Why don’t we hear more about Adrian Dantley on ESPN? This graph makes me think he was as good an offensive player as Michael Jordan.

February 3, 2012
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(This article was first published on Simply Statistics, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

In my last post I complained about efficiency not being discussed enough by NBA announcers and commentators. I pointed out that some of the best scorers have relatively low FG% or TS%. However, via the comments it was pointed out that top scorers need to take more difficult shots and thus are expected to have lower efficiency. The plot below (made with this R script) seems to confirm this (click image to enlarge) . The dashed line is from regression and the colors represent guards (green), forwards (orange) and centers (purple).

Among this group TS% does trend down with points per game and centers tend to have higher TS%. Forwards and guards are not very different. However, the plot confirms that some of the supposed all time greats are more ball hogs than good scorers. 

A couple of  further observations. First, Adrian Dantley was way better than I thought. Why isn’t he more famous? Second, Kobe is no Jordan. Also note Jordan played several seasons past his prime which lowered his career averages. So I added points for five of these players using only data from their prime years (ages 24-29). Here Jordan really stands out. But so does Dantley! 

pd - Note that these plots say nothing about defense, rebounding, or passing. This in-depth analysis makes a convincing argument that Dennis Rodman is one of the most valuable players of all time.

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