Jul 10

Goldsberry: Aldridge And Lillard Two Of The NBA's Most Productive Scorers From Their 'Sweet Spots'

By caseyholdahl

Kirk Goldsberry, who specializes in "spatial reasoning, visual communication, and geographic representation" over at Grantland, has a new graphic showing which players are the most productive at certain areas on the court. And as you can see below, both Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge were the most productive scorers in the NBA last season from their favorite spots on the court.

In regards to Lillard's proclivity from the top of the three-point line, Goldsberry writes ...
In a league busting at the seams with elite point guards, Damian Lillard stands out as one of the best young talents. Lillard was obviously the steal of last year’s draft class, and proved to be an effective scorer and facilitator for the upstart Blazers. One of the most important shots for NBA point guards is the 3 at the top of the arc; if you can make this shot, you keep defenses honest and open up attacking lanes off the dribble. No player hit more shots from this key space than Lillard, which is truly impressive considering his age. Many great point guards never develop a reliable 3-point shot at any stage of their career. Lillard showed up with one.
If you watched a few Trail Blazers games last season, you're probably not surprised to see Lillard, who set the franchise record for three-pointers made in the season in 2012-13, owning the top of the arc. Then again, Lillard is the only rookie on Goldsberry's graphic, so it's still impressive to see his face up there with the likes of Lebron James, Kobe Bryant , Carmelo Anthony and Stephen Curry.

Goldsberry isn't nearly as impressed with Aldridge showing up as the most productive player on the left elbow, which makes sense given the disdain that the analytics in basketball crew has for mid-range shots, especially mid-range shots taken by power forwards. Goldsberry writes ...
No player in the NBA shoots more midrange shots than LaMarcus Aldridge. The guy is in love with 2-point jumpers. As a result, he led the league in scoring around the left elbow, which is a testament more to his volume than his efficiency. Aldridge hits these shots at a rate that is only slightly above the league average. As he matures, it will be interesting to see if his efficiency improves; if it does he will become both a very effective scorer and an important spacing agent for his teammates.
I'm a curious what maturation Goldsberry thinks could result in a more efficient LaMarcus Aldridge. I'm not being glib here; I really don't know. Is "maturing" in this case shooting a better percentage from the left elbow or simply not taking as many shots from the left elbow?


  1. Wow. And Lillard is only a rookie...

    by chris.barnes on 7/11/2013 11:02 AM
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