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NBA Player Shot Zones

One of the more interesting things we hope to learn from our mega charting endeavor for the upcoming 2005-06 season is what the average points per possession looks like from different spots on the floor. For now we don't have details on where fouls or turnovers occur, which hinders this effort, but we do know where the shots themselves are taken from!

The first question is how many zones do you want use and what layouts they represent. While we have various schemes at 82games we look at, a good place to start is with a "16 zone" plan.

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Zone Breakdowns:
Zones 1 to 5 - the three point zones
Zones 6 to 10 - the "outside the paint" two point zones
Zones 11 to 14 - in the paint
Zone 15 - at the rim layups
Zone 16 - dunks

Another scheme we often use is an 8-zone layout where the 'mirror images' are combined, eg zones 1+5 = baseline 3's. 6+10 = baseline 2's, etc.


For this article we're going to look at the leading individual players by zone

Baseline 3's
Zone 1: Left corner three-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
SA
 Bowen
49
108
.454
TOR
 Peterson
38
93
.409
PHO
 Johnson
38
81
.481
PHI
 Korver
34
77
.442
MIA
 E.Jones
29
69
.420

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
GS
 Dunleavy
20
35
.571
TOR
 Marshall
36
69
.522
SEA
 Lewis
31
62
.500
MIA
 D.Jones
17
34
.500
PHO
 Johnson
39
81
.481

Zone 5: Right corner three-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
PHO
 Johnson
46
90
.511
TOR
 Marshall
38
90
.422
SA
 Bowen
34
89
.382
HOU
 Wesley
27
60
.450
NY
 Crawford
27
59
.458

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
SAC
 Mobley
18
30
.600
SAC
 Stojakovic
19
33
.576
BOS
 Davis
19
33
.576
MIA
 D.Jones
26
49
.531
MEM
 Miller
17
33
.515

Some guys earn a nice living by hanging out in the corners and waiting for a pass to set them up with a catch-and-shoot three. Bruce Bowen, Joe Johnson and Donyell Marshall all basically ranked in the top five for attempts from both the left and right corner, and the shooting percentages were definitely impressive in many cases. The question is can these guys survive without other big time offensive weapons drawing a defense's attention? We will see how many good corner looks Joe Johnson gets in Atlanta as opposed to feasting of the Nash/Stoudemire leftovers in Phoenix.

Wing 3's
Zone 2: Left wing three-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
SEA
 Allen
95
237
.401
MIA
 D.Jones
76
195
.390
PHO
 Richardson
76
191
.398
PHI
 Korver
74
181
.409
PHI
 Iverson
53
170
.312

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
DAL
 Terry
35
69
.507
NY
 T.Thomas
26
53
.491
HOU
 Barry
25
51
.490
MEM
 Miller
56
116
.483
PHO
 Johnson
39
81
.481

Zone 4: Right wing three-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
PHO
 Richardson
95
254
.374
WAS
 Arenas
81
212
.382
NY
 Crawfored
68
183
.372
POR
 Stoudamire
76
180
.422
PHI
 Korver
69
163
.423

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
HOU
 Sura
27
54
.500
MIA
 D.Jones
69
148
.466
GS
 B.Davis
39
85
.459
CHI
 Gordon
42
92
.457
SAC
 Mobley
37
81
.457

The wing three's are the most common three point shots (60% of three's come from zones 2&4 as opposed to 22% for the baseline three-point zones and 17% for the straightaway zone 3). That's not to say they are always good shots, as Mr. Iverson's zone two exploits point out! Q-Richardson cracks both the right side and left side most attempts leaderboards, but again it will be interesting to see how he performs without Nash, Stoudemire and Marion drawing more attention from the defense.

Straightaway 3's -- Zone 3
Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
HOU
 McGrady
53
145
.366
WAS
 Arenas
47
131
.359
POR
 Stoudamire
42
118
.356
PHO
 Richardson
30
96
.313
TOR
 Alston
33
90
.367

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
LAL
 Cook
27
53
.509
GS
 Murphy
26
52
.500
ORL
 Turkoglu
23
46
.500
DET
 Billups
38
78
.487
DAL
 Finley
24
51
.471



McGrady often likes to begin a play with the ball at the straightaway three-pointer zone -- giving him the triple threat option to pull up for the three, or drive left, or right to the basket.

