Where Every NBA Team Takes (And Gives Up) Shots

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Here's a chart by our friend Ed Kupfer, who does analytics for the Houston Rockets, showing the distribution by percent of every NBA team's offensive and defensive field goals. If you take a second blink through the information overload, it's a shorthand Rosetta Stone for what's going on in the NBA.

First, look at the Knicks. What are the Knicks doing? This is a standard among incredulous NBA observation, but the Knicks are a really baffling sort of bad this year, in that they've completely reversed the habits that gave them at least a chaotic puncher's chance. At their best in the last few years, the Knicks would bomb threes and post up their mismatches. With this year's onset of the Triangle, those questionable threes have become putrid long twos—just Melo's threes per game alone have fallen nearly by half from the last two seasons' rate—and New York's stopped getting to the cup. Every defense in the league would kill to have their distribution fall like that, and the Knicks are out here doing that on purpose. The Knicks' chart looks like the Lakers', only in macro. We give the Lakers a bunch of shit because Byron Scott went out and said they were trying to play like morons, but this might just be the Knicks' natural state.


The Wolves and Wizards are both starved for three pointers, which makes sense given that they traded away one of the best spacing power forwards for two wings who can't shoot and are missing Bradley Beal, respectively. Houston looks exactly the way you'd expect Houston to look; Golden State has maybe the most correct-looking distribution; Sacramento and the Lakers have maybe the worst; the Thunder take no shots near the basket because they don't have any players who know how to play basketball or dribble, and Serge Ibaka has apparently decided that in the absence of Russ and KD, he's just going to stand 18 feet from the basket and turret up a river of jumpers; and Chicago gives up the fewest threes in the league, because Thibs will rip your toenails off if you don't close out. A few points on a chart tell you more or less the style, if not the pace, a team's playing—and for the most part, they all look about right.

Except for the 76ers. The 76ers are hilarious, because by this measure, they are playing basically correctly on offense and passably on defense, and have somehow accumulated a -16.9 point differential—a number that would demolish the current record of -15.2, held by the 1992-93 Mavericks. They're this bad while trying to do things the right way! That's incredible! Send them Josh Smith and Byron Scott!


Follow Ed for more charts like this.

[Ed Kupfer]