NBA Power Rankings: Top 20 At-the-Rim Finishers in the League
In the NBA, many of the best in the game are the players who are able to not only get to the rim, but are able to finish there.
If you play basketball, you're taught at a young age that the closer a shot is to the basket, the better it is.
It's simple: the highest percentage shots are those closest to the hole.
Using last season's statistics (the numbers from this year do not provide a large enough sample), I've put together a list of those who not only get to the rim at a high rate, but also connect on a large percentage of those shots.
Now before you go crazy over some of the guys who were left off, let me explain the criteria, which is provided on the next slide.
Please read this before you comment.
Remember, this list is comprised of the elite players in this category. It is not necessarily indicative of how good someone is overall, but you will find that a good number of these guys are considered the best around.
(All stats provided by Hoopdata.com)
The Cut-Off: Certain Standards Must Be Met
To qualify for this list, a player needed to average at least 25 minutes a game and play in at least 70 (with one exception). Of those players, at least four at-the-rim attempts per game were needed, to go with a 65-percent-or-higher at-the-rim shooting percentage.
For perspective, league average was 3.6 attempts and a 61.6 percentage. I set high standards for myself. I set them just as high for guys getting played millions of dollars to play basketball.
The league leader in attempts last season was Tyreke Evans at 8.4, but his percentage on these shots was under 60. He may currently be the best player at getting there, but he needs to put the ball in the basket more often to be considered truly elite.
There were also players who had extremely high at-the-rim shooting percentages, but when you're averaging just two shots at-the-rim a game, I would hope you're able to put them through.
Not surprisingly, most of the players on this list have been in the league for a number of years. As a guy like Evans gets more experience, he will connect on these shots more often and he could find himself at the top of the list.
Using the formula I devised, Evans would have topped this list by a landslide had he made 65 percent of his at-the-rim shots.
To learn the formula, hit the right-arrow button on your keyboard.
Just so you know going in, Kobe Bryant did not make this list. He did attempt 4.9 at-the-rim shots a game, but his percentage was just 58.6.
Age does many things. Chipping away at our athletic ability is one of them. I'm sure Kobe's five rings and best-player-in-the-world status will ease the pain of being left out.
Now, I went through several mathematical equations, attempting to find a way to get a number that was indicative of a player's skill in this area.
The one I finally landed on was multiplying attempts by percentage, which is surprisingly effective.
Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
There were two exceptions to the four attempts rule (because that was the only way to get 20). This way of crunching the numbers ensured they would be at the bottom.
This list will go from bottom to top, with the player's name listed alongside his number.
20. Andre Iguodala, 267
Iguodala averaged 3.9 attempts and hit at a rate of 68.5 percent.
He's always been known to have tremendous athletic ability and there will be many teams attempting to get their hands on him at the trade deadline.
Wherever he ends up, his coach needs to get him to attack the basket more often, as his percentage is very good.
19. LaMarcus Aldridge, 275
His 70.7 shooting percentage is among the best on this list, but his 3.9 attempts per game are tied for the least.
Aldridge averaged 17.9 PPG last season, a number that should rise if he is able to play close to the basket more often.
Get down there, my man. You're good at.
18. Al Horford, 287
Horford clearly needs the ball in his hands more often.
He shoots at 70 percent, yet averaged just 4.1 at-the-rim attempts. Atlanta Maybe could have avoided being destroyed by Orlando and taken to the limit by a shorthanded Milwaukee team in last year's playoffs had he been given more opportunities.
No wonder Mike Woodson got fired.
17. Brendan Haywood, 292
Didn't see this one coming, did you?
Haywood has averaged just 7.7 points per game for his career, but check out these numbers: 4.4 attempts and a 66.4 percentage.
Like I said, experience helps in this department, and Haywood has been in the league for nine years.
I guess the Mavs knew what they were doing when they traded for him.
16. Tim Duncan, 297
Ah, The Big Fundamental. His technique is perfect and he has great size, making him a lock for this list.
A quietly intense player, Duncan connected on 66.1 percent of his 4.5 attempts.
If the Spurs are to make one last run at a championship with Duncan on the team, his play around the basket will be a huge factor, particularly in the playoffs.
15. Emeka Okafor, 302
Love getting a UConn guy on here. Way to represent the program.
Okafor is known more for his defensive prowess, but 4.6 attempts and a 65.7 percentage show he is by no means one-dimensional.
The Hornets are off to a hot start this year and Okafor is a big part of it.
