Creating your own shot

Posted on 01/05/2011 by



“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”-    Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

I have the most fun when my brain takes me somewhere completely unexpected.

Kinda like so


That last post was percolating in my brain for a few months. My intent was and is to put some logic and reason and come up with some simple  measures to quantify efficient production in the NBA. But there was a lot of content in that post and when that happens my brain tends to go somewhat sideways.

Translation? There’s a lot of cool followup work coming. Some of it is planned (read that as there’s a Gimme the Rock rev 3 in the very near future) and some of it very unplanned. We’re going to start with something short and interesting.

Whenever we get into these debates about inefficient scorers whose stats don’t jive with the public perception of them as superstars (Why yes Mr.Anthony I am talking about you), there is a common refrain that always comes up: “He can create his own shot”. The implication being that you need these creators to win games. Now I’m not discounting the argument that there value in the creation of points but the big caveat is that it’s hard to tell if the aforementioned player really is creating his own shot. So rather than an objective argument about the facts a lot of these discussions degrade to subjective back and forths based on the individual’s subjective perceptions. And it inevitably leads to another old favorite: “Don’t you ever watch a basketball game”.

An interesting tidbit came up as I was compiling the information on scoring though. Turns out I can find out who’s creating their own shot and rate the players accordingly. I’d love to claim the eureka moment entirely as my own but that would not be entirely ethical. The inspiration hit based on a reader comment:


Arturo, there’s one thing I think is essential to improving this ranking: individual modifiers for number of assisted field goals. Using stats from hoopdata:

the %ast column gives the ratio of assisted FG to unassisted, and especially for high-usage players, this number is often much lower than 70% (and varies greatly). So I think that’s an important change that will shake up the rankings quite a bit.

Great stuff as always.

Austin was totally right actually (and that’s the subject of a whole other post). Based on his suggestion I went to hoopsdata and got for each player:

  • Assist % or the Percent of a players’ made Field Goals from Assists

And with that I can work out who actually creates their own points. Now I did this two ways. First I did this per 48 minutes but that rewards ball-hogging. I then did it based on 30 possesions used. Surprisingly there was a clear #1 in  both cases and it was the same person. A young Point Guard who’s the class of his generation and clearly the best shot creator in the game:

No not Rose

Russell Westbrook is the best shot creator in the league any way you want to look at it this year.

What’s really interesting is that if I look at the top 20 per 48 minutes we get:

Name Team Points from Creating Own Shot per 48 Minutes Rank per 48 Points from creating own Shot at 30 Possesions used Overall Shot Creation Rank
Russell Westbrook OKC 24.3 1 16.6 1
Derrick Rose CHI 21.4 2 14.7 13
Steve Nash PHO 21.3 3 15.7 4
Kobe Bryant LAL 21.1 4 14.2 20
LeBron James MIA 20.9 5 15.2 8
Dwyane Wade MIA 20.7 6 16.4 2
Devin Harris NJN 18.9 7 15.1 9
Chris Paul NOH 18.5 8 15.7 5
Carmelo Anthony DEN 18.0 9 13.7 30
Tony Parker SAS 17.9 10 14.7 12
Stephen Curry GSW 17.2 11 14.0 26
Amare Stoudemire NYK 17.0 12 13.8 29
Earl Boykins MIL 17.0 13 16.3 3
Jameer Nelson ORL 16.8 14 14.7 11
Tyreke Evans SAC 16.7 15 14.2 19
Monta Ellis GSW 16.5 16 13.2 35
Ramon Sessions CLE 16.4 17 14.7 10
Michael Beasley MIN 16.4 18 14.1 22
Brandon Jennings MIL 16.1 19 13.8 27
Rodney Stuckey DET 15.7 20 14.1 23

And some of the clear discrepancies between perceived value and actual value for players start to jump out. When watching a game, the high shot creation guys per 48  will look extremely impressive. We will remember the makes and the the wow moments and forget the wasted opportunities. So guys like Bargniani, Rose, Kobe and Anthony get overrated because of the eye test (Please note that I think Kobe & Rose better than Anthony infinitely better than Bargniani).

Let’s look at the top 5 by position as well:

Name Team Position Points from Creating Own Shot per 48 Minutes Rank per 48 Points from creating own Shot at 30 Possesions used
Russell Westbrook OKC 1 24.3 1 16.6
Dwyane Wade MIA 2 20.7 6 16.4
Rudy Gay MEM 3 14.8 27 15.6
Carl Landry SAC 4 10.8 48 13.6
Dwight Howard ORL 5 15.1 25 14.6
Earl Boykins MIL 1 17.0 13 16.3
Ramon Sessions CLE 2 16.4 17 14.7
LeBron James MIA 3 20.9 5 15.2
Zach Randolph MEM 4 12.2 40 13.0
DeMarcus Cousins SAC 5 14.8 28 14.0
Steve Nash PHO 1 21.3 3 15.7
Tyreke Evans SAC 2 16.7 15 14.2
Brandon Roy POR 3 13.8 33 14.2
Amir Johnson TOR 4 8.0 77 12.5
Amare Stoudemire NYK 5 17.0 12 13.8
Chris Paul NOH 1 18.5 8 15.7
Kobe Bryant LAL 2 21.1 4 14.2
Michael Beasley MIN 3 16.4 18 14.1
Chris Bosh MIA 4 10.7 49 11.9
JaVale McGee WAS 5 7.4 85 12.8
Luke Ridnour MIN 1 14.2 30 15.4
Jamal Crawford ATL 2 13.2 36 13.4
Carmelo Anthony DEN 3 18.0 9 13.7
Derrick Favors NJN 4 6.6 88 11.6
Andrew Bogut MIL 5 9.4 61 12.2

So Westbrook , Wade , Gay ,Landry and Howard lead the way. We know Howard gets  somewhat inefficient when we look at all the scoring numbers (but he more than makes it back everywhere else).

The second team is Boykins, Sessions,Lebron , Randolph and Cousins. Cousins is very interesting because I think this reflects that for all the noise on him the kid has ridiculous potential (let’s hope the Kings don’t lead him astray).

Team three has Nash (of course),Tyreke, Roy ( showing why he’s sorely missed in Portland), Amir (remember no penalty here for not staying on the court) and Amare (remember no one has ever argued he’s not a killer matchup on the offensive end for most Centers, defensively though…).

The Fantastic 4 have CP3 (not surprising), Kobe (who’s actually having a very efficient season), Beasley (he can score that’s not the problem), Bosh (lots of Heat players on this list 😦 ) and Mr McGee (who’s in large part responsible for making me wrong about the Wizards good job kid).

The final five have Ridnour (who’s playing well for Minnesota now that he’s back), Crawford (Atlanta paid Joe Johnson max Money why exactly?), Melo (having a career year but again scoring not the issue here), Favors (Denver may really want to make that trade) and Bogut (surprised me somewhat good on D and O).

Enough for today. Next up is Rev 3 of the Rock Rankings, The MVP race and the Now rankings.

Here’s a toast to unexpected things .

Image Courtesy of

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