When a major league baseball player has 200 hits in a season, there tends to be near unanimous agreement that he is a good hitter. But if it took him 800 at-bats to do so, would people still feel the same as they took note of his .250 batting average?
Since at-bats in baseball are essentially limited, no one bats 800 times during a season. But in the NBA, where there are fewer restrictions on shot attempts, players who are known as good scorers tend to be awarded such accolades based solely on how many points they score, not on the percentage they shoot.
You can take a scrub off of the end of any bench in the NBA and watch him average 20 points a game. The worst of these may shoot a paltry 30 or 35 percent in doing so, but it can almost certainly be done as long as the player is willing to hoist up enough shots.
There are some well known players in the NBA who have reputations as very good players but flat out can’t shoot. And some of their names may come as a surprise:
Allen Iverson – Baseball players have hit for a higher average than “Me, Myself and Iverson” has shot in a season. His worst years have been .387 and .398. He is a career .425 shooter who averages 27.4 points. Averaging 31 points a game in a season is impressive but it becomes less of an accomplishment when you have to chuck up nearly 28 shots a game to do it.
Tracy McGrady – He has never shot over .457 in a season. His career field goal percentage is .437 and his worst years have seen him shoot a sorrowful .417, .406 and .419. Granted, T-Mac’s game is not limited to his shooting. He rebounds at a career 6.1 clip and generally doles out an average of between five and six assists per game. But for $20 million a year, would it kill him to be a bit more mindful of his shot selection?
Jason Kidd – If anyone on the list deserves a pass for poor shooting it’s Jason Kidd. When you can pull a triple double out of your anus, you merit some slack in at least one area. Kidd’s weakness has always been his shooting, at which he is a hideous .402 in his career. He has shot below .400 in six of his fourteen seasons.
Fortunately, he only averages 12.6 shot attempts per game. It’s hard to knock a player the caliber of Kidd but he could pad those assist stats even more if he would skip the open jumper in favor of a pass a few more times a game.
Baron Davis – Another point guard who deserves a degree slack due to his passing ability. He averages 7.3 career assists to Kidd’s 9.2 and also shoots more often than Kidd at 15.0 a game. And he is not nearly the rebounder that Jason is. So his .413 career field goal percentage is less acceptable. Of course his salary is about half of Kidd’s but nevertheless needs to realize that being dissed by the rim doesn’t necessitate retaliation by firing random drive-by shots in its direction.
Jamal Crawford – A shooting guard who can’t shoot is the equivalent of a designated hitter who can’t hit. And Jamal Crawford fits this bill to perfection. He averaged 17.3 PPG in his final season with the Bulls – while shooting an egregious .386. Although Isaiah Thomas never seemed to notice, he didn’t fare much better with the Knicks who wasted no time in trading him once the new administration came to town. He is a career .403 clanker whose shots are beyond bricks. They are more of the cinder block variety.
Derek Fisher – The strange thing about Derek Fisher is not only is he a point guard who can’t shoot, he is a point guard who can’t pass either. His lifetime average of a mere 3.2 assists per game is masked only by his inability to shoot. He is a career .401 from the field. But at least he’s slow.
Larry Hughes – a career .409 shooter who happens to play good defense.
Stephen Jackson – tends too fall in love with the 3 and that has hurt his field goal percentage he's currently at .418 clip.
Antoine Walker – was last seen somewhere in Memphis. His ability to rebound doesn’t quite make up for his career .414 shooting and average of 16.5 shots per game.