Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Average Stats: 35.9 percent on 5.9 attempts per game with 54.8 percent created
Accuracy Range: 32.7 percent (Kevin Durant) to 38.2 percent (Luka Doncic)
Volume Range: 4.6 attempts per game (Durant) to 6.5 attempts per game (Mike Conley)
Creation Range: 43.4 percent created (Kyle Lowry) to 78.9 percent created (Chris Paul)
Now we’re diving into the tiers featuring the league’s best shooters.
These, who are arguably more valuable commodities than the men populating the next portion of this article (again, different people value different things), are the men who create an eye-popping percentage of their own buckets. They frequently control the rock within the half-court set, and they’re not afraid to break down defenders before rising and firing over tight defensive efforts.
1. Chris Paul, Houston Rockets
36.5 percent on 6.1 attempts per game with 78.9 percent created
Given the all-world standards by which he’s judged, Chris Paul is in the midst of a rather pedestrian season. Perhaps Father Time is finally taking hold of his game and forcing him into an age-dictated decline. Maybe he’s not quite 100 percent, and we’re seeing the ill effects of hidden maladies slowing him down.
He’s still excelled from beyond the arc, largely because he’s creating a ridiculous percentage of his makes while maintaining accuracy levels superior to the league average. In fact, he’s never been this self-sufficient on his treys, which makes 2018-19 the continuation of a trend that began when he joined the Houston Rockets.
2. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
36.6 percent on 5.8 attempts per game with 71.4 percent created
Could LeBron James’ transformation be complete?
He’s never taken more three-point attempts per game, and he’s still connecting at a clip better than his career average (34.4 percent heading into the year). Moreover, he’s doing so at a career high in unassisted makes. His previous high came in 2009-10 when he created 65.9 percent of his conversions.
If James can maintain this level of marksmanship, look out, NBA, as he continues to morph into even more of an all-around threat.
3. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
38.2 percent on 6.2 attempts per game with 44.7 percent created
Whether he’s knocking down corner threes over the outstretched arms of James Harden or disarming defenders with penetrating jab-steps before drilling contested triples, Luka Doncic has already proved his shooting can translate away from EuroLeague play. He’s also validated the theory that his lackluster distance-shooting numbers with Real Madrid were largely because he drew too much defensive attention while his teammates were unable to steal any away.
Only four players throughout the Association have made more pull-up triples than Doncic this year, and that’s even more impressive when he’s connecting on those attempts at a 40.8 percent clip.
4. Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
36.1 percent on 6.1 attempts per game with 50.0 percent created
Enjoy Blake Griffin’s placement while it lasts.
This isn’t to take away from his body of work as a self-creating superstar, but he’s already showing signs of imminent regression after his red-hot start to the 2018-19 campaign—his first full go-round with the Detroit Pistons. Since calendars flipped to November, he’s taking 6.4 deep attempts per game but hitting just 30.1 percent.
5. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
35.8 percent on 6.4 attempts per game with 43.4 percent created
Kyle Lowry has long been one of the NBA’s most dangerous off-the-dribble threats, and that hasn’t changed as he transitions from the DeMar DeRozan era to the Kawhi Leonard era. Then again, he’s been used a bit less frequently as a top scoring option, which also seems to be keeping him from establishing the same rhythm that buoyed him in 2017-18.
If he can get back to his 39.9 percent clip from the last three seasons, the Toronto Raptors might grow even more dangerous. Considering they’re already one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference, that’s quite the thought.
6. Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets
36.2 percent on 5.3 attempts per game with 47.8 percent created
Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t typically considered one of the game’s leading marksmen. He did make 141 treys during his breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets in 2017-18, but his primary strides came when he drove to the hoop and remained capable of either converting at the tin or kicking the ball out to an open shooter.
Now, the shots are starting to fall.
Dinwiddie is actually taking 0.1 fewer triples per game, but his accuracy has soared from 32.6 to 36.2 percent as he grows even more comfortable converting off the bounce. Should those gains prove legitimate, it’ll be tough to avoid referring to the gaudy contract he inevitably signs this summer (barring a last-minute extension before the mid-December deadline) as money well spent.
7. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
34.7 percent on 6.5 attempts per game with 44.0 percent created
Now, we move into the more unfortunate portion of this cluster. Though Mike Conley still qualifies as an off-the-bounce weapon because he’s hitting at a respectable clip, taking plenty of shots during his average outing for the Memphis Grizzlies and creating a lofty percentage of his own buckets, he’s clearly falling behind the six previous marksmen.
Fortunately, we know Conley can do better.
During the 2016-17 season, he took 6.1 triples per game and hit 40.8 percent of them. Even more encouraging, he created 43.9 percent of those makes, which should serve as a sturdy indication the Grizzlies aren’t currently asking him to do too much.
8. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
32.7 percent on 4.6 attempts per game with 58.3 percent created
If you’re looking for one reason the Golden State Warriors failed to maintain their status as a world-beating outfit while Stephen Curry and Draymond Green missed time, this would qualify. It’s by no means the only reason (see: Klay Thompson’s shooting struggles, the lack of top-tier depth, defensive slippage and more), but it remains significant for a man who took 6.1 three-pointers per game and hit 41.9 percent of them in 2017-18.
Durant should progress back to his career mean. He hasn’t shot this poorly since his rookie season, which came all the way back in 2007-08 for the Seattle SuperSonics. But perhaps out of injury-mandated necessity, he’s also never needed to create nearly as much of his long-range offense.