Who Are The NBA's Most Valuable Mid-Range Shooters?

Next up in my series of introducing my marginal scoring rating metric is the mid-range shot. And yes, Dirk Nowitzki is the best. But wait there's more. You may find it interesting to know that Andrea Bargnani is the second highest rated center. Ooohh. If you think that's fascinating, then read on after the jump.

In my last post, I introduced a new marginal scoring stat (PSAMS) and posted the formulas and ratings for inside scoring. Here, I will introduce the metric for evaluating mid-range shooting, which I define as any shot in between 3 ft from the rim and the 3-pt line. I lump all these shots together because, according to Hoopdata, the averages for 3-9 ft (39%), 10-15 ft (39.3%), and 16-23 ft (39.4%), are very similar (especially compared to the averages for inside scoring, 64.1%, and 3-pt shooting, 53.8%).

Recall (or learn for the first time) that the league-average effective FG% (eFG%) is about 50% (to be exact, it's 49.8%). The fact that the average mid-range shot is actually worse than the, uh, average average shot(?), makes evaluation somewhat trickier, and likely somewhat more open to challenge. Here's why. In theory, players hurt their teams when they take mid-range shots. Unless you're Dirk Nowitzki, that is. Among the 150 or so players in my database (>40+ games, >25+ mpg), Dirk is the only one who shot better than 50% from mid-range. As I've written previously (here and here), I believe that mid-range shots are an important and inevitable part of the game, and that, because somebody has to take those shots, you just want to make sure your best shooter is the one doing it. If you think about it this way, you begin to realize that the players who are given the responsibility risk hurting their overall averages. To be sure, some players may force too many of those shots, but it's very difficult to know which shots are necessary (after all, they don't tell us!). Therefore, what I've come up with for the metric actually is a bit of a hedge, because it averages the two philosophies. In both philosophies, players who shoot less than their "fair share" of mid-range shots (defined by the average mid-range FGA for their position) are penalized for their "undershooting". How this is done will be explained a bit later. Where the philosophies differ is their handling of players who shoot more than the average number of mid-range shots for their position. How do we handle those extra shots?

  • Philosophy I: All "extra" mid-range FGA are shots taken away from teammates who would have taken average ("better") shots, i.e. shots that should be compared to the league-average 50%.
  • Philosophy II: All "extra" mid-range FGA are not really extra at all, and would have still been taken by a teammate. Therefore, these shots should also be compared to the average mid-range shot efficiency of ~39%.

You can see how these are two very different viewpoints, right? In fact, I would argue it's one of the central debates of basketball fandom, one that separates Kobe Bryant (and Monta Ellis) fans from their detractors, for example. There's really no good way right now to resolve the debate, so for now, I'm going to calculate the rating using both philosophies, and then take the simple average between them. Having said that, I think the final results will seem reasonable to folks on both sides of the argument.

As in my last post, I will use a couple of players to illustrate the actual calculation. First up is a no-brainer, Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk averaged 13.8 mid-range FGA per 40 minutes with 50.4% efficiency. Here's how I calculate his rating according to Philosophy I:

 


  • PSAMS{I} = 2*(13.3 - 8.6)*(50.4-49.8) + 2*8.6*(50.4-40.2) = 1.78

 

The first term on the right represents the "extra" mid-range shots, which according to Philosophy I, are compared to the league-average average shot efficiency (I know, try saying that 10 times fast). The second term represents the average number of mid-range shots (for the PF position), which are being compared to the average mid-range shot efficiency for PF. Follow all that? Here's how Dirk rates according to Philosophy II:

 


  • PSAMS{II} = 2*13.3*(50.4-40.2) = 2.71

 

That one is simple, right? Just compare all his shots to the average mid-range efficiency for PF. Dirk's final rating is then simply the average of the two, in this case, 2.25.

