The Hornets have the Worst Shot Selection in the NBA

Published: April 5, 2011

Now that’s a strong statement, right?  Yes it is.  But it’s also true.  Over at there is a wonderful statistic called XeFG%.  I’ve mentioned it on this site before, but for those of you who don’t remember, here’s a breakdown of it.

  • eFG% is the effective field goal of a player, and it includes the impact of three pointers.  A player who takes all two point shots and hits half of them has an eFG% of 50%.  A player who takes all three point shots and hits a third of them would also have an eFG% of 50%.  Why?  Because both players produce 1 point per shot.  That’s eFG%.
  • Now on to the X part of the XeFG%.  That stands for “expected”.  Hoopdata keeps track of how well players shoot from different ranges and calculates the NBA average from each of those ranges.  Armed with that information, the site can determine what the expected eFG% is for each type of shot in the NBA.  For example, they know that the average eFG% for a shot taken from 10-15 feet away from the basket is 39.2%.

So how do these numbers tell us the Hornets have the Worst Shot selection?  Hoopdata tracks the type of shots the Hornets take, and here’s the percentage of their shots from each distance.

Team At Rim <10 Feet 10-15 Feet 16-23 Feet 3-Pointers
NOR 25.6% 15.3% 10.7% 28.9% 19.3%

That particular set of shots is expected to generate an eFG% of 48.4%, which is the worst in the league.

That’s not really that surprising.  As you can see from that table, the Hornets take a lot of long jumpers.  In fact, to further illustrate, he’s a table showing how the Hornets rank against the rest of the league.

Team At Rim <10 Feet 10-15 Feet 16-23 Feet 3-Pointers
NOR 29th 9th 5th 5th 22nd

When you look at those numbers, and then take into account the fact that shots at the rim and from three-point range are BY FAR the most efficient shots in the game, then you can see why the Hornets aren’t expected to shoot so well.

Now, it is true the Hornets out-perform the expected slightly – mostly because players like Paul and West are better than normal mid-range jump-shooters – and I suppose you could use that to argue their shot selection isn’t as bad because they are kinda good at those shots.  You could make that argument, but I don’t really buy it because the Hornets are still choosing to take low-percentage shots.  I’d rather take a shot that has an average eFG% of 53.8%(three pointers) than those with a eFG% of 39.4% (16-23 footers).



  1. 42

    April 5, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Hmmm, so is Chris picking the wrong plays and passes?

    Or do the guys just screw up his brilliance?

    Maybe the system has failed?

    It sounds like we are choosing to perform poorly. If that’s true, then we are either stupid or the bad guys force us into that, right? It would seem that a good defensive team would know a little about attacking a defense (same guys), so I imagine it’s the former, sadly.


    • paul

      April 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Like uptownsammy says below…what are the numbers with certain player(s) taken out of the equation?
      I know everyone can twiddle with the same thing, but then again I am not big on these kind of stats.
      Just like I am not that big on the +/- stat without ALL the information.
      To me WHO is on the floor with you can make you look good or bad.
      This kind of thing keeps those damn math majors employed, right?
      Sorry 42.
      Don’t really mean to dis your people.

      • 42

        April 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm

        Hold on a damned minute!

        Who’s getting paid?! I wanna talk to their boss and give him a piece of my resume!

      • 42

        April 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

        I’d say our guards take alot out outside shots, plus D West likes the fluffyball at those longer distances than alot of power fowards.

        Chris’ lack of penetration doesn’t help that stat either.

        We know these truths, and the stats bear them out. Ariza, Belinelli, Green, and Jack can’t makeup for those recent trends from Chris and pattern from West. That is not surprising, but I’d think we’d at least try (shot selection) and come up short (shooting percentage). Rather we don’t try and succeed (outperform expectation).

        Imagine if we ‘tried’.

      • Ryan Schwan

        April 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm

        Well, considering you can actually break this sort of stat down to every single player on the team and determine which ones are taking the wrong sort of shots, I’m not sure why this stat isn’t valuable.

