Tendencies and Effectiveness of Individual Thunder Players Shooting

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

I can go up to any NBA fan and ask them about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's shooting. I would bet money that a large majority would say something along the lines of "Kevin Durant is one of the best shooters in the NBA" and "Russell Westbrook jacks and bricks too much". Is Kevin Durant one of the best shooters in the game? Does Russell Westbrook shoot too much? I'm writing this post not only to answer those questions, but to enlighten y'all on the shooting tendencies and effectiveness of every Thunder player. I will provide my quick assumptions and analysis on the data which I find, but also ask for you the reader to share your thoughts on the data and analysis which I present. I'm not one for long intros, so let's jump on into the stats now, beginning with the glorified jacker Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook:


For Russell, let's begin with a very important stat which is True Shooting Attempts (TSA). This is essentially Field Goal Attempts + 2 and 3 point attempts which he was granted a shooting foul on. To my surprise, Russell Westbrook leads the Thunder team in True Shooting attempts by 8 with 1773 total attempts. Russell Westbrook does not only take a lot of shots, he takes the most!

Russell also leads the Thunder in Usage as well, which is a combination of dribbling, shooting, FTs, and turnovers. This should be expected of a player who takes the most shots on the team. Is it best for the Thunder though?

Well, this is where we dive into one of my favorite aspects of NBA stats, which is efficiency. A player can score a lot, but can he do it efficiently is a question I always ask myself. Russell's eFG% (fg2m+1.53ptm/fga) is 47%. This puts him in the bottom 3 on the team, only ahead of Derek Fisher and Deandre Liggins. I think that speaks for itself. Russell as well doesn't fair too well in PPS (Points Per Shot) recording only 1.08, which isn't bad, but as for the whole team he is in the bottom 5, behind Sefolosha, Collison, Durant, Ibaka, Martin, and Hasheem Thabeet!

For myself, the fact that Russell Westbrook leads his team in shots taken, and is in the bottom 5 in points per shot is a huge issue for the Thunder. Add in the fact that he leads his team in Usage as well, I can't help but to think that Russell is more of a detriment to the Thunder offense than a positive addition shooting wise. All of his teammates take less shots than him, and only four score less points per shot they take, if I'm the Thunder, I'm taking shots away from Russell and moving them around to other players such as Ibaka, Durant, and Martin.

Shot Selection/Effectiveness:

Looking into his shot selection, the above data becomes even more interesting. It begins with the fact that Russell leads his team in shots taken 0-3 feet from the basket with 529 attempts in that range, over 200 more attempts than Kevin Durant who comes in second on the team! 35.2% of Russell's shots come in that range, where he soots 60%. Those are outrageous numbers for a point guard, especially looking at who ranks right above him with 36% of shots 0-3 feet from the basket in Serge Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins and Hasheem Thabeet have FG%s lower than Russell in a lot less shots. Russell Westbrook although his overall shooting stats seem to illustrate him as being an inefficient jacker, takes a large amount of his shots at the rim, which is the most efficient shot in the game to take. There has to be somewhere where Russell has a falling off in his shooting.

The fall off in shooting comes in the ranges of 4-9 and 16+ feet from the basket (16+ feet of only 2 point attempts). He takes 10% of his total shots in the 4-9 feet range where he ranks 3rd worst on his team in FG% of 25.7, only ahead of Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha. That's really bad for a player who is "All-NBA".

Russell Westbrook again leads the team in total shots taken from 16+ feet (3 pointers not taken into account) 24 shots ahead of Kevin Durant. This amounts for 21.1% of his shots, which puts him third on the team behind Serge Ibaka, and only .2% behind Kevin Durant. I'm going to try to put in words how bad this is. The long two is a very inefficient shot on its own, add in volume to the equation, and you have the recipe for a very inefficient player no matter how well they shoot the shot. Take what I just said, and take out the part about shooting it well, and imagine a player who doesn't shoot the long two well. That's Russell Westbrook, who shoots the long two at a 38.4% clip, only .3% ahead of Kevin Martin who is the second worst on the team at shooting this shot. It doesn't get much worse than this guys.

