Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
2020-21 season review: Moses Moody
Arkansas guard Moses Moody is shown during an SEC Tournament game against LSU on Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo via SEC Pool)
The fourth in a nine-part series reviewing Arkansas basketball in 2020-21.
Weight: 205 pounds
Stats: 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks
42.7% FG, 47.8% two-point FG, 35.8% three-point FG, 81.2% free throws
Per 40: 19.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks
SEC stats: 17.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks
40.4% FG, 42.4% two-point FG, 37.6% three-point FG, 85.0% free throws
Best month: December — 17.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks
56.8% FG, 64.3% two-point FG, 46.9% three-point FG, 75.8% free throws
Worst month: February — 16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks
30.9% FG, 24.3% two-point FG, 38.7% three-point FG, 86.5% free throws
• Developed his game off the dribble. During Arkansas’ run through the NCAA Tournament, I asked Eric Musselman about the growth he had seen in Moses Moody’s game once he put the ball on the floor. His game no doubt evolved from Game 1 to the end of the season in this regard, confidently stepping into jumpers in the midrange areas of the floor down the stretch. Moody wasn’t always that way. In the first two games of his Razorbacks career, he attempted 10 threes and only two two-point jumpers outside the lane, missing both. In December, what I consider to be his most efficient month of the season, he still put up a healthy amount of threes, and for good reason, but he began to sprinkle in that in-between game more and made opponents account for that as well. That month, he hit 6 of 11 two-point attempts beyond the painted area. In March, he was essentially a 50% shooter in the midrange, knocking down 5 of 12 attempts left of the lane, 1 of 3 in the middle of the floor above the foul line and 7 of 14 right of the lane.
Most of those attempts were off the dribble, shots he created for himself, but there were several catch-and-shoot tries, too, which was good to see. I can remember Arkansas placing him in the middle of an opponent’s zone defense and finding a good deal of success in those instances. When Texas Tech was making its mad dash to get back into the second round NCAA Tournament game, Moody slowed the Red Raiders a bit with back-to-back scores off the dribble, one a midrange leaner from the left elbow. Operating around the elbows, Moody was comfortable. He also favored each short corner quite a bit. One move I liked that he pulled out there was a drive to the left short corner, shot fake, lift his defender off his feet and draw contact.
He did miss his fair share of quality looks from each side of the lane down the stretch, which brought down those shooting numbers. He finished 15 of 40 (37.5%) left of the lane, 14 of 37 (37.8%) right of the lane and 4 of 10 between the elbows above the free throw line.
• Deadly corner three-point shooter. I heard some chatter throughout the season that Moody simply planted himself in one of the corners on offense and waited for a teammate to create a shot for him. I kept thinking to myself, well, that’s not really true based on the shot chart data I’ve collected. It’s kind of an easy slight to make. Even if that were true, I wouldn’t argue with the results too much. The right corner was where the freshman found his most consistent success beyond the three-point line.
For the season, he knocked down 19 of 30 (63.3%) attempts in that corner. That’s pretty strong. He was only 5 of 24 in the left corner, but if I knew I was routinely red hot from a certain spot, I’d gravitate there, too. Moody shot at least 50% in the right corner in each month of the schedule, including 5 of 8 in December, 6 of 9 in January and 5 of 7 in March. He was a combined 3 of 6 in November and February.
Moody shot 34.8% from the left wing on 23 attempts, 4 of 16 from the top of the key and 14 of 43 (32.6%) on the right wing. He didn’t hide out in the right corner. It was an area of the floor in which he was hyper-efficient.
• Better defender than given credit for. Many who dissect Moody’s game and look to project it to the NBA level are drawn to his near-flawless shooting form, 7-1 wingspan and how he created space to get a shot off. I thought his defensive play, especially when Arkansas needed to get its season back on track, was very underrated. Beginning with the Auburn game in Bud Walton Arena, which kicked off what would become a long winning streak for the Razorbacks in SEC play, Moody locked in defensively. From Jan. 20 to March 2, opponents made 18 of 85 (21.2%) field goal attempts when Moody was the nearest Arkansas defender. The wildest thing about that run is he gave up 12 scores on 24 attempts at LSU and Alabama the week before the winning streak began.
Mississippi State players finished 1 of 11 shooting when defended by Moody, Missouri’s were 1 of 7, Florida’s 2 of 9, Alabama’s 2 of 10 and LSU’s 1 of 8. The freshman’s attention to detail in team and individual scouting reports should get more praise. He was almost always in proper position to contest and alter a shot, or get a hand on it.
Over the final 14 games of the season, Moody averaged better than one steal and nearly one block per game. And according to HoopLens analytics, Arkansas allowed 0.93 points per possession in the last 18 games with Moody in the lineup. Opponents shot 45.2% inside the three-point line, thanks in part to the heady, long-armed freshman.
• High fouls-drawn player, solid free throw rate. There were nights when Moody had a difficult time finding the touch on his jumper and attempts around the rim. But you could almost bank on him finding ways to get to the free throw line, where he was next to automatic. Moody attempted 10-plus free throws in six games, including three times in a six-game stretch from late February into March. In only four games did he fail to either attempt a free throw or get multiple shots at the line.
