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Important Shooting Percentages in the NBA

At the end of every fantasy year, I like to take a look back and geek out at the end of year stats to see what I can learn before the start of next season. And one of my favorite things to look at (besides Friday’s Tiny Dancers) are player percentages, because I think the percentage categories are one of the least understood aspects of fantasy leagues (along with games played and injuries).

As I’ve done in past years, I’ve gone through the full list of players for the 2009-10 season and calculated something I like to call effective percentages for the three main percentage categories (field goal, free throw and three point). This new percentage calculation weights each player’s percentages based on the number of shots taken compared to the league average*.

Since the more shots a guy takes, the more effect he has on a fantasy team’s percentage categories, this new calculation puts everyone on a level playing field by showing what percentage a player would have to shoot to have the same impact IF they instead took the league average number of shots per game. This makes comparisons between players much easier to make, since everyone can be directly compared using these effective percentages.

The full spreadsheet is available here, but here are some of the highlights.

Free Throw Freaks

Kevin Durant

90% free throw shooter at 10.2 attempts per game, 111% effective free throw percentage

One more reason to love Durant: He was by far the best shooter in the league last season (combining all three types of percentages) paced by his amazing free throw shooting. He led the league with 10.2 attempts per game and hit them at a 90% clip. If he instead took the league average 3.9 free throw attempts per game, he would have to have hit 111% of them to have the same effect. Or something like that, since it would be impossible. Durant was also slightly above average percentage-wise from the field and from behind the arc this season and he will likely enter all-time-great territory as he matures over the next few seasons… or maybe he’s already there.

Dirk Nowitzki

91% free throw shooter at 7.2 attempts per game, 104% effective free throw percentage

Believe it or not, this is the best free throw shooting performance of Dirk’s career (and he’s had some good ones). Like Durant, Dirk is also a plus field goal (48%) and three point shooter (42%) and according to my calculations, is the second best percentage guy in the league behind KD.

Chauncey Billups

91% free throw shooter at 7.0 attempts per game, 102% effective free throw percentage

Billups was the third best free throw shooter in the league last season, finishing slightly behind Dirk because he took 0.2 fewer attempts per game. Billups’ finished the year ranked #16 on the GMTR rater and I wonder if efficient guys like him and Dirk tend to age better than the non-efficient guys like Allen Iverson.

Three Point Efficiency

Anthony Morrow

46% three point shooter at 4.4 attempts per game, 52% effective three point percentage

The formerly undrafted Morrow was overshadowed on GSW this season by Stephen Curry, but no one in the league was a better three point shooter than Morrow – he averaged 2.0 threes a game on 46% shooting. How many guys in the league shoot under 46% from the field, never mind just from behind the arc? Morrow is a restricted free agent this summer and is definitely a guy who could in for a breakout year next season if he ends up in the right situation.

Mike Miller

48% three point shooter at 3.2 attempts per game, 50% effective three point percentage

It was a bit of a rough year for Miller thanks to injuries and the fact that he was playing for the Wizards. But he had a career year of sorts at least in his ability to efficiently knock down the three, as he finished the season hitting 1.5 a game at a 48% clip. Miller is an unrestricted free agent this off season and there are plenty of teams who could use his skill set.

Channing Frye

44% three point shooter at 4.8 attempts per game, 50% effective three point percentage

Despite his strong overall performance this regular season (the playoffs were not so kind to him on the other hand), it was difficult to build a successful fantasy team around Frye this season since he was more swingman than center and an inconsistent one at that (if anyone was able to do it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments). Frye certainly had his strengths, the stengthiest of which being his ability to hit the three. It probably goes without saying that his 2.1 a game this season was tops among centers.

Kyle Korver

54% three point shooter at 2.1 attempts per game, 50% effective three point percentage

Korver was a fringe fantasy player at best this season, averaging only 18 minutes and 7 points a game for the Jazz. But he’s in this league for one reason and he was able to hit the three about as efficiently as anyone in the league.

Field Goal Monsters

Dwight Howard

61% field goal shooter at 10.2 attempts per game, 59% effective field goal percentage

As bad as Howard is from the free throw line (and while he’s not Shaq in his prime level atrocious, he’s still atrocious) Howard is nearly as good from the floor, leading the league with a 59% EFG%. But talk about a guy who needs to get his shot off more – Howard’s 10.2 attempts per game was below league average in 2009-10. It’s tough to be a dominating offensive player when your limited to 10 shots a game. Just ask this 75-year old guy.

Amar’e Stoudemire

56% field goal shooter at 15.4 attempts per game, 58% effective field goal percentage

On the other hand, Amar’e averaged 50% more attempts than Howard (15.4 a game) and the result was 23 points a game compared to 18 for Howard. With Amar’e expected to join this year’s free agent bonanza, there is a chance his offensive game could be exposed if he leaves Steve Nash (like a certain Matrix before him), but unlike many players (coughtdwighthowardcough), Amar’e is athletic and talented enough to be a beast on offense no matter what lineup he’s running with.

Carlos Boozer

56% field goal shooter at 14.1 attempts per game, 58% effective field goal percentage

Boozer gets a lot of crap for some of his less honorable career choices, but the guy can be an offensive powerhouse, as he averaged 19.5 points a game on 56% shooting during the regular season. Boozer is another guy who is a free agent this summer and with the Jazz already near the luxury tax threshold and with a capable replacement in Paul Millsap, expect Boozer to end up on a different team come the fall.

David Lee

55% field goal shooter at 15.5 attempts per game, 57% effective field goal percentage

Among the many reasons why we love David Lee is his efficiency with which he scores. His 57% EFG% places him as a fourth most efficient shooter from the field this season and helped propel him to the first 20 PPG season of his career. We’ll see what the Knicks do this off season, but Lee will be a fantasy force no matter what situation he finds himself in next year.

Some All Around Goodness

Steve Nash

51% from the field, 43% three point percentage, 94% from the line

The seemingly ageless Nash had a strong of a regular season as ever and was the third most efficient shooter in the league behind the double-d’s (Durant and Dirk). If the Suns lose Amar’e to free agency it could have a significant effect on Nash’s game next season, but in the past he’s shown the ability to lift just about anyone who plays alongside him to another level on offense (see, Frye, Channing).

Paul Pierce

47% from the field, 41% three point percentage, 85% from the line

Rondo may be the future of the Celtics, but Pierce was still the most efficient Celtic this season on the offensive end of the court, hitting 1.5 threes a game while shooting 41% from behind the arc and connecting on 85% of his free throws. I hate watching the C’s end of game play where they give Pierce the ball and clear out so he can take his man one-on-one (it reeks of non-creativity), but I can see why they want to get the ball in Pierce’s hands when the game is on the line.

Stephen Curry

46% from the field, 44% three point percentage, 89% from the line

Curry got a lot of attention this year for the fact that he connected on 44% of the 4.8 threes a game he took (that’s 2.1 a game if you’re scoring at home). But the 22-year old was also super efficient from the line, as he hit 89% of his free throws. Not bad for a rookie who many thought wasn’t athletic enough to be a star in this league.



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