Things That May Interest Only Me

 —  January 24, 2005

Let’s talk for a second about the three-point play — not the one the Lakers are attempting 30 of a game these days (except when playing well) but rather the more exciting one, the bucket and the foul.

The driving force behind the Crazy From The Heat blog figured out the number of “and one” fouls players on the Heat have gotten this year (and suggested how to figure that into other scoring stats). His work started the smart folk over at APBR looking into the number of +1 shots every player has gotten this season (and that required going through all the game logs, the NBA doesn’t keep track of this).

Without the data, my guess was Kobe would be the guy who has the highest percentage of “and one” free throws on the Lakers. I was wrong. Lamar Odom not only leads the team, he’s sixth in the league with 13.3% of his free throw attempts coming as the one shot after being fouled and still scoring (he has 24 of those shots this year).

Lamar is long and strong, something he had in common with the five people ahead of him on that list (Elton Brand, Nazr Mohammed, Eddy Curry, Amare Stoudemire and Antwan Jamison).

We’re not talking a lot of points here, but it’s just one more thing Odom brings to the table when the offense flows through him.

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Something else I find interesting.

Brian Grant doesn’t take many shots — he’s only averaging 2.3 shots per game he’s played — but when he does he gets more points per attempt than any other Laker.

Usually on this blog I’ve used effective field goal percentage (eFG%) to talk about a players shooting. It’s a good measure, but its flaw is that free throws earned are not part of the mix — a player who gets fouled and gets to the charity stripe deserves some credit for that.

That’s where “points per shot attempt” (or PSA) comes in. The bottom line with this statistic is that free-throws (as well as three pointers) are counted in to give a better picture of how efficient a player is at getting points when he does shoot. It’s not a measure one should look at as the Holy Grail (no stat is, and besides, I’ve already got one) but it does help fill out a picture about a player’s contributions on offense.

Let’s look at this season’s Lakers. Grant leads the way at 1.24 PSA, but he’s only taken 58 shots all season. Among the Lakers getting regular playing time, Chucky Atkins (1.13) and Chris Mihm (1.12) lead the way — Atkins because of his threes and Mihm because he hits 52% of his shots (he’s only attempted one three pointer all season).

As for the guys the offense runs through, Lamar’s points per shot attempt is 1.10, Kobe’s is 1.08.

Those numbers are pretty ordinary. For some comparison, on the high end of PSA among “name” players are Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash of Phoenix, both at 1.23. Dirk Nowitzki is at 1.16 and Shaq is at 1.17. On the low end of the scale, Tim Duncan is at 1.07 (but he brings a few other things to the table). Atkins’ 1.13 PSA is the 47th best in the NBA so far this season. Lamar is 70th, and I didn’t feel like counting down to find Kobe.

The bottom line, it would help if the Laker stars were a little more efficient. But we’ve been saying that all year.

As a historical side note, one of the top PSA players of all time is Magic Johnson. His career average PSA of 1.22 is eighth best all time, and the highest of any player in the Hall of Fame.