Through five games, Alabama has struggled to create consistency from outside and find the best lineup combinations. Josh Primo, the projected draft pick, has stood out so far this season and could be an ideal option to move into a starting role.
The case for Primo starting is simple. Primo was a huge commit this past offseason, and the five-star recruit has given the Tide an extra edge on defense, while adding spacing on the perimeter. Unlike Jaden Shackelford, Primo has played under 20 minutes and averages 5.4 FG attempts. The 6’5” Canadian guard uses his 6-foot-9 wingspan to defend multiple positions and become a ball-hawk. Primo also shot 46% (6-13) from three over a three game stretch in Asheville. Not starting Primo in the earlier games makes sense, as the Tide wanted to let the 17-year-old get acclimated to the college level before increasing his role and volume. He is not comfortable being a lead-guard at this point, but taking necessary strides in this facet.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jaden Shackelford leads the entire team in FG attempts at 11.0 per game. As a low-efficiency scorer, it has been overwhelming. The offense was staggered on Saturday and Clemson did not make the task any easier by defending the Tide at an elite level. Shackelford tried to create offense himself, but the Tigers stopped him at the rim nearly every time. He provides consistent production from outside, relating to his somewhat one-dimensional offensive attack. A sixth-man role would be perfect.
Something has been off between the offense and overall flow. John Petty and Jaden Shackelford struggled alongside one another in the backcourt for a stretch in Saturday's game. The idea of staggering their minutes makes sense.
The coaching staff looks to get the entire rotation action within the first 10 minutes. It comes with positives, allowing players to stay fresh. I’d lean towards making these decisions based on production vs. scripting the early portion of an individual game. It can be tough to create rhythm. If that same format continues, it would support the idea of moving Shackelford to the second unit. Hypothetically speaking, Jahvon Quinerly and Herbert Jones would remain in the game, and then Shackelford, Ellis, and either Reese/Rojas would fill out the five, creating more balance on both ends. Implementing Shackleford as the microwave sixth-man is intriguing, and he would have the potential to be the best non-starter in the conference. It is not entirely important based on who starts, however the early minutes can dictate a game.
Perhaps this idea is jumping the gun. One could expect offensive production to pick up. The Tide have shot under 30% from three on the season, and that is very unlikely to remain. It would not be surprising if the lineup is similar for the near future, especially with a matchup against Western Kentucky this upcoming weekend. It does not hurt to experiment and make changes. John Petty came off the bench at LSU last season, so anything is possible. An early prediction – Primo will start by conference play, maybe sooner.
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