By Ben Leibowitz, Special to NBA.com
For NBA players marred in consistent shooting slumps, battling back can be an arduous task. The only way to break out of a cold spell is to keep shooting, but prolonged bouts of poor efficiency can weigh on a player’s confidence and exacerbate the problem.
Each week, the team at PointAfter will look to find guys mired in said slumps. We’ll peg a guard, wing player and forward/center who simply couldn’t find the touch during the trailing seven days.
Note: All statistics in this article cover games between Jan. 15-21.
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Picking on Bryant is old hat at this point. And while the 37-year-old has been battling soreness in his Achilles and shoulder, even that excuse wasn’t enough to save him from worst shooter of the week status.
The man nicknamed “Vino” has turned to vinegar throughout most of his retirement tour, and the trailing seven days was an evident struggle. He converted 30.8 percent of his shot attempts, posting back-to-back five-point performances on Jan. 16 and 17.
In 31 minutes of a 112-93 loss against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, the “Black Mamba” went 4-of-13 from the field (2-of-7 from deep).
Lakers team doctor Gary Vitti has suggested Bryant should shut it down for one-to-two weeks in order to get healthy, but anyone who’s followed Kobe’s career knows that’s not going to happen. As he has all season, he’s simply going to have to fight through it.
VIDEO: Kobe Bryant’s Top 10 plays from 2015-16
Wing: Paul George, Pacers
Following recovery from a broken leg that forced George to miss all but six games last season, he exploded out of the gates in 2015-16. After knocking some initial rust off, the 25-year-old averaged 29.5 points per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and a scorching-hot 49 percent from beyond the arc.
Since that time, however, George has cooled off quicker than a superheated nickel ball put on ice. He converted just 37.1 percent of his attempts throughout December, and he’s shooting 40 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from long range thus far in January.
As such, the past week has not been kind to George, either. He went 6-of-19 shooting in a loss against Washington on Jan. 15. He made 6-of-12 shots in a loss against Denver, but then regressed back to 5-of-12 shooting on Jan. 19 against Phoenix. All told, the two-time All-NBA Third team member made a lackluster 39.5 percent of his shots and 26.3 percent of his treys.
George was voted an All-Star starter for 2016, and while he was more than deserving through a brilliant month of November, he hasn’t found the same stellar rhythm since.
VIDEO: Paul George talks about his season to date
Center: Andre Drummond, Pistons
Throughout the first two seasons of Drummond’s NBA career, the big man out of UConn converted more than 60 percent of his field goals. For the most part, he limited himself to shots right at the rim. But now, the 22-year-old is attempting to expand his offensive repertoire — with mixed results.
Detroit’s center certainly hasn’t been terrible while trying to extend his shooting range with baby hooks instead of rim-rattling dunks, but his efficiency in the restricted area has only been about league average (obviously not great for a guy his size).
The trailing seven days were particularly difficult for Drummond, as he went 6-of-20 in a surprise win over the Golden State Warriors and 8-of-17 on Jan. 21 against New Orleans.
For the week as a whole, the former lottery pick converted just 42 percent of his attempts. Interestingly, the bulk of Drummond’s woes occurred right at the bucket.
Of course, field goal shooting wasn’t even the worst of it. Drummond made just 36.8 percent of his free throws over the past week — including a ghastly 13-of-36 (!!) showing against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 20.
Not only is Drummond’s 35.8 percent shooting at the charity stripe the worst in the league (by far), it would also be the worst mark in NBA history — below Wilt Chamberlain’s 38 percent mark set in 1967-68.
To say his performance at the free throw line has been ugly simply doesn’t do it justice.
VIDEO: Andre Drummond delivers a solid performance against the Pelicans
Ben Leibowitz is a writer for PointAfter, a sