Kenny Gaines: Three-Point Stroke Sustainable?

Kenny Gaines has shot a lethal 50% from three-point range for the Georgia Bulldogs. Can he continue to shoot at a high clip for the rest of 2015-16?

The Georgia Bulldogs are at 2-1 on the year before their first road game of 2015-16 due in large part to the team’s fantastic outside shooting. UGA is shooting a strong 38.1% as a team from three-point land, but most of the team’s outside production is coming from Senior Shooting Guard Kenny Gaines.

Gaines is from an unreal clip of 50% from three in 2015-16 (13-26). When UGA needs a bucket to maintain a lead or erase a deficit, the UGA backcourt looks to Gaines to sink his jump shots from outside the perimeter.

-= See Also: Charles Mann’s Shooting Concerns an Issue? =-

Kenny Gaines is averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game, 1.7 blocks per game, but has yet to record a dime this season for the Georgia Bulldogs. That may have something to do with the rest of the UGA team shooting only 33.6% from the field (38 of 113 shooting).

So could Kenny Gaines keep up this 50% outside for the rest of the season? In all likelihood probably not, but 40% or better does seem possible. Entering 2015-16, Gaines was a career 36.9% shooter from three-point range (128 of 347 shooting). He’s made at least 56 three-point field goals in his sophomore and junior seasons for the Georgia Bulldogs.

By shooting 50% from three in his first three games this season, Kenny Gaines has raised his UGA career three-point percentage nearly a point to 37.8%. Though he hasn’t shot 40% from three an any of his three previous seasons in Athens, I think that he can in 2015-16 for three reasons.

  1. Kenny Gaines is one of two starting seniors on the Georgia Bulldogs’ roster, joining Point Guard Charles Mann. Players that tend to stick around into their senior seasons seem to perform at their highest level during their final year of eligibility. Look at Nemanja Djurisic and Marcus Thornton last year.
  2. The Georgia Bulldogs’ back court trio of Gaines, Mann, and Junior Shooting Guard J.J. Frazier have ample experience playing with one another. Experience will surely help the Dawgs once the season gets a little further along, especially in SEC play.
  3. Not only is Kenny Gaines a terrific three-point shooter, J.J. Frazier has a tendency to get hot from the outside as well. Though Frazier is only shooting 31.6% from three this season, that should rise as he is a career 36.9% shooting from three-point land. Most defenses aren’t ready to guard two lethal outside shooters on the floor at the same time, especially at the collegiate level.

What’s interesting in all of this is that UGA has been a poor team in offensive efficiency, ranked 302nd out of 351 teams in ORTG (94.0). Once the Georgia Bulldogs figure out their low post offensive game, then the floor space will spread more in UGA’s favor, allowing better looking jump shots from long-range.

Georgia has done a fine job on the defensive side of the basketball, as they are 47th out of 351 teams in DRTG (88.4). If UGA has more of a defensive identity in 2015-16, that’s fine by me, but the team does need to find ways to score more consistently.

My guess is that the backcourt trio of Frazier, Gaines, and Mann will work together to give each other clean shots from the outside, as well as driving to the basket to hopefully draw contact and make buckets from the charity stripe.

So in theory threes, defenses, and free throws should make Georgia competitive this winter while the inexperienced front court comes together. Kenny Gaines isn’t going to shoot 50% from three-point range this season, but if he’s able to make 40% or more of his looks from the outside, I think Dawg Nation would thoroughly enjoy that.

The Georgia Bulldogs will play the Seton Hall Pirates at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey tomorrow night. This will be UGA’s first road game of the year. Tipoff is at 7:30 PM ET and the game will air on Fox Sports 1. Go Dawgs!