Now we need to look at a player that shoots fewer than the average mid-range FGA. Arron Afflalo is one such "undershooter", taking only 3.8 mid-range FGA per 40 compared to the average 6.7 for the SG position. Here's how I calculate the rating for Afflalo (there is no need to distinguish between the two philosophies):

 


  • PSAMS=2*3.8*(44.7-39.4)-2*(6.7-3.8)*(49.8-39.4) = -0.23

 

The first term here represents the shots that Afflalo did take compared to the average mid-range efficiency for SG. The second term represents a "penalty" for undershooting. The idea is that the shots that he didn't take would be shifted to teammates who otherwise would have taken better shots. Therefore, the efficiency differential (49.8-39.4) represents the difference between an average shot and an average mid-range shot. The reason I believe we need such a penalty is that if players simply "opt out" of these types of shots, their PSAMS would be 0, which would make them appear to be better shooters than about half the players at their position. Any system that rewards a player for not shooting at all doesn't make sense to me. You can't win games by opting out of shooting. With the groundwork laid out, let's get to the ratings. Here are the top and bottom 25, respectively.

Top 25 Mid-Range Shooters

The FGA and FG% are for mid-range shots.

RANK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
1 Dirk Nowitzki DAL 4 13.3 50.4% 2.25
2 Al Horford ATL 5 10.0 49.0% 1.39
3 Elton Brand PHI 4 10.7 46.7% 1.19
4 Luke Ridnour MIN 1 7.0 47.1% 1.10
5 Beno Udrih SAC 1 6.8 47.1% 1.08
6 Steve Nash PHO 1 7.7 46.8% 1.08
7 LeBron James MIA 3 9.5 45.3% 1.08
8 David West NOR 4 12.7 45.7% 0.99
9 Stephen Curry GSW 1 8.1 45.7% 0.92
10 Anthony Morrow NJN 2 6.4 46.9% 0.87
11 Kevin Garnett BOS 4 10.3 44.7% 0.75
12 Luis Scola HOU 4 13.2 44.7% 0.73
13 Chris Paul NOR 1 8.1 44.4% 0.72
14 Jason Terry DAL 2 9.4 44.7% 0.71
15 Pau Gasol LAL 4 9.9 44.4% 0.71
16 Brandon Bass ORL 4 8.8 44.3% 0.70
17 Ray Allen BOS 2 5.7 47.4% 0.67
18 Sasha Vujacic NJN 2 6.8 44.1% 0.63
19 Paul Millsap UTH 4 9.1 44.0% 0.63
20 Chris Bosh MIA 4 10.8 43.5% 0.50
21 Jamal Crawford ATL 2 6.7 43.3% 0.49
22 Tony Parker SAS 1 8.6 43.0% 0.48
23 Amare Stoudemire NYK 4 13.5 43.7% 0.46
24 Deron Williams UTH 1 6.3 42.9% 0.46
25 Joe Johnson ATL 2 9.7 43.3% 0.44

Bottom 25 Mid-Range Shooters

Some of the names on this list may surprise you, but before bugging out, make sure to look at their FGA and FG%, and compare those to the players on the Top 25 list, and keep the two philosophies in mind.

RANK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
152 Andray Blatche WAS 4 10.6 31.1% -2.12
151 Greg Monroe DET 4 2.4 25.0% -1.94
150 Marcus Camby POR 4 3.8 28.9% -1.80
149 DeMarcus Cousins SAC 4 11.3 33.6% -1.75
148 Tyreke Evans SAC 1 8.1 29.6% -1.68
147 Trevor Ariza NOR 3 3.8 23.7% -1.59
146 John Wall WAS 1 7.5 29.3% -1.54
145 Russell Westbrook OKC 1 10.2 34.3% -1.34
144 Ron Artest LAL 3 3.7 27.0% -1.34
143 J.J. Hickson CLE 4 8.8 33.0% -1.30
142 Brandon Rush IND 2 4.5 31.1% -1.24
141 Landry Fields NYK 2 2.4 33.3% -1.22
140 Wesley Matthews POR 2 4.4 31.8% -1.18
139 Jodie Meeks PHI 2 2.3 34.8% -1.17
138 Kenyon Martin DEN 4 6.0 35.0% -1.13
137 Chuck Hayes HOU 5 2.7 33.3% -1.13
136 Jason Kidd DAL 1 2.3 34.8% -1.12
135 Danilo Gallinari NYK 3 3.6 30.6% -1.09
134 DeAndre Jordan LAC 5 1.0 40.0% -1.09
133 Kwame Brown CHA 5 3.5 34.3% -1.03
132 Brandon Roy POR 2 9.1 35.2% -1.02
131 Kyle Lowry HOU 1 3.9 33.3% -1.01
130 James Harden OKC 2 2.7 37.0% -1.00
129 Thabo Sefolosha OKC 2 2.0 40.0% -0.99
128 Jason Richardson ORL 2 4.3 34.9% -0.92

