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

(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.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Simply Statistics.

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