5 Most Efficient Scorers in the NBA This Season
Basketball is a simple game. You just have to put the ball in the basket. These players, the NBA's leaders in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), have done it better than anyone else so far this season.
Even using effective field goal percentage, which adjusts traditional field-goal percentage to account for three-pointers being worth more in a risk/reward sense, this is a category dominated by big men. Despite the move towards more perimeter-based offensive attacks, those who tower above the rest still make up the bulk of the league's best shot-makers.
These players just barely missed out on the top five:
10. Matt Barnes – .567
9. Dwight Howard – .571
8. Danny Green – .571
7. Tiago Splitter – .572
6. Jared Dudley – .573
The following represent the best of the best.
Note: All statistics updated as of January 9.
5. JaVale McGee – .577
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In terms of scoring and shooting accuracy, JaVale McGee is having his best season.
His 19.7 points per 36 minutes are well above his career average of 15.1, and his .577 effective field goal percentage is similarly better than his career average of .539. At 3.7 blocks per 36 minutes, his is also swatting away a ton of shots.
Given the reputation that NBA players coast after getting a big payday, and seeing as how McGee was given a four-year, $44 million contract this summer, according to the Denver Post, we should be impressed that an infamous space cadet has continued to improve on the court.
You would think that the Denver Nuggets would be breathing a sigh of relief that they gave a ton of money to a guy who, so far, certainly seems worth it. You would think that they would be trying to maximize the amount of production they can get from him.
Instead, he has yet to start a game, as Kosta Koufos remains ahead of him in the rotation.
McGee has his flaws—glaring ones at times—and perhaps his productivity is the result of a lower minutes total. But it still seems strange that the team is paying such a young player so much money to play less than 20 minutes per game.
4. Serge Ibaka – .581
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Serge Ibaka has historically not been a great offensive player. He has been an excellent finisher when defenses focus their attention on the Oklahoma City Thunder's superstars and Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook opt to dump the ball off to him.
This ability to finish has applied both to shots in the paint and in the mid-range.
Over the past two seasons, Ibaka has also been been one of the league's better big men in terms of making jumpers outside the paint, and it is a shot that he has grown increasingly comfortable with taking throughout his career.
But so far this year, he has just been on fire.
He has made a remarkable 91 of 179 (50.8 percent) of his shot attempts from 10 feet out to the three-point line. League-wide, that is the location where most players struggle to make 40 percent.
Serge still isn't a player who can run an offense. He probably never will be.
If he can continue to space the floor like this, however, the team will be almost impossible to stop in a seven-game playoff series.
3. LeBron James – .582
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In case you had any doubt about whether or not LeBron James was the best player on the planet, this should put that to rest.
This season he has created like Chris Paul. He has cleaned the defensive glass like Joakim Noah and Paul Millsap. He has shot threes like Mike Miller. And he has made shots at a rate usually reserved for giants.
While many of the other players on this list rarely leave the painted area, 99 of LeBron's 323 made shots this season have come from at least 16 feet out.
He has also been more discerning, taking fewer attempts per 36 minutes this season than he has since his rookie year.
The results speak volumes, as James is easily posting career highs from the field (54.5 percent) and from behind the arc (41.1 percent) as he picks his spots and increasingly punishes his defender on the interior.
2. DeAndre Jordan – .604
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Between JaVale McGee, Serge Ibaka and, now, DeAndre Jordan, there is a pattern forming here: The players with the highest effective field goal percentages tend to be those who dunk a lot.
It is certainly Jordan's specialty, and 98.6 percent of his made shots this year have come within nine feet of the hoop.
Coincidentally, the free-throw line is painted on the floor exactly 15 feet from the hoop. And from here, DeAndre really struggles. He is not the first big man who can't make his freebies, and certainly won't be the last.
But the 42.3 percent he is shooting at the line this year—on a career-high 3.5 attempts per game—is not going to cut it. Worse still, this is a huge drop from the 52.5 percent he managed to make this season.
Nobody expects him to be Ray Allen.
If he can't make even half his free throws, however, it will continue to jeopardize his ability to affect games down the stretch.
1. Tyson Chandler – .694
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It would be inaccurate to say that all Tyson Chandler does is dunk. But we can say that half of what Tyson Chandler does is dunk.
So far this season, according to Basketball-Reference.com, 87 of Chandler's 161 made field goals have been dunks. Another 16 have been classified as tip-ins, and 45 more have been layups.
The other 13? Those have been jump shots or hook shots, but talk about a one-dimensional shot-taker.
None of this means we should be any less impressed with Chander's insanely high effective field goal percentage. He is the first qualified leader to even approach Wilt Chamberlain's record-high .727, which The Stilt recorded in 1972-73.
By posting a .679 last year, Chandler is the only player to even eclipse .650 since Artis Gilmore did so in back-to-back seasons from 1980-81 to 1981-82. But last season's numbers can be discredited somewhat by the lockout.
If Chandler can keep his current rate up for another few months, we will be talking about a truly historic feat.