Looking at “VORP” With Colorful Charts, Vol. 2: Shooting Percentages
In case you missed “Looking at VORP With Colorful Charts Vol. 1: Individual Offensive Production,” you might want to read the intro there to find out what this little project is all about. But the cliff notes version is that we’re looking at how all the Pacers players are performing statistically against the league average. Are they putting up numbers better, worse or on-par with any other run-of-the-mill NBA player? (Spoiler alert: They are almost all shooting really poorly.)
Today, we look at shooting percentages. Pretty self-explanatory.
The only difference as far as process goes is that this time we only have three categories for players to fall into instead of five: Above Average (green), Average (uncolored) or Below Average (red). (Above Average is assigned to those with 105% or better of the league average shooting rate while Below Average is for those with 95% or worse.)
And for those of you who don’t know, “eFG%” (or “effective field goal percentage) is regular FG% but adjusted to account for the fact that three-point attempts have a higher risk/reward factor. It just uses a little simple math that acknowledges that a three-pointer counts for three points. And “TS%” (or “true shooting percentage”) takes eFG% and adjusts it to also count FT%. If you’re a bad FT shooter, your TS% will be affected negatively where as if you’re good from the line, it will push it up.
Got it? Good.
Here is the colorful chart:
Once again, I’ll let you come to your own conclusions, but here are some observations:
- Troy Murphy was literally one made FT away from being Above Average in all 5 categories. Instead he is Above Average in 4 out of 5
- No other Pacer is Above Average in even 2 categories
- The Pacers attempt 22.2 three-pointers per game (which is 6th highest among NBA teams), yet they only have two players (Troy Murphy and Brandon Rush) who make threes at an Above Average rate, and only have four players who don’t make threes at a Below Average rate (Troy Murphy, Brandon Rush, Danny Granger and — just barely — Mike Dunleavy)
- A stunning six Pacers shoot below 42% from the field
- Only two Pacers have TS% better than the exact league average of 54.1%, and Troy Murphy is the only guy above 55.0%
- There are 280 total squares in this chart (14 players x 5 categories). 10 squares are green. 4 of the green squares belong to Troy Murphy. 1 green square belongs to Danny Granger. And 33 squares are red.
Obviously, one thing we have to remember is that red squares in the 3P% category for big guys like Roy, Solomon, Jeff and Tyler are inconsequential. Those four have attempted a combined 9 threes this year and we know none of those shots came by design.
Along those same lines, Hoopdata also allows us to see where players are actually shooting from. And because it’s such a phenomenal site, it also gives us league averages from each location.
Traditionally, on a leaguewide basis, the worst shots to take in an NBA game are two-pointers from beyond 10 feet. Most players can’t consistently make shots between 10 feet and three-point territory at better than 40% — not during games, that is. That doesn’t mean that all shots from those locations are bad shots — indeed, a guy like Dwyane Wade, Kobe or Tony Parker can be often get himself a great shot by pulling up from 18 feet after creating space with a dribble or two. But a lot of other midrange jumpers tend to be closely contested, rushed or off-balance shots off the dribble. More than “bad” shots, they just tend to be “well-defended” shots — which is something that makes sense when you factor in the quick-rotating, long-armed defenders that prowl the modern NBA.
My only point here is that some guys take more of these “bad” shots while other guys take less. And that goes for all locations. Thus, on the “shooting percentage by shot location” chart below, I have left the attempts and makes (“A” and “M”) so you can have some context for how significant each shooting percentage is.
AJ Price, for example, shoots 44.4% from 10-15 feet, which is a rather good rate. But if you look to the left of that impressive number, you’ll see he only shoots 0.4 times per game from that location. So what that really means is that “for every 10 games he plays, AJ takes 4 shots from between 10-15 feet — and he makes about 2 of them.” Four shots in 10 games is not exactly relevant to the Pacers overall offensive success — let alone their record — no matter what the percentage, and his mid-rookie season stats in this category are probably only slightly more relevant to what we can expect AJ to shoot from that location throughout the rest of his career. So keep that stuff in mind.
OK … enough prologue.
On to the colorful chart:
- Aside from “At Rim,” Troy Murphy shots not just Above Average, but WAAAAY Above Average from every location.
- Danny Granger shoots Average or Below Average from every location.
- AJ Price is the only Pacer who finishes notably well at the rim, and he finishes so well there that he is actually 57th overall in the whole league in this category — ahead of guys like Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Brandon Roy, Amar’e Stoudamire, Tim Duncan and Carlos Boozer. (It’s important to note that he takes only half as many — or in some cases four times as few — shots from that close as all of these other players do.)
- When any of Brandon Rush (50.0%), Tyler Hansbrough (51.4%) or Danny Granger (52.7%) take an At Rim shot (defined as “a dunks, lay-ups and tip ins”), it is roughly a 50/50 proposition. That seems hard to believe.
- Tyler Hansbrough hasn’t shot well from anywhere this year.
- 6 Pacer players shoot Above Average from <10 feet (a category that excludes “At Rim” shots) and everyone on the team aside from Tyler Hansborough, Solomon Jones and AJ Price are capable shooters from this distance.
- As we saw in the Shooting Percentages chart above, no one shoots well from three aside from Troy Murphy and Brandon Rush, with Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy coming in right around Average.
- Troy Murphy and Luther Head are the only two Pacers that have taken and made a lot a high percentage from mid-range (16-23 feet) with Solomon and Josh being Above Average, but in very few attempts. TJ Ford and Brandon Rush hit from here at a league average rate as well, but everyone else is by and large not helping the offense with their mid-range game.
[Editor's Note: I perhaps could have done this one in "per 40 minutes" mode instead of "per game" mode, but honestly didn't really even think about that distinction before going in. Per game is probably better anyway now that I think about it since most of us aren't all that familiar with attempts per game by location anyway. You can sort it that way at Hoopdata if you prefer and want to see things like how many shots "At Rim" a guy like AJ would extrapolate to in 40 minutes (3.6) or how many treys Danny would launch if he played 4 extra minutes per night (9.0). Just click on the "TM" listing and it will group all the Pacers together for easy comparison.]