NBA Shooting by Distance statistics
Back in February we pondered Is Outside Shooting a Lost Art? in the NBA, and looked at shooting performance by shot type (jump shots vs layups vs dunks vs tips). This time round we thought it best to tackle the issue head on: shooting performance by shot distance and shot clock timing!
Many NBA pundits are commenting on what they perceive to be a dwindling number of players with good mid-range games (eg not the close shots where "finishing" ability is the key, nor the three-point bombs which have also become prominent shot choices for most teams and many players), so first let's begin with a review of NBA shooting by distance on a league wide basis:
NBA League Averages
Are the numbers above what you would have guessed? Probably not, unless you are indeed an astute NBA follower.
We should issue some quick disclaimers -- we are only looking at shot attempts, and not considering the foul drawing frequencies (which is clearly higher in say the 6 to 11 foot range than behind the three point line), and turnover rates (which may also be higher the closer in you get), which means the Field Goal %'s may not resemble the more significant "Points Per 100 Possessions" numbers. Nor are we evaluating at this point the passing potential from a location or indeed the value of a shot following a "passed up shot" from a certain spot. There are also a number of shots which are hard to classify.
Also worth noting is that the shot distance category most susceptible to changing by the shot clock status is what we term the "close range" shot of 0 to 5 feet. It makes sense that the 0-10 seconds elapsed zone would be a high percentage, given you have the putbacks and all those fast break dunks, but beyond that we wouldn't have foreseen much difference between say the 11-15 secs and the 16-20 secs.
All right, enough of the league detail, let's get to some individual players!
1) Close Range Shots (0 to 5 feet)
With players who appear on more than one team in a season we keep the stats separate, but if you add in Ratliff's Atlanta numbers he drops to 67% on the close shots, which would mean the proverbial 'king of the NBA paint' Shaquille O'Neal had the best close range performance...and a lot of shots from that range!
Danny Ainge obviously likes Ricky Davis' game, and here's perhaps one reason why -- Davis comes in as the #2 best "finisher" if you will from close quarters...now if only he could hit the outside shot at a better rate!
As for the low percentage shooters from short distance, it's predominantly point guards who may be able to drive inside, but clearly face some obstacles in getting the ball into the basket when they do.
2) Short Two's (6 to 11 feet)
Several of the leaders in this category are players who perhaps don't draw a ton of defensive attention, but Sam Cassell is simply an outstanding shooter in the mid-range in general and makes the other team pay when he can get a little space at short distance.
On the other hand, as much as we love Ben Wallace, his shooting touch is flat out lousy once he leaves the immediate vicinity of the basket. The fact that we have two Sacramento big men, as well as two Nuggets suggests that part of the problem for some players may be in the flow of the team offense. Brad Miller is a very capable shooter from 12+ feet, but struggles apparently when taking a shot in congestion.
3) Mid Range (12 to 17 feet)
Ah, the domain of the mid-rangers. Jim Jackson may not be able to finish strong these days, but he can still hit the mid-distance jumper, especially with Yao, Francis and Mobley pulling defenders away from him. The Warriors had two guys with excellent touch (and when Claxton and Cardinal were on the floor at the same time, the Warriors had a +121 plus/minus in 752 minutes...hmmm), and we wonder a little about Abdur-Rahim's emphatic "no" to Portland asking him to start at small forward, given he does have a very viable mid-range game.
Meanwhile with the poor shooters, a couple of names raise eyebrows, particularly Kirilenko, but its partly a small sample issue, and partly perhaps a "bail-out the team with the shot clock running down" manifestation!
4) Long Two's (18 feet to the three point line)
Gee, Minnesota's got some shooters, right? With Garnett, Cassell and Hassell they've taken what is the worst shooting option on a league wide basis and made it a solid par of their offensive core. Brad Miller couldn't hit the 6 to 11 foot shot, but is highly effective when left alone for a long two. Stromile Swift -- a player earning kudos from a number of basketball stat-heads -- also displayed a deft touch from outside...a nice skill to have for a big man.
Turning to the demerit side of the equation, Bruce Bowen has put up very respectable three point shooting numbers, but is awful from in front of the line -- a closer look at possession type (see New NBA Statistics) may be in order, as perhaps he is solid when his feet are set and all he has to do is catch and shoot, but if called to come round a screen or god forbid take a shot off a dribble, maybe that's when the bricks descend from the sky.
There's no doubt a number of the players listed on the right side can shoot, so maybe it is a case that the long two is often for these guys a forced shot, a shot from a 'dead spot' on the floor for them, or even one where the play didn't unfold the way it should.
Final WordsYou might think that looking at shooting by distance would be the final say on the matter, but with a significant number of 'surprises' popping up in the list, we can't help but think that context still is crucial, and missing in many cases from the raw data we've presented here.
What would represent the ultimate data set to get the most accurate read on all of this, factors that can only be retrieved through meticulous charting?
As it stands right now, yes mid range shots are low yielding in contrast to close range and three-pointers, but they may serve to keep the field goal % of other shot distance zones up by imparting a level of unpredictability to the offense as a whole. At the same time, those folks lamenting that the NBA is becoming a show of dunks and three's are not fully clued in -- that's where the money is!
Copyright © 2003 by 82games.com, All Rights Reserved