Recently, when I talked about how good Andre Drummond is, a commenter objected that Drummond isn't very good, because after all, like Tyson Chandler, he can't get his own shot, and he only shoots when he's wide open. And of course, we heard the usual lazy rhetoric about how the Points Over Par metric rewards guys who don't shoot very much, which is, of course, why Kevin Durant is leading the league in wins produced (oh, wait).
The big problem is the underlying assumption that somehow only taking 7-10 shots a game, and dunking or laying in all of them is somehow easy. Somehow, Tyson Chandler isn't really doing anything special when he rolls to the hoop for an alley-oop or when he makes backdoor cut for a lob dunk, or when he grabs an offensive board and puts it back in. That stuff's easy, right? That must be why everybody in the NBA can do that!
Except...uh...they don't do that. And I can only presume that they don't do that because they can't. It is decidedly not easy. Here's a list of the 34 players in the NBA with more than 500 minutes, and 11 or fewer FGA per 48 minutes:
|Player||FGA pre 48||TS%||Points Over Par (per48)|
One thing should be immediately clear: despite that this is presumably a list of guys that are only shooting when they are open, most of these guys just aren't very good at getting the ball through the hoop, at least this year. Only 9 of the 32 have above average TS%. Another should be that Points over Par isn't being very kind to them. It's true, Greg Stiemsma could probably go from awful to just bad if he shot less, but this is because he sucks at shooting. Generally if you are terrible at something, then not trying to do it will help your team (or at least hurt it less). In Stiemsma's case, I doubt there is much to be done, he's essentially Darko 2.0: awful at everything but shot blocking.
So it turns out that "only shooting when you have a really good shot" or "only shooting when you have a layup or dunk" isn't really a recipe for success. It's not like Brendan Haywood and Ronny Turiaf didn't get the memo. It's more likely that they simply do not have the skills (or talents, I'm not going to start a nature-vs-nurture argument here) that Tyson Chandler has.
It turns out that just getting yourself a few dunks and layups per game is hard. And please don't argue that it's easy for Chandler because he plays with Melo. Take another look at this list. Kendrick Perkins also has a pretty good teammate getting lots of attention. Ronny Turiaf and Chris Duhan play with Kobe. Lamar Odom can't seem to hit a shot anymore even though he plays with Chris Paul.