Last week, the readers voted and now the writer delivers.
Rams guard Anthony Masinton-Bonner has continued to grow into his role as sharp shooter and scorer, averaging nearly fourteen points per game so far this season.
The shining aspect of Bonner’s game however, is his shooting. Over his career, his three point percentage has improved each year, and he’s hitting at a 44% clip this season. It’s good for 9th in the conference, although only Devin Watson and Anthony Mathis shoot more per game. It’s a number that has improved each year that he’s been on campus in Fort Collins. The other impressive thing to note is his shooting percentage has improved as his role and volume in the offense increases.
Bonner is an incredibly effective shooter. Much of that is due to an incredibly quick release. From their game this season against Montana State at the 1:10 mark, Bonner comes off this screen and catches, gathers, and shoots in roughly three seconds.
And again here versus Southern Illinois at :52.
In this clip, we can also get a better feel for his entire shooting mechanics. It’s really clean. Bonner has a really wide base and always keeps his feet in shooting position. His release is incredibly straight and vertical, there’s no push to it. He gets a lot of lift on his shot and maximizes his 6’ 2” frame. There isn’t at any hitch nor does his motion swing his arms and elbows out at any awkward angles. When he curls around the arc, he’s ready to receive the pass from J.D. Paige and fire away. Secondly, his release is higher than some other shooters his size in the conference, enabling to get his shot over a defender who closes out hard.
Compared to his motion from his freshman year, the difference is jarring. The first two shots at :04-:13 illustrate that.
It’s much more fluid and has lost the hitch at the top of his release. It’s a huge reason we’ve seen him feature more in the Rams offense and with more consistent success.
The other thing that makes Bonner an effective piece for the Rams is his ability and willingness to get to the basket. Bonner understands that he is such an effective shooter from outside and knows defenses expect that. So, he takes opportunities to knife to the basket when defenders close out hard or play the shot. At 1:09 in the video above, Bonner comes around the screen and the defender anticipates the jump shot and pulls up. Instead, Bonner scoots around, blows by the defender, and gets a lay-up. Immediately after, Bonner back-cuts his defender who cheated on the pass at the top of the arc.
Defensively, Bonner still experiences the occasional growing pain. He gets caught ball watching from time to time, which teams can pinpoint and get open looks. Here, against Arkansas, Bonner had that happen at the :20 mark.
In the first clip, Bonner gets caught behind an off-ball screen and struggled to work around it initially. He finally does and has to spin around to track both his man and the ball. He loses both for a moment, until the driving Razorback ends up in his lap. He plays the ball and surrenders a catch and shoot three. In this second clip against Colorado Christian, Bonner gets victimized by the same screening action at :49.
Bonner’s man sets the first high screen and allows for the man on the wing to receive the pass and drive towards the lane. The Cougar wing pops out for a three pointer while the big man feints like he is about to roll to the basket. Bonner tries to anticipate this move and covers down to cut off the action. It was a half-hearted roll designed to suck in the defender; it worked to perfection, creating an open three point look for the Cougars.
Despite the off-ball lapses, he’s an excellent on-ball defender and all-around player. The off-ball aspect is the toughest to master and it’s something that the Rams have struggled with as a whole.
Bonner has been excellent this season for a developing Rams team and it will interesting to see how teams try and defend the redshirt junior going forward.
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