        It tells you your team takes a lot of low efficiency stats. You can look and see who takes them. Then you can tell them not to – or get new people.

        This is exactly the sort of advanced stat that is invaluable to measuring players and teams in a meaningful way.

      • paul

        April 5, 2011 at 10:37 pm


        I guess what bothers me is the devil in the details.
        I suppose it’s true that we can see patterns and player personalities from the stats…
        But other real important stuff…like player rotaions and combinations…these all are important.Knowing who is matched up against who.
        I guess that’s why I feel watching and knowing the game makes all the difference in judgement world.
        Otherwise all we would need to do is look at stas and never eally see players ina action.
        Just go by the stats.

    • ktrufant

      April 6, 2011 at 1:58 am

      yeah, I took a very cursory look at the individual numbers at hoopdata and I can’t really say I know how to interpret what I see, but it looks like Ariza’s shot selection is not bad in terms of where he shoots from …

      3.1 attempts at the rim
      1.2 from 3-9 ft.
      0.5 from 10-15 ft.
      1.5 from 16-23 ft.
      3.7 from three

      probably still too many from 16-23 ft. though …

      (which kind of becomes a pattern … maybe it’s the offensive system or maybe everyone thinks they can shoot like West/Paul)

      1.3 per game at the rim
      1.2 from 3-9 ft.
      1.2 from 10-15 ft.
      2.3 from 16-23 ft.
      1.2 from three

      per game, most of his shots this season have been from 16-23 ft.

      1.1 at the rim
      0.9 from 3-9 ft.
      0.9 from 10-15 ft.
      2.9 from 16-23 ft.
      2.0 from three

      again, this season, most of his shots per game come from 16-23 ft.

      1.3 at the rim
      0.4 from 3-9 ft.
      0.5 from 10-15 ft.
      2.4 from 16-23 ft.
      1.6 from three

      most shots per game come from 16-23 ft.

      So I guess we can blame Jack, Green and Belinelli’s shot selection … or Williams’ system. (or something else)

      • 42

        April 6, 2011 at 7:15 am

        Good shooting of poor shots makes you average (guards). Poor shooting of good shots makes you average (Ariza).

        Good work. Nicely laid out for us.

      • ktrufant

        April 6, 2011 at 10:57 am

        I hear you 42. Don’t know if I can exactly say that the Hornets guards shoot the 16-23 ft. jumper well (or not) but I will go on record for saying that the Hornets suffer from too much average (one way or another) and not enough above-average …

        (And like I said, I’m not great at interpreting these numbers.)

        Looking at the Hornets shot selection and the players’ percentages from those areas, most of the team shoots better than average from 16-23 feet and with the guards, their next best percentage is from three with 16-23 feet coming in third.

        My best guess is that, based on the fact that for the average player in the league, most shots are taken at the rim (2.5 per game) with 16-23 feet a close second (2.1 per game) and from three (1.8 per) third, the fact that the guards are taking most of their shots from 16-23 feet may not be for the best (regardless of percentages?) in terms of team offense …

        I also noticed that Paul is taking significantly fewer shots at the rim this season (down to 2.1 this year from 4.4 in ’09 though the percentage is very close – 63.2 this year and 64.0 in ’09) so maybe that makes a difference too …

        Or probably I’m not able to make sense of these things one way or another and should leave the heavy lifting to those who can carry the weight … I appreciate what you do though.

      • 42

        April 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

        I think you and I see this about the same way. They execute below average stuff in an above average way… Leaving us feeling like we could be doing better no matter how well we do… Hence, frustration.

        Wrestling with numbers can be tough, but the payoff is high sometimes.

  2. Uptown Sammy

    April 5, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I wonder How much higher the numbers go if you exclude Trevor Ariza from the formula?

