Is There A Way To Judge The NBA’s Most Effective Shooters?

Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks vs OKC Thunder

 

The NBA world was set on fire by Dirk Nowitzki’s scintillating 48 point performance.  He was 12-15 from the field and a record 24-24 from the free throw line.  Safe to say, we’ve never seen quite the shooting performance like that.  ESPN’s Bill Simmons asked how that performance rated in terms of points per miss.  Jerod Morris of Midwest Sports Fans took the ball and ran with it and put together a great article around the stat of points per miss (PPM).

However, as intriguing as the concept of points per miss may be, it doesn’t take into account the weighted nature of free throws vs two point field goals vs three point field goals.  For instance, Player A can go 5-10 from two point range and have a 5-5 night from the line with a PPM of 3 (15 pts/5 misses).  Player B can go 5-5 from three, 0-5 from two, and 0-5 from the line with a PPM of 1.5.  Both players had the same number of points (15) from the same number of total attempts (15), but one’s PPM can be skewed due which line a player misses from, etc.

So, how could we come up with a correctly weighted method of measuring the efficiency of a player’s shooting performance?  In checking great databases like 82games.com and Basketball Reference, I couldn’t find precisely what I was looking for.  There are stats like True Shooting percentage and others, but I was looking for something simple that could explain the league’s best, most effective, and most efficient scorers and shooters.

So, for a simple formula, I thought that this may be a useful method of approach…

Total Points Scored/Total Possible Points Scored

Total Points Possible is fairly simple to come up with, simply (3*3PT FGA) + (2*2PT FGA) + (1*FTA).  It’s the maximum possible points a player can score from his attempts at the basket.  Think of it like an NBA Slugging Percentage, total shooting percentage, or shooting efficiency statistic.  It’s simple and it correctly weights threes vs twos vs free throws for how many points each attempt is worth.  The end result is a percentage much like other shooting stats, but takes into accounts a player’s total effectiveness from each area.  So, what are the results?  You may be surprised to find out…

First, I took a look at the Top 20 scorers from the regular season to discover their total shooting efficiency…

Player 2PT FGA 3 PT FGA FTA Total Pts Possible Total Pts Scored Total Shooting % Rank
Howard 1037 7 916 3011 1784 59.249% 1
P Gasol 1117 3 430 2673 1541 57.651% 2
Dirk 1011 168 443 2969 1681 56.618% 3
Amare 1459 23 597 3584 1971 54.994% 4
Pierce 724 297 449 2788 1511 54.197% 5
James 1206 279 663 3912 2111 53.962% 6
B Lopez 1308 1 489 3108 1673 53.829% 7
Aldridge 1392 23 444 3297 1769 53.655% 8
Wade 1178 206 652 3626 1941 53.530% 9
Randolph 1145 43 396 2815 1504 53.428% 10
Griffin 1352 24 695 3471 1845 53.155% 11
Jefferson 1319 0 289 2927 1528 52.204% 12
Durant 1124 414 675 4165 2161 51.885% 13
Martin 808 459 669 3662 1876 51.229% 14
Melo 1252 251 605 3862 1970 51.010% 15
Kobe 1283 356 583 4217 2078 49.277% 16
Rose 1212 385 555 4134 2026 49.008% 17
Westbrook 1387 103 631 3714 1793 48.277% 18
Ellis 1232 379 431 4032 1929 47.842% 19
Granger 853 407 466 3393 1622 47.804% 20

 

Some numbers really stand out at first glance, namely how far down the list NBA MVP Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant rate.  Perhaps it’s not a surprise to see players like Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Monta Ellis there as well.  Unfortunately, the total shooting percentage favors big men, who feast on dunks and layups.  3 of the Top 5 are post players and Brook Lopez ranks above Dwyane Wade.  It’s not a perfect stat, but it does well to compare the efficiency of scorers at each position.  Who would have thought that Paul Pierce was such an efficient and effective shooter?  Even more so than LeBron James.  For the record, the league average (total points scored this year in the NBA/total possible points in the NBA) comes out to 48.221% using the numbers from Basketball Reference.  So, as far as shooting efficiency goes, Russell Westbrook is only an average performer.  Of course, there are several elements to determine a player’s overall effectiveness, but it does reasonably measure shooting numbers.

Here are the top Playoff performers thus far from the Top 10 scorers by points per game in the 2011 postseason…



Player 2PT FGA 3 PT FGA FTA Total Pts Possible Total Pts Scored Total Shooting % Rank
Howard 80 1 88 251 162 64.542% 1
Dirk 178 20 103 519 313 60.308% 2
Wade 178 25 99 530 280 52.830% 3
Durant 174 84 137 737 387 52.510% 4
Randolph 216 8 106 562 289 51.423% 5
James 162 42 96 546 276 50.549% 6
Kobe 145 41 61 474 228 48.101% 7
Rose 200 78 108 742 345 46.496% 8
Westbrook 220 38 107 661 307 46.445% 9
Melo 62 26 34 236 104 44.068% 10

Yipes, sorry Carmelo, I guess that’s one reason why the Knicks were swept out of the first round.  Again, Dwight Howard reigns supreme amongst the top scorers, but Dirk Nowitzki’s 60.3% tells the story of his amazing shooting postseason.  One can also understand the cries from Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook (46.4%) to become more facilitator than distributor for Kevin Durant (52.5%) and the Thunder.  Also, Dwyane Wade has been a more efficient shooter for the Heat in the Playoffs than LeBron James.  

For the record, Dirk Nowitzki’s epic Game 1 performance (12/15 2PT, 0/0 3PT, 24/24 FT) saw his total shooting percentage come in at 88.9%.  Kevin Durant, who scored 40 points (8/13 2PT, 2/5 3PT, 18/19 FT) was at 66.7%.  Russell Westbrook (3/15 2PT, 0/0 3PT, 14/18 FT) was only 41.6%.  Perhaps this stat can put into perspective just how incredible Dirk Nowitzki’s record setting night truly was.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments on these stats and the total shooting percentage and efficiency.  Soon, we’ll break down the Top 10 scorers in the league at each position to better compare the top players in the league and see who the most efficient shooters were in the 2010-2011 NBA season.

Matt Yoder

About Matt Yoder

Managing Editor of Awful Announcing and award winning sportswriter. Bloguin consigliere. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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