Season Wrap-Up: Devon Hall
Devon took a needed step forward in 2017. He came close to doubling his scoring average (from 4.4 to 8.4) in just six more minutes per game, and managed to do so while becoming more efficient and maintaining his role as our primary perimeter defender and a valued secondary distributor.
Let’s start with this from my preseason piece on Dev:
Hall needs to be more aggressive (he used just 14.3% of his possessions on shots last season), accurate (he made 32.8% of his threes after hitting 33.3% as a redshirt freshman), and efficient (he posted the lowest EFG%, true shooting percentage, and offensive rating of any Virginia regular last season) on offense if he wants to fend off the glut of talented newcomers (and Darius Thompson and Marial Shayok) to keep his spot in the rotation.
From that perspective, call his season a mission accomplished.
More aggressive? Check. Hall shot the ball on 19.9% of the possessions he used this season. While that’s nowhere near the number put up by the Marial Shayoks (29.3%) and Kyle Guys (24.5%) of the world, those guys had more of the onus to produce points placed on them than Dev did. Hall needed to simply present as more of a threat this season, and he did that and then some; for much of the second half of the year, it felt as though he was the only player on the team willing to drive the ball to the front of the rim.
More accurate? Check two. Hall’s three-point percentage rose from 32.8% to 37.2% overall and 38.5% in conference play. The accuracy begot confidence which begot an ever-increasing willingness to fire — Hall took more 3’s per 40 minutes (3.7) than he did the year before (3.2) and often did so with a hand in his face.
More efficient? Check three. Hall became more aggressive without sacrificing efficiency (his offensive rating rose from 99.9 to 105.2) or getting sloppy (his turnover rate was a career-low 13.1%). While the latter number was aided by his moving off the ball more than ever, he was still secure in his handle and accurate with the pass.
He struggled to start (4 ppg on 30.8% shooting in our first six games) and end (5.4 ppg on 33.3% shooting in March) the season, but was one of our most consistent performers in-between, scoring in double figures in 14 of 23 games during that span and averaging 10.1 per game. He hung 18 on NC State, 17 on Virginia Tech, and 15 on Miami and Pitt.
Hall played four positions over the course of the year, appearing as the nominal big in four guard units and proving to be a threat to do everything from pass (he had at least three assists in nine of our last 18 games) to clean the defensive glass (he finished with a 17.3% defensive rebound rate, within a percent of what the 6'8,’’ 230 pound Anthony Gill brought in a year earlier).
Defensively, he was nice. He showed occasional vulnerabilities against first rate athletes on the perimeter or taller, stronger bigs, but that says more about our team and what we’re asking a 6'5,’’ 210 pound guard to do than any particular weakness of Hall’s. I was and am confident that if Devon was assigned to a player, I can worry less about that player going off than the assignment of any of our other guards.
Devon needs to spend the summer woodshedding the drill where an offensive player attempts layups while a manager batters him with big foam paddles. Finishing around the rim — while it improved both during the season and year over year — is still a weak point of his. In addition, he could improve his jumper off the dribble — he shot 31.3% on midrange jumpers, his preferred off the dribble move, and he was the only Cavalier that made more than five to be assisted on every one of his made 3’s.
It’s hard to forecast what anyone’s role will be next season when the roster is still in flux (welcome to grad transfer season), but it’s hard to imagine the 2018 Cavaliers without Devon Hall starting and playing a major role. I feel like we’re in the best shape if he’s no better than the third option on offense (he does so much well, but you want a slightly purer shot and/or a more explosive driver in that spot), but I expect him to start, and he might even be the lone starter set in stone.