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How Tre Demps became Northwestern's most efficient player

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What an unlikely turnaround.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

If we asked every Northwestern fan to pick a word to describe each NU basketball player, Tre Demps would likely have the widest array of selections.

Tre Demps is clutch. Tre Demps is a winner. Tre Demps is maddening. Tre Demps is a ballhog. Tre Demps hates passing. Tre Demps is a shooter.

But now there's a new one to add — one that might actually be accurate. Tre Demps is ... efficient?

Given where Demps was at the beginning of last season, it's hard to imagine how we could have gotten to this point. Demps shot and shot and shot, regardless of where he was on the floor, and regardless of whether it was a good idea. Last year, despite hitting some clutch shots, he finished with a fairly weak 45.7 percent effective field goal percentage, while shooting on a whopping 26.3 percent of possessions.

Demps was a model of inefficiency, as a high volume, low percentage shooter, and that continued into this non-conference season, when his eFG% actually dropped to 42 percent, according to Shot Analytics. Demps made his shots at the rim, but he couldn't find his shot from beyond the arc.

But since conference season this year, something has clicked for Demps. In those 14 games, his eFG% has risen to almost 55 percent. And while he's still NU's highest volume shooter, he's also the most efficient of any Wildcat player who takes more than 10 percent of the team's shots. Here's a look at the percentages from Matt Snow's outstanding Basketball by the NUmbers blog.

Player %FGA P/FGA eFG%
Tre Demps 21.6 1.26 54.6
Bryant McIntosh 20.3 1.19 50.6
Alex Olah 17.9 1.24 46.7
Vic Law 10.7 1.16 48.8

More importantly, Demps is finding his spots. Rather than shooting from anywhere on the floor, he's shooting his threes mostly from the left side, where he's always been most efficient. He's also done a very good job of limiting two-point jumpers, other than the step-back from just beyond the elbow, which he has always excelled at. He rarely took that shot during non-conference season, but is taking it often and very well since the start of conference play.

dempsshotchart1

The full dot chart gives an even better picture of Demps' efficiency. For the most part, teams should strive to shoot in the paint and from beyond the three-point arc, since those are the most efficient shots, and that's where Demps has found his rhythm. He's athletic enough to get to the rim, but he also has a good three-point shot, and he's taken more of those shots, plus his signature step-back jumper from just beyond the elbow.

dempsshotchart2

This is a stunning difference from Demps' 2013-14 shot chart, which was just splatter paint across a canvas.

dempsshotchart3

(all shot charts courtesy of ShotAnalytics.com)

At some point, Demps' shooting will likely slow down a bit, at least for spells. That's how it goes in basketball. However, given his effort to take better shots, the era of "efficient Tre Demps" might just be heating up.

And with a year and a few games of eligibility left, he could be the catalyst to lead Northwestern to big things in his senior season.