Monta Ellis And The Long Shot

The worst shot in basketball is the long 2-pt jumper. The best shot in basketball is any shot that takes place at the rim. Of course, a team can't take all its shots at the rim — but that's because there (almost) always is an opponent that has some say in the matter. (Feel free to insert your joke about "almost" and GSW here.) It turns out that while the most frequent type of shot taken is, indeed, at the rim (according to Hoopdata.com), the second most frequent shot attempt is the long (16-23 ft) jump shot, with 3pt attempts just a couple of %-points behind in third place.

So, it would seem that a team has to take some number of long, and thus, bad jump shots. It's unavoidable. The trick is to take fewer of those (and more of any other type of shot, preferably at the rim) and to have your best jump shooters take them when they need to be taken. Here is a list of "long shooters" (16-23 ft) sorted by FG%, with the qualification that they attempt more than 1 long shot per 40 minutes, play more than 25 mpg, and have played 40+ games this season (131 players met these criteria) — oh, and there's more that follows this list, in case you thought this was going to be it:

RANK Player Name Tm Pos FG% ATT AST%
1 Al Horford ATL C 56.0 4.93 91.6
2 Dirk Nowitzki DAL PF 53.0 6.62 81.8
3 Pau Gasol LAL PF 51.0 2.54 85.7
4 Stephen Curry GSW PG 49.0 4.70 29.9
5 Luis Scola HOU PF 48.0 5.33 92.1
6 Jason Terry DAL SG 47.0 5.15 58.7
7 Anthony Morrow NJN SG 47.0 3.14 64.5
8 Elton Brand PHI PF 47.0 2.84 78.6
9 David West NOR PF 47.0 5.18 86.8
10 J.J. Redick ORL SG 46.0 2.52 49.0
11 Nick Young WAS SG 46.0 6.36 51.9
12 Ray Allen BOS SG 46.0 3.40 71.6
13 Ryan Gomes LAC SF 46.0 2.83 83.1
14 Nene Hilario DEN C 46.0 1.46 88.6
15 Kevin Garnett BOS PF 46.0 5.79 90.8
16 Chris Paul NOR PG 45.0 3.77 11.4
17 Steve Nash PHO PG 45.0 3.43 13.6
18 Luke Ridnour MIN PG 45.0 3.73 20.3
19 Deron Williams UTH PG 45.0 3.18 54.4
20 Amare Stoudemire NYK PF 45.0 5.41 62.7
21 Chris Bosh MIA PF 45.0 5.83 81.3
22 Marc Gasol MEM C 45.0 1.26 88.2
23 Ben Gordon DET SG 44.0 5.38 56.2
24 Andrea Bargnani TOR C 44.0 5.52 58.7
25 Boris Diaw CHA PF 44.0 1.76 80.9
26 Raja Bell UTH SG 44.0 3.42 89.9
27 Jose Calderon TOR PG 43.0 4.30 20.2
28 Hedo Turkoglu ORL SF 43.0 2.68 24.4
29 Raymond Felton NYK PG 43.0 3.48 26.7
30 Jamal Crawford ATL SG 43.0 3.80 32.9
31 Carmelo Anthony DEN SF 43.0 6.57 39.1
32 Anthony Parker CLE SG 43.0 3.37 59.1
33 Thabo Sefolosha OKC SG 43.0 1.27 84.6
34 D.J. Augustin CHA PG 42.0 2.35 20.0
35 LeBron James MIA SF 42.0 5.05 21.5
36 Al Jefferson UTH C 42.0 3.78 74.1
37 Luol Deng CHI SF 42.0 3.23 78.4
38 Shawn Marion DAL SF 42.0 1.35 79.3
39 Marvin Williams ATL SF 42.0 3.51 81.7
40 Mike Dunleavy IND SF 42.0 2.46 81.8
41 David Lee GSW C 42.0 4.09 91.0
42 Serge Ibaka OKC PF 42.0 2.65 92.6
43 Ty Lawson DEN PG 41.0 1.93 19.4
44 Mike Conley MEM PG 41.0 2.62 23.3
45 Jrue Holiday PHI PG 41.0 2.75 28.8
46 Beno Udrih SAC PG 41.0 3.46 40.0
47 Michael Beasley MIN PF 41.0 6.18 48.1
48 Eric Gordon LAC SG 41.0 2.88 52.8
49 DeMar DeRozan TOR SG 41.0 5.02 71.0
50 Arron Afflalo DEN SG 41.0 1.67 76.2
