Gunner Power Rankings

Photo: Mark Runyon | Basketball Schedule

Ed. Note: The following is a guest post by Ryan Weisert. You can find more work by Ryan at TrueHoop sister site (brother blog?) Valley of the Suns and on his own Pop Culture blog. Follow him on Twitter to read more of his pretty damn entertaining musings.

Gunners. Players who do nothing on offense but shoot and score. When they’re on, we love to watch them. When they’re off, we love to hate them. And all the while, advanced stats tell us they do more harm than good. But sometimes advanced stats take the fun out of the game. Sometimes a guy chucking off-balance 20-footers is more fun to watch than ruthless efficiency. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, gunners have a place in the NBA.

But who is the biggest gunner of them all? How do we rank and quantify the “achievements” of those whom advanced stats have sought to expose? I give you the Gunner Rating.

Gunner Rating = (% of possessions ending in a missed FG) – (Assist Rate) – (Offensive Rebound Rate)

Essentially, the Gunner Rating is the % of possessions a player has a net negative effect on offense. Gunners miss a lot of shots, but unlike other, more well-rounded players, gunners don’t typically contribute in other ways like finding teammates for open shots or crashing the boards.

It should be noted that missed shots where the player earned free throws were not counted in the missed FG part of the equation, because getting to the line is generally a positive outcome (for everyone except Dwight Howard and the Denver Nuggets.) I applied this formula to every player in the NBA averaging at least 10 shots attempts per game. Here is the Top 10 list I came back with. I’ve included each player’s Gunner Rating and PER. (Stats compiled from ESPN.com and NBAWowy.com. Updated through the end of the regular season.

Rank

Name

Gunner Rating

PER

1

Carmelo Anthony

11.2%

24.83

2

Andrea Bargnani

9.9%

11.27

3

Michael Beasley

9.7%

10.91

4

Ben Gordon

9.7%

12.74

5

Marcus Thornton

9.0%

16.32

6

Rudy Gay

8.9%

15.66

7

J.R. Smith

8.7%

17.67

8

Eric Gordon

8.5%

15.43

9

Jamal Crawford

8.4%

16.89

10

Klay Thompson

8.3%

12.71

The first thing that stands out on this list is Carmelo Anthony. He’s the biggest gunner in the league by a fairly wide margin, but while the rest of his gunner colleagues are sporting an average or below-average PER, Melo has the fourth-highest PER in the league. His PER is strong for a variety of reasons. He leads the league in usage rate. He gets to the free throw line a ton. He rebounds quite well on the defensive end, and doesn’t turn the ball over. Plus, eventhough he shoots less than 45% from the field in the regular season, Anthony takes and makes so many threes that his eFG% is still very respectable. All that said he’s still an unrelenting gunner.

Consider this: Carmelo Anthony missed more shots (820) this year in just 67 games than anyone on the Lakers active roster attempted save Metta World Peace (823). More than 17% of Carmelo’s possessions this season ended in a missed shot. It takes a lot of bricks to build a scoring title trophy.

Another thing that stands out on this list is perhaps the names that aren’t on it. Kobe Bryant and Monta Ellis seem auspiciously absent. When I first crunched the numbers, I thought I had made a mistake when Bryant and Ellis were far outside the Top 10. But when I looked more closely, I saw that Kobe and Monta’s assist rates (7.9 and 8.2 respectively) were far too high to crack this list.

Michael Beasley warrants special mention in this post because he just achieved something so gunner-tastic, I previously thought it was impossible. His first year in Phoenix ended with more shot attempts than points. As a writer for Valley of the Suns, I can personally attest that Beasley was no fun to watch for much of the year, but even I didn’t imagine he was this bad.

Another gunner characteristic not captured in the formula above is shot selection. Most gunners have never seen a shot they wouldn’t take, and for many, that means long 2-pointers are a big part of their scoring attack. Here’s the formula adjusted to factor in missed long 2’s (essentially double-penalizing them):

ADJ Gunner Rating: (% of possessions ending in a missed FG) + (% of possessions ending in a missed Long 2) – (Assist Rate) – (Offensive Rebound Rate)

And here’s the adjusted Top 10:

Rank

Name

ADJ Gunner Rating

PER

1

Ben Gordon

15.6%

12.74

2

Carmelo Anthony

15.0%

24.83

3

Michael Beasley

14.3%

11.27

4

Andrea Bargnani

14.3%

10.91

5

Rudy Gay

12.3%

15.66

6

J.R. Smith

12.3%

17.67

7

Eric Gordon

12.2%

15.43

8

Jamal Crawford

11.9%

16.89

9

DeMar DeRozan

11.8%

14.81

10

Glen Davis

11.7%

15.09

Eight of the original names stay the same after factoring in missed long 2’s. Ben Gordon, who led the league in % of possession ending in a missed long 2 (5.9%), vaults past Carmelo in the adjusted rankings. Apparently Gordon’s involved in some sort of wager to see how many bad shots he can miss before Michael Jordan will have him killed. The new names at the bottom of the list are DeMar DeRozan and Glen Davis. Davis is no surprise as his limited athleticism pushes far outside the paint to find shots, but DeRozan is somewhat of a surprise. With his athleticism, it seems logical that DeRozan would prefer getting to the rim over 22-footers, but that is not the case. With the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge, no one in the NBA took and missed as many long 2’s this year as DeRozan. Aldridge ranked 11th in the adjusted gunner ratings.

Davis and DeRozan supplanted Marcus Thornton and Klay Thompson, both of who take shockingly few long 2’s.

What’s most interesting about this list is the number of guys on it who are getting crunch time minutes in the playoffs. J.R. Smith and Anthony are the keys to the Knicks’ offense. Likewise, the Clippers heavily rely on Jamal Crawford’s and his 16.5 points a night. Despite the fact that advanced stats have served mostly to point out their flaws, gunners, because of their confidence, fearlessness, and ability to create instant offense for their teams will always have a place in this league. And the NBA is better for it.

Hardwood Paroxysm