Stats Guide

League: Shooting

The League Shooting table takes you a level deeper than the Four Factors Summary. This table also gives a sense of a team's offensive and defensive style, but does so by breaking down where they shoot from and how well they shoot in those spots.

Location Definitionsclick to show/hide

This data is based on shot locations from play-by-play. This data can be especially messy and therefore is not exact — it depends on where the scorer marks the shot as the game is happening, which can be inexact or even sometimes way off. There are also issues with different scorers marking shots differently. For example, on a layup, some scorers mark where the player took off from and some scorers mark it where the shot was released (at the rim).

That said, these stats are generally pretty good and, over large samples, can tell us a lot about how a player plays. The official definitions are below, but here is a quick overview of how to think about these different types of locations:

  • Rim: layups, dunks, and tip shots.
  • Short midrange: usually runners and floaters off the drive, or hooks or fadeaways from the post.
  • Long midrange: for guards and wings these are likely to be pull-ups off the dribble, for big men these are likely to be spot up or pick-and-pop jumpers.
  • All midrange: the previous two categories combined.
  • Corner threes: threes taken below the break in the arc, where the threes are a shorter distance than other three point attempts.
  • Non-corner threes: threes taken above the break in the arc, removing heaves (estimated from play-by-play based on distance and time left on the shot/game clocks).
  • All threes: the prevous two categories combined.

Note that for years in which we have shot locations for shooting fouls drawn (starting in the 2010-11 season), shooting fouls are included for determining where teams are shooting from.

Example: 2016-17 Top 10 Shooting Teams

Let's break down why these teams ended up being the best shooting teams in the league (measured by eFG%, which you can read more about in the League Four Factors guide). First, we can look at where these teams attempted their shots by looking at the "Frequency" section. And what jumps up is just how much red there is in the midrange section: the best shooting teams took few midrange shots. Of the top 5 shooting teams, 4 of them ranked in the bottom handful of the league. Golden State ranked 24th in midrange shots attempted, Cleveland ranked 27th, Houston 30th, and Denver 26th. They did it mainly by taking a lot of threes: all of these 4 teams were in the top 10 in three-pointers attempted. As I wrote about during the 2017 playoffs, San Antonio is the outlier amongst these teams, ranking 2nd in midrange shots attempted.

The other thing these teams had in common, not surprisingly, is the ability to make shots — particularly from the efficient locations. Moving to the FG% portion of the table, we see that most of them finished very well at the rim and shot the three at a high rate. One interesting note: Houston, who ranked 3rd in eFG%, was the worst midrange shooting team in the league. That partly comes from the way they avoid midrange shots. They don't take decent midrange shots in the flow of their offense, so the midrange shots they do take will tend to be the ones they have to take: tougher shots at the end of the shot clock.

The Gritty Details

  • Rim: shots taken within 4 feet of the basket.
  • Short midrange: the distance of a foul shot and closer. Inside of 13.75 feet from the rim but outside of 4 feet.
  • Long midrange: two point shots taken outside of 13.75 feet.