Here is a quick, less formal, and not entirely conclusive study after the first game of the season.
The Chicago Bulls attempted 93 shots from the field in their opening day loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of these, 31 were attempted by Derrick Rose. The most taken by another player on the Bulls was 13.
In Stumbling on Wins we noted that both Isiah Thomas and Stephen Marbury consistently led their respective teams in field goal attempts. In essence, some point guards – the players charged with distributing the basketball and therefore shot attempts – often decide that they are the person who should take the shot. Derrick Rose was one of these guards in the first game this season. Has this been the case historically?
One game doesn’t really tell us much (a frustrating point at the beginning of the season). But if we look at last season, we do see –as the following table illustrates – that Rose has been a point guard who likes to call his own number. Rose led all point guards (who played at least 2,000 minutes) in field goal attempts per 48 minutes. He also led all point guards in field goal attempts.
This story this list tells is not confined to who shoots more than others. We also see that the point guards who shoot the most tend to be less productive [in terms of WP48 (Wins Produced per 48 minutes), a measure that considers all the box score statistics] than the point guards that shoot the least. The ten point guards listed first in the above table have an average WP48 of 0.088 while the ten point guards listed at the bottom have an average WP48 of 0.128. No, it is not a very strong correlation. But given the direction of the relationship, it does not appear that the scoring point guards are helping their teams more than the point guards who take fewer shots.
So should Derrick Rose shoot less? One could argue that his teammates aren’t very good scorers. So maybe that is why Rose shoots so much. On the other hand (a phrase economists love to use) Rose is often taking the shots. So how can we tell if the other players are capable of scoring more?
Whether Rose should shoot less is hard to say. We do know that Rose has an incentive to take shots. Scoring is the primary determinant of salary (a point Stephen Marbury made three years ago). So we can understand why Rose is taking so many shots. What is not clear is whether all those shot attempts are really in the best interest of those who want to see the Chicago Bulls win more basketball games.