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.