Taking Shots Vs. Making Shots

A little over a year ago, NBA “experts” were telling us that the Knicks are now much better – and the Nuggets are now in trouble — because Carmelo Anthony was playing in New York. The Knicks clearly concurred when they gave Melo a maximum player salary.

Now we are hearing how the Warriors must be tanking – and the Bucks are improved – because Monta Ellis departed Oakland for Milwaukee.

In both instances, the team that got the “star” was supposed to be much better. And the team losing the “star” was doomed.

It is these storylines that led me to write the following for Huffington Post.

Should You Be an NBA Star for Taking Shots or Making Shots?

This article makes the following simple observations (and I hope everyone sees the simplicity of these observations):

  • Scoring totals are driven by shot attempts and shooting efficiency (that should be obvious).
  • Shot attempts are not really “created” but are generally just “taken” from a player’s teammates (may not be obvious, but I think this is clear when you look at the data).
  • Therefore, in evaluating a player’s scoring prowess, scoring totals can be deceptive and we are better off focusing on shooting efficiency.

In other words, the NBA shouldn’t reward players for taking shots (from their teammates).  The NBA should reward players for making shots.  Yes, basketball should be this simple!

In the case of Melo and Monta, each player has not been consistently good at actually making shots.  And that should mean that people shouldn’t be arguing that either player is really a “star”.

Or, to put it yet another way, I suspect that if both Melo and Monta took fewer shots – and didn’t average more than 20 points per game – no one would think they are “stars”.

And that is the simple message I would like to convey to basketball fans and “experts”.  You shouldn’t be fooled by scoring totals.  If a player is just taking shots from his teammates – and not making a high percentage of these shots – then he is not helping (with respect to this aspect of the game).

Let me close this brief post with one more observation:  It seems to me that I have read a number of stories recently about how Melo is not a “star”. These stories seemed motivated by the Knicks inability to win with Anthony.  Here are my questions…

  • …where were these people a year ago?
  • …and is anyone learning from this experience (like they “learned” from the Iverson experiences)?

- DJ

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