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When evaluating shooting efficiency, it's not enough to just look at traditional field goal percentage.
Field goal percentage treats two-pointers and three-pointers equally, even though threes get you a crucial extra point. It also doesn't take free throws into account.
We know that two of the most efficient ways to score in basketball are via three-pointers and free throws. True shooting percentage takes them both into account, weighting free-throw attempts and using total points scored instead of total field goals made in the formula (found here).
True shooting percentage can be applied to teams as well. But when looking at teams, it is customary to separate free throws from field goals. Instead, one should look at effective field goal percentage, which measures a team's shooting efficiency strictly from the field.
I find it much more worthwhile to look at TS% for perimeter players, because big men typically don't shoot a lot of threes, eliminating the need to take that particular shot into account.
Last season, Andre Iguodala shot 45.1 percent from the field, while James Harden shot 43.8 percent. Without thinking, you might say that Iggy is the more efficient offensive player.
But Iguodala shot just 31.7 percent from three (on 3.6 attempts per game) and an abysmal 57.4 percent from the line (on 3.4 attempts). Harden, meanwhile, shot 36.8 percent from deep (on 6.2 attempts) and 85.1 percent at the line (on an otherworldly 10.2 attempts).
Consequently, it was Harden with the much better true shooting percentage (59.8 percent) than Iggy (52.0 percent). Due to the nature of Harden's point distribution, he is a much more efficient scorer than Iguodala.
Remember to factor in player roles in your evaluation as well. True shooting percentage favors catch-and-shoot three-point specialists who knock down a high percentage of their (mostly wide open) treys without doing much else on offense.
The fact that guys like Harden, Kevin Durant and LeBron James have true shooting percentages that rank up there with the Kyle Korvers and Steve Novaks of the league is a testament to how efficient they are given their higher volume and degree of difficulty on offense.
Where to Find It
True shooting percentage is widely available. You can find it on ESPN's Hollinger stats page (Insider only).
Basketball-Reference provides TS% for each player on their personal page (just search for the player) as well as league leaders in the category by year.
HoopData's advanced stats page also lists true shooting percentage, with the added bonus of filters available to sort the list by team or position, as well as to introduce games played and minutes played thresholds. They also have them for each player on their player pages (just search for the player).
NBA.com's new and improved stats tool also includes true shooting percentage with more customizable filtering options.