Luckily for Russell, he is an effective three point shooter, despite what the statistics show. He is third in overall attempts with 280 3 point attempts on the season which makes up 18.1% of his total shots (the lowest percentage of all guards and small forwards on the Thunder) and shoots them at a 31.8% clip. 31.8% might not seem very good at first look, but take into account that that's the equivalent of shooting nearly 48% from inside the arc, it doesn't look that bad.

Overall, Russell Westbrook is a mix of a very efficient player meeting a very inefficient player. He excels in getting to the rim and shooting a very good percentage taking into account how often he shoots at the rim, however he settles for bad midrange shots, and too many of them at that. Russell is a good player already, but if he were to redistribute the shots he takes, he could be a true force in the league. For this series, the Rockets have to force Russell to take shots from 4-9 feet, and midrange jumpers where he is a detriment to himself and the team.

Random Interesting Stats about Russell:

  1. -Leads the team with 250 pull-up jumpers, second on the team is Kevin Durant with 76.
  2. -Leads the team with 274 driving field goal attempts, second on the team is Kevin Durant with 113.
  3. -Russell Westbrook is only ahead of Reggie Jackson is Points Per Shot on jumpers averaging 0.79 points per jump shot.

Kevin Martin:


Unfortunately, this isn't a post about defense, so we can't grill Kevin for being a bad defensive player, but instead it's about shooting where Kevin Martin is assumed to excel.

Kevin Martin ranks in fourth overall on the Thunder in True Shooting Attempts with 665 attempts (Ibaka is ahead of him). These 665 attempts total up to 797 Kevin Martin points. This is where I get confused as an outsider, Kevin Martin is known for his offensive abilities, yet he is only taking 665 attempts on the season which is almost 3 times less than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That doesn't make sense.

A good thing about him not taking too many shots, is that he is efficient with the ones he takes. Kmart shoots an eFG% of 55.1% only .4% below Mr. Efficiency Kevin Durant. This leads to Kmart scoring a high 1.19 PPS (point per shot). As I said, it doesn't make sense that he doesn't take more shots.

Kmart is a much more efficient player than Russell, yet he doesn't take anywhere near the shots that Russell does, should Kevin take some of Russell's shots away from him? Let's look at the usage to tell the complete story of what's going on here. Kmart has a usage of 18.7, which is 13.9 less than Russell Westbrook himself. To put that in perspective, 13.9 is close to the same difference between Kevin Martin and Ronnie Brewer's usage. That's a big difference. Would bringing down Russell's usage and bringing up Kevin's be beneficial to the Thunder?

Looking at these numbers, it seems to me that Kevin is making the most of his limited opportunities by showing very good results in his somewhat limited attempts compared to other Thunder players. I would bump up the amount of shots he takes, but as a 6th man coming off the bench, he gives the Thunder exactly what they need shooting wise.

Shot Selection/Effectiveness:

The stats show that Kevin Martin is an effective player when he is able to get within 3 feet of the rim, I repeat when he is able to get to the rim. Kevin only shoots 17% of his total attempts within 3 feet of the basket, only ahead of everyone's favorite point guard Derek Fisher. That's not very good taking into account he is a good finisher within 3 feet, where he shoots a very good 67.3%.That's a higher percentage than Nick Collison, Thabeet, and Kendrick Perkins. Although Kevin doesn't shoot very often at the rim, he finishes well, and should possibly look for more shots around the rim.

The 4-9 feet range continue to be a problem for Thunder players, where Kevin Martin is absolutely awful from. Although only 8.6% of Kmart's shots are from 4-9 feet, that still accounts for 51 attempts, fifth overall for the team. In those 51 attempts, Kevin has shot a mediocre, and this isn't a typo, 21.6%, second worst on the team. I think we have established that the 4-9 feet range isn't a very good area to shoot from.