51 Paul Millsap UTH PF 41.0 4.40 80.6
52 LaMarcus Aldridge POR PF 41.0 4.04 82.8
53 Josh Smith ATL PF 41.0 4.22 84.3
54 Tim Duncan SAS C 41.0 3.71 86.6
55 Richard Hamilton DET SG 41.0 6.31 89.5
56 Channing Frye PHO C 41.0 3.09 89.9
57 Devin Harris NJN PG 40.0 2.90 18.2
58 James Harden OKC G 40.0 1.45 32.1
59 Ramon Sessions CLE PG 40.0 2.89 44.4
60 Tayshaun Prince DET SF 40.0 5.09 57.6
61 Wesley Johnson MIN SF 40.0 3.98 59.2
62 Jeff Green OKC F 40.0 2.12 62.8
63 Amir Johnson TOR PF 40.0 1.96 83.3
64 Darren Collison IND PG 39.0 4.06 9.4
65 Jameer Nelson ORL PG 39.0 2.68 13.0
66 Derrick Rose CHI PG 39.0 4.86 15.6
67 Rudy Gay MEM SF 39.0 4.27 36.4
68 Rajon Rondo BOS PG 39.0 3.11 39.1
69 Paul Pierce BOS SF 39.0 2.83 51.4
70 Lamar Odom LAL PF 39.0 2.00 55.3
71 Sonny Weems TOR SG 39.0 4.83 68.3
72 Kevin Durant OKC SF 39.0 6.28 70.3
73 Brook Lopez NJN C 39.0 3.59 87.6
74 Joe Johnson ATL SG 38.0 3.96 27.6
75 Dwyane Wade MIA SG 38.0 3.71 31.5
76 Tony Parker SAS PG 38.0 3.74 31.7
77 Kobe Bryant LAL SG 38.0 6.20 32.5
78 Monta Ellis GSW SG 38.0 5.98 34.5
79 Kirk Hinrich WAS G 38.0 4.36 38.2
80 Andre Miller POR PG 38.0 3.81 46.0
81 Travis Outlaw NJN SF 38.0 3.57 52.8
82 O.J. Mayo MEM SG 38.0 4.54 57.3
83 Carlos Boozer CHI PF 38.0 3.38 70.6
84 Derek Fisher LAL PG 38.0 3.39 74.6
85 Kris Humphries NJN PF 38.0 1.83 91.2
86 Andre Iguodala PHI SG 37.0 3.64 29.9
87 Manu Ginobili SAS SG 37.0 2.16 37.0
88 Wilson Chandler NYK SF 37.0 2.75 54.0
89 Stephen Jackson CHA SG 37.0 4.37 55.6
90 Mike Bibby ATL PG 37.0 2.77 56.3
91 Jason Richardson ORL SG 37.0 2.17 62.5
92 Gerald Wallace CHA SF 37.0 3.30 81.3
93 Nicolas Batum POR SF 37.0 1.82 84.6
94 Antawn Jamison CLE PF 37.0 3.97 90.7
95 Luc Mbah a Moute MIL SF 37.0 2.18 94.4
96 Russell Westbrook OKC PG 36.0 4.56 11.2
97 Kevin Martin HOU SG 36.0 4.46 56.5
98 Zach Randolph MEM PF 36.0 2.74 61.9
99 Grant Hill PHO SF 36.0 3.43 64.6
100 Chauncey Billups DEN PG 35.0 3.13 36.0
101 Danny Granger IND SF 35.0 4.54 38.6
102 Glen Davis BOS PF 35.0 5.52 90.6
103 Tyreke Evans SAC PG 34.0 4.02 18.2
104 Rodney Stuckey DET PG 34.0 3.30 35.2
105 George Hill SAS PG 34.0 2.01 45.5
106 Daniel Gibson CLE PG 34.0 2.91 47.5
107 Carl Landry SAC PF 34.0 4.05 55.6
108 DeMarcus Cousins SAC PF 34.0 4.15 59.2
109 Kevin Love MIN PF 34.0 1.79 66.7
110 Richard Jefferson SAS SF 34.0 1.91 86.5
111 Marcus Camby POR PF 34.0 2.09 92.3
112 Baron Davis LAC PG 33.0 2.32 22.2
113 Brandon Rush IND SG 33.0 3.01 61.5
114 Thaddeus Young PHI F 33.0 3.19 62.7
115 Blake Griffin LAC PF 33.0 2.97 76.8
116 Andrei Kirilenko UTH SF 33.0 2.60 88.9
117 Jodie Meeks PHI G 33.0 1.21 94.1
118 Brandon Jennings MIL PG 32.0 3.02 17.1
119 John Salmons MIL SG 32.0 3.86 38.2
120 Jason Kidd DAL PG 32.0 1.41 50.0
121 Danilo Gallinari NYK F 32.0 1.96 79.3
122 Dorell Wright GSW SF 31.0 2.15 52.1
123 Omri Casspi SAC SF 31.0 2.03 78.6
124 Trevor Ariza NOR SF 30.0 1.54 51.9
125 J.J. Hickson CLE PF 30.0 3.45 72.0
126 Andray Blatche WAS PF 30.0 4.42 72.5
127 John Wall WAS PG 29.0 4.03 18.5
128 Kyle Lowry HOU PG 28.0 1.83 33.3
129 Wesley Matthews POR G 27.0 1.75 40.0
130 Ron Artest LAL SF 27.0 2.20 59.4
131 Roy Hibbert IND C 25.0 2.53 78.1

