From Durant to Howard: the Effectiveness of NBA Stars

| by Give Me The Rock

In what has become an annual tradition, I’ve calculated something I like to call effective percentages for every player in the league.

Effective percentages begin with players’ standard percentages, which are then weighted by the number of shots they attempt compared to the league average. Since a guy who takes a lot of shots will have a larger effect on a fantasy team’s percentage categories than someone who does not, simply looking at a player’s regular percentages is only half the story. Effective percentages put all players on a level field so that they can be directly compared.

These field goal, free throw and three point percentages are based on the year-end stats from last season. You can check out the full spreadsheet here.

On to the fun stuff (or is that just me). Effective percentages allow us to identify the best and worst shooters in the league for fantasy purposes…

Best Free Throw Percentages

Kevin Durant – 111% Effective Free Throw Percentage (90% at 10.2 attempts per game)
Dirk Nowitzki – 104% (91% at 7.2 attempts)
Chauncey Billups – 102% (91% at 7.0 attempts)
Kevin Martin – 97% (88% at 7.4 attempts)
Danny Granger – 91% (85% at 6.9 attempts)

Durant is currently the king of the free throw shooters, hitting 90% of the 10.2 free throws he took a game last season. 111% may sound like a strange number, and it kind of is. That is the percentage of free throws Durant would have to make if he took the league average number of free throws instead of 10.2 a game. In other words, it would be impossible. Dirk and Billups have been consistent over 100% for the majority of their careers.


Worst Free Throw Percentages

Dwight Howard – 31% (59% at 10.0 attempts)
Shaquille O’Neal – 47% (50% at 4.3 attempts)
Kwame Brown – 54% (34% at 2.0 attempts)
Ben Wallace – 55% (41% at 2.3 attempts)
Josh Smith – 57% (62% at 5.2 attempts)

No surprise that Howard is the worst free throw shooter in the league by a wide margin. Still, he’s not as bad as Shaq was in his prime. If we go all the way back to the year 2000, Shaq’s EFT% was -6%, which is like a black hole of free throw shooting collapsing on itself. And now, even as an old man who played limited minutes for the Cavs, Shaq was still able to perform horrifically at the line. The other notable character in the top 5 is Josh Smith, who is bad enough from the line to make you think for a second before drafting him.

Best Field Goal Percentages

Dwight Howard – 59% Effective Field Goal Percentage (61% at 10.2 attempts per game)
Amare Stoudemire – 58% (56% at 15.4 attempts per game)
Carlos Boozer – 58% (56% at 14.1 attempts per game)
David Lee – 57% (55% at 15.5 attempts per game)
Andrew Bynum – 56% (57% at 10.6 attempts per game)

He can’t buy a basket from the line, but Howard is money from 3 feet and closer. It’s no surprise that big men dominate the top of this list. Lebron James is the best shooting non-big man from the field at #17 on the list, while Steve Nash is still the best shooting guard in the league at #41.

Worst Field Goal Percentages

Brandon Jennings – 35% (37% at 14.8 attempts per game)
Gilbert Arenas – 38% (41% at 19.3 attempts per game)
Rafer Alston – 38% (35% at 8.6 attempts per game)
Trevor Ariza – 38% (39% at 13.9 attempts per game)
Larry Hughes – 39% (35% at 8.6 attempts per game)

For all the good things Jennings did in his rookie season for the Bucks, he was by far the worst shooter in the league, making only 37% of his 14.8 attempts per game. It will be interesting to see how much Trevor Ariza’s shooting improves on the Hornets this year while getting set up by Chris Paul.

Best Three Point Percentages

Anthony Morrow – 53% Effective Three Point Percentage (46% at 4.4 attempts per game)
Mike Miller – 51% (48% at 3.2 attempts per game)
Channing Frye – 51% (44% at 4.8 attempts per game)
Raja Bell – 51% (44% at 4.5 attempts per game)
Kyle Korver – 51% (54% at 2.1 attempts per game)

Three point percentage isn’t a common fantasy category, but if your league does use it, then guys like Morrow, Miller and Frye gain a huge amount of fantasy value for their ability to hit a lot of threes super efficiently.

Worst Three Point Percentages

Baron Davis – 23% (28% at 3.9 attempts per game)
Rasheed Wallace – 25% (28% at 3.7 attempts per game)
Devin Harris – 25% (28% at 3.4 attempts per game)
Tracy McGrady – 27% (25% at 2.1 attempts per game)
Josh Howard – 27% (27% at 2.5 attempts per game)

This is basically the “please stop taking threes” list. Sheed did his part by retiring and McGrady may follow him soon.

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