From 16+ feet, Kevin is again not a very efficient shooter. 16.3% of his shots come from 16+ feet, which is nearly equal to the amount of shots he takes at the rim. Kevin has the third worst FG% from 16+ feet with 38.1%, only ahead of Sefolosha and Derek Fisher. To put that in perspective, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins are more effective midrange shooters than Kmart. That could be a good bar bet, in fact it would be an amazing bar bet, go out and use it to make some money. Your welcome, I'll take 10%.

Perkins and Collison aren't better three point shooters than Kmart though (Who would've thunk it!). This is where I love Kevin's game, and what makes him to be a very efficient player. Kevin is second on the team in three point attempts with 290, which is 32 less than Kevin Durant despite him taking nearly three times as many shots. This makes up 48.7% of Kevin's total shots. That's a lot of threes. What makes it even better is that he is shooting the three the best on his team with 43.1%. That's outstanding.

Kevin in his limited opportunities makes the most of them by shooting over 60% of his shots either at the rim or behind the three point line, where he is very effective at both of the shots. If I'm the Rockets, I'm being wary of that and trying to run Kmart off the line to have him settle for long twos or even at the rim, where even though he finishes well, he isn't accustomed to shooting.

Random Interesting Stats About Kmart:

  1. -Kevin Martin has only 8 And-1 attempts on the season.
  2. -He shoots 61.5% from the line on Technical FTs.
  3. -82% of Kevin Martin's shots are jumpers.

Serge Ibaka:


Serge believe it or not appears to be at the third option of the Thunder's offense, where he has totaled 846 True Shooting Attempts. This is good for third on the team, and about half of Kevin Durant's true shooting attempts. He has totaled 1028 points on the 846 attempts, good for a 58.5% eFG%, which equals third on the team behind Collison and Thabo Sefolosha. If you ask me, those numbers show a guy who very much deserves all of his shot attempts, and possibly more.

Serge is known for his defensive prowess, but he also is fourth on the Thunder in offensive usage with 18.5, which is impressive since he isn't a guard who touches the ball every possession when he's on the court. That usage is perfect for a big man who excels in eFG%, and Points Per Shot where he scores 1.22 PPS, only behind Kevin Durant, Nick Collison, and Thabo Sefolosha (If you haven't noticed yet, Thabo is Mr. Efficiency).

These numbers are great for Serge, he has a high enough volume of shots for a big man who likes to shoot a lot of midrange shots, and he makes the most of them by having high eFG% and PPS. Serge plays the perfect role of third banana to Russell and Durant.

Shot Selection/Effectiveness:

Serge excels within 3 feet of the rim, which is to be expected of a hyper athletic Power Forward. His FG% within 3 feet of the rim leads the Thunder at 73.1%, that's essentially making a little less than 3 out of every four shots he takes, which is a little less than 1.5 PPS within 3 feet. That's ridiculous, and any team would love to have someone that effective that close to the rim. I'm a greedy person though, and when I see that only 275 of his attempts (36% of his total attempts) come at the rim, I get disappointed that he's not shooting more often in that range.

I'm sure y'all haven't heard this one yet, but Ibaka struggles in the 4-9 feet range. Seriously, I want to ban any Rockets players from shooting in that range now, it shouldn't be allowed. Ibaka isn't as bad of a shooter as his teammates, but only shoots 46.7% in the range. Thinking about it, that's quite good for the range itself, but taking into account all shots, it looks a lot worse. He also shoots this shot 11.8% of the time, which is way too much, but at least he makes it almost half the time.

