Hayes, Dream Player For Atlanta On Both Ends
By Nicholas LeTourneau
Few players are more important to their team than Tiffany Hayes is to the Atlanta Dream. Hayes is averaging 19 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game after 10 games this season. Other than scoring, her numbers don’t jump off the page, but her impact is deep on both sides of the floor.
According to Synergy, the Dream don’t exactly paint the picture of an efficient team or one with a great offensive system (they are ranked dead last) but that doesn’t mean Hayes isn’t one of the better offensive players in the league.
She ranks in the top fourth of players in the league as far as overall points per possession and even higher in categories like scoring as the pick-and-roll ball handler, spot up shooting, isolation and scoring off the cut. Hayes accounts for roughly 20 percent of Atlanta’s total offensive production and as of June 16 has scored the most total points of anyone on the roster by about 30 points.
How she scores
Hayes is currently shooting 43 percent from the floor - which is pretty good for a guard - but she isn’t exactly lighting it up from deep. She takes just over five shots from deep per game and converts a little over one of them but she has found other ways to be very effective on offense.
Almost 40 percent of her offensive production comes from scoring as the pick-and-roll ball handler and she ranks in the top 20 percent of all WNBA players. She scores 0.928 points per possession, meaning that she either converts the shot or gets fouled and hits at least one of her free throws at a high rate. A great majority of the rest of her offensive production comes from a combination of transition, spot up, isolation and scoring off of cutting.
As far as transition scoring, Hayes is in the top half of all players in the league. She’s good at using her speed and turning defense into offense to get a jump on scoring in transition. These looks account for roughly 15 percent of her total offense and she averages 1.111 points per possession. For someone who shoots poorly from deep, Hayes is an elite scorer spotting up. Only Briann January, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and Elena Delle Donne are more efficient spotting up than Hayes, who is good for 1.304 points per possessions whenever she spots up.
Given how quick she is, Hayes also thrives in isolation. She is so smooth and has a lot of different moves to get to the rim and create separation. Only eight percent of her attempts come in isolation but when she does attempt these looks, she scores 1.2 points per possession and finishes around 60 percent of them. Her quickness also plays a big roll in how effective she is scoring as a cutter. She is in the top 5 as far as efficiency, scoring 1.4 points per possession.
There are only a small handful of players in the league that are better at preventing their opponent from scoring. Hayes is 5-foot-10, quick and smart. In combination, all of those things make for a deadly defender. She is great at using her height to disrupt shooters and her speed allows her to recover and get back into position whenever she might be out of it.
Hayes allows just 0.574 points per possession as a defender while forcing opponents to shoot just 27 percent from the floor whenever she defends them. She is the best defender in the league when the shot clock is winding down, too. No one has converted a shot attempt with less than four seconds on the shot clock against her this season. What she specifically does best is blow up pick-and-roll shot attempts for the ball handler, prevent shots off the screen and shut down spot-up shots.
Defending the pick-and-roll ball handler, only Chelsea Hopkins of the Chicago Sky and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough of the Washington Mystics are better at shutting people down. Of the 38 possessions defended, Hayes has only allowed 14 points and offensive players convert only 20 percent of their looks from the pick-and-roll. As far as defending shots off the screen, only Lindsay Whalen of the Minnesota Lynx allows less points per possession or a lower field goal percentage.
Hayes is without a doubt one of the best players in the league. Without her, who knows where Atlanta would be this season. She is someone that makes her impact felt on both sides of the ball and if Atlanta can win games with regularity, could be in the conversation for MVP. It is about time she gets the recognition she deserves.