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Analyzing the Offensive Game of Jose Alvarado

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Dakota Schmidt finishes his series on Jose Alvarado by looking at the work he does on the offensive end of the floor.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, yours truly wrote about Jose Alvarado’s excellence on the defensive end and how his ability to make an impact in a variety of ways was enough to make me confident about his ability to transition to the pro level, whether it be NBA or G League, despite him being a bit undersized at 6’0, 179 pounds. While the 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year is obviously fantastic on that end of the floor, the Brooklyn-born guard is the furthest thing from a one-sided performer.

That fact was most evident during his senior season with Georgia Tech as he played at the best level of his college career. In 26 games, he put up 15.2 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds on 50% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc on 4.5 attempts per game. Those percentages mixed with him shooting 84% from the charity stripe were the keys behind him maintaining a 63% True Shooting Percentage and 59% effective Field Goal Percentage, both career-best numbers.

That great efficiency was largely due to his great perimeter shooting, as the young guard showed a knack for being able to get his shot off whether he’s working off-the-dribble or catch-and-shoot. Despite being the man that brought the ball up the floor more times than not, Georgia Tech’s slower offense that relied heavily on ball movement gave Alvarado more opportunities to show his work off the catch.

Along with the act of standing in the wing or corner and nailing a shot, Alvarado also shows a real knack for working off-ball to maneuver around screens and also shooting while on the move. A visual example of that knack is seen in the clip below where our subject does a great job of maneuvering around two separate screens to get to his spot, receive the pass and quickly throw up a shot. As a senior, he shined on this end of the ball through shooting 38% on 77 catch-and-shoot attempts, according to Synergy Sports.

Now as an on-ball shooting threat, he was able to shine whether working behind or inside the three-point line. From mid-range, he does a good job of utilizing screens to get to his spot or simply throwing up a fadeaway look if the man is still on him. Moving beyond the arc, the standout from Georgia Tech has a tendency to lull his man to sleep with quick dribble moves before throwing up a step-back jumper. While shots in either of those areas have a high degree of difficulty, Alvarado was a success story as him shooting 39%, or maintaining a .91 points per possession average on 51 total off-the-dribble jumpers placed him in the 83rd percentile, according to Synergy Sports.

Sticking with his work as an on-ball threat, the one area of his work on the offensive end that I really question would be the burst that’s needed to move past a perimeter defender and be able to finish around the rim. While certain players don’t need that acceleration due to having bigger frames that allow them to absorb contact from perimeter to paint, that isn’t exactly the case for the guard that stands at 6’0, 179 pounds. That lack of size serves as a big detriment when he’s able to make it to the restricted area as he either gets swallowed up or moved further away from a good angle at the basket when he tries to drive through contact.

While the Brooklyn-born guard’s struggles with lack of burst and just being able to drive with his right, he isn’t a total lost cause in this area. For example, Alvarado does a great job of recognizing take advantage of defensive lapses and open paint to make off-ball cuts. In addition to that, the reigning defensive player of the year is more than capable of taking advantage of bigs switching onto the perimeter or folks dashing to the perimeter to try to close out on the perimeter.

Honestly, those skills in addition to the aforementioned ability to utilize screens makes it seem like it would be a great idea for the young guard to add more floaters or runners into his repertoire so he can score off the dribble without having to worry about driving into traffic. That’s especially the case if/when he’s going against teams that use heavy drop coverage to be able to take advantage.

Transitioning over to his work as a facilitator, Georgia Tech’s decision to split the distributing duties between our subject and Michael DeVoe made it so that Alvarado’s assist numbers were low, as the guard ended his senior season averaging 4.1 assists per game with a 2.0 assist to turnover ratio. While those numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, it doesn’t exactly mean that you should overlook his ability in this particular area.

The first thing that you notice when you watch Alvarado do his work as a distributor is how he has a purpose for each move that he makes with the ball in his hands. Obviously, that’s the case in general but the calculated nature is multiplied as you can tell that he’s able to quickly process everything on the court and immediately recognize an open teammate. Whether it’s Moses Wright slashing towards the paint and going up for alley-oops, or finding a shooter on the corner, our subject does a great job to identify the best way to move the ball to the open party.

A great example of that is evident in the clip below where Alvarado starts the festivities out by utilizing a drop screen set by Moses Wright to create a spot in the pait for the right-handed dominant guard to drive in. The Brooklyn-born guard takes advantage of that by driving far enough towards the paint to draw in the Virginia Tech defender guarding the corner man, which pushes the facilitator to move the ball out to the shooter, who is able to put up a shot before the defender closes out.

Despite his struggles as an on-ball driver and creating his own offense without the use of screens, Alvarado’s work on the offensive end was good enough to have him be the offensive leader of a Georgia Tech team that ended up winning the ACC tournament. However, there’s obviously a difference between being able to perform against the likes of NC State and Virginia Tech compared to NBA or even G League teams, which could make his flaws more apparent due the increased level of competition.

While the issues about how he’s able to translate are apparent, Alvarado is still an intriguing offensive prospect through his knack as a shooter, whether it be off-the-dribble or catch-and-shoot, and poise as a facilitator. Those traits combined with the defensive excellence that I explained in a prior piece should be enough to have a team be comfortable with using a late 2nd or two-way deal on him, if he decides to stick in the NBA Draft. Once there, a team’s developmental staff should have the young guard work more to be able to utilize pass manipulation in pick-and-rolls. In addition to that, focusing more on putting up floaters and runners would be a good idea for a guard that isn’t the most explosive and isn’t big and strong enough to be able to finish layups through contact.