Moody drew an average of 5.3 fouls per 40 minutes played, according to KenPom, and he shot more than 4.8 free throws for every 10 shots attempted from the floor. His 49.1% free throw rate in SEC play ranked sixth — third among guards behind Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen and Florida’s Tyree Appleby. Overall, Moody attempted the third-most free throws among SEC players (164), trailing LSU’s Cam Thomas and Pippen.
According to HoopLens, he recorded a PAM — points above median, a calculation of how many additional points a player scored when compared to what an average player would have scored on the same attempts — of 62.7 at the free throw line. JD Notae was second on the team in that category at 35.7.
• Great offensive rebounder for his position. Moody knows how to use the tools he has to greatly impact his team. I’m not sure there is a better example of that than him utilizing his tremendous length to do some dirty work on the offensive glass and turn that into near-instant offense. This was an area of his game that was fairly easy to pick up on in the early stages of the season. In the first nine games of the season, he grabbed multiple offensive rebounds seven times, including three in back-to-back-to-back games and four vs. Oral Roberts.
In six games to begin the year, Moody grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, trailing only Justin Smith’s 17. Arkansas scored 22 points off the guard’s extra efforts, and he added 16 himself. Moody’s PAM at the rim following offensive rebounds was 10.7, according to HoopLens. That's good for second behind Smith (13.4). No other player on the roster posted a figure above 7.3.
Moody’s offensive rebound rate of 6.3% on KenPom might appear modest, but that was a central part of his game that led to several invaluable scores.
• Struggled finishing at the rim at times. It was perhaps to be expected given Moody had not played at the college level before, but he did not get out of the gates well this season in terms of connecting on close-in looks. Against Mississippi Valley State and North Texas, the guard made only 3 of 9 attempts at the rim, including 1 of 4 vs. the Mean Green. Between that game and Arkansas’ meeting with UT-Arlington, Musselman challenged Moody to be better finishing through contact. He responded by getting 19 of 25 shots at the rim to drop in December.
Then SEC play kicked into high gear and some familiar issues popped up. Moody wound up 25 of 45 at the rim in January then saw his rim buckets dip to 5 on 21 attempts in February. Finishing was really the only aspect of Moody’s game that I was moderately concerned with throughout the season. He could put up some high-degree-of-difficulty shots, and he didn’t always draw a whistle from officials. I’m not certain if this is ultimately a concern when looking ahead to his pro career, but it is something I know Moody will focus on and improve upon in the future.
• Challenging shooting stretches. Moody really did have a well-rounded season for the Razorbacks, one of the best freshman campaigns we’ve seen in a long, long time. He was in the SEC player of the year discussion, grabbed SEC freshman of the year honors and was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection. Great players have off shooting nights, and Moody had his. He did not reach double figures in four games, all against conference competition. Beyond that, though, he could not find a rhythm with his jumpshot several times. His scoring numbers looked fine, though, because he was a mainstay at the line, which we have to give him credit for.
The two stretches that stand out most came against Florida, Alabama and LSU in February. He averaged 18.7 points per game in that run, but he shot 9 of 40 (22.5%), including 4 of 23 inside the arc. And then there were the final two games of the season against Oral Roberts and Baylor in which he was 6 of 30 — 4 of 20 in the Sweet 16. That trying two games from a shooting perspective could possibly be attributed to tired legs and a side effect of the bubble life in Indianapolis, but Arkansas had five days of rest and preparation ahead of its second game of the season vs. Oral Roberts.
Because he shot the ball poorly in the two biggest games of the year, it will be what a lot of people remember most about Moody. I hope that isn’t the case, though, and they instead look at his full body of work and recall how gifted he was and how much pride he took in representing his home state. He did so in a first-class manner, was always eager to learn and carried with him a positive attitude that made the state proud.
• Gave up his dribble at odd times. A little nitpicky, but I think it’s fair. This wasn’t just a Moody deal, either. A number of players would do this high on the perimeter, and it would lead to inefficient and chaotic offense in the final seconds of a shot clock.
• Had a little bit of a bad habit of taking jumpers with his foot on the three-point line. It wound up not hurting Arkansas, really, at any point. But his right foot, which usually was out in front of his left when he launched a perimeter shot, would cost him a point here and there.
On floor: Offense (1,142 poss.) - 1.04 PPP, 75.5% free throws; Defense (1,134 poss.) - 0.93 PPP, 42.5% two-point FG
Off floor: Offense (232 poss.) - 0.97 PPP, 64.8% free throws; Defense (239 poss.) - 0.94 PPP 49.5% two-point FG
Best Moody quote: “That’s good to be recognized for a lot of that, but when it comes down to it, like individual awards and all that, that’s all cool, but I’m here for the confetti. I’m trying to get those team victories.” — Moody when he was told he was named an All-American honorable mention ahead of the NCAA Tournament
Best quote on Moody: “It’s paid off that he trusted us and made a decision to come here. I think it’s paid off for Mo and for us. I think he’s in the right system. I think there’s a great comfort level with him playing here at Arkansas. I feel an overly strong bond knowing that he had an opportunity to play anywhere in the country and he chose us.” — Eric Musselman
Season review series
Part 1: Justin Smith
Part 2: Davonte Davis
Part 3: Jalen Tate
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