Despite having the straight on look at the basket, this was only tied for the second best three point zone. The order of shooting accuracy on a league wide basis goes zone 5 (right corner), then zone 1 (left corner) and 3 (straightaway), with a significant drop off to zone 4 (right wing) and then zone 3 (left wing).

Baseline two-point shots
Zone 6: Left baseline two-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
NY
 K.Thomas
74
173
.428
DET
 R.Wallace
61
147
.415
MIN
 Garnett
65
141
.461
MIL
 Mason
54
141
.383
LAC
 Simmons
64
138
.464

Most accurate (Min 40 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
IND
 Miller
27
42
.643
UTA
 Bell
30
52
.577
MIN
 Hassell
34
63
.540
BOS
 Blount
34
63
.540
MIN
 Szczerbiak
40
77
.519

Zone 10: Right baseline two-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
TOR
 Rose
83
165
.503
TOR
 Bosh
62
138
.449
NY
 K.Thomas
69
129
.535
CLE
 James
44
128
.344
DAL
 Nowitzki
63
122
.516

Most accurate (Min 40 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
DAL
 Terry
27
45
.600
CHI
 Harrington
27
50
.540
NY
 K.Thomas
69
129
.535
DEN
 Miller
23
43
.535
ATL
 Drobnjak
24
46
.522

Kurt Thomas shoots more baseline two's than anyone, and particularly from the right side he is very adept at making the shot. He should find many more good baseline opportunities in Phoenix. Toronto seemed to run a lot of plays last year that wound up with Bosh and Rose taking a right baseline J. Minnesota likewise may have had an over-reliance perhaps on the mid range jumpers at the expense of more three's and inside looks. Whereas Bruce Bowen sits behind the three point line, Hassell sits in front of it for his token offensive contributions.

Wing two-point shots
Zone 7: Left wing two-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
HOU
 McGrady
93
219
.425
PHI
 Iverson
78
206
.379
SAC
 Bibby
70
180
.389
MIN
 Cassell
87
167
.521
MIA
 Wade
67
155
.432

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
TOR
 Bonner
32
53
.604
BOS
 Blount
31
54
.574
PHO
 Nash
43
75
.573
PHI
 Thomas
37
68
.544
MIN
 Garnett
66
123
.537

Zone 9: Right wing two-pointers

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
DAL
 Nowitzki
139
328
.424
ORL
 Francis
75
205
.366
MIL
 Redd
89
204
.436
DEN
 Anthony
62
186
.333
HOU
 McGrady
72
179
.402

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
PHO
 Nash
59
106
.557
IND
 Miller
50
92
.543
UTA
 Eisley
33
62
.533
MIN
 Szczerbiak
50
95
.526
CHA
 Hart
41
79
.519

Steve Nash ranks #3 in accuracy on the left wing two-pointers, #1 in accuracy on the right side ones. He's not too shabby either on the straightaway two's as we will see in a moment. Meanwhile his old teammate Dirk Nowitzki lives on the right side, taking a vastly higher number of shots from zone nine than anyone else in the league. And yes, Minnesota has some great mid-range shooters, but when we get to correlating team shot selection by zone to wins and efficiency (in the next article) we'll have some comments to make about that...

Straightaway two-pointers -- Zone 8
Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIN
 Garnett
74
161
.460
PHI
 Iverson
57
154
.370
SAC
 Webber
63
149
.423
HOU
 McGrady
67
146
.459
ORL
 Francis
59
142
.415

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIL
 Williams
56
92
.609
PHO
 Nash
55
96
.573
NO
 Brown
42
75
.560
DAL
 Terry
31
59
.525
UTA
 Bell
33
63
.524



Steve Nash was amazing from zones 7, 8, and 9. Locations on the court from which the league as a whole shot .389, .412, and .386 respectively saw Nash fire .573, .573, .557 -- best midrange shooter period. Now partly it's because he can create a good look by his omnipresent threat to drive or deliver a dazzling pass.

Kudos to PJ Brown for knocking down the above the free throw line jumpers. Let's hope the year in Oklahoma City brings more team success to the Hornets and this "ultimate pro" especially.