Ibaka has improved his midrange jumpshot since he entered the league, and it shows this season that he is confident in it. Ibaka has taken 250 shots from 16+ feet, which is third overall on the Thunder, making up 33% of his total shots. As well, he has taken 90 shots from 10-15 feet, which makes up 12% of his shots. Total that up, 45% of his shots come from the midrange area, which is a very high amount for a big man, let alone one who thrives in the paint. Ibaka shoots a lot from midrange because he is very good from the area, he shoots 56.7% from 10-15 feet, which is the highest on the team. The closest person to him is Thabo Sefolosha who shoots 41.7%. From 16+ feet, he shoots 48.4% which again leads the Thunder in percentage, the two closest players to that percentage are Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins.

I'm going to skip the three point shot for Ibaka, since he doesn't take very man of them, and shoots it at an average rate. Ibaka thrives in the two spots in which he takes most of his shots, that being at the paint and midrange. Ibaka is one of the few players in the league who makes the most out of one of the most inefficient shots in the game, and it's working for him.

Random Interesting Stats About Ibaka:

  1. -13.1% of Ibaka's shots are dunks.
  2. -Ibaka scores 1.01 PPS on jumpers, which is more than Kevin Durant.
  3. -Ibaka hasn't made a true step back jumpshot all season.

Thabo Sefolosha:


The stereotype with Sefolosha is that "He can't shoot, and all he is is a good defender" well, I'm going to start calling him "Mr. Efficiency". Sefolosha makes the most of his limited shooting attempts, in his 473 True Shooting Attempts, he has scored 592 points. That might not seem so good at first, but take into account that his eFG% is 60.7% which is the highest for every Thunder player, it looks a lot better. In his few shots, he makes them over half the time, which is easy points, which are invaluable.

Thabo is this efficient because he has a low usage rate, and doesn't take very many shots. He has a usage rate of 11.5, which is behind Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson. Although his usage is low, he makes the most of it, and serves as more than a defensive specialist which comes to mind when people think of Thabo. He makes the smart play and shoots smart shots. That's huge for any role player on any team to be able to do.

Shot Selection/Effectiveness:

I said earlier Thabo's name should be "Mr. Efficiency", his shooting near the rim shows why he deserves that name. 30.2% of Thabo's shots come within 3 feet of the rim, and he shoots a WHOPPING 72.4%, which is only behind Ibaka. That's nearly 1.5 points per shot at the rim. That's outrageous for any basketball player, let alone a point guard.

From 4-9 feet, Thabo is as terrible as it comes. He shoots 8.7%, which easily puts him last on the Thunder. However, he knows he's terrible at the shot, that's why he has only taken 12 attempts within that range all season, which is only 2.7% of his total attempts. Thabo knows his limitations and plays to his strengths, and that can be seen with these statistics.

I'm going to skip the midrange portion for Thabo, since he shoots less than 10% of his shots from the midrange area, which doesn't say much other than that he knows where he is best shooting from on the floor.

This is my favorite stat about Thabo, because it completely disregards the myths that he is a bad shooter. He has taken 245 threes this season (55.3% of his total shot attempts), which is only 35 less than Westbrook. Here is where it gets good, he makes threes at a clip of 42.4%! That's second on the team only to Kevin Martin, and higher than Kevin Durant. This guy can shoot and that shows it.

I like Thabo a lot more now than I did before knowing all of this. I knew about his defense (who doesn't?), but I didn't know that he was a very smart player and an effective one at that. He can find a niche on any team he plays on, it's just unfortunate we have to go against him for this series.

Random Interesting Stats About Thabo Sefolosha:

  1. -Thabo shoots 25.7% from midrange
  2. -On turnaround jump shots Thabo's PPS is 0.29
  3. -On reverse layup attempts Thabo's PPS is 1.8

Kevin Durant:


Let me start by saying that Kevin Durant is a very very good player. Now that you've learned something new today we can continue by diving into his shots. Kevin has taken 1684 True Shooting Attempts which is second on the team only behind Russell Westbrook (As I said earlier, there's something wrong with that). Kevin Durant has also scored 2158 points on the season, which is the most on his team, and ahead of Russell by 300 points (on about 75 less true shooting attempts). Imagine if he were to shoot more often, he'd be even more unbelievable.

