The term shot creation is both ill defined and much debated. I am not a big fan of the term myself, mainly because it's so ill defined. To those who are proponents of its importance, it is that certain je ne sais quoi that turns broken possessions into baskets and breaks defenses down. While opponents somewhat ungenerously term it chucking the ball in the general direction of the basket.
Trying to put my own definition on it I thought it would have to at least start with the ability and propensity to take shots without getting assisted. I also thought that the ability to get unassisted shots at the rim was a good indication of positive shot creation since those are both efficient shots and more likely to garner an offensive rebound if they don't go in the basket. Both are convenient definitions since I was staring at that very data broken out by distance from the basket from the last three years via Hoop Data.
I decided to again use cluster analysis to see if there were distinct groups present in the data that would at least point the way for further inquiry.
There was, at least, to some extent.
But, first let me say what where I didn't find it, because that's often almost as important for statistical inference and clarification of one's thoughts.
- Bigs aren't shot creators. No surprise, but that meant that for any Cluster to work beyond telling me who the Bigs were they needed to be eliminated.
- Self created three point shots are not really a thing. Almost no one not named Steph Curry shoots threes unassisted. So the question of whether to include three point shot in looking at shot creation is a good question. From my view it appeared that players with the ability and propensity to shoot off the bounce were labeled Non-creators or Spot Up guys simply because of their high rate of three point shots. In other words, a guy that can hit threes and also drive the lane win a defender runs out is very valuable. Also there is almost no correlation to unassisted threes and unassisted shots at the basket. So, I based the study on two point shots only.
- Unassisted shots are very position dependent, because Point Guards have the ball in their hands much of the time. You can't get an assisted shot if the ball is already in your possession. Comparing Point Guard creation and Center's is pretty much pointless, like comparing strike outs thrown by pitchers and short stops.
So our world is getting a bit smaller here, but now we can at least look at some like groups, shooting guards, small forwards and point guards. Within the positions there are, indeed, some cohesive groupings of players based on their assisted rate for shots. For now I am calling the two groups Spot Up Shooters and Creators.
For right now, I will look at Shooting Guards, here are the two groups using Shooting Guards over the last three years with at least 200 minutes in terms of assists by location:
|Group||Count||Two Pt Shots
|Total Floor Offense
|Att at Rim
|Pct Assisted on
|CREATOR TWO GUARDS||105||37.8%||54.54||4.25||40.95||39.36||81.43|
|SPOT UP TWO GUARDS||108||65.5%||75.90||3.33||63.61||73.55||91.14|
What we find is that the shot location that shows the biggest difference in assist level is actually the dreaded Long Two from 16 to 23 feet. The bane of all basketball analytics everywhere. Not a a great start for our Shot Creators. However, they do , as group, take more shot at the rim. And one can also see how little gap there is in three point shots.
To bring the groups I found into better focus, I pulled up some of the individual players with the most effective points in 2013.
|Player||CREATOR TWO GUARDS||SPOT UP TWO GUARDS||Group|
|Andre Iguodala||0||1||Spot Up|
|Danny Green||0||1||Spot Up|
|DeMar DeRozan||0||1||Spot Up|
|Gordon Hayward||0||1||Spot Up|
|J.J. Redick||0||1||Spot Up|
|Jared Dudley||0||1||Spot Up|
|Kevin Martin||0||1||Spot Up|
|Klay Thompson||0||1||Spot Up|
|Marcus Thornton||0||1||Spot Up|
One thing to notice is that Creator Two Guards are over represented in the top point scoring two guards with fifteen of the twenty-four.
For the most part the list looks pretty intuitive, with players like James Harden, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Joe Johnson as well as irrational confidence guys JR Smith and Jamal Crawford as Creators. But the list includes OJ Mayo and Ray Allen as a Creators.
This is where my definition matters, for Mayo 55% of his offense was insisted but only 37% of his inside the arc points were assisted. For Allen, while 76% of his offense from the floor was assisted only 49% of his two point offense is assisted putting him marginally in the creator camp last year. It also looks like the change to Miami affected his game as a far higher percentage of all of his shots in Boston were assisted and he rated a Spot Up Guard there.
On the Spot Guard list players like Danny Green, JJ Redick, Klay Thompson, Jared Dudley and Kevin Martin show up where we would expect. But, players like Iguodala were somewhat surprising, Again the way I am defining things matter, Iggy had about 62% of his overall offense assisted, while 55% of his offense inside the arc was a assisted, more than Allen.
Then I looked at some stats for the two groups as they were rated last year.
|Groups||Count||AV TS%||AV eFG%||AV ORB%||AV DRB%||AV AST%||AV TOV%||AV ASPM|
|Spot Up Twos||41||52.06%||49.10%||2.60||10.05||10.70||11.23||-1.53|
Pretty much across the line the Creators came out better. That isn't a surprise when one looks at the list of Creators up above. But, we can not, at this point, call this any sort of victory for shot creation. It is, at least, as likely that superior two guards are given the ball more often in the offense. IE, they get the opportunity to create because of their talent. It could be that the offense would be better off with more ball movement and less, 'creation.'
Lastly, I also wanted to cross reference this analysis with my last analysis on Shot Location, expecting to see Shot Creators line up with Slashing Guards, and Spot Shooters with Stretch Guards.
And they did only to a small extent, there was only a slight bias in favor of Stretch Guards being in the Spot Up Group, because of the fact that I gave the Stretch Shooters a pass on their threes. Again, using Shooting Guards from 2013:
Spot Up Slashing Guards come out the worst with scoring efficiency and overall ASPM rating. No surprise, since they seem to have neither elite ball handling or shooting skills.
I will follow up with the Point Guards next.