Here are the ratings broken down by position (ORNK is overall ranking and PRNK is ranking by position):

PG

ORNK PRNK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
4 1 Luke Ridnour MIN 1 7.0 47.1% 1.10
5 2 Beno Udrih SAC 1 6.8 47.1% 1.08
6 3 Steve Nash PHO 1 7.7 46.8% 1.08
9 4 Stephen Curry GSW 1 8.1 45.7% 0.92
13 5 Chris Paul NOR 1 8.1 44.4% 0.72
22 6 Tony Parker SAS 1 8.6 43.0% 0.48
24 7 Deron Williams UTH 1 6.3 42.9% 0.46
32 8 Raymond Felton NYK 1 6.5 41.5% 0.34
48 9 Jose Calderon TOR 1 5.8 41.4% 0.13
49 10 George Hill SAS 1 5.2 42.3% 0.07
52 11 Jameer Nelson ORL 1 5.7 40.4% -0.01
54 12 Devin Harris NJN 1 6.7 38.8% -0.03
55 13 Jrue Holiday PHI 1 6.7 38.8% -0.03
56 14 Darren Collison IND 1 8.3 39.8% -0.06
59 15 Daniel Gibson CLE 1 5.5 40.0% -0.10
64 16 Mike Conley MEM 1 6.0 38.3% -0.18
68 17 Baron Davis LAC 1 6.7 37.3% -0.23
69 18 Andre Miller POR 1 8.3 38.6% -0.26
70 19 Derrick Rose CHI 1 9.2 39.1% -0.26
76 20 Ty Lawson DEN 1 4.1 41.5% -0.32
83 21 Rodney Stuckey DET 1 7.1 36.6% -0.39
92 22 Brandon Jennings MIL 1 6.8 35.3% -0.52
93 23 Ramon Sessions CLE 1 7.7 36.4% -0.52
98 24 Rajon Rondo BOS 1 5.2 36.5% -0.53
97 25 Chauncey Billups DEN 1 5.2 36.5% -0.53
111 26 Derek Fisher LAL 1 5.1 35.3% -0.68
115 27 D.J. Augustin CHA 1 4.5 35.6% -0.74
125 28 Mike Bibby ATL 1 3.7 35.1% -0.90
131 29 Kyle Lowry HOU 1 3.9 33.3% -1.01
136 30 Jason Kidd DAL 1 2.3 34.8% -1.12
145 31 Russell Westbrook OKC 1 10.2 34.3% -1.34
146 32 John Wall WAS 1 7.5 29.3% -1.54
148 33 Tyreke Evans SAC 1 8.1 29.6% -1.68