"High Paint" shots
Zone 11: Left side "high" in the paint shots

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
LAC
 Brand
44
91
.484
MIN
 Garnett
36
79
.456
HOU
 Ming
25
65
.385
SA
 Duncan
19
64
.297
PHI
 Iverson
26
64
.406

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
ORL
 Hill
29
49
.592
TOR
 Bosh
23
39
.590
SEA
 Allen
25
44
.568
MIN
 Szczerbiak
21
40
.525
DEN
 Boykins
23
45
.511

Zone 12: Right side "high" in the paint shots

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
LAC
 Brand
24
64
.375
MIN
 Garnett
27
59
.458
DAL
 Nowtizki
25
57
.439
DET
 Hamilton
21
55
.382
CLE
 McInnis
26
51
.510

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
PHO
 Stoudemire
23
45
.511
CLE
 McInnis
26
51
.510
BOS
 Pierce
15
30
.500
IND
 O'Neal
19
40
.475
SA
 Parker
14
30
.467

While you might expect that shots closer to the basket would show a higher average field goal percentage, that's not entirely true. Certainly when you are at point blank range the FG% skyrockets, but high in the paint shots are actually low percentage -- .366 for zone 11 and .353 for zone 12. You won't be open from that location often, and frequently you'll have to contend with help defenders reaching in for the steal or even double teaming on contesting the shot! Zones 11 and 12 are arguably NBA "no man's land" for shot attempts.

"Low Block" shots
Zone 13: Left block in the paint shots

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIA
 O'Neal
62
149
.416
SA
 Duncan
54
127
.425
MIN
 Garnett
49
120
.408
LAC
 Brand
46
113
.407
CHA
 Ely
45
110
.409

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
LAC
 Rebraca
29
36
.806
DET
 McDyess
23
38
.605
CHI
 Harrington
17
31
.548
MIN
 Olowokandi
25
47
.532
DET
 Prince
28
55
.509

Zone 14: Right block in the paint shots

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIA
 O'Neal
53
125
.424
CHI
 Curry
41
112
.366
HOU
 Ming
45
91
.495
PHO
 Stoudemire
23
87
.264
SA
 Duncan
43
87
.494

Most accurate (Min 30 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIN
 Szczerbiak
18
31
.581
PHO
 Johnson
27
49
.551
TOR
 Rose
34
66
.515
BOS
 Blount
17
34
.500
DAL
 Daniels
16
32
.500

There's a key note on these numbers -- we have separate breakouts for Dunks and 'at the rim' layups, which means the zone 13 and zone 14 shots are the ones which came short of point blank range and usually are heavily contested. If you include layups, dunks and the low block shots together, it's high percentage territory, but the non point blank close shots are surprisingly hard to hit in the NBA. Even the mighty Shaq can be constrained if you can get him to shoot a little ways away from the basket.

"At the Rim" shots
Zone 15: at the rim layups

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
PHI
 Iverson
313
539
.581
MIA
 Wade
256
481
.532
SA
 Parker
297
457
.650
NY
 Marbury
265
432
.613
CLE
 James
258
410
.629

Most accurate (Min 125 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
ORL
 Hill
163
219
.744
MIN
 Szczerbiak
132
185
.714
BOS
 Blount
100
140
.714
DEN
 Miller
207
292
.709
SEA
 Daniels
95
134
.709

Zone 16: Dunks

Most attempts
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
MIA
 O'Neal
258
273
.945
PHO
 Stoudemire
238
261
.912
DEN
 Martin
166
180
.922
ORL
 Howard
161
172
.936
PHO
 Marion
143
152
.941

Most accurate (Min 50 Att)
Tm
Player
FGM
FGA
FG%
CLE
 James
128
130
.985
BOS
 Davis
59
60
.983
UTA
 Boozer
54
55
.982
LAC
 Brand
73
75
.975
DEN
 Johnson
61
63
.968

These are the glamour zones -- the players who can get to the rim for layups and dunks are generally going to be your superstars: Iverson, LeBron, Wade, Shaq, Stoudemire. Let's not overlook the guys who may not get there as often but can finish when they do, like Grant Hill and his league leading zone 15 percentage.

If you add the at the rim layups and dunk attempts together, the league leaders are:
1. Shaq
2. Stoudemire
3. Wade
4. Iverson
5. LeBron
6. Parker
7. Anthony
8. Marion
9. Marbury
10. J-Rich

Who will climb into the top ten (and higher) for 05-06? We'd guess that Dwight Howard (#13 in at the rim FGA last year) will make some big noise inside!

The follow up article to this will look at team based shooting by zones and the relationship to winning.


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