I hope you’re sitting down. A new metric from the great Kirk Goldsberry reveals Kevin Durant is one of the best shooters in the NBA.
It’s actually a lot more interesting than that and a metric that I think should be part of the future of analyzing the NBA.
It’s called ShotScore and it’s essentially how much better or worse a player is at shooting from every point on the floor compared to the league average. It’s a lot more useful than field goal percentage.
The goal of this metric is to determine who the best shooter is in the NBA. DeAndre Jordan led the league in field goal percentage but can’t make a free throw to save his life. This metric incorporates versatility and much more in finding an answer.
Last year, Kevin Durant checked in second in the NBA behind only LeBron James. Stephen Curry was third. Serge Ibaka was fifth, which speaks to his deadly midrange game that he has been developing, and his efficiency at the rim.
Kevin Durant is also quite good near the basket, but he’s more active and even more deadly from the outside than James. In a normal era, Durant would likely be the most effective scorer in the league, but we’re not in a normal era — we’re in the LeBron era. Still, Durant is an elite shooter from virtually every spot on the floor.
Let’s bare in mind this is just from last year, the year LeBron was out of his mind in terms of shooting percentage. The metric also doesn’t reward taking more shots and still being able to be efficient with the increased attempts, an area where Durant would benefit more than anyone. LeBron’s crazy efficiency at the rim is a big reason why he comes in first.
Another variable that Goldsberry admits isn’t taken into account, is the team and offense a player is a part of. The Heat and Spurs do a much better job of getting players open shots than say, the Thunder do.
While this isn’t a perfect metric yet, it’s a huge step in the right direction. I hope that it will be more prevalent in the future because finding out who the best shooter in the NBA is, is something that can be very important.
The future of this will be incorporating how open players are when they shoot, something that should reward players like Durant, Melo and Kobe who take a lot of contested shots.
I feel like Durant, or maybe Curry, is the best shooter in the league. Any metric trying to measure that, should ultimately reveal one of those two as the answer.