SG

ORNK PRNK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
10 1 Anthony Morrow NJN 2 6.4 46.9% 0.87
14 2 Jason Terry DAL 2 9.4 44.7% 0.71
17 3 Ray Allen BOS 2 5.7 47.4% 0.67
18 4 Sasha Vujacic NJN 2 6.8 44.1% 0.63
21 5 Jamal Crawford ATL 2 6.7 43.3% 0.49
25 6 Joe Johnson ATL 2 9.7 43.3% 0.44
28 7 DeMar DeRozan TOR 2 10.4 43.3% 0.42
30 8 Ben Gordon DET 2 7.1 42.3% 0.37
31 9 Dwyane Wade MIA 2 8.9 42.7% 0.36
33 10 Kobe Bryant LAL 2 14.3 43.4% 0.33
36 11 Kirk Hinrich WAS 2 7.2 41.7% 0.28
39 12 Nick Young WAS 2 10.8 42.6% 0.26
66 13 Manu Ginobili SAS 2 5.5 40.0% -0.22
67 14 Arron Afflalo DEN 2 3.8 44.7% -0.23
71 15 J.J. Redick ORL 2 4.2 42.9% -0.26
79 16 John Salmons MIL 2 7.9 38.0% -0.35
80 17 Stephen Jackson CHA 2 6.8 36.8% -0.37
81 18 O.J. Mayo MEM 2 7.7 37.7% -0.37
82 19 Raja Bell UTH 2 4.4 40.9% -0.38
84 20 Richard Hamilton DET 2 12.2 40.2% -0.39
86 21 Anthony Parker CLE 2 5.5 38.2% -0.42
87 22 Vince Carter PHO 2 7.1 36.6% -0.43
101 23 Eric Gordon LAC 2 6.8 35.3% -0.57
118 24 Kevin Martin HOU 2 8.4 35.7% -0.79
119 25 Monta Ellis GSW 2 10.0 37.0% -0.82
126 26 Andre Iguodala PHI 2 6.0 33.3% -0.90
128 27 Jason Richardson ORL 2 4.3 34.9% -0.92
129 28 Thabo Sefolosha OKC 2 2.0 40.0% -0.99
130 29 James Harden OKC 2 2.7 37.0% -1.00
132 30 Brandon Roy POR 2 9.1 35.2% -1.02
139 31 Jodie Meeks PHI 2 2.3 34.8% -1.17
140 32 Wesley Matthews POR 2 4.4 31.8% -1.18
141 33 Landry Fields NYK 2 2.4 33.3% -1.22
142 34 Brandon Rush IND 2 4.5 31.1% -1.24

SF

ORNK PRNK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
7 1 LeBron James MIA 3 9.5 45.3% 1.08
26 2 Shawn Marion DAL 3 8.4 41.7% 0.44
27 3 Paul Pierce BOS 3 5.8 41.4% 0.43
35 4 Kevin Durant OKC 3 11.1 41.4% 0.28
38 5 Hedo Turkoglu ORL 3 4.9 42.9% 0.27
40 6 Luol Deng CHI 3 6.1 39.3% 0.24
41 7 Grant Hill PHO 3 8.4 40.5% 0.24
43 8 Marvin Williams ATL 3 5.9 39.0% 0.18
46 9 Rudy Gay MEM 3 9.4 40.4% 0.16
50 10 Mike Dunleavy IND 3 4.1 43.9% 0.06
53 11 Wesley Johnson MIN 3 5.9 37.3% -0.02
57 12 Carmelo Anthony DEN 3 10.8 39.8% -0.06
60 13 Travis Outlaw NJN 3 6.3 36.5% -0.13
65 14 Ryan Gomes LAC 3 4.2 40.5% -0.19
72 15 Wilson Chandler NYK 3 6.7 35.8% -0.28
73 16 Tayshaun Prince DET 3 10.6 38.7% -0.28
88 17 Jared Dudley PHO 3 3.9 38.5% -0.44
89 18 Carlos Delfino MIL 3 3.5 40.0% -0.45
90 19 Nicolas Batum POR 3 3.6 38.9% -0.49
102 20 Jeff Green OKC 3 5.8 32.8% -0.57
104 21 C.J. Miles UTH 3 7.3 34.2% -0.60
105 22 Danny Granger IND 3 8.0 35.0% -0.62
108 23 Gerald Wallace CHA 3 5.1 33.3% -0.63
110 24 Richard Jefferson SAS 3 3.1 38.7% -0.65
114 25 Shane Battier HOU 3 2.4 41.7% -0.71
117 26 Luc Mbah a Moute MIL 3 3.8 34.2% -0.79
123 27 Dorell Wright GSW 3 4.8 31.3% -0.88
124 28 Andrei Kirilenko UTH 3 4.0 32.5% -0.89
135 29 Danilo Gallinari NYK 3 3.6 30.6% -1.09
144 30 Ron Artest LAL 3 3.7 27.0% -1.34
147 31 Trevor Ariza NOR 3 3.8 23.7% -1.59

