DeAndre Jordan led the NBA in field goal percentage in 2012-13, but what does that actually mean? Field goal percentage remains our best proxy for shooting ability, but when we ignore the key interactions between court space and shooting percentage, we do a terrible job of assessing the league’s best shooters. DeAndre Jordan is actually one of the worst shooters in the league, not one of the best. Who can forget the timeless demonstration of this fact a few years back:
LeBron James is the king of the NBA. Not only is he the leading scorer close to the basket, he possesses the highest field goal percentage there as well. James has barged into the league’s most sacred space and taken it over. One of the many amazing things about LeBron is that he rules a spot traditionally governed by the likes of Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and Dwight Howard. Although he gets many “easy” shots here in transition, he wouldn’t be on this chart if he didn’t dominate this spot in half-court offense as well.
What in tarnation is Spencer Hawes doing up there? He’s only marginally better than an average midrange shooter, but when he gets over toward that left baseline he turns into Jesus Shuttleshawes. Hawes made 54 of his 106 shots in that area this season, which led the league.
Kobe Bryant was a much more efficient shooter this season. Although the haters will never admit it, Kobe is one of the smartest and cagiest shooters in the league. He can generate shots at will, but the scary thing is, he’s also able to knock them down at high rates.
Chris Bosh had a very strange postseason. He vanished in some big moments, but rose up in the absolute biggest moment of the entire season, playing a key part in that unforgettable sequence at the end of Game 6 of the Finals, grabbing the most important rebound and delivering the biggest assist of the year. The weirdest part of Bosh’s postseason was the 3-point experiment. He made a few huge 3s last year against the Celtics, but that was an anomaly. That’s why it was strange to see the Heat tinker with Bosh’s range during the dogfights against Indiana and San Antonio. Like Kevin Garnett, he’s a lethal midrange threat, but the edge of his range is almost exactly that pesky 3-point barrier. In fact, he’s one of the best pure midrange catch-and-shoot guys in the league, especially behind the elbows.
Luke Ridnour is one of the most underrated jump shooters in the league. Out of the 45 NBA players with at least 350 midrange attempts this season, Ridnour ranks first in efficiency, hitting 49 percent of his shots. He was unbelievably accurate from the right baseline, where he made 56 percent.
When the Wizards signed Martell Webster to a four-year, $22 million deal this summer, there were a lot of snarky tweets out there. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, but I love Martell Webster. I don’t think many people realize that the Wizards are a great corner 3 shooting team, and that Martell Webster is one huge reason why they made a staggering 46 percent of their corner 3s this season. If it’s true that the corner 3 is “the most important jump shot” on the court, than Webster is clearly a huge offensive asset.
In terms of both frequency and efficiency, there is no doubt that Webster is an elite corner man; he made 73 corner 3s last season, trailing only Shane Battier and Danny Green, who both enjoy the sort of reputation that Webster deserves. Only 20 players in the league made at least 50 of their corner 3s last season, and out of these 20, Webster ranked third in shooting percentage. The moral of the story is simple: Stop ragging on Martell Webster, you guys.
Elsewhere behind the arc, some unsurprising characters had great shooting performances. When you watch Steph Curry shoot a 3, it’s almost surprising when he misses. This is especially true along the right wing, where he is actually more likely to make than to miss. Some people have suggested that Curry could eventually hit over 50 percent of his 3s for an entire season. I don’t think that’s possible, but if anybody could do that, it would probably be him.
Dallas Mavericks fans should be thrilled with the Jose Calderon acquisition. Calderon has quietly been a very good offensive player for years now, and he’s a tremendous jump shooter. Fifty NBA players attempted at least 200 midrange shots and 200 3-point shots last season; of these 50, Calderon ranked first in 3-point efficiency and fourth in midrange efficiency. In other words, he outshot Steph Curry from behind the arc and Kevin Durant in the midrange. The guy is simply one of the best shooters in the world; he’s a Spanish man’s Steve Nash, and it will be fun to watch him play on a decent team for once.