Who is the Real Jerryd Bayless?

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Jerryd Bayless joins a Philadelphia 76ers squad desperate for perimeter shooting. What should we expect from him?

It’s no secret that the Philadelphia 76ers need shooting. They’ve consistently been one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the NBA during the Hinkie era, their frontcourt is still a crowded mess, and they just drafted a gifted 6-10 point guard whose one major deficiency is, get this — shooting.

In a league that places a premium on floor spacers, the Sixers went into the offseason with Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, and . . . not much else. While there were obviously a ton of issues to address this offseason, high on the list was to surround the Sixers talented, young roster with some real floor spacers.

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  • By all accounts, Jerryd Bayless was a very good shooter last year. For a Milwaukee Bucks team that ranked last in 3-point attempts in the league, Bayless provided much-needed perimeter shooting around talented, but flawed bricklayers in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Michael Carter-Williams, and Greg Monroe. Bayless shot a career-high 43.7% from beyond the arc — an excellent mark.

    When Colangelo signed Bayless to a 3-year, $27 million contract this offseason, the hope was that the 8-year veteran would pick up right where he left off at the end of the 2015-2016 season. Take a quick look at the company Bayless kept in a few important perimeter shooting categories.

    In catch and shoot situations outside of ten feet where the player possessed the ball for two seconds or less with no dribbles, Bayless ranked fourth in the league amongst players with at least 50 games played and 1 attempt per game.

    Catch and Shoot
    Jeff Teague49.6%
    Stephen Curry48.8%
    J.J. Redick48.4%
    Jerryd Bayless47.7%

    Bayless also excelled when defenders were within two to four feet of guarding him on three-point attempts, finishing sixth in the league among players with at least 50 games played and at least .5 attempts per game:

    3P% Against Tight Defense 
    J.J. Redick46.4%
    Anthony Morrow45.7%
    Patrick Mills43.8%
    Kevin Love42.9%
    Nikola Mirotic42.1%
    Jerryd Bayless41.9%

    When shooting those highly coveted corner-threes, Bayless’s 43.9% ranked nineteenth in the league amongst players with at least 70 attempts, which is still in very good company.

    This is all to say that Bayless was excellent from the perimeter last year in a situation that didn’t necessarily cultivate the best production. The spacing was cramped, and still, Bayless thrived. If this is the Bayless the Sixers signed in a league that prioritizes three-point shooting, Colangelo got an absolute steal — and then some.

    But there was a reason a player with these shooting percentages was available at such a low price in this market. Bayless’s career numbers tell a much larger, possibly more accurate story.

    Bayless hit career high marks in almost every shooting category last year — TS%, eFG%, 3P% — that are far beyond his career averages. There’s risk in paying Bayless money that reflects last year’s production. Those numbers might prove to be an outlier, not a sign of things to come.

    Before Bayless went on to hit career high numbers last year, take a look at the development of his TS% and 3P% over the years.


    Aside from his 31-game stint in Toronto in 2011-2012, Bayless has been a league-average or worse 3-point shooter for his career. If his numbers were on an upward trajectory reflecting his growth and development, that’s different, but they appear random and without a definitive pattern. Bayless is an undersized, poor defender who shouldn’t be your primary ball handler. If he’s not hitting his shots, he’s a pretty glaring minus out on the floor.

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    But Bayless, who’s joining his seventh team in nine years, is entering a complex roster situation where he’ll be relied upon to produce like the shooter he was in 2015-2016, not before. Ben Simmons needs shooters around him to penetrate and use his ridiculous vision most effectively. When non-shooters (such as Jerami Grant and Nerlens Noel) play down a position in order to get minutes, the Sixers become desperate for space.

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    If last season proved to be a stepping stone on the developmental curve for a player who’s found his stroke, the Sixers found themselves a steal in Jerryd Bayless. If not, Bayless could find himself at the end of the bench sooner rather than later. At three years, $27 million, at least the price tag wasn’t too much of a risk. Only time will tell.