Nov 27, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James reacts after dunking in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Stat Central: The Top Scorers in Basketball, Geek-Style


While writing my Step In The Lane Weekly article yesterday, I came across a new way to figure the top scorers in basketball, statistically. Specifically I figured looking at True Shooting Percentage (TS%) was the best way to judge an individual player’s scoring efficiency. I explain why this is the most effective scoring efficiency statistic here, but the gist of the statistic is to estimate points per scoring try and cut that number in half (so it looks more like a “percentage”). The statistic is extremely accurate (again more on that in the link above), and a statistic that literally measures the amount of points you score per scoring attempt seems like the best route to go when judging who the best scorer’s in the NBA are.

The only shortcoming is that, as a per possession type of statistic, TS% can fall prey to small sample sizes. For example, Samuel Dalembert and Tiago Splitter both rank top ten in TS% because they are not necessarily high usage player’s in their respective offenses. To combat this shortcoming I have decided to rank the top 25 scorers in basketball so far this season by taking the top ten TS% players that play at least 20 minutes per game, at least half of the most games played this season, and have a usage rate higher than 20% — which essentially means a player that takes up at least one-fifth of his team’s possession while he is on the court. So this narrows the amount of efficient scorers to players who either fit the role of a first, second, or high usage third option on offense, and high usage sixth men that are go to guys when they are on the court. Essentially these players are the top 25 scorer’s of player’s who are responsible for a large part of their team’s offense. So without further ado, here are the top scorer’s in the NBA heading into last night’s games:

Rk Player TS% G MP USG%
1 LeBron James 0.700 14 35.07 29.9
2 Jeremy Lin 0.644 15 31.87 21.8
3 Chris Bosh 0.643 13 28.38 22.3
4 Klay Thompson 0.639 15 36.67 22.3
5 Brook Lopez 0.635 8 30.5 26.8
6 Spencer Hawes 0.631 14 33.57 19.8
7 Kevin Durant 0.624 12 38.5 30.2
8 Arron Afflalo 0.623 14 36.86 24.2
9 Eric Bledsoe 0.612 9 34.78 26.4
10 Gerald Green 0.611 14 28.71 22.5
11 Dirk Nowitzki 0.602 15 32.33 25.8
12 James Harden 0.600 12 39.33 27.4
13 Isaiah Thomas 0.598 13 28.31 27.5
14 Paul George 0.596 14 37 28.7
15 Boris Diaw 0.595 13 24.15 20.9
16 Monta Ellis 0.592 15 37.4 27.8
17 J.J. Redick 0.592 15 29.27 21.6
18 Tony Parker 0.588 14 29.93 27.3
19 Chris Paul 0.585 15 35.6 23.7
20 Blake Griffin 0.581 15 36.87 25.5
21 Nikola Vucevic 0.580 14 33.29 19.9
22 Mike Conley 0.579 14 33.57 25.2
23 Dwight Howard 0.578 15 34.53 23.6
24 Jamal Crawford 0.577 15 25.93 25.1
25 Andrew Nicholson 0.577 14 19.5 22.2

Noteworthy Players: Ryan Anderson would have ranked third if he had played enough games — he missed a large chunk of Pelicans games to open the season — and Wesley Matthews actually ranks first of players who meet both the games and minutes requirements. Matthews’ usage rate is only 17.3 percent (all stats from Basketball-Reference, by the way).

Final Note: If this is something readers would like to see weekly, let me know in the comments (even if you are a HoopsHabit/Fansided writer who would like to see). If I get enough of a response or in general if this article gets a lot of views I will probably do a weekly update of the top scorers.

Tags: Advanced Stats Lebron James NBA Scoring Scoring Efficiency Stats True Shooting Percentage