In my thirst for more basketball knowledge, I become a bit of an idiot. I can admit it. I mean, when one searches for more meaning they usually have to dumb themselves down a little bit in an order to let the new information wash over them. It's a sponge tactic, so to speak. Gotta rinse it out before you can soak stuff back up. My point with all this is that I thought I knew who the best jump-shooters in the NBA were. And I'm talking about this past season. I knew that Al Horford was one of the most efficient shooters for big men. I knew that Dirk Nowitzki was strapping mid-range jumpers in people's faces all season long despite his early season struggles. I knew that Kobe Bryant, while he was taking some bad shots, was still making a solid percentage of his jumpers. What I didn't know actually shocked me. So, without further ado, I present the most prolific jump-shooters in the NBA from this past season.
I put a Field Goal Attempt (FGA) on my research and I also narrowed it down to one very specific area. I looked only at 16+ foot jumpers this season that were worth 2 points. I took out three-point attempts. I took out anything from 15 feet and closer. I wanted just mid-range jumpers. That's it. I put the limit on 100 FGA. In a 66 game season that comes out to 1.5 FGA per game from that 16+ foot area. You'd be shocked by how many players actually attempted way more than that per game. It's quite baffling, really.
There were 8 players this season who attempted 300+ FGA from that range. They were Kobe Bryant (391), Josh Smith (390), Kevin Garnett (327), LeBron James (318), Dirk Nowitzki (315), Monta Ellis (312), Gerald Henderson (308), and LaMarcus Aldridge (302). Of those eight, three shot under 40% from that area. Those three being Josh Smith (36.9%), LeBron James (38.4%), and Monta Ellis (37.5%). Dirk Nowitzki (51.1%) was the only player of that 8-man group to shoot over 50% from the field. The only other player to join him with a field goal percentage over 45% was actually Kevin Garnett (48.6%). What's that tell you? Well, those guys can hit mid-range jumpers at will. LaMarcus Aldridge was actually third amongst this 8-man group with a 43.4% mark. Three big men. Three capable mid-range shooting big men. In total, they made 451 of those 16+ foot 2-point jumpers this season. They were assisted on 364 of them. A staggering 80.7%. Kevin Garnett, to his credit (or discredit), was assisted on 146 of the 159 that he made. A ridiculous 91.8%. However, that's what happens when you play with a point guard who can set you up in your sweet spot like Rajon Rondo can.
So now that we have the big men out of the way there that leaves us with Kobe Bryant and Gerald Henderson as the only two non big men to shoot above 40% from that area. Kobe Bryant was at 42.2% while Gerald Henderson was 40.6%. The main difference between these two lies in the fact that Gerald Henderson was assisted on 75.2% of those made jumpers while Kobe Bryant only was assisted on 44.8% of them. That's a lower mark than all but two players in this group. Those two are Monta Ellis (32.5%) and LeBron James (21.3%). What does that tell us? Well, it quite simply tells us that LeBron James is able to generate a shot for himself much better than anyone else who attempted 300+ FGA from that range this season. While he did shoot only 38.4% there, which is good but not great, he did it primarily without the help of a pass. It's quite a ridiculously high shooting percentage when you think about it.
When we back out and look at the 100+ FGA group, we seem some eye-popping numbers. Such as Steve Nash shooting 53.8% despite being assisted on just 13 of the 86 baskets he made from this range, which is just 15.1%.It actually supports my belief that Steve Nash is the single greatest jump-shooter of our era. Yes, even better than Ray Allen. He's just a ridiculous specimen when it comes to putting the ball in the basket from any considerable distance. He's had four 50-40-90 seasons and missed another by mere percentage points from the free throw line. It doesn't get much better than that.
Then there's Chris Paul. Our beloved Chris Paul. He attempted 212 of those 16+ foot 2-point jumpers this season and made 47.6% of them. He was assisted on just 11 of those makes. It comes out to 10.9%, which is tied for the lowest mark among any player with 100+ FGA from this range. The man he's tied with, Brandon Jennings, shot just 40.5% from this range. In fact, among players with 150+ FGA there this season, Chris Paul was the third-best shooting point guard in the league this season behind Steve Nash and, shockingly, Charles Jenkins (48.1%).
If you had to build a team, position by position, of who the best jump-shooters are then there's no doubt in my mind that Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Garnett would be locks to make the team. With Garnett's added ability to now play center you can just slide him there while creating a pick-and-pop trio that would actually be the toughest trio to probably stop. With Nash's ability to create for himself and for others, you'd have no way to double down on any of these guys without giving one of them a wide open look at the basket from their sweet spot. So, now, what about shooting guard and small forward, you ask? Well, what about Ben Gordon? He shot 46.7% from this range this season on 214 attempts and got assisted on 54% of them. That means he can create for himself when the time calls for it as well as run within the offense. Plus, he has the added bonus of being a three-point shooter at times and can hit from a high clip there. Now all we need to find is a small forward.
It all depends on what you classify as a small forward really. I mean, Nick Young saw more minutes at small forward for the Clippers than he did anywhere else. Does that make him a small forward? And he did shoot 44.9% from this range with the Clippers but only took 49 attempts. However, on the season, he did take a grand total of 238 attempts from this range and still made 44.1% of them. He got assisted on 42.9% of his made field goals from this range. So, just like Ben Gordon, he's a capable shooter both within a system and without the system. Plus, like Gordon as well, he has the added benefit of being a capable three-point shooter.
So, I say, would any defense be able to stop a team consisting of Steve Nash, Ben Gordon, Nick Young, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Garnett when it comes to pure shooting? I'm guessing not. In all seriousness, that team might even be able to win a championship because they're defense wouldn't even be entirely bad. They wouldn't be great but they could be sufficient. Either way, that quintet of jump-shooting excellence would be quite the sight to behold.
In closing let me just say that there were a lot of other numbers that I could have gone through and posted in here. I'm actually stopping myself but if anyone has any questions or just wants to know how a certain player did from a certain range in a certain situation, just ask. Don't worry. They're not all gonna be 3 of 15 from the field with 24 seconds or less in the 4th quarter (or OT) with a chance to tie or win the game like Kobe Bryant was this season. No reason to worry at all.