The average FG% here is 39%. You can see that Stephen Curry comes in way up at the top at #4. David Lee is above average at 42% and ranks 41st. Monta Ellis is a point below the average at 38% and ranks 78. Dorell Wright comes in at a somewhat shockingly low 31% and ranks 122. The column labeled "ATT" is # of long shot attempts per 40 minutes. You would think Stephen Curry would lead the team, right? Well, of course, I wouldn't have much of a post, if that were true. (Although, I would rather not be writing this post, and watching more Warriors wins...) Turns out that Monta Ellis shoots about 6 of these shots per game, while Curry shoots less than 5, and Lee shoots a litte over 4. Now, like I said, somebody probably has to take these shots (until we get Dwight Howard, that is). But shouldn't it be more Curry and Lee? Well, at least, it should be more Curry. Oh, and if you're wondering, what about Reggie Williams? Well, he shoots 38% from this range, so he's not the answer.

But wait, there's more...You see that last column, "AST%"? That's the percent of made shots that are assisted. Assisted shots have a better chance of going in. In fact, 82games did a game charting study a few years ago (apparently, without even the help of Twitter!), and found that jump shots (any jump shot) had a 9.5% better chance of scoring when coming off a potential assist. I have a feeling that may be even higher for long jump shots, but I took that 9.5% value, and estimated the unassisted FG% for each player, using the following formula:

UFG% = FG% - 9.5*AST%

Just to give a feel for how it works, imagine that you shoot 50%, but 100% of your shots are assisted. Your estimated UFG% would be 40.5%. The lower your AST%, the closer your UFG% is to your overall FG%. Here is the list of players sorted by that metric:

RANK Player Name Tm Pos UFG% ATT AST%
1 Al Horford ATL C 47.30 4.93 91.6
2 Stephen Curry GSW PG 46.16 4.70 29.9
3 Dirk Nowitzki DAL PF 45.23 6.62 81.8
4 Chris Paul NOR PG 43.92 3.77 11.4
5 Steve Nash PHO PG 43.71 3.43 13.6
6 Luke Ridnour MIN PG 43.07 3.73 20.3
7 Pau Gasol LAL PF 42.86 2.54 85.7
8 Jason Terry DAL SG 41.42 5.15 58.7
9 J.J. Redick ORL SG 41.35 2.52 49.0
10 Jose Calderon TOR PG 41.08 4.30 20.2
11 Nick Young WAS SG 41.07 6.36 51.9
12 Anthony Morrow NJN SG 40.87 3.14 64.5
13 Hedo Turkoglu ORL SF 40.68 2.68 24.4
14 Raymond Felton NYK PG 40.46 3.48 26.7
15 D.J. Augustin CHA PG 40.10 2.35 20.0
16 LeBron James MIA SF 39.96 5.05 21.5
17 Jamal Crawford ATL SG 39.87 3.80 32.9
18 Deron Williams UTH PG 39.83 3.18 54.4
19 Elton Brand PHI PF 39.53 2.84 78.6
20 Carmelo Anthony DEN SF 39.29 6.57 39.1
21 Luis Scola HOU PF 39.25 5.33 92.1
22 Ray Allen BOS SG 39.20 3.40 71.6
23 Ty Lawson DEN PG 39.16 1.93 19.4
24 Amare Stoudemire NYK PF 39.04 5.41 62.7
25 Mike Conley MEM PG 38.79 2.62 23.3
26 David West NOR PF 38.75 5.18 86.8
27 Ben Gordon DET SG 38.66 5.38 56.2
28 Andrea Bargnani TOR C 38.42 5.52 58.7
29 Devin Harris NJN PG 38.27 2.90 18.2
30 Jrue Holiday PHI PG 38.26 2.75 28.8
31 Darren Collison IND PG 38.11 4.06 9.4
32 Ryan Gomes LAC SF 38.11 2.83 83.1
33 Jameer Nelson ORL PG 37.77 2.68 13.0
34 Nene Hilario DEN C 37.58 1.46 88.6
35 Derrick Rose CHI PG 37.52 4.86 15.6
36 Anthony Parker CLE SG 37.39 3.37 59.1
37 Kevin Garnett BOS PF 37.37 5.79 90.8
38 Chris Bosh MIA PF 37.28 5.83 81.3
39 Beno Udrih SAC PG 37.20 3.46 40.0
40 James Harden OKC G 36.95 1.45 32.1
41 Marc Gasol MEM C 36.62 1.26 88.2
42 Michael Beasley MIN PF 36.43 6.18 48.1
43 Boris Diaw CHA PF 36.31 1.76 80.9
44 Eric Gordon LAC SG 35.98 2.88 52.8
45 Ramon Sessions CLE PG 35.78 2.89 44.4
46 Rudy Gay MEM SF 35.54 4.27 36.4
47 Raja Bell UTH SG 35.46 3.42 89.9
48 Joe Johnson ATL SG 35.38 3.96 27.6
49 Rajon Rondo BOS PG 35.29 3.11 39.1
50 Dwyane Wade MIA SG 35.01 3.71 31.5
51 Tony Parker SAS PG 34.99 3.74 31.7
52 Thabo Sefolosha OKC SG 34.96 1.27 84.6
53 Al Jefferson UTH C 34.96 3.78 74.1
54 Russell Westbrook OKC PG 34.94 4.56 11.2
55 Kobe Bryant LAL SG 34.91 6.20 32.5
56 Monta Ellis GSW SG 34.72 5.98 34.5
57 Luol Deng CHI SF 34.55 3.23 78.4
58 Tayshaun Prince DET SF 34.53 5.09 57.6
59 Shawn Marion DAL SF 34.47 1.35 79.3
60 Wesley Johnson MIN SF 34.38 3.98 59.2
61 Kirk Hinrich WAS G 34.37 4.36 38.2
62 DeMar DeRozan TOR SG 34.26 5.02 71.0
63 Marvin Williams ATL SF 34.24 3.51 81.7
64 Mike Dunleavy IND SF 34.23 2.46 81.8
65 Andre Iguodala PHI SG 34.16 3.64 29.9
66 Paul Pierce BOS SF 34.12 2.83 51.4