  3. Brandon

    April 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Answer to our problems: praying to God our shots go in and Marshon Brooks.
    Look him up

    • CP3nBrees

      April 5, 2011 at 10:07 pm


    • Couldnt do diddly poo!

      April 6, 2011 at 3:51 am

      i like that they show a picture of ariza

      • 42

        April 6, 2011 at 7:16 am

        Like that, eh?

  4. Gec

    April 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    if you have the 18-foot-assisin you shoot a lot of 18-footers

    (also if you haven’t a single guy who goes to the basket before landry)

  5. CP3nBrees

    April 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Yayyy!!! Clippers upset the Grizz tonight, king up 7 with 40 seconds left.
    Those made my day 🙂

  6. Gec

    April 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Marcus Thornton is giving the Hornets a playoff seed while playing with another team!

  7. Aussie hornets fan

    April 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Memphis and Houston lost tonight

  8. CP3nBrees

    April 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Magic number down to 1, but I’m sure if I should be happy with grizzlies L tonight…
    I hope the Hornets will end up playing against any team but the Lakers, I surely dont want to see 40% of fans in arena rooting for the opponent…

    • CP3nBrees

      April 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Not sure*

  9. sceldred

    April 5, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Also GSW is murdering the blazers. Great night for the Hornets.

    Still, this is certainly a sobering stat. I think one reason for this might be how long our PGs hold the ball (and the reasons for that…are many).

  10. Super Hornet

    April 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    i don’t hear any trash talkin after that murderous win sunday night.

  11. Ray

    April 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I am praying the Hornets do NOT get the 7th seed. Anything but that.

    Not only do we have no chance in hell if we face the Lakers – and it may be an embarrassment of ’09 Nuggets proportions – the last team I want to get a “bye” is LA.

  12. Thestradiosmiles

    April 6, 2011 at 12:54 am

    Memphis, Houston, Portland, and LA all help the Hornets out tonight (if LA is actually helping out remains to be seen, but it’s still nice to see them drop a game at home to a Jazz team without it’s starting PG, SG, and SF that’s lost 8 in a row and 18 of their last games in Staples Center. Yes, that’s right.)

  13. Pingback: As the Season Ends, What Would You Do? « Swarm & Sting | A New Orleans Hornets Blog

  14. Mark

    April 6, 2011 at 1:12 am

    What happened to our preseason prediction that Ariza would play a complement to CP with slashing towards the rim?


  15. cro_CP3

    April 6, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Portland LOST, Memphis LOST, Houston LOST (THANK YOU LIL BUCKETS!!!!!!!!!!)
    NOLA needs to WIN tonight against Houston…

  16. 42

    April 6, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Looking at the distribution of location of assisted shots, either the guys are screwing uolp the play when Chris gets them the ball, Chris is setting them up in suboptimal fashion, or the location thing isn’t on the radar for the Hornets.

  17. James Online

    April 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

    So much of shot selection has to do with Chris Paul’s friendships and Monty’s illogical biases. Paul almost always feeds Ariza when he has a choice for who to hit for a three attempt despite the miserable percentage. Jarrett Jack, despite poor shooting from distance and the worst +/- gets way too minutes on the floor and is terribly selfish, and Willie Green wants to put up that jumper every chance he gets.

    West, Landry, and Okakfor never kick the ball back out.

    As a result of all this there is very little ball movement on this team.

    Great to see the Warriors absolutely pound Portland last night, which must have shaken the TB’s confidence.

  18. emir

    April 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    if they are open let them shoot eventually it will go in lol

  19. NolaHog

    April 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Also, don’t forget that the Nuggets also lost. They’ve got some tough games to finish the season. The fifth spot isn’t completely out of reach.

    • 42

      April 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Their magic number against us is 3, accounting for tie-breakers, ignoring the multi-team tie scenario (did not analyze).

      With 10 left to play, that is not tough for them. Possible, but unlikely if they remain healthy.

      Love the optimism, though. Got extra?

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