It’s nearing the All-Star Break in the NBA season and we’re gearing up for an exciting game between Team Lebron and Team Curry. With the greatest players in the NBA gearing up to play in a high scoring game, I have decided to highlight the players who have been the best at scoring in certain scenarios so far this season.
Using the NBA.com advanced stats dashboard, I have highlighted the top players in the league at scoring in the following categories: isolation, pick and roll, post-up, and off-screens. To no surprise, the players that compile this list are all members of the 2017-2018 All Star Game. Since these guys will be scoring at will next weekend, take a look at how they got there throughout the season.
Play Type: Isolation Scoring
All-Star: James Harden (11.3 PPG, 57.5% eFG, 9.1 possessions per game)
This one comes as no surprise. At this point in the season, no one has dominated isolation possessions more than James Harden. Even with Chris Paul’s addition to the Rockets’ offense, Harden’s isolation sets are still a key part of Houston’s game plan, as evidenced by the 9.1 possessions Harden gets to operate on his own per game. His 11.3 PPG from isolation stands almost a full 5.0 points ahead of the number two iso-scorer in the league (Lebron James at 6.4 PPG). Harden has been so good in isolation this season that he has scored 125 more points than the average player in these sets.
LeBron James (6.4 PPG, 51.0% eFG, 6.5 possessions per game)
Chris Paul (6.3 PPG, 61.2% eFG, 5.1 possessions per game)
Play Type: Pick and Roll Ball Handling Scoring
(Co) All-Stars: Damian Lillard (12.4 PPG, 54.2% eFG, 11.9 possessions per game) & Kemba Walker (11.4 PPG, 50.5% eFG, 11.3 possessions per game)
Walker and Lillard have been the two best pick and roll scorers in the NBA this season. These players both run about half of their offensive possessions in these sets each game. Walker and Lillard are also the only two players that average over 1.00 points per possessions from P and R, while holding an effective field goal percentage over 50%. In terms of their per night averages, Lillard attributes 48.6% of his scoring average to attempts off the pick and roll, while Walker’s accounts for 49.8%.
Victor Oladipo (8.0 PPG, 54.0% eFG, 9.1 possessions per game)
Play Type: Post-Up Scoring
All-Star: Joel Embiid (10.3 PPG, 51.2% eFG, 10.5 possessions per game)
Traditional post-up scoring is getting harder to come by in the NBA, but there still some dominant scorers who make a living in the paint. To that point, no one has done it better than Joel Embiid this season. With a massive 10.5 post-up attempts per game, Embiid averages 3.5 makes on 6.9 attempts per game, which is good for a 51.2% eFG. He has also been to the free throw line on 21.6% of his post up attempts this season. Embiid has proved that he can score it from anywhere on the floor, but he can score it at will down low.
LaMarcus Aldridge (8.9 PPG, 46.6% eFG, 9.1 possessions per game)
Play Type: Off Screen Scoring
(Co) All-Stars: Klay Thompson (6.2 PPG, 55.0% eFG, 5.9 possessions per game) & Stephen Curry (5.3 PPG, 60.7% eFG, 4.2 possessions per game)
No surprises here. The Warriors run the Splash Brothers off screens to set up shots more than any players in the NBA. What makes them so special is that both Curry and Klay have effective field goal percentages greater than 55% when they’re coming around screens. Not a lot of analysis is needed to say that each of these players can shoot it better than nearly anyone. There are hundreds of clips to choose from to show how good these guys are but here is one of each.
Bradley Beal (3.8 PPG, 47.8% eFG, 3.9 possessions per game)
Paul George (3.7 PPG, 56.5% eFG, 3.3 possessions per game)
Play Type: Pick and Roll Man Scoring
All-Star: Karl-Anthony Towns (4.1 PPG, 56.8% eFG, 3.7 possessions per game)
This is the only category that NBA All-Stars are not dominating this season, as Towns ranks eighth in overall roll man scoring (Myles Turner ranks first at 5.9 PPG). However, KAT still has shown his effectiveness in pick and roll sets this season, as he has made the most of the nearly four attempts per game he is currently getting. What makes Towns so lethal as a scorer is his ability to extend his game beyond the three point line. In this pick and roll with Jeff Teague, Towns sets a solid screen and then has space to hit an open three.
Anthony Davis (4.0 PPG, 54.6% eFG, 3.6 possessions per game)
Kristaps Porzingis (3.8 PPG, 52.1% eFG, 3.8 possessions per game)