Kevin Durant has an eFG% of 55.4%, which is the highest of any backcourt player other than Thabo Sefolosha. When you look at how many shots Durant has taken, the 55.4 eFG% is even more impressive since most of the time as a player takes more shots they become more inefficient, but he maintains elite efficiency on lots of shots (A lot of this is due to his ability to draw fouls). Durant's PPS is 1.26, which is second overall only behind Collison with 1.27. This is so impressive, I just have to move on. I'll let you take a minute and take it all in though, I definitely had to.

Durant's usage rate comes in second behind Russell Wesbrook at 30.6. There's not much to say other than that it should be higher, he's hyper-efficient, and he doesn't take the most shots on the team. He needs to shoot more, but here's to him shooting less over this series.

Shot Selection/Effectiveness:

Kevin Durant isn't known as a player who goes to the rack very often, and it's true he doesn't. Only 22.6% of his shots come within 3 feet of the basket, the only two players with lower percentages are Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher. On the shots he does take at the rim, he shoots 72.2%, again another egregious percentage. This shows that although Kevin doesn't attack the rack much, he is still able to finish very well around the rim.

Kevin Durant unlike the other Thunder players, actually shoots well from the 4-9 feet range. Only 11.8% of his attempts come within the range, but he still is able to shoot a good 46.7% This shows how good of a player Durant is, he is able to shoot a good percentage on shots which most other players have trouble with. Not only that, it adds another weapon to his arsenal which other players don't have, so defenses have to adjust to the fact.

Kevin Durant is said to get his money from his midrange shot, but I don't think that's true. 21.3% of his total attempts come from the midrange area, this is especially interesting because it is less than the percentage of shots in the paint and three pointers. The three percentages are all very close, but for the midrange to not be the majority is surprising to me. No matter how much Kevin shoots the shot though, he shoots it at 43.5%. This is a good percentage ranking him only behind Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison. What'd I say about learning something new earlier?

Kevin Durant leads his team in three point attempts with 320 total, 30 higher than Russell Westbrook in second. Kevin loves to shoot the three pointer and that's why it makes up for the highest percentage of shots with 23.4%. He is also able to make the high amount of three pointers at a 41.6% clip. The ridiculously high percentage accompanied with the high volume show that Durant is not only a superstar, but very efficient at that. The 41.6% ranks him only behind Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha.

Looking at all the numbers, it is telling how similar all the percentage of shots taken in each range are. Kevin Durant is a versatile player who can not only shoot well from any range of the court, but can also get to those places to take those shots. Durant is efficient at every range on the floor too. This is what makes Durant such a great player, he can do everything well and shows it. Zach Lowe said something along the lines of "You look at Durant's stats and say he should do more of this one thing, but you find yourself saying that about all of his stats." That is the complete truth when it comes to Kevin Durant. He shouldn't shoot a shot more or less, he should keep doing what he's doing.

Random Interesting Facts About Kevin Durant:

  1. -74.3% of Kevin Durant's shots are jumpers
  2. -Kevin Durant leads his team with 51 And-1 attempts
  3. -Kevin Durant hasn't made a hook shot all season

I hope everyone who has sat through and read all 4000 words has learned something new about the Thunder for this season and is making assumptions based off this data. For myself, I am very interested in Russell Westbrook and how he excels in certain aspects of the game and suffers in others. I look for the Rockets to play to the advantage of forcing Russell to take midrange shots instead of giving him the lane to drive to. I also find it surprising that Perkins is a top 3 16+ feet shooter on the Thunder.
I ask you all to leave a comment with what you think this data could mean and the effect it could have on the round 1 playoff series. Thank you.

No cursing in title. No pirated material, such as links to online game streams. Do not cut/paste entire sections of content from other websites. Thanks.

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