November 17, 2014

Kobe Bryant, all about the volume...

This bit of statistical trivia came across ESPN's website this morning...
  • Kobe Bryant had the 121st 40-point game of his career Sunday, but did so shooting 15-of-34 from the field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau research, only Wilt Chamberlain (72) has more games with 40 points when shooting less than 50 percent than Bryant's 51. No other NBA player in NBA history has more than 29 such games. 
It's early, and thinking about statistical projections when you're ten games into an eighty-two game season is foolish, but...from ESPN's NBA stats pages
  • Kobe is currently second in the league, averaging 27.3 points per game (half a point behind LeBron). 
  • Kobe is leading the league in field goals attempted by a pretty big margin (244 for Kobe in 10 games, 218 for Carmelo in 11 games, nobody else above 190).
  • Kobe has the 119th best shooting percentage (37.7%) of all players who qualify for the leader boards...just behind Kevin Love (#118) and James Harden (#117).
  • In points per shot, Kobe does come in a little better at #106 in the NBA with 1.12 points per shot.
Long term, this is clearly an aberration in  Kobe's shooting percentage for his career as he's shot 45.3% for his career and hasn't ever before shot lower than the 41.7% of his rookie season. Of course, this year's field goal attempts (24.4 per game) would be his second highest of his career after his 2005-06 season when he averaged 27.2 shots per game but scored 35.2 points per game on 45.0% shooting.

I mention all of this because a student of mine this past week mentioned that Kobe had set the record for most field goals missed in an NBA career at 13471 (and counting very quickly). The student then explained that there must be a correlation between shots missed, shots taken, and talent. Clearly, he said, anybody who's allowed to shoot that much must be making lots of their shots.

That's somewhat true, but the correlation between shots taken and missed is far from 1.0 for the greatest players.

The top shooters (field goals attempted all-time - from pro-basketball reference)...
  1. Kareem - 28307
  2. Karl Malone - 26210
  3. Kobe - 24618 (would take two solid years of playing to catch Kareem)
  4. Michael Jordan - 24537
  5. Elvin Hayes - 24272
    (Kevin Garnett is the next active at #14 with 20792)
The top missers (field goals missed - also from pro-basketball reference)...
  1. Kobe - 13471
  2. John Havlicek - 13417
  3. Elvin Hayes - 13296
  4. Karl Malone - 12682
  5. Kareem - 12470
    (Vince Carter is the next active at #13 with 10667)

The top makers (field goals made - same source)...
  1. Kareem - 15837
  2. Karl Malone - 13528
  3. Wilt - 12681
  4. Michael Jordan - 12192
  5. Dr J - 11818
  6. Shaq - 11330
  7. Kobe - 11147 (would take six more years at current year's shooting percentage to get to #1)
    (Kevin Garnett is next among actives at #14 with 10341)
Top scorers (total points - from pro-basketball)
  1. Kareem - 38287
  2. Karl Malone - 36928
  3. Michael Jordan - 32292
  4. Kobe - 31973 (would take about three more years at this year's scoring average and really good health to get to #1)
  5. Wilt - 31419
    (Dirk Nowitzki is the next active player at #11 with 26989)
The crack about Kobe not passing isn't entirely true. He has 5963 assists for his career, good for the #32 most of all time, averaging 3.8 assists per game (down from his career average of 4.8 per game).

McDonald's doesn't make the best burgers in the land, but they sell a ton of them.

Kobe Bryant is McDonald's...he's Wal-Mart...he's r-selected.

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