Since arriving in Tuscaloosa during the summer of 2017, John Petty Jr. has been a mainstay for the Crimson Tide program. A former 5-star recruit, the 6’6 guard hailing from Huntsville, AL has dazzled the Alabama faithful with electric 3pt shooting ability from day one. From clutch performances such as a 20pt (6-8 3pt) outing vs. Virginia Tech in the 2017-18 NCAA Tournament, to other-worldly outbursts such as this season’s 39pt (10-13 3pt) outing vs. Samford, Petty’s shooting ability has always been conspicuous and beautiful.
However, a few aspects have seemingly been missing from his arsenal. Elements to the game of basketball Petty may finally be figuring out during his Junior campaign at the Capstone:
Consistency and versatility.
During the 2017-18 season as a Freshman, Petty posted a solid 10.2PPG, 2.6REB, 1.8AST (37% 3pt) stat line as a key contributor on Avery Johnson’s first and only NCAAT team. Not bad for a Freshman, right? After a season that showed flashes of greatness during an otherwise extremely erratic year, it was expected that Petty would take a Sophomore-year leap and really begin to turn himself into one of the SEC’s best. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly pan-out that way for the Tide as Petty once again averaged 10.2PPG, this time with 3.5REB, 1.9AST and a 3pt field goal percentage of 34% during a season in which the Tide failed to reach the NCAAT (18-16, 8-10 SEC)— one that ultimately lead to the firing of Head Coach Avery Johnson in late March. The sparks of brilliance and conflicting unpredictability from Petty were there once again. Huge games, such as a 30pt (11-18, 5-8 3pt) outing in Knoxville, still left fans with something to be desired.
Before I get into this deeper, lets take a look at a couple sets of offensive data statistics from the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons under Avery Johnson’s Alabama regime. Keep these in mind for later.
Adjusted Tempo**: 151st (68.7)
Adjusted Offense*: 106th (108.7)
Adjusted Tempo: 117th (68.7)
Adjusted Offense: 103rd (108.2)
**=possessions per 40 min, adjusted for opponent.
*=points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent.
Just three days after the departure of Johnson, Alabama Athletic Director Greg Byrne hired former Buffalo Head Coach Nate Oats to the same position. From the beginning, Oats promised to build a fast-paced, hard-nosed basketball team in Tuscaloosa—Something Alabama fans weren’t exactly used to seeing, dating all the way back to the days of Mark Gottfried.
Only 12 games into his first season, the change Oats promised is already apparent.
(19-’20- First year under Oats):
Adjusted Tempo: 4th (77.2)
Adjusted Offense: 44th (107.4)
PPG: 82.8, compared to last year’s 72.0.
The offensive improvement has been eye-popping.
After struggling early in an entirely re-vamped offense, John Petty is beginning to find consistency in a system that fits him to a tee. Not only that, but he’s becoming a new player. Defensively, Petty’s used his size and length at the guard and forward positions to cause issues for the opposing team. You’ll still see an occasional lapse or two, but Petty’s really begun to pose a serious threat on the opposite end of the floor—a big improvement compared to prior seasons where he was seemingly a glaring liability. On the glass, Petty’s been shockingly successful and reliable. After averaging 2.6REBs his Freshman year, Petty is currently averaging 7.2 REBs (good for team lead) during the Junior’s 2019-’20 campaign—a refinement in his game I personally attribute to the go-hard, or go-home blue collar mentality Nate Oats has begun to instill in his players. This season, Petty’s offensive rebounding % has improved from 1.6% in 2017-18, to 2.9% in 2018-19, to 2019-20’s 5.8%. Additionally, Petty’s defensive rebounding % has improved from 8.1%, to 13.2% to 16.8%. Offensively, Petty’s started to turn himself into one of the SEC’s premiere, and most importantly, efficient, scorers. Through 12 games, Petty’s posted a stat line of 16.7PPG/7.2REB/2.3AST. His eFG% (effective field goal percentage) has improved tremendously, finding an increase from 53.7% his Freshman year, to a Sophomore 2% dip (51.7%), to this year’s 66.1% explosion. Petty’s True Shooting %, (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws) has improved from 55% in 2017-‘18, to 51.6% in 2018-‘19, to a current 67.7% mark in 2019-‘20. Moreover, his offensive rating has improved from 99.2, to 101.2, to 116.7.
The best part? Petty is shooting an absurd 51% from 3pt range.
That’s tops in the SEC. (min 30 attempts)
Additionally, Petty’s 3rd in the SEC in 3pt made, T-7th in scoring, 6th in rebounds, and over the last nine games has posted the box scores of:
16/5/2 vs. Furman
23/2/2 vs. North Carolina
34/12/0 vs. Iowa State
10/8/2 vs. Southern Miss
14/4/2 vs. SFA
7/6/0 vs. Penn State
39/10/2 vs. Samford
14/11/4 vs. Belmont
17/6/4 vs. Richmond
While the Tide have dropped a few tough games, the team is currently sailing into SEC play having won 5 of the last 6. At the helm of the Tide’s most recent success? John Petty- who in his Junior season is reaping all the benefits a Nate Oats offensive system brings.
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