PLEASE don’t SHOOT! Welcome to the more shots than points club.
Nobody wants to have their team referred to as “Brick City”. So who are the chucker’s in today’s NBA? Who are the players who go out and consistently hurt their team with bad shots?
Let’s try and add some context to the term chucker. What quantifies a player as a chucker? Many NBA players have bad nights or shoot poor percentages from time to time. We could list lots of guys who are lacking a solid shot selection — Josh Smith, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony could all have cases made. However, those three guys are, at times, great offensive players. They’re not who I’m talking about. I’m talking about players who consistently take too many shots, converting too few of them.
It’s obvious someone’s a chucker when they have taken more shots on the season than they have scored points. Think about it — every shot has the potential to score you two or three points. We’re also giving players the added bonus of points from the free throw line, which aren’t marked down as shots.
With that in mind, lets apply some context and add some sample size. For the sake of this list, in order to be an inarguable chucker, leaving no room for debate:
-the player has to have played over half their teams games and averaged at least 20 minutes in those games
-and has a higher total of shots than overall points on the season.
Voila a perfect 10-man list.
This shouldn’t surprise you but it should be clearly stated in support of my thesis that these players are hurting their teams. Not one of the teams any of these 10 players works for has a positive overall record in the win column this year.
So let’s start with the poster boy for today’s Brick City. Let’s talk about J.R. Smith. I know there are people out there who are clinging to the hope that Smith is just in a slump and really can be a productive number two option behind Carmelo Anthony; those people are mistaken. Smith is going to be our model chucker because nobody chucks like Smith. He’s successfully killing the Knicks one contested jumper at a time.
Let’s start with some horrifying numbers, seriously brace yourselves.
Eighty-two players in the NBA attempt 11.5 or more field goal attempts per a game. Of those 82 players, 10 individuals shoot below 40 percent from the field. The list includes, in order, from best to worst: Jameer Nelson, Brandon Jennings, Victor Oladipo, Gordon Hayward, O.J. Mayo, Trey Burke, Brandon Knight, Caron Butler, Derrick Rose (who only played 10 games), and you guessed it, J.R. Smith. Of the 82-man list, Smith comes dead last in field goal percentage, shooting a measly 35 percent from the field.
Twenty-four players in the NBA this season attempt five or more three-pointers a game. Of the 24 players, Smith comes 20th in converting those attempts, shooting 35 percent from deep.
Fifty guards or wings in the NBA take ten shots and play over 30 minutes a game this season. Smith ranks 45th amongst those players in total free throw attempts, meaning that Smith rarely exerts himself and gets to the line for easy points. When Smith does get to the charity stripe, a crummy 1.7 times a game, he shoots a disturbingly low 60 percent. That percantage ranks him 49th of the mentioned 50 players. Only Andre Iguodala is worse from the free throw line this season.
For reference, Dwight Howard, one of the league’s most belittled free throw shooters, shot 60 percent from the line in December. The league’s premier center shot an equal percentage from the free throw line with a shooting guard who believes he should take 6.4 three pointers a game.
The overall findings of my research? Smith takes too many shots, doesn’t shoot efficiently by league standards anywhere on the court, and doesn’t capitalize on easy points. Each and every time Smith steps on the court he’s costing the New York Knicks a chance at winning a basketball game.
Smith has 303 points on 316 shot attempts this season.
The next guy on my list is a role player. Valued so highly by the Sacramento Kings that he currently plays for the Toronto Raptors, John Salmons is shooting a terrible percentage this year. Still, Salmons is nothing but consistent, shooting 35 percent in both Sacramento and now Toronto.
Salmons gets 25 minutes a game in Toronto due to a lack of depth at the small forward position, combined with being a veteran on a younger team. Salmons is a semi-productive deep threat shooting 39 percent on the year from deep. But when you then realize he shoots 32 percent from everywhere else, one must wonder if he even has to be guarded. That 32 percent becomes 30 if we’re talking about his time purely in T-dot.
Salmons has 158 points on 169 shot attempts this season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the first of three rookies who will appear on this list. Coming out of college, he was the clear choice for a Detroit Pistons team needing a starting two guard. They believed his lack of turnovers and strong shooting stroke would complement both the ball dominant Brandon Jennings and a very big frontcourt. It appears, a third of the way through the season, they were mistaken.
