Nichols and Dime: What to Expect From Dwight Howard, Quarter by Quarter

If you’ve been reading Basketball-Statistics.com over the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been examining the individual shot selection of a number of the game’s superstars using the play-by-play data at BasketballValue. So far, I’ve taken a look at LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant. How different will the results be when we take a look at a big man such as Dwight Howard? Let’s take a look:

dwighthowardshotselectionbyquarter

There are two changes from last time: three-pointers are not included (for obvious reasons), and as we will see later, I included the efficiency of trips to the free throw line to go along with the efficiencies of shots from the field.

With Howard, we can see that he generally favors dunks/layups (not a bad choice). His frequency of those attempts dips a bit in the fourth quarter, but it generally stays about the same. Midrange/post shots (presumably mostly post) start equal with close attempts but decrease considerably as the game goes on. Where are those shots going? To the free throw line. In the first quarter, Howard ends up at the free throw line on only 23% of his possessions, but by the fourth quarter that number has nearly doubled. In fact, it is how he does most of his damage late in the game. Are the last two trends I mentioned smart decisions by Howard or do they work in the opposing team’s favor? Let’s take a look at the efficiencies of the three shot types:

dwighthowardshotefficiencybyquarter

First of all, his shooting percentages do not change much as the game goes on. There are slight changes in each shot type, but they don’t seem very significant. However, this graph does confirm one thing: Howard is much more efficient by getting to the line (despite his poor free throw percentage) than he is by taking shots from the midrange/post. The latter is an area in which he continues to improve, but like most players it is still his least efficient shot by far.

Up next, I’ll take a look at another superstar big man and see how he stacks up to Howard.

Seth Carstens