Where will UNLV find offense?

UNLV’s offense has been offensive. 

Through seven games, UNLV has topped 1 point per possession just twice. The Rebels have been held under 0.9 points per possession three times already. 

That happened just four times in 27 games last year. 

The Rebels have plenty of problems. Starting with shooting. 

UNLV has hit just 29.7 percent of its three pointers. If you wipe out the game against Division III Whittier, the Rebels are at 27.2 percent from deep, 315th best in the country. 

There is some hope that the shooting will improve. Transfers that came in as known shooters are struggling in a small sample size. 

Josh Baker hit 48.7 percent of his threes a season ago at Hutchinson Community College. He has hit just 4 of 17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc. 

Justin Webster drilled 35.1 percent of his threes in two seasons at Hawaii. He is shooting just 2 of 12 (16.7%) and has yet to hit a three against a Division I opponent. 

Michael Nuga knocked down 35.9 percent of his threes at Portland State and Kent State. He has struggled to a 6 of 22 (27.3%) start. 

Those three should start shooting better. They all have a track record that suggests they are at least average three point shooters, but are all off to a horrible start. Some of UNLV’s issues should be cleaned up simply with a larger sample size. 

But the issues are bigger than good shooters simply missing. Bad shooters are shooting way too much. 

Despite being a below average three-point shooter, Bryce Hamilton leads the Rebels with 43 three point attempts. He has only made 11 for a 25.6 percent mark. Hamilton has made just 30.8 percent of his career threes. He has proven he is below average from beyond the arc. 

But he is taking over 6 threes per game. That has to stop. 

Jordan McCabe is below 30 percent for his career from three. But he has taken 25 triples in six games. He made 3 of 6 against Whittier, without that performance, he is shooting 31.5 percent. 

Royce Hamm does not have a large sample size from three. He attempted just 12 in his time at Texas. He is 5 of 13 for the Rebels, making him one of their better shooters.

Donovan Williams took 64 threes at Texas, not a large sample size, but he made just 21.9 percent. He has launched up 25 threes this season, but has actually hit 40 percent of them. 

Hamm and Williams could be good shooters that simply didn’t get the opportunity. But counting on the two of them to provide above average three-point shooting is not wise. 

The season is still young, but at some point Kevin Kruger will have to stop letting bad shooters take threes. 

Beyond shooting, UNLV has struggled to create shots. Bryce Hamilton is the top option, but he is still an inefficient, high volume scorer. Hamilton has taken 110 shots this season, 42 more than any other Rebel. But he is shooting 38.2 percent from the floor. 

Hamilton is not a good three-point shooter and struggles to get to the rim consistently, often settling for mid-range shots, especially when defenses can load up against him. 

So far no other Rebel has show enough offensive promise to take attention off Hamilton. 

Nuga was an offensive force at Kent State, but he has yet to take on a big role. His three point shooting has been an issue, but he is getting to the rim three times a game. However, he’s only converted 10 of his 19 layups. 

McCabe has shown some playmaking ability off ball screens, but he is not a threat to score, as he’s only attempted five layups this year. There’s no fear McCabe will beat a defense for a shot at the rim. 

Williams has taken the second most shots on the team this year. He has shot well from three and has gotten 18 layups this season. But he has not proven to beat defenses with ball screens or off the dribble. He thrives when attacking a closeout defender, which requires someone else to penetrate the defense.

Until UNLV finds a secondary threat, Hamilton will continue to see all of the defense’s attention.

The pieces may be there. But UNLV has yet to prove this offense will be competent. Until then, every game will be a struggle.

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