Basketball Scoring Efficiency

I have been fascinated with the efficiency of scoring in the NBA for quite a while. Through my studies of box score on a nightly basis, it is actually very easy to assess why each team wins on a daily basis. It's not as easy as simply scoring more points than the opponents, but it's also not that much more complex.

There are only 3 ways to score points in the NBA

1) Make more shots than your opponents. This can be accomplished in several ways. Take more shots. Shoot a higher percentage. Get more rebounds. Force more turnovers

2) Make more 3-pt shots. Since a 3 pointer is worth 50% more points than a 2, you can add to your point total without increasing number of shots

3) BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT IS FREE THROW ATTEMPTS!!!!! How many times will I have to emphasize this stat on this blog. If I could chose a single category for the Bulls to lead the league in, it would be FTA. FREE POINTS PEOPLE. Here a real example from todays Bobcats/Heat game. The Heat took 12 more shots, made 1 more, 2 more 3-pointers, 5 more rebounds, and 2 more points off turnovers. Who do you think won the game? Obviously the Heat, right? Nope. Charlotte took 15 more free thrown and made 14 more to win the game easily by 10 points. Thats how important free throws are. So not to Loul Deng when you have the option of a 20 footer, which he shot 36% last year, or drive to the basket. Always drive the ball! Even if you miss the inside shot, odds are you will get fouled which will lead to FREE POINTS. This drives me crazy

So that is how you score in the NBA. Team scoring is simply an integration of each individual player on the team. So my question inquiry is who are the most efficiency scorers in NBA history. My sample consisted of the top 30 scorers in NBA history, all averaging over 22 points per game over their entire careers. Obviously, many team circumstances are involved in determining a players efficiency, but my hypothesis is that scoring efficiency is mainly an inherent property much like batting average and yards/att.

The differences between the players in terms of shots attempted, made, 3-pointers, and free throws are nicely condensed within points per game. Instead of analyzing every players ability in each scoring category, we can simply look at the overall scoring efficiency. I did this simply by subtracting field goal attempts per game from points per game.

Big men are expected to have high efficiency scoring, due to their increased shots from within 10 feet. Yet it still takes skill to get position and have the ability for make easy shots, hence it cannot be overlooked. Shockingly, Adrian Dantley has the highest efficiency of any player in NBA history. Scoring over 24 points per game while taking less than 16 shots is simply amazing and unmatched in NBA history. Most of the less efficient scorers on the list are high volume shooters which "artificially" inflates point totals. Not to say that they are not great players, just less efficient. Rick Barry, Pistol Pete, Vince Carter, and Allen Iverson all fall into this category.


Sexy Rexy said...

You've convinced me that FTA is the most important NBA stat