When he announced his transfer back in June, Jordan Mathews was going to be the final piece of the puzzle. He’d provide the much needed outside threat to open up the middle for the big guys. What wasn’t known at the time was Josh Perkins would develop into one of the country’s best 3-point threats and NWG would raise his 3-point percentage over .160 points from his final year at UW. Meanwhile Mathews would demonstrate brilliance but would also be plagued by inconsistencies.
Mathews season couldn’t have started much better; 4 for 7 from 3 against Utah Valley State and 16 points, 5 for 7 against San Diego State with a team high 17 points. Then over the next 6 games he was 8 for 32 from 3 (25%) and an anemic 4 for 15 (.267%) inside the arc. His shooting problems inside the arc have continued all season where he is shooting a paltry .276%.
(Mathews taking a high percentage “2”)
While the 2-point percentage is ugly, Jordan Mathews is a three-point specialist and that shooting percentage is improving. He currently sits at 40.6%, just one percentage point lower than his career average. His pump fake is a thing of beauty and one of the more satisfying aspects of the season has been watching a defender fly by him then seeing him nonchalantly drop a 3.
Despite not currently being the unstoppable offensive weapon many believed he’d be, Mathews has still been a valuable member of the backcourt. He’s meshed well with Perkins and Williams-Goss, plays solid defense and his 1.1 turnovers per 40 minutes make him the best at taking care of the ball on the team (not counting Triano). Averaging 26.2 minutes per game, he’s a key factor allowing Gonzaga to have the nation’s stingiest 3-point defense by percentage (.267%) and be forth in opponent’s overall shooting percentage (.361).
Perkins and NWG are shooting the deep ball so well that Mathews impressive 41% has lost some of its luster. I have no doubt Jordan will have another game, or two, or three where he is the leading scorer, dropping three-pointers from all around the arc. Even when he doesn’t, not committing turnovers and playing tight defense ensure his minutes will continue and the Zags will have one of the country’s scariest backcourt combinations.