PF

ORNK PRNK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
1 1 Dirk Nowitzki DAL 4 13.3 50.4% 2.25
3 2 Elton Brand PHI 4 10.7 46.7% 1.19
8 3 David West NOR 4 12.7 45.7% 0.99
11 4 Kevin Garnett BOS 4 10.3 44.7% 0.75
12 5 Luis Scola HOU 4 13.2 44.7% 0.73
15 6 Pau Gasol LAL 4 9.9 44.4% 0.71
16 7 Brandon Bass ORL 4 8.8 44.3% 0.70
19 8 Paul Millsap UTH 4 9.1 44.0% 0.63
20 9 Chris Bosh MIA 4 10.8 43.5% 0.50
23 10 Amare Stoudemire NYK 4 13.5 43.7% 0.46
37 11 Zach Randolph MEM 4 9.5 42.1% 0.27
42 12 David Lee GSW 4 9.1 41.8% 0.23
51 13 LaMarcus Aldridge POR 4 11.1 41.4% 0.03
61 14 Josh Smith ATL 4 8.3 39.8% -0.13
62 15 Boris Diaw CHA 4 4.4 47.7% -0.16
75 16 Ersan Ilyasova MIL 4 6.6 40.9% -0.30
74 17 Serge Ibaka OKC 4 6.6 40.9% -0.30
78 18 Carlos Boozer CHI 4 10.4 39.4% -0.34
85 19 Antawn Jamison CLE 4 9.8 38.8% -0.40
91 20 Michael Beasley MIN 4 13.7 40.1% -0.52
95 21 Channing Frye PHO 4 5.0 42.0% -0.53
96 22 Glen Davis BOS 4 9.5 37.9% -0.53
99 23 Carl Landry SAC 4 9.3 37.6% -0.55
103 24 Lamar Odom LAL 4 5.1 41.2% -0.59
106 25 Amir Johnson TOR 4 4.5 42.2% -0.62
109 26 Blake Griffin LAC 4 9.4 37.2% -0.64
112 27 Kris Humphries NJN 4 5.6 39.3% -0.69
113 28 Kevin Love MIN 4 6.6 37.9% -0.70
127 29 Thaddeus Young PHI 4 7.6 35.5% -0.91
138 30 Kenyon Martin DEN 4 6.0 35.0% -1.13
143 31 J.J. Hickson CLE 4 8.8 33.0% -1.30
149 32 DeMarcus Cousins SAC 4 11.3 33.6% -1.75
150 33 Marcus Camby POR 4 3.8 28.9% -1.80
151 34 Greg Monroe DET 4 2.4 25.0% -1.94
152 35 Andray Blatche WAS 4 10.6 31.1% -2.12

C

Hey, Andrea Bargnani fans, this might be the one stat you can hang on your hat.

ORNK PRNK NAME TEAM POS FGA FG% PSAMS-MR
2 1 Al Horford ATL 5 10.0 49.0% 1.39
29 2 Andrea Bargnani TOR 5 12.0 44.2% 0.39
34 3 Marcin Gortat PHO 5 6.8 42.6% 0.29
44 4 Marc Gasol MEM 5 6.7 41.8% 0.18
45 5 Dwight Howard ORL 5 6.7 41.8% 0.18
47 6 Brook Lopez NJN 5 12.7 43.3% 0.15
58 7 Tim Duncan SAS 5 11.2 42.0% -0.09
63 8 Andrew Bogut MIL 5 7.3 39.7% -0.16
77 9 Andrew Bynum LAL 5 5.3 39.6% -0.33
94 10 Al Jefferson UTH 5 11.9 40.3% -0.52
100 11 Tyson Chandler DAL 5 2.1 47.6% -0.56
107 12 Nene Hilario DEN 5 3.5 40.0% -0.63
116 13 Joakim Noah CHI 5 3.7 37.8% -0.75
120 14 Emeka Okafor NOR 5 3.5 37.1% -0.83
121 15 JaVale McGee WAS 5 4.5 35.6% -0.84
122 16 Roy Hibbert IND 5 10.5 38.1% -0.86
133 17 Kwame Brown CHA 5 3.5 34.3% -1.03
134 18 DeAndre Jordan LAC 5 1.0 40.0% -1.09
137 19 Chuck Hayes HOU 5 2.7 33.3% -1.13

Next post will wrap up with 3-pt shooting and overall rankings combining all three shot distances into a single metric.

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