You know it must be the fantasy off-season because I’m busting out the effective percentages. If you have not seen any of my other posts on this topic, effective percentages are a way of providing an apples-to-apples comparison of player field goal, free throw and three point percentages for fantasy purposes.
How? First you take a player’s field goal, free throw or three point percentage and then you weight it by the number of shots they attempt compared to the league average. Since the more shots a player takes the larger effect they will have on a fantasy team’s percentage categories, simply looking at a player’s box score percentages is only half the story. Effective percentages put all players on a level field by assuming that they all take the same number of shots per game.
The full spreadsheet of effective percentages for every player in the league is available here (if you happen to be into that kind of thing). Onto the results.
Best Overall Percentages: Dirk Nowitzki
FG: 51.7% at 16.2 shots per game (53.5% EFG)
FT: 89.2% at 6.1 shots per game (95.7% EFT)
Dirk is the reigning king of percentages, sporting a field goal percentage above 50% and a free throw percentage right around 90% for the 6th year in a row. The soon-to-be 33 year old may be wearing down in other areas (like in the rebounding department) but it’s his league leading scoring efficiency that kept him all the way up at number 8 on the GMTR player rater for the season.
Best Overall Percentages Taking into Account Threes: Stephen Curry
FG: 48.0% at 14.2 shots per game (48.2 EFG)
FT: 93.4% at 3.1 shots per game (90.4 EFT)
3PT: 44.2% at 4.6 shots per game (50.1 E3P)
Stephen Curry edges out Dirk as the best in the league when you take into account threes thanks to his 44% shooting from behind the arc this season (for comparison, Dirk shot 39% from three). Just 23 years old, Curry already sports the sweetest looking jump shot this side of Ray Allen, and you can’t argue with the results. He’s slightly above league average from the floor (which is impressive because he’s a guard) and kills it from the line and from three. The only knock against him is that he gets to the line about half as much as other guys at the top of this list.
Best Free Throw Percentage: Kevin Martin
FT: 88.8% at 8.4 shots per game (101.4 EFT)
Thought it was going to be Kevin Durant? I did. Durant finished second in the league in EFT by hitting 88% of his 8.7 free throws per game. Martin edged him out by a hair on his way to his best season as a pro, playing in 80 games and averaging 23 points and 2.2 threes a game. I’m not ready to call him an iron man, but it was a great season from a guy most people were writing off as too injury prone.
Best Field Goal Percentage: Dwight Howard
FG: 59.3% at 13.4 shots per game (60.7% EFG)
You probably weren’t expecting to see DH anywhere near a best percentages list, but the guy is a beast as long as he’s within dunking distance of the rim. The number of shots he takes per game isn’t huge compared to some other all-star caliber players in the league, but he and Al Horford were the only two guys this season to take more than 10 shots a game and hit over 55% from the field. Howard’s offensive repertoire may consist of hook shots and dunks, but it’s still impressive to hit nearly 60% of your shots.
Best Percentages – Center Division: Pau Gasol
FG: 52.9% at 13.7 shots per game (53.8% EFG)
FT: 82.3% at 5.2 shots per game (83.9% EFT)
It’s common for a big man to shoot over 50% from the field, but you’re not going to find many who can also hit 80% of their free throws. Gasol started the season on fire with Andrew Bynum out and slowed down as the Lakers did towards the middle of the year. Still, he ended the season ranked 3rd on the GMTR player rater by averaging a 19 and 10 and being the 9th most efficient shooter in the league.
Most Efficient Rookie: Landry Fields
FG: 49.7% at 7.3 shots per game (48.4% EFG)
FT: 76.9% at 1.8 shots per game (77.6% EFT)
It was not a great season for rookies if you’re into efficient shooting (in fairness, it was great if you’re into insane dunks). In fact, Landry comes in as the most efficient shooting rookie this season all the way down at #90 on the list – one spot behind Peja Stojakovic – and right around league average. While Landry finished the season with a whimper in the playoffs against the Celtics, he was one of the big fantasy surprises of the year by seemingly coming out of nowhere to start 81 games for the Knicks. He’ll need to do something figure out how he fits alongside Carmelo Anthony (Fields’ stats fell off a cliff when Melo arrived), but by all accounts the Knicks have found their SG of the future in the versatile Fields.
Most Improved: Russell Westbrook
44.2% at 17.0 shots per game (43.3% EFG)
84.2% at 7.7 shots per game (90.2% EFT)
32.7% at 1.3 shots per game (34.5% E3P)
Westbook improved nearly every part of his game this year on his way to a breakout season. But let’s forget about the points, assists and steals and focus on the important stuff – those percentages. A big part of his breakout this year was an across the board improvement in his scoring efficiency. His field goal percentage increased from 41.8% in 2009-10 to 44.2% this season and his field goal percentage jumped from 78.0% to 84.2%. Westbrook basically turned himself from a below average shooter to one of the top-25 percentage guys in the league for fantasy purposes.
Give Him the Rock: Two Guys Who Need More Shots Next Season: Arron Afflalo/Amir Johnson
It’s tough to separate out shooting efficiency from shooting volume/usage rate. Is a player an efficient scorer because they are able to take fewer (but higher quality) shots, while a guy like Carmelo Anthony has to carrying a team’s offense on a nightly basis? Would a player’s efficiency plummet if they were forced to take more shots? It’s a question that requires a book to adequately answer, however, the one thing I do know is that both Afflalo and Johnson would benefit from having the ball in their hands a little more next season.
FG: 49.8% at 9.1 shots per game (48.9% EFG)
FT: 84.7% at 2.4 shots per game (82.2% EFT)
3PT: 42.3% at 3.6 shots per game (44.6% E3P)
Afflalo had above average percentages from all over the court this season and was nearly part of a 50%/80%/40% club that I just made up. His season was such a success that he received some votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Afflalo’s shooting did tail off by a few percentage points after Melo and Billups were traded to the Knicks, but it’s tough to tell how much of that was due to the fact that he’s was playing through a hamstring injury at the end of the season.
FG: 56.8% at 6.9 shots per game (52.3% EFG)
FT: 78.8% at 2.2 shots per game (78.5% EFT)
I wouldn’t call Johnson’s season an unqualified success as he missed 10 games with injuries and ended up splitting time at PF with Reggie Evans and later Ed Davis. He was efficient in his 26 minutes on the court, improving his free throw percentage by 15 percentage points this season and shooting nearly 57% from the floor on a ridiculously low 6.9 shots per game. He actually shot the ball less than guys like Christian Eyenga and Spencer Hawes on a per game basis. Maybe Andrea Bargnani would be willing to hand over a couple of his shots next season.
Coming up next – the list of the league’s worst shooters.
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