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How Improved Shooting Is Guiding Ricky Ledo's Career Year In NBA D-League

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A highly-touted recruit coming out of high school and once considered to be an intriguing draft prospect, Ricky Ledo is finally putting everything together.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Following the conclusion of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, many scouts and draft analysts were enamored with Ricky Ledo, a shooting guard who had not stepped on the floor for Providence during his time at the school. His impressive workouts fueled that fire and many considered him to be one of the best players in the draft.

Despite the hype surrounding him, Ledo managed to drop until the 43rd pick. After two years with the Dallas Mavericks in which he played in just five games overall, he headed for the D-League once again and remained there until the New York Knicks picked him up for a pair of ten-day contracts.

Coming into this year, his third in the NBA D-League, Ledo knew that he was going to have to take a step forward with his game if he was ever going to consistently stick with an NBA team. Working with head coach David Arsenault Jr. and a strong supporting cast featuring Erick Green and Vince Hunter, Ledo may have finally taken the leap that he needed to make.

He has thrived in the up-tempo system of the Bighorns and has made serious strides playing off of the ball, a problem that had plagued him throughout his career. With a solid ball-handler in Green (and David Stockton now), Ledo was forced to improve on his catch-and-shoot skills and he has made the transition quite easily.

After last season with the Texas Legends when nearly 66% of his field goals made were unassisted, he's seen that number drop to 56%, a clear sign that he's playing more within the team. That number is even more drastic on his three-pointers, with a drop from 41% last year to 27% this year.

His capability of playing off of the ball is evidenced even further by his shooting numbers this year, which have also seen a marked increase. His three-point percentage last year at 28.8% on over four attempts per game was nowhere near where he wanted it to be, so after a summer of working on his jump shot that has skyrocketed all the way to 38.8% on over six attempts per game this year. As for jump shots in general, his shooting percentage is up over 9% compared to last year.

Here, the difference between Ledo's improved shooting is very evident (Last year's statistics are in the first chart and this year's are in the second).

Ledo 14/15

Ledo 15/16

In addition to his shooting, he's a very versatile offensive threat. He's great at getting to the rim and he has a variety of moves that enable him to get past his defender.

His ability to drive to the rim has been on display all season and he's been one of the best finishers in the league when he gets a full head of steam to the hoop. Last year, he shot a respectable 22 of 28 (78.6%) on his driving layups, but that number has jumped all the way to 38 of 40 (95%).

As a result of his increased aggressiveness and efficiency around the rim, he's been able to draw more fouls this year compared to last. Getting to the line just 3.3 times per game last year and hitting 75.6% of his shots there, Ledo has been able to push the issue more this year and has benefited from it, getting 4.6 free throw attempts per game and draining 78.6% of them.

While overall his offensive game has improved in most every way, there are a few things that stand out as needing to be improved. Chief among them, as fellow Ridiculous Upside writer Nicholas LeTournneau pointed out a couple of weeks ago, is his shot selection. Though his shooting numbers have improved overall, he still occasionally makes decisions that leave you scratching your head.

Here, Ledo makes two particularly poor decisions in a recent game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the second of which results in him getting benched.

His work in this area could certainly improve, but overall the jump that he has made should catch the eye of teams around the NBA in need of a scorer. With his improved prowess playing off of the ball, he'd be able to fit in to most systems much more seamlessly than in previous years.

While the key to getting an NBA call-up goes far beyond scoring for D-League players, which he has done to the tune of 21.4 points per game this season, the way in which he is accumulating those points is certainly very promising. With the NBA Trade Deadline in the rear view mirror, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ricky Ledo receiving another NBA chance this season.