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What Kobe Webster Can Bring to Nebraska Basketball

March 30, 2020

With Cam Mack’s future up in the air, Fred Hoiberg and his staff turned to the grad transfer market to find a point guard for next season, landing Kobe Webster from Western Illinois.

Mack was a pass-first point guard who had some trouble scoring, especially late in the season after teams had plenty of tape to study. The 6-foot Webster is very familiar with teams game-planning specifically to stop him yet he managed to lead the Leathernecks in scoring in each of his three seasons at Western Illinois. 

Webster isn’t the same kind of distributor as Mack, but he has his own strengths, mainly as an individual creator.

Last summer, I wrote a series of posts looking at each of Nebraska’s transfers through the lens of their offensive numbers from Synergy Sports Technology, like this one for Derrick Walker. Let’s do that again, starting with Webster.

Webster did not have a lot of talent around him at Western Illinois and the Leathernecks relied on him heavily to create offense. That led to plenty of low-percentage shots and less-than-ideal efficiency as well. That being said, Webster also shined in some areas even with the tough situation.

Overall, he scored 0.897 points per possession (PPP), rated “good” and ranked in the 59th percentile. Toss in the points generated from his assists and the PPP jumps to 1.179, in the 76th percentile. Overall, he averaged 17.1 points and 3.6 assists as a junior. Of his 93 assists, 64.5% of them went to 3-point shooters, which will fit right in to Hoiberg’s spread-out, 3-happy system.

Webster’s most common play type last season was by far pick-and-roll at 37.8%. He scored .845 PPP, rated “very good” and in the 73rd percentile. He looked for his own offense nearly two-thirds of the time, but when he did decide to make plays for others he was really effective as well. 

His pick-and-roll passes produced 1.046 PPP (”very good,” 73rd percentile). Of his 108 passes, 68.5% percent went to spot-up shooters leading to 0.986 PPP (”very good,” 67th percentile). His teammates only shot 37.9% on those looks, but enough of those shots were 3-pointers to make it effective. Twenty-nine of his passes went to the roll man, producing 36 points, an “excellent” PPP of 1.241.

Webster’s height can limit his ability to finish at the rim, which probably has a lot to do with 54% of his pick-and-roll shooting possessions ending in a pull-up jumper. Fortunately, he’s pretty good at it, scoring 88 points on 89 possessions while shooting 40.9%. He got all the way to the rim 49 times (29.9%) and scored 49 points, shooting 22-of-48 from the field with five shooting fouls.

Webster also proved to be an effective isolation player, scoring 72 points on 79 possessions (0.911 PPP, “very good,” 75th percentile). He got to the rim a little more often in isolation than he did in pick-and-rolls, shooting 13-of-23 with six shooting fouls (including two and-ones). That made up 27 of his 75 ISOs and produced 34 points (1.259 PPP). He shot just 8-of-19 on pull-up jumpers in isolation, scoring 16 points, and shot 5-of-16 on ISO jumpers without a dribble, though all of his buckets there came from beyond the 3-point line. It didn’t end well when he tried to make plays for others in isolation, though (8-of-23 shooting, 0.714 PPP). 

Western Illinois was top-40 nationally in pace last season, so Webster was given the green light to push the ball up the floor in transition whenever he got the chance. Synergy logged 51 possessions for Webster in the open court (not including passes), which is 10.3% of his offense. He scored 1.137 PPP (72nd percentile, “very good”).

Webster was the initiator for 22 of those fast breaks and he shot 8-of-17 for 22 points with three trips to the foul line and two turnovers. He caught the ball on either the right or left wing on 28 of those possessions and scored 34 points, shooting 13-of-24 with two shooting fouls and three turnovers. He was rated “very good” in all three areas. Webster only had one leak-out attempt for a layup.

Webster logged 54 total possessions between hand off and off screen plays, but he was rated “very good” at both. He had the ball in his hand most of the time so he didn’t cut much (five total possessions).

The big weakness in Webster’s statistical profile is his spot up offense. It’s his second-most common play type at 17.2% of his offense, and he scored just 0.741 PPP (30th percentile, “below average”). Webster was still “very good” at off-the-dribble jumpers (7-of-19 for 22 points, 1.048 PPP) and taking it all the way to the basket (8-of-14 for 16 points, 1.143 PPP). 

The problem is shooting without a dribble. He scored just 23 points on 38 possessions (0.605, ninth percentile, “poor”). He shot just 8-of-38. Overall he logged 53 catch-and-shoot possessions and made just 14 of those jumpers. That is brutal (0.717 PPP, 18th percentile, “below average”). He was “average (27 points on 28 possessions) on unguarded shots and “poor” (11 points on 25 possessions) on guarded looks.

However, as a sophomore, he was much, much better on catch-and-soot opportunities. He scored 1.175 PPP (“very good,” 78th percentile) and shot 41.7% on 103 possessions. He was actually even better on guarded looks (1.246 PPP, “excellent,” 89th percentile) than unguarded ones (1.071 PPP, “average,” 45th percentile). Webster was a very good 3-point shooter his first two seasons at Western Illinois, so this past season could be more of an outlier than what he’ll be moving forward. If so, Nebraska might have gotten a steal.

Overall, 64.9% of his shots were jumpers, and 44.1% of those shots were off the dribble. He shot 41.6% on those looks and scored 0.982 PPP (“excellent,” 85th percentile). Shooting off the dribble isn’t a terribly efficient form of offense, but it’s a valuable skill to have against great defensive teams, particularly late in the clock, and Webster appears to be outlier-good at it.

I also reached out to some coaches who had to game plan for Webster over the last few years. Some of the highlights from the responses:

>> Nice player, got better each year

>> Always had a scorer’s mentality

>> Volume shooter, takes some bad shots but is capable of making them

>> Really good in ball screen actions and transition

>> Scores at all three levels, but prefers playing off the bounce to get to his pull-up

>> Defense is a concern, especially with his slight frame against Big Ten competition

>> “From what I know a good kid. I do respect him because he always played with purpose and played hard. Seemed liked a good competitor.”

All of those points are backed up by the numbers I broke down above. It seems like Webster could be a very good fit for what Hoiberg wants to do next season, especially with the pieces he’ll have around him compared to what Mack had last season.

Webster is going to have to show he can maintain his effectiveness while adjusting to a smaller role. He won’t have to do everything for the Huskers like he did the last three years for the Leathernecks, and defenses are going to be a lot tougher than the ones he played against in the Summit League. But if he can make that transition without too many growing pains, he’s got a chance to be a really nice piece for Nebraska in 2020-21.

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