67 Jeff Green OKC F 34.03 2.12 62.8
68 Arron Afflalo DEN SG 33.76 1.67 76.2
69 Lamar Odom LAL PF 33.75 2.00 55.3
70 Andre Miller POR PG 33.63 3.81 46.0
71 Manu Ginobili SAS SG 33.49 2.16 37.0
72 David Lee GSW C 33.36 4.09 91.0
73 Paul Millsap UTH PF 33.34 4.40 80.6
74 Serge Ibaka OKC PF 33.20 2.65 92.6
75 LaMarcus Aldridge POR PF 33.13 4.04 82.8
76 Josh Smith ATL PF 32.99 4.22 84.3
77 Travis Outlaw NJN SF 32.98 3.57 52.8
78 Tim Duncan SAS C 32.77 3.71 86.6
79 O.J. Mayo MEM SG 32.56 4.54 57.3
80 Sonny Weems TOR SG 32.51 4.83 68.3
81 Richard Hamilton DET SG 32.50 6.31 89.5
82 Channing Frye PHO C 32.46 3.09 89.9
83 Kevin Durant OKC SF 32.32 6.28 70.3
84 Tyreke Evans SAC PG 32.27 4.02 18.2
85 Amir Johnson TOR PF 32.09 1.96 83.3
86 Wilson Chandler NYK SF 31.87 2.75 54.0
87 Stephen Jackson CHA SG 31.72 4.37 55.6
88 Mike Bibby ATL PG 31.65 2.77 56.3
89 Chauncey Billups DEN PG 31.58 3.13 36.0
90 Danny Granger IND SF 31.33 4.54 38.6
91 Carlos Boozer CHI PF 31.29 3.38 70.6
92 Jason Richardson ORL SG 31.06 2.17 62.5
93 Derek Fisher LAL PG 30.91 3.39 74.6
94 Baron Davis LAC PG 30.89 2.32 22.2
95 Brook Lopez NJN C 30.68 3.59 87.6
96 Rodney Stuckey DET PG 30.66 3.30 35.2
97 Kevin Martin HOU SG 30.63 4.46 56.5
98 Brandon Jennings MIL PG 30.38 3.02 17.1
99 Zach Randolph MEM PF 30.12 2.74 61.9
100 Grant Hill PHO SF 29.86 3.43 64.6
101 George Hill SAS PG 29.68 2.01 45.5
102 Daniel Gibson CLE PG 29.49 2.91 47.5
103 Kris Humphries NJN PF 29.34 1.83 91.2
104 Gerald Wallace CHA SF 29.28 3.30 81.3
105 Nicolas Batum POR SF 28.96 1.82 84.6
106 Carl Landry SAC PF 28.72 4.05 55.6
107 Antawn Jamison CLE PF 28.38 3.97 90.7
108 DeMarcus Cousins SAC PF 28.38 4.15 59.2
109 John Salmons MIL SG 28.37 3.86 38.2
110 Luc Mbah a Moute MIL SF 28.03 2.18 94.4
111 Kevin Love MIN PF 27.66 1.79 66.7
112 Jason Kidd DAL PG 27.25 1.41 50.0
113 John Wall WAS PG 27.24 4.03 18.5
114 Brandon Rush IND SG 27.16 3.01 61.5
115 Thaddeus Young PHI F 27.04 3.19 62.7
116 Glen Davis BOS PF 26.39 5.52 90.6
117 Dorell Wright GSW SF 26.05 2.15 52.1
118 Richard Jefferson SAS SF 25.78 1.91 86.5
119 Blake Griffin LAC PF 25.70 2.97 76.8
120 Marcus Camby POR PF 25.23 2.09 92.3
121 Trevor Ariza NOR SF 25.07 1.54 51.9
122 Kyle Lowry HOU PG 24.84 1.83 33.3
123 Andrei Kirilenko UTH SF 24.55 2.60 88.9
124 Danilo Gallinari NYK F 24.47 1.96 79.3
125 Jodie Meeks PHI G 24.06 1.21 94.1
126 Omri Casspi SAC SF 23.53 2.03 78.6
127 Wesley Matthews POR G 23.20 1.75 40.0
128 J.J. Hickson CLE PF 23.16 3.45 72.0
129 Andray Blatche WAS PF 23.11 4.42 72.5
130 Ron Artest LAL SF 21.36 2.20 59.4
131 Roy Hibbert IND C 17.58 2.53 78.1

