Finishing At the Rim

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles LakersFinishing shots at the rim at a high rate of efficiency is a category that can make a big difference over the course of an NBA season.

Whether through front court or back court players, having an elevated conversion percentage inside goes a long way towards overall offensive efficiency, where the Lakers finished eighth on the season (105.8) amongst NBA teams.

Here’s how each player fared from five feet and in*:
*Statistics courtesy of Hoopdata.com.

Above 65 Percent
Steve Nash: 61 makes in 86 attempts, 70.9%
Dwight Howard: 357 for 507, 70.4%
Kobe Bryant: 264 for 379, 69.7% (highest percentage since 2007)
Steve Blake: 19 for 28, 67.9%
Antawn Jamison: 127 for 188, 67.6%
Pau Gasol: 124 for 186, 66.7%
Earl Clark: 76 for 115, 66.1%
Jordan Hill: 45 for 69, 65.2%

60 Percent and Below
Robert Sacre: 9 for 15, 60.0%
Metta World Peace: 126 for 215, 58.6%
Chris Duhon: 6 for 11, 54.5%
Jodie Meeks: 59 for 110, 53.6%
Devin Ebanks: 10 for 19, 52.6%
Darius Morris: 38 for 74, 51.4%

Bryant’s 69.7 success rate certainly stands out, as he continued his steady improvement of the last four years (from a low of 58.6 percent in 2010) despite his increasing age. Meanwhile, Howard’s 70.4 percent rate is his lowest since 2007, down from 74.4 percent in the previous season, which one could ascribe at least in part to his season-long recovery from 2012 back surgery.

Gasol’s 186 attempts at the rim is very low considering his skill set. Clearly his appearing in only 49 games had something to do with that; however, the Spaniard averaged just 3.9 attempts at the rim, continuing a downward trend from 5.8 per game in 2010. Figuring out how to get Gasol touches in the post with Howard and Bryant attempting nearly 900 shots from that range was certainly a challenge for coach Mike D’Antoni, though it improved late in the season.

On the other hand, certain Lakers struggled to finish at the rim, with Metta World Peace (58.6 percent) joining younger players Jodie Meeks (53.6 percent) and Darius Morris (51.4 percent). Minimal attempts from others (Steve Blake, Chris Duhon and Devin Ebanks) make the respective rate of conversion less impactful.

For comparison’s sake: Always among league leaders inside, Tony Parker made 68.8 percent this season, below both Nash and Bryant. Chris Paul was at 69.5 percent, Mike Conley 57.9, James Harden 63.0, Russell Westbrook 61.6, Stephen Curry 59.2. One guard, Dwyane Wade, managed to make an impressive 74.7 percent of his shots at the rim, way up from around 66 percent in the last two seasons.

The 2013 MVP, LeBron James, hit an absurd 78.3 percent of his shots at the rim. Kevin Durant wasn’t so bad himself, converting 75.1 percent. Those two stand far above another elite wing scorer, Carmelo Anthony, who made just 54.9 percent at the rim.

Amongst other NBA bigs, Chris Bosh hit 75.5 percent, Tim Duncan 71.8, LaMarcus Aldridge 71.2, Marc Gasol 67.1, Joakim Noah 62.0, Brook Lopez 69.4, Zach Randolph 59.4, Roy Hibbert 53.6.

As we can see, L.A.’s top four players rank amongst the league’s best finishers.