Shooters who can't shoot: Five guys who should take less shots in 2015
By now, most NBA fans know that Kobe Bryant and Josh Smith often hurt their teams by launching contested shots at alarmingly frequent rates. But those two are far from the only players who could stand to be more efficient.
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Using a recently released shot chart database from research engine FindTheBest, here are five players who like to fancy themselves as shooters but could end up torpedoing their respective team’s playoff chances if they keep jacking up low-percentage looks.
Note: The shot chart widgets automatically update to feature current stats, so the text might not exactly match what the graphs show. All statistics in the text are current as of games played through Jan. 14.
Rose had a truly fantastic game Wednesday night against Washington, making 6-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc and going 12-for-22 overall. The Bulls lost, but Rose truly looked like his old self, an encouraging sign for Chicago fans. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the norm this season.
Even after Wednesday’s barrage, Rose is shooting 40.9 percent overall and just 27.8 percent on a career-high number of three-point attempts per game. Perhaps this trend is something the Bulls coaching staff is encouraging, for now. It limits the chance of Rose reinjuring his knees, and he could eventually develop into an average long-range shooter with more practice.
But the Bulls are at their best with D-Rose near the rim, and they have plenty of other guys who can knock it down better from long range. If Rose can rediscover his aggressiveness to complement Jimmy Butler’s newfound shooting stroke and the revival of Pau Gasol, Chicago will be the team to beat in the East this year.
Yes, the Pistons (14-25) are somehow contenders now, just two games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This is the bizarre world we live in.
Last Friday, Caldwell-Pope nearly pulled the Pistons back from a 15-point deficit against the Hawks by nailing four three-pointers in the fourth quarter. But he was also a huge reason they were behind that much in the first place -- even with that surge, he ended the night 8-for-23 overall and just 4-for-16 from beyond the arc.
The problem is that Caldwell-Pope has tried to assume the part of Detroit’s marksman even though he’s mediocre on long-distance shots. Three-pointers comprise 49 percent of Caldwell-Pope’s attempts, and he converts 34.4 percent of them -- a worse mark than Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko.
Again, maybe Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is encouraging this behavior for Caldwell-Pope’s long-term development. But if Detroit is going to make the playoffs this year, SVG should allot more of his minutes to Jodie Meeks (38.8 percent on threes) and Kyle Singler (41.2 percent).
Williams is actually shooting a formidable 38.9 percent on treys this year, his best mark since 2007-08 and the best percentage on the Nets. But his days as a dominant scorer near the rim are seemingly over, at least in Brooklyn’s bland, cramped offense.
Williams is converting a horrid 45.2 percent of shots in the restricted zone. Combine that with his subpar midrange numbers, and the injury-plagued guard is currently sitting below 40 percent on all two-point attempts. This, after converting a tidy 50 percent of two-pointers last season.
It’s hard to blame the Nets for letting former head coach Jason Kidd walk after his shocking offseason power play, but the hiring of Lionel Collins as his replacement has proven to be disastrous. When owner Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the franchise, he pictured developing a slick, star-studded identity worthy of Brooklyn. Instead, their own coach suggested this week the team’s identity should be “We can’t shoot!”
Still, Williams doesn’t help by making just 38.9 percent of attempts on drives to the basket, according to NBA.com. He could eschew some of those ill-advised layups in favor of assists to Mason Plumlee (62.2 percent on shots within 5 feet, according to NBA.com) or Brook Lopez (61.2 percent).
Russell Westbrook gets a lot of flak about his shoot-first tendencies, but he’s not the only point guard in Oklahoma City who could bear to look for other scorers in crunch time. The Thunder are ahead of only the Hornets and 76ers in three-point field goal percentage (32.0), and Jackson (27.9 percent) is a major contributing factor.
Jackson is throwing up nearly four threes per game, taking away valuable attempts from Kevin Durant (42.5 percent on threes), Serge Ibaka (40.8 percent) and Anthony Morrow (38.8 percent). The fourth-year guard has pined for a starting role, but he’s going to have a hard time breaking through in OKC while shooting 27.2 percent on triples above the break (where 24.9 percent of his attempts originate).
Okay, so the Lakers are far from being contenders. Accordingly, the team’s brain trust probably doesn’t mind that Young has a seemingly permanent green light right now. It would also be an unpopular move to reign in Swaggy P, who thrives on the amount of freedom allotted to him in the Lakers’ offense and single-handedly makes the team worth watching.
But Young is starting to resemble his idol and teammate Bryant -- and that’s not a good thing from an efficiency standpoint.
Amazingly, Young has taken virtually half the amount of shots Bryant has this season (347 to 685), and both possess a 36.9 field goal percentage. Young holds a slight advantage over the Mamba from long distance, but connects only 29.9 percent of jumpers around the elbows where he takes nearly a third of his shots. As a result, Young would rank dead last in the league in shooting percentage if he had played enough games this year to qualify.
So if Los Angeles is ever going to contend with him on the roster, they might want to start reeling Young in now so he doesn’t develop bad habits.
Ah, who are we kidding. The Savior of Swag already has that shoot-first mentality ingrained in his mind, body and soul. Keep doing you, Swaggy.
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