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Yesterday, Grantland's Kirk Goldberry laid out a brilliant new way to judge NBA scoring ability. You may ask, "What's wrong with field goal percentage?" Well, for one thing, DeAndre Jordan topped the FG% chart last season, while rarely taking a jump shot. Every player has a unique selection of shots, and Goldsberry has created a metric weighing each shot's outcome versus the league average from that spot on the floor. Here's his overall heat map of point expectancy for all shot locations:
He scored every NBA player's 2012-13 shooting record based on this criteria, which he's calling ShotScore, and the whole thing is fascinating. The major takeaway for Dallasites though, should be the placement of Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki on his lists. When scoring every shot taken, Calderon ranks as the 4th most efficient shooter in the league, while Dirk is 9th. Even more interestingly, Goldberry excludes shots within 7.5 feet, which is roughly the dividing line between jump shots and the very different skills of dunks, layups, finger rolls, etc. Here's that ranking after adjusting for number of shots taken:
Top 10 Outside Shooters Per 100 Shot Attempts
1. Jose Calderon, +25
2. Kyle Korver, +23
3. Steve Nash, +21
4. Stephen Curry, +17
5. Dirk Nowitzki, +16
6. Serge Ibaka, +16
7. Jarrett Jack, +16
8. Shane Battier, +15
9. Danny Green, +15
10. Steve Novak, +14
None of the other 8 here are on the same team, since Jarrett Jack left the Warriors for Cleveland this offseason. Of interest here: Dirk, Nash, and Curry are really the only ones that create their own shots. The rest are predominantly spot-up shooters, and Calderon lords over them all, despite playing on not-great teams in Detroit and Toronto last season. As Goldberry notes, Jose doesn't make space for himself, but he should be absolutely deadly when Dirk, Monte Ellis, or others set him up for a good shot.
Meanwhile, keep in mind that Dirk's rank here includes those months at the beginning of the year when he was playing himself back into shape. At 100%, he's probably ahead of the much-lauded Steph Curry, but still behind the absurd Calderon/Korver/Nash trio. The Jose and Dirk show should be a lot of fun to watch, as long as it doesn't get derailed by Monte Ellis, who last year shot way too much, and is probably near the bottom of Goldsberry's metric.
Calderon's and Nowitzki's jump shots are an unbelievably good foundation for an NBA offense, and it should be interesting to see how Carlisle weaves Ellis, Devin Harris, Shawn Marion, Samuel Dalembert, and company into the attack to best take advantage of these talents. This isn't to say that every shot should be taken by Jose or Dirk, because it's just as key that their abilities draw attention which will create space that others can exploit.
Goldsberry just posted a followup which focuses on the worst shooters in the NBA. If you are surprised that Monta tops that list, you haven't paid enough attention to his game. You should read both articles, but the second is a must for Dallasites because Goldsberry goes into detail on both Calderon's efficiency and Ellis' wastefulness. This graphic of the backcourt odd couple's shooting patterns is the highlight.