I'm sure Chris Paul loves having a guy who knows how to finish.
14. Luis Scola, 319
The Argentinian basketball program is very good, with Scola being one of its best exports.
They're teaching them well down there, as Scola had 4.9 attempts and a 65.2 percentage.
In a bigger market, this guy would be getting much more media attention.
13. Al Jefferson, 324
The Jazz sure know what they're doing, don't they?
When it was clear Carlos Boozer had no intention of staying in Salt Lake City, the Jazz pulled off a sign-and-trade, sending Boozer to Chicago. They then wasted no time in trading for Jefferson -- the owner of a cool 69 percent at-the-rim shooting percentage to go along with his 4.7 attempts per game.
Deron Williams and Al Jefferson. Music to the ears of those in Utah.
12. Corey Maggette, 331
Maggette is prolific at getting to the free-throw line, something guys who can get to the basket do often.
He is the first on the list to crack five at-the-rim attempts per game and sports a nice 66.2 percentage on those shots.
Milwaukee just has to hope that his injury problems don't resurface in 2010.
11. Carl Landry, 358
Landry spent time with both Houston and Sacramento a season ago, shooting 68.9 percent on his at-the-rim shots and averaging 5.2 attempts per game.
Nice numbers for just a third-year pro. Looks like staying in school has its benefits.
10. Kevin Durant, 369
How good is this kid?
After spending just one year at Texas, Durant entered the NBA and has since taken the league by storm. He's even cracking the top 10 on this list, with his 5.3 attempts and 69.8 shooting percentage.
Imagine where he'll be in just a few years.
9. Andrew Bogut, 378
The Aussie probably became more well-known for his gruesome season-ending injury.
He's the lone exception to the 70 game rule, as he played in 69.
His 5.8 attempts and 65.2 percentage were just too good to ignore.
8. Nene Hilario, 391
A testicular cancer survivor, Nene provides us not only with good statistics, but also a great story.
With 5.7 attempts and a 68.6 percentage, he is clearly one of the best at finishing near the basket.
Adversity will make or break a person. It brought out the best in Nene.
7. Dwight Howard, 433
Superman tops the list in terms of percentage at 74.7, but his average of 5.8 attempts brought him down.
Those numbers are still good enough to make Howard the first to break 400, however.
His time spent with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer could help him make a run at the top of the list by the end of this season.
6. Josh Smith, 439
It's been said that you cannot truly appreciate Josh Smith until you see him in person.
Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to do so, but his 6.7 attempts and 65.6 percentage speak for themselves.
The Hawks are the only team with two players who were on the same team a year ago on this list, so how could they have looked so bad in the playoffs?
Hey, Joe Johnson. Stop hogging the ball!
5. Amare Stoudemire, 448
Although microfracture surgery sapped some of Stoudemire's explosiveness, he is still very skilled near the rim.
With a shooting percentage of 67 to go along with 6.7 attempts and some nice glasses, Amare was able to get himself into the top five.
He's got to be missing Steve Nash by now.
4. Carlos Boozer, 454
It's too bad that Boozer isn't as skilled at avoiding duffel bags as he is at finishing at the hole.
His 6.7 attempts and 67.9 percentage are both high numbers, but he's currently MIA as his pinkie heals.
Chicago will hope he can keep those numbers up playing alongside Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.
3. David Lee, 475
If you don't know, now you know.
It's too bad that Wilson Chandler's teeth have caused an infection in Lee's elbow that will force him to miss some time this year. But in the 2009-10 season, he ended up averaging 7.2 attempts with a 66.1 at-the-rim shooting percentage.
Get healthy soon, David. And wear a mouthpiece, Wilson.
2. Dwyane Wade, 495
Wade was a mere three points behind our leader, but his average of 7.4 attempts tops the list.
If his 67 shooting percentage was just a bit higher, he could have made it to the top.
Cheer up, Flash. At least you have a ring and a Finals MVP to your name.
1. LeBron James, 498
Not much of a surprise here, is it?
There's a reason LeBron was the most sought-after free agent in NBA, and maybe all of professional sports, history.
We all watched for an hour as he told us where he was taking his talents for a reason, too.
King James attempted 6.8 shots at-the-rim per game and connected on an astounding 73.3 percent of them.
His NFL body makes defenders reluctant to get in his way and his apparent foray into professional wrestling made many hate him.
He may not have a ring, but at least he's No. 1 on this list.