The average UFG% is 33.7%, so Monta actually is above average according to this. Indeed, in terms of UFG%, which I would argue is a better measure of shooting efficiency, Monta actually moves up past Lee. It should also be noted that Reggie Williams AST% is about 70%, so he comes out worse (~31% UFG%) than Ellis. Again, the bottom line here is that Curry should be taking more of these shots. Some of those additional shots should come from Ellis, Lee, and Dorell Wright. But my guess is that Ellis probably only taking 1-2 shots over what we need him to take. Is that something that the coach can mandate or that Ellis can control? I don't know, but if I were coaching the team, I would try my best to make this point clearly.

Conclusion: The Long Shot Strategy (Top 5 options)

  1. Stephen Curry assisted (55.5%)
  2. Stephen Curry unassisted (46%)
  3. Monta Ellis assisted (44%)
  4. David Lee assisted (43%)
  5. Monta Ellis unassisted (35%)

Those are the top 5 options, and you can see why some of us in the blogosphere are so keen on having Curry handle and shoot the ball (even) more. He needs to be "the guy" who is either taking the "bad shot" when necessary or passing it off to someone else, if he is not open. The next best option is to have Monta Ellis handle the ball and create his own shot — and at 35% success rate, that is not a very good option at all. But if Curry isn't even the game, our options become very limited.

11 thoughts on “Monta Ellis And The Long Shot”

  1. I would like to see Monta's "we believe" %. It seemed like he mad 60% from this range, especially during that one month he shot 60+ % from the floor. Most of those would have been assisted (mostly by baron), but would have been extremely efficient and thus way more valuable.

  2. In 2006-07, he shot 38% from 16-23 ft on 36.1 %AST, but only 4.3 attempts per 40 minutes. The next season he improved to 44% on 43.5 %AST, and his attempts increased to 5.7 per 40. That was his best season in terms of FG% from 16-23 ft. The next three seasons (including this one): 36%, 37%, 38%.

  3. Fluke season in 07/08? Properly used/ proper mindset? Or both...

    I would think a player would improve (esp if they are a shooting guard) and have a smaller amount of variance from year to year than what monta has had. He's just returning to 06/07 form?? Not a shock from watching the games from then, compared to how he has played this year and last but you would like to see SOME improvement.

    Also, I didnt know Nene had this range in his game. Small sample size but still a good sign. Definite GSW target in the off season imo.

  4. There were two big surprises for me on this list: Al Horford and Nick Young. I'll have a lot more to say on this long shot stuff soon...

    1. Thanks. Yes, I have, but I would have to switch over to the PBP from ESPN. As far as I know that is the only source that actually gives distance. To do that, I would have to write code to determine the matchups (not trivial). It's one of my longer term to-do list items, though. Maybe this summer...

      (btw, another related query is to calculate the actual rebounding rates according to shot distance...)

    2. Oh, and of course, we still wouldn't have "potential assists" from the PBP data.

      I wish I had access to that new optical tracking data presented at Sloan.

  5. Bail out shots. Monta has to take most of them. This drives down his efficiency. A lot of those unassisted shots he is taking are the toughest shots in teh game, where the offense did not generate a good look and Monta is asked to bail the team out at the shot clock with defenders all over him. The guys on teams who have to do this are better players than their efficiency suggests. Indeed, check out Monta's shooting percentage when he was the third wheel on the We Beleive team - it was very high even while he was scoring 20ppg.

    1. That's certainly a legitimate hypothesis, but I'm not sure why you think Monta has to be the one to take those. At any rate, only 11% of his shots come with 21+ seconds elapsed on the shot clock. And on those shots (according to 82games.com), there is not much difference in eFG% from the shots he takes in the middle of the shot clock.

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