Top 15 Shooters in the NBA

Today’s article is about rating shooters in both the college and NBA levels. People judge shooting in different ways. Some judge if a player can shoot by his three point percentage and/or makes and call it a day. It’s a little bit more complicated than that. There are many very good shooters that are average three point shooters and can’t be penalized just because they shoot a majority of mid range and mid range + shots.

Shooting is so important for teams at any level to be able to give threats from the perimeter. It enables you to stretch the defense and force them to make decisions and open up driving lanes or post players to score. With the name of the game keeping the ball out of the paint having shooters will give you an opportunity to do that a higher rate. If you lack shooting teams can clog up the paint with defenders and keep you from penetrating and forcing you to isolate and play more of a 1-1 style of offense which almost never wins unless you have Allen Iverson back in his prime.

I think there are many layers that you have to look it to evaluate and rank shooters in the NBA. First of all you have to look at their body of work throughout their career and how long they’ve sustained percentages. With the world of sports being consumed with the movie Moneyball and statistical analysis to analyze and evaluate players, I came up with a formula to rate shooters in the NBA.

I can’t share the exact formula with you as I use this information when evaluating players for clients, but can give you some of the things considered into it. I don’t have exposure to certain information like how many shots were taken/made at the rim or the % of contested shots that a player took compared to open shots. Yes you can weigh that more or less when determining shooting but I think you can get a snapshot using stats that you can get form most websites.

There are certain things that I look at and weigh more than others. For example if a player that played 2 seasons had slightly better career stats over a player who played for 10 years, my database would give the slight edge over the player that has played longer. If a player that took 22 shots a game had slightly less numbers from a player that took 8 shots a game it would give the edge to the player who shot more over the course of a career. Career statistics were weighed more than this season’s statistics. I’ve never been a big believer in Points Per Shot, but I used that in the equation and weighed in slightly when determining my Shooting Index. Points Per shot is when you divide your points by the amount of shots that you take in a game.

There were certain bonuses and fines that I worked into the index as well like if a player took more than a 16 shots they were added bonus points where if they took less than six they were subtracted points. If a player played in over 800 games and sustained their averages at a high level they had points added. If a player gets to the free throw line a lot it takes away from their opportunities and should be rewarded for that.

It took me about a months time and tweaking it a total of 245 times, but finally came up with a formula that worked. Before getting the results I’ve always though just based on career statistics that Steve Nash was the best shooter of all time. If you figure he’s shot over 49 % for his career while having the ball in his hands for post of the game and needing to create most of his opportunities off the dribble instead of having the benefit of spotting up or coming off screens is pretty amazing. I didn’t figure this into the index as I had a staff of 1 not 50 trying to find this.

At times I thought to myself that maybe I didn’t have the qualifications to come up with this, but after I put the formula together was pretty happy with the results. As you can see most of the players on the list are where you would expect them to stack up. Again, you can tweak numbers to get you any result that you want, but I thought that most of the players in the top 15 were the players that I considered top in the shooting field. One player that wasn’t there is Klay Thompson, which is one of the best shot makers in the NBA, but with only slightly more than a season under his belt couldn’t compare with most of the players because of the lack of games under his belt, although Kyrie Irving finished high and only played in the same amount of games.

Here are the top 15 shooters in the NBA based on our Shooting Index:

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Mike Procopio

Mike Procopio

Dallas Mavericks Director of Player Development
Mike Procopio

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