked in the 58th percentile and classified as good. That’s right in line with what he did during his junior year at Western Illinois, though he got there in a very different way. Take out his transition possessions and he was actually even better, scoring 0.961 PPP (78th percentile, very good) in the half court.
Whereas he was incredibly pick-and-roll heavy as a Leatherneck, Webster spent the majority of his time off the ball at Nebraska as more than a third of his possessions were of the spot-up variety.
Webster spotted up on 35.5% of the possessions he used, scoring 1.149 PP (88th percentile, excellent). He wasn’t much of a threat to put the ball on the deck and attack closeouts as he shot just 3-of-15 on pull-up jumpers, 2-of-6 on runners and 1-of-3 at the rim (with a pair of fouls). However, he was deadly when he had room to get the shot off on the catch as he shot 45.8% from 3 and scored 1.373 PPP (80th percentile, excellent) on no-dribble jumpers.
Webster ran far fewer pick-and-rolls at Nebraska, but it was still his second-most common play type at 17.6%. It’s not a terribly efficient play type by nature, but he was pretty good at it as he scored 0.837 PPP (71st percentile, very good). At his size and athleticism level, Webster isn’t much of a threat to score inside of 10 feet (he was 3-for-7 at the rim and 1-for-3 on runners). His pick-and-rolls typically produce jumpers, and he shot 11-of-26 on those. Three of those 11 makes were 3s and he drew a foul on one, splitting the free throws.
Unfortunately, Nebraska’s efficiency fell off a cliff when Webster looked to pass out of the pick-and-roll. His pick-and-roll passes, 33 of them, produced just 19 points and six turnovers. That’s 0.576 PPP. Nebraska didn’t really have a reliable rim-running threat last year, and Webster hit the big rolling to the rim just once for a foul (though Derrick Walker missed both free throws). Three passes went to the pop man who attacked off the dribble for two misses and a turnover. Most of his passes (25 of them) went to spot-up shooters and the problem there is Webster was Nebraska’s best shooter and he can’t pass to himself. His teammates shot 6-of-21 on spot-ups off his pick-and-roll passes.
Webster scored 0.953 PPP (57th percentile, good) on 21 off-screen plays and 1.0 PPP (74th percentile, very good) on 20 hand off plays, which made up 16.8% of his possessions. He was particularly effective off flare screens (albeit a small sample size, shooting 3-of-4), and did a good job of making defenders pay for going under hand offs by popping the triple.
Webster’s isolation prowess from the Summit League didn’t translate to the Big Ten, however, as he logged 14 isolation plays and scored just seven points, shooting 2-of-9 with one tripe to the foul line and four turnovers.
For whatever reason, Webster also struggled mightily in transition after being very good in the open floor as a junior. Transition made up 15.1% of his possessions and he scored 0.568 PPP (5th percentile, poor — or more accurately, yikes). He shot 8-of-30 with one shooting foul and six turnovers.
Webster was 3-for-9 from the field with one shooting foul and two turnovers as the one leading the break. One of those shots was a leaning pull-up 3 at the end of the clock, but the rest were all at the rim and he got blocked on three of those five misses. The numbers were even worse when he was running the wings as he shot 2-of-10 on catch-and-shoot 3s, 2-of-4 on pull-up 3s, 0-of-3 on floaters, 1-of-2 on layups and 0-of-1 on pull-up 2s with two layups.
Despite his struggles in transition, Webster really is a terrific jump shooter. On catch-and-shoot looks alone he shot 42.7% and scored 1.268 PPP (88th percentile, excellent). He was very good when guarded (35.7% shooting, 1.071 PPP, 68th percentile) and excellent when left open (50% shooting, 1.475 PPP, 87th percentile). He was very good off the dribble as well, shooting 36.2% and scoring 0.862 PPP (65th percentile). On all jumpers, he shot an even 40% and scored 1.1 PPP (84th percentile, excellent).
However, he was just 10-of-20 around the basket and 4-of-14 on runners. Webster also shot better outside of 17 feet than he did on jumpers inside of that range. Again, there’s only so much a 6-foot guard without amazing hops can do inside the arc, and I’m pretty sure the coaches understood what they were getting when they recruited him as a grad transfer.
Webster is somewhat limited when playing at the high-major level, but he can shoot the heck out of the ball and should play an important role once again as a floor spacer and veteran leader for the Huskers in 2021-22.