Pierce cares not about your hand in his face


VIDEO: Pierce’s big three seals Brooklyn’s win vs. Toronto

BROOKLYN – Nets coach Jason Kidd didn’t think Paul Pierce was going to play Monday night.

Pierce, dealing with an injured shoulder, played. He played 30 minutes, scored 15 points, and hit the biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer that gave the Nets a three-point lead with 1:14 left and propelled them to a big win over the visiting Raptors.

It was a tough shot, because Kyle Lowry¬†was in Pierce’s shirt with a hand in his face. But Pierce had to take it because the shot clock was about to expire.

And maybe it didn’t matter that Lowry was there, because, according to SportVU, Pierce has shot better on contested jumpers than uncontested jumpers. Among 92 players who have attempted at least 100 of each, only one — the Pelicans’ Brian Roberts — has a bigger discrepancy.

Players who have shot better on contested jumpers

Uncontested Contested
Player FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% Diff.
Brian Roberts 82 213 38.5% 63 128 49.2% -10.7%
Paul Pierce 83 236 35.2% 62 151 41.1% -5.9%
Russell Westbrook 73 203 36.0% 57 138 41.3% -5.3%
Dirk Nowitzki 200 439 45.6% 210 431 48.7% -3.2%
LeBron James 140 370 37.8% 47 117 40.2% -2.3%
Marcus Morris 102 252 40.5% 61 143 42.7% -2.2%
Rudy Gay 87 223 39.0% 105 259 40.5% -1.5%
Evan Turner 107 288 37.2% 88 231 38.1% -0.9%
Rodney Stuckey 67 178 37.6% 55 145 37.9% -0.3%
Jamal Crawford 142 355 40.0% 143 356 40.2% -0.2%
James Harden 141 375 37.6% 69 183 37.7% -0.1%

Minimum 100 of each.
Contested = Any jump shot outside of 10 feet with a defender within four feet of the shooter.

Note: We’re looking at standard field goal percentage and not effective field goal percentage to simply see the effect on a player’s success rate.

That LeBron James has shot better on contested jumpers is more incentive for defenses to play off him on the perimeter, as the Spurs did (successfully, until Game 7) in The Finals.

The league has shot 5.4 percent better on uncontested jumpers this season. But a contest will affect some players more than others. On the opposite end of the spectrum from Roberts and Pierce is the Suns’ Goran Dragic

Players who have shot at least 10 percent better on uncontested jumpers

Uncontested Contested
Player Name FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% Diff.
Goran Dragic 145 279 52.0% 52 178 29.2% 22.8%
David West 142 288 49.3% 35 102 34.3% 15.0%
C.J. Miles 86 191 45.0% 36 118 30.5% 14.5%
Khris Middleton 148 302 49.0% 57 161 35.4% 13.6%
Jameer Nelson 118 312 37.8% 35 143 24.5% 13.3%
Kevin Love 201 473 42.5% 45 152 29.6% 12.9%
Bradley Beal 181 431 42.0% 78 263 29.7% 12.3%
Jerryd Bayless 91 217 41.9% 41 137 29.9% 12.0%
Terrence Ross 107 240 44.6% 59 181 32.6% 12.0%
Randy Foye 150 363 41.3% 39 132 29.5% 11.8%
Tim Hardaway Jr. 121 296 40.9% 30 103 29.1% 11.8%
Josh Smith 126 380 33.2% 28 129 21.7% 11.5%

For some of these guys, the difference is about how well they shoot when they’re left open. For some, it’s about how poorly they shoot when there’s a defender nearby. Josh Smith probably shouldn’t shoot jumpers at all.

8 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    Isn’t it amazing how far the Brooklyn Nets have come? I find it interesting!

  2. TKAM says:

    Contested = Any jump shot outside of 10 feet with a defender within four feet of the shooter.

    Four feet is a lot of space to consider all of them contested… I would say more along the lines of a hand in the face, or at least a face-guard within a foot or two.

  3. Hannes says:

    Hi John,

    great data! In my opinion, this question is in one part stochastic and in another part context dependent.
    Stochastic:
    Imagine you have two ‘coins’ –
    A showing heads with 38% probability (as average probability of a contested jumper)
    B showing heads with 43.4% probability (as average probability of an uncontested jumper).
    Now repeat a high number of times the following experiment:
    flip coin A 200 times, count the heads.
    flip coin B 200 times, count the heads.
    The result is that in ~12.5% of cases coin A will have more heads than coin B – which is pretty close to the actual number of 11 of 97 players!
    Even if you take the amount of shots that Dirk takes (~400), even totally random players would in 5% of cases make more contested than uncontested shots. So, randomness could explain this data and we would need to compare several years if the Paul Pierce coin repeats this result or not.

    Context:
    It would be interesting to see for each player the distance to the basket for contested and uncontested shots, A part of the explanation could be that a lot of uncontested shots are ‘LeBron is two feet behind the three point line, I willingly let him shoot’ shots.
    Also, it would be interesting to play with the definition of contested, I guess for a lot of stars there is a level of contested (merely a hand before their face) that they do not even recognize, while ‘being up in their grill’, most probably affects everybody.

    But this is definitely a great start for an open discussion about shot defense.

  4. elbow shot says:

    what’s interesting about the chart is every player shoots better on contested shots. that makes me think the stat is a bit misleading.

  5. dustydreamnz says:

    Toronto played well, Brooklyn had to be good to beat them.

  6. THAT S MY DOGGG!! (