Stephenson, Bryant among players with NBA's ugliest shot charts
Kyle Korver, Stephen Curry, J.J. Redick… those are just a few players who have provided the gold standard for efficient scoring this season. Even though they tend to focus on the three-point shot, their true shooting percentages somehow rival those of interior big men who produce the majority of their points off easy dunks.
But what about the other end of the spectrum? The 2014-15 season has featured a number of elite scorers while others have struggled to get the ball through the nylon. Whether shooting inside the restricted area, from midrange or beyond the three-point arc, a variety of guys haven’t even maintained shooting marks around the league average.
Oddly, many of the players whose shot charts are flooded with red either contribute solid production or function as the focal point of their team's offense. It often hasn’t been pretty this year when these players look to score; they’ve been some of the least efficient in all of basketball.
Although the 76ers were one of the worst NBA teams a year ago, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams experienced a fair amount of success. He recorded 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals in a season-opening win against the defending champion Heat, and while he came back down to earth after the fact, he took home the league’s Rookie of the Year award in a landslide.
In the 2014-15 season, a sophomore slump has taken hold of the 23 year old. His three-point shooting has been a disaster, and his attempts from mid-range (at the elbows) haven’t been much better. His 6’6” frame has helped him finish with aplomb at the rim as a member of the Bucks, but his numbers see a dramatic decline when he ventures any further out than that.
He’s just 2-of-20 from downtown with Milwaukee. His new head coach, Jason Kidd, wasn’t a good shooter when he entered the league, either, so we’ll see if that link between the two helps MCW’s development moving forward.
Trey Burke was a big-time scorer during his short-lived collegiate career at Michigan, but the transition to the pros hasn’t been kind to the diminutive point guard. For his career thus far, the former No. 9 pick is shooting 37.5% from the field and 32.3% from three-point territory.
In addition to losing his starting gig in Utah to rookie Dante Exum, Burke is converting a woeful 40.9% of his shots inside the restricted area. That’s nearly 14 percentage points below league average.
He has been serviceable from midrange as an NBA sophomore, but his three-point percentage of 31.6% ranks Burke 126th out of 140 qualified players.
Dante Exum, Jazz
From one Jazz point guard to another, Exum doesn’t escape criticism for being a 19-year-old rookie. To be fair, Exum has been tremendous as a lanky perimeter defender who ruffles the feathers of opponents, but he has a lot of work to do on the offensive end of the court as he continues to adapt to the NBA.
There’s a healthy amount of red littering his shot chart and few zones redeem him (the left corner three is one exception). Exum is shooting just 31% from beyond the arc overall, yet more than 60% of his attempts have been fired away from distance.
He’ll need that range as a weapon eventually, but right now the coaching staff needs to encourage the youngster to weave his way closer to the hoop when he’s looking to score.
(Note that another rookie point guard, Elfrid Payton, was considered for this spot. Ultimately, though, taking 71% of his shots in the restricted area beat out Exum’s infatuation with a shot he struggles to hit.)
Ugly, grotesque, ghastly… there are a number of adjectives that so adequately describe Lance Stephenson’s shot chart in his first year with the Hornets. Venture anywhere outside of the restricted area, and you’re sure to cringe at the numbers.
Stephenson was known by the affectionate moniker “Born Ready” while a member of the Pacers, but he certainly wasn’t prepared to adapt to his new digs in Charlotte. Unless he bounces back to form next season, the $27 million contract Stephenson signed last summer will be a tough one for owner Michael Jordan to stomach.
Despite the fact that Kobe Bryant has only played 35 games and last suited up on Jan. 21, the future Hall of Famer is still second on the Lakers in field-goal attempts (713). It took until March 29 for Jordan Hill to pass him as the team leader in that category.
The Black Mamba has never been shy about unleashing his patented jumper, but he only made 266 of his attempts (37.3%). Those marks rank him fourth and 11th on the team, respectively.
Kemba Walker, Hornets
Let’s just say it’s not a mystery why the Hornets rank 28th in offensive rating this season and score only 98.3 points per 100 possessions. Both the failed free-agent signing of Stephenson and the inefficiency of point guard Kemba Walker have served as a death knell to Charlotte’s playoff aspirations (they sit two games back of the No. 8 spot in the lowly Eastern Conference).
The former UConn standout has seen his field-goal percentage drop for two straight seasons—first it was 42.3% in 2012-13, then 39.3% last season and down to 39.1% this campaign. He’s converting shots at a below-average rate from each zone, though he’s been tolerable on three-pointers above the break.
If there’s anything positive to take away, it’s that Kemba hasn’t been enamored with any one area. Unfortunately, he’s only shooting above 40 percent at the rim.
Analytics experts will tell you the corner three is the most effective shot in basketball. Generally speaking, that’s true—just not for Corey Brewer.
The veteran swingman is shooting a paltry 24.6% and 30.8% on three-pointers from the left and right corners, respectively. He also hasn’t shot 30% or better from long range since the 2009-10 season.
NBA general managers have started to covet the prominent “3-and-D” players—shooting guards and small forwards that can shoot threes and defend. Brewer has a reputation as a pesky defender dating back to his days with the Florida Gators, but he has never been—and perhaps never will be—a solid outside shooter.
As basketball fans, we want to see Derrick Rose play at the MVP-caliber level he displayed early in his career. He’s scored at respectable volume this season when healthy (18.4 points per game), but the efficiency just hasn’t been there.
D. Rose ranks 103rd out of 115 qualified players in field-goal percentage (40.7%). His three-point percentage (28.7%) puts him tied for second-to-last out of 140 qualified players—only the aforementioned Brewer has been worse from deep.
Those numbers would leave a lot to be desired from role players, but Rose is Chicago’s alpha dog. They may not need him to be transcendent, but at this point, even league average would be a welcome sign.
Syracuse product Dion Waiters garnered a lot of hype coming out of college as the No. 4 overall pick in 2012. He’s drawn comparisons to the likes of Dwyane Wade—one of the best shooting guards to ever play the game—but Waiters has fallen well short of those projections in the early going of his career.
In split time for the Cavaliers and Thunder, Waiters has launched 15.1% of his attempts from three above the break. He’s made just 24.8% of those tries.
Efficiency simply isn’t a word in his vocabulary yet, as is evident by his PER since joining OKC (9.6). His PER for the entire season of 10.75 ties for 289th in the league among qualified players. Two words describe that stat: not good.
Alongside point guard Kyle Lowry—who is an honorable mention among the league’s least efficient shooters by posting an ugly 38.3% since All-Star weekend—DeMar DeRozan has led an upstart Raptors team back to semi-prominence. The former USC star can certainly score the rock, but DeRozan becomes a volume shooter because of his low shooting percentage.
A huge percentage of DeRozan’s attempts have been midrange jumpers—a shot that some coaches want to phase out entirely. Although DeRozan certainly gravitates toward that areas of the court, he’s been considerably below average from those zones.
By shooting 40.3% from the field, Toronto’s primary wing player ranks No. 105 out of 115 qualified players. His 28.8% mark from beyond the arc only rates better than three players, if he qualified for the leaderboard, but DeRozan has limited himself to just 73 three-point attempts after taking 210 a season ago. Hey, at least he’s trying to avoid the weaknesses in his game.
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