Caldwell-Pope is averaging .051 win shares over 48 minutes. He’s shooting 36 percent from the field and 31 percent from deep, which is six percent less than his previous season at Georgia. Perhaps a healthy Rodney Stuckey will push the rook to be better as the season goes on but to this point the rookie has greatly disappointed. Not unlike the whole Pistons team.
Caldwell-Pope has continued to start due to the Pistons lack of talent at the shooting guard position, and Rodney Stuckey’s surprising success off the bench. The trade deadline could change this, however, if the Pistons get the wing they’ve been searching for.
Caldwell-Pope has 214 points on 219 shot attempts this season.
What used to be the Big Ticket, has now become a side show for the disappointing five cent carnival occurring nightly in the Barclays Center. Kevin Garnett is producing a career-low in points per game, field goal percentage and free throw attempts. He isn’t scoring, he isn’t even kind of capitalizing on his chances, and he can’t get to the line to save his life, currently averaging less than one free throw attempt per game.
Remember when Garnett was king of that midrange jumper above the key? It wasn’t very long ago. Last year, Garnett was shooting a healthy 46 percent from the midrange, knocking down those tough shots at a high clip. This year from the same area he’s shooting 38 percent. Now consider that he’s shooting 37 percent on total field goals for the year and it won’t take you long to realize how bad he’s been inside the paint.
Garnett is incredibly fortunate that he’s making over $12 million this season. If there were no politics in play, his starting job would undoubtedly belong to Andray Blatche. The Nets management aren’t crazy enough to bench both former Celtics whom they sacrificed their future for, are they?
Garnett has 179 points on 209 shot attempts this season.
Jeffery Taylor will now miss the rest of the season with a ruptured right Achilles, making me feel bad about shining the light on his statistics, however, someone has to do it. The Bobcats small forward was averaging a lowly eight points a game on 8.4 field goal attempts. He shot a terrible 27 percent from the three-point line and continued to get 25 minutes a game for the Cats. Why am I making such a big deal out of a Bobcats’ role player’s poor performance? Well, let’s see… the Bobcats are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference and Taylor had been heralded for his part in that.
Take it all in: an eight-point-a-game forward was commended, even with poor shooting percentages, for a below .500 basketball club. That same under .500 basketball club is the fifth seed in the East! This is what we’re living with people. Thank the lord it’s only one season. The poor Bobcats fans are celebrating a franchise-best seeding right now.
Taylor had 208 points on 218 shot attempts this season.
Our second rookie of the list had a strong summer league, and preseason. He seemed poised to be a focal point of the Celtics offense until an injury and a Jared Sullinger appearance changed everything. Kelly Olynyk has shot above 50 percent this season while taking five or more shots exactly once. To be specific, since his third career game, taking place on November 3, Olynyk has failed to log an efficient offensive performance of any merit. The good news for Celtics fans is, like Pope, he’s a rookie and he may never appear on this list again the rest of his career.
Olynyk is struggling to follow up his All-American year at Gonzaga. The return of Rajon Rondo sometime before the apocalypse should help. The Celtics have also experimented with the range of their bigs, allowing Olynyk and Sullinger to air it out from deep. Neither is really a three-point shooter, but Sullinger is definitely the better of the two. Shooting 30 percent last year from deep at Gonzaga and a terrible 22 percent from deep this year with the Celtics, Olynyk is better off getting inside. He is only two points shy of not making this list, so that’s a positive! Also Kelly Olynyk isn’t Anthony Bennett, which is another positive.
Of all the teams on this list the immediate future might be brightest for Boston. The Celtics will get Rondo back at some point or alternatively, whatever he brings back in a trade. Olynyk is one of several young players still developing and the team is playing solid, unselfish, team basketball. To clarify “solid” — I’m using it in retrospect of the East. Aside from Indiana and Miami the word “solid” in association with the East is sort of an oxymoron.
Olynyk has 127 points on 130 shot attempts this season.
Obviously, all the players on the list aren’t permanent train wrecks. After writing this article though, I’m certain Smith is the most harmful offensive player in the NBA. Some of these guys are young like the rookies and still have a beacon of hope radiating. Some of them have been dealing with injuries and might warrant an ounce of sympathy. Ersan Ilyasova may be one of those guys. Ilyasova is someone that not even two years ago, statistic junkies, like myself, were in love with.
In 2011-12, Ilyasova averaged 13 points on 10 shots a game. In 2012-13, Ilyasova averaged 13 points on 11 shots a game. This year, 7.9 points on 8.8 shots a game. The thing is all three years he’s been extremely consistent in terms of minutes with just over 27 per game. But this season the efficient small-ball power forward has lost his touch. His three-point percentage dropped from 44 percent last season to an abysmal 18 percent.
The Bucks are a mess and Ilyasova won’t be the last Milwaukee player to appear on this list. The bright side for the Milwaukee faithful: unlike Brooklyn and New York, the Bucks actually have their first-round pick.
Ilyasova has 158 points on 175 shot attempts this season.
The replacement for Rudy Gay, the man charged with filling in the inefficient hole at the wing for the oh so woeful Memphis Grizzlies is Tayshaun Prince. Remember why Rudy Gay was traded? He was this confusing athletic swingman who just couldn’t take advantage of good looks, and struggled to find his shooting stroke. Tayshaun Prince, who had been a consistent three-point shooter his entire career, has struggled mightily this season. You know the common expressions — “random player is wet!” or “it’s raining threes!” The Grizzlies haven’t heard either of those analogies all year.
The Grizzlies are averaging 4.9 three-pointers a game. That’s good for second-worst in the league. Prince, who is a 37 percent career three-point shooter, is currently tossing deep balls up at 24 percent. He’s also shooting a career-low 42 percent on two-point attempts.
The Grizzlies shouldn’t have traded Gay. The Grizzlies desperately need offense and shooting, and frankly they aren’t getting it. With Quincy Pondexter out for the season, the Grizzlies are even further reliant on Prince’s shooting. Prince is in the last few years of his career and the chances of him drastically turning around this shooting slump are slim to none. Like most of these teams, the outlook for the Grizzlies’ immediate future is bleak.
Prince has 165 points on 179 shot attempts this season.
The final rookie of the list, and the second Milwaukee Buck as promised, is Nate Wolters. Wolters has been a special kind of terrible this season. Although he had a brief stint of value to fantasy owners on the talent-devoid Bucks, it’s been a rough shooting season for the rookie. Wolters has hit three, yes three, three-pointers this season on 27 attempts. He’s shooting 11 percent from deep. That’s not NBA quality, I think most people who have held a basketball could shoot at least two-for-10. With Brandon Knight healthy, it’s unlikely Wolters is even given a chance to redeem himself. Better luck next year, rook.
Wolters has 170 points on 172 shot attempts this season.
The final guy on this list has been so detrimental to the team he’s actually been suspended. Andrew Bynum is a special kind of messy. Physically, in a league thirsting for centers, Bynum has forced two and likely soon a third franchise to take a chance on him. It didn’t pay off for Cleveland or Philadelphia, chances are it won’t pan out in Miami or Los Angeles. If it does and Bynum suddenly rediscovers his love of the game on a contender, well, that almost makes it worse for the former two teams who invested in him.
Two years ago, Andrew Bynum was an 18-point, 12-rebound big man who shot 56 percent. He was looking dominant and even had people believing he could be the league’s best center. Continuous injuries, a lack of interest in rehab and dedication to the game, combined with some terrible haircuts, has soured the career of the once promising big man.
In 24 games for Cleveland, Andrew Bynum has averaged eight points a game on 42 percent shooting. He did show some life over a four-game stretch in late November-to-early December. Over that four-game span, he averaged 18 points and nine rebounds, and shot 55 percent. Personally I thought this was a turning point and Andrew Bynum might return to form. That wasn’t the case. At all.
In his final eight games as a Cavalier, immediately following the four-game hot streak, Bynum averaged 6.6 points a night, shooting 36 percent. It’s almost like Andrew Bynum is saving whatever he has left in his tank for a team he thinks he can win a championship on.
Bynum is the perfect example of a player the league should freeze out. However, like I said earlier, you can’t teach size. Andrew Bynum will undoubtedly be on some other team this season. Whether he plays to his potential or continues to be an inefficient sponge in the middle is yet to be seen.
Bynum has 202 points on 203 shot attempts this season.
What do you think?
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