Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Lat Mayen shoots a free throw
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Basketball Player Profile: Lat Mayen, Spot-up Specialist

July 12, 2021

Lat Mayen is one of three returning starters for Fred Hoiberg. The junior college transfer is second among returners in both minutes and points after starting all 27 games in his first season as a Husker.

At 6-foot-9 with the ability to shoot from the perimeter as a stretch-four, Mayen is an important piece for Hoiberg’s offense that puts a premium on the ability to space the floor. To better understand the role Mayen plays for Nebraska, I took a look at his Synergy Sports Technology profile.

Mayen has a slight frame and isn’t terribly gifted athletically. His game is based around his jump shot. Overall this season, he scored 0.869 points per possession (PPP) In the half court. That’s in the 55th percentile and considered “good.”

Mayen was primarily a spot-up shooter last season; that play type made up 35.2% of his possessions. Mayen scored 1.011 PPP on spot-ups (71st percentile, very good) and most of that was on catch-and-shoot jumpers. He shot 36.8% and scored 1.13 PPP on those plays (64th percentile, good).

Mayen was often the beneficiary of the attention Nebraska’s pick-and-rolls demanded from the defense. Synergy categorized 36 of his spot-up plays as the defense committing to the pick-and-roll and he shot 14-of-33 (42.4%) for 40 points (1.111 PPP, 74th percentile, very good). A lot of his shots came from the weak side corner or lifting to the wing when the defense tagged the roll man.

Mayen was not much of a threat to attack closeouts, however. He shot 2-of-6 on pull-up jumpers and 1-of-3 on runners, and he took it all the way to the rim just three times, going 2-for-2 from the field and drawing a foul on the third.

Outside of spotting up, Mayen’s offense was pretty varied. His next most-common play type in the half court was off screen which made up 12.5% of his possessions (33). He was average, scoring 0.848 PPP (41st percentile) while shooting 10-of-30.

Nebraska ran a lot of quick-hitting actions to get Mayen a look off screens within the flow of their offense and he shot fairly well when they got him open, but he struggled when the defense got through the screen and either chased him off the line or got a hand in his face on the shot.

Mayen was used much more as a foot spacer than he was directly involved in Nebraska’s pick-and-roll-heavy offense. He logged just 24 possessions as the on-ball screener, scoring 0.792 PPP (22nd percentile, below average).

Mayen was actually decent in the pick-and-pop game as he shot 4-of-11 for 13 points on 14 possessions (0.929 PPP, 55th percentile, good). He was 3-for-10 on 3s and attacked the closeout four times, once for a layup, once to draw a foul and twice to turn the ball over.  Mayen went 2-for-2 on rolls to the basket but was just 1-of-6 with a couple of turnovers when he slipped the pick.

Mayen was really effective as a cutter within Nebraska’s spread-out offense, scoring 1.273 PPP (67th percentile, very good) and shooting 13-of-17 from the field with three turnovers and two fouls drawn. It was only 22 possessions, though, or 8.3% of his offense.

He did a good job of leveraging the threat of his jumper to cut to the basket when his defender went over an off-ball screen Nebraska set for him, shooting 5-of-5 on those plays. On straight basket cuts (14 of them) he missed two layups, got blocked once, turned the ball over twice and scored on the other nine possessions with eight layups and a foul.

That about sums up where Mayen had success in the half court. He was 0-for-10 from the field on hand offs, 1-for-5 in isolations, 2-for-7 on put-backs, 3-for-5 on post-ups and 0-for-3 as the pick-and-roll ball-handler for a total of 16 points on 37 possessions.

Nebraska likes to run, but Mayen was not very effective in the open court. He scored 0.952 PPP on 42 transition opportunities (40th percentile, average). He was good on trailer 3s (3-of-5) and decent on rim runs straight up the floor (3-of-4 with a turnover) but struggled when he was running the wings. He shot 5-of-17 on fast break 3s with a missed long 2 as well, though two of those shots were end-of-clock prayers. He was 4-of-6 attacking the rim and had three turnovers, though two of those were bad passes in my opinion. He also scored just two points when he was the one leading the break, turning it over twice, missing his only shot and drawing one foul.

All of this illustrates that the more Nebraska asked Mayen to do, the more he struggled. He’s a good catch-and-shoot player (1.028 PPP, 56th percentile). He was actually better on guarded looks (1.105 PPP, 73rd percentile, very good, 36.8% shooting) than unguarded ones (0.841 PPP, 32nd percentile, average, 31.4% shooting), and he had six fewer open looks.

He shot just 4-of-18 (22.2%) for 11 points on off-the-dribble jumpers. Of his 126 jumpers, 117 were 3s as he shot just 1-for-9 on mid-range jumpers and was 1-for-5 on runners. He was merely average around the basket, scoring 1.1 PPP (45th percentile) on non-post-ups (55% shooting).

Mayen was a good but not great shooter in his first season as a Husker. However, opposing defenses also knew he was one of the few guys in Nebraska’s rotation they had to respect on the perimeter. Perhaps if newcomers like Bryce McGowens, Keisei Tominaga, C.J. Wilcher and Keon Edwards can demand some attention as shooters it will lead to better looks for Mayen.

A step up in efficiency for Mayen in year two at Nebraska would go a long way as Nebraska looks to improve its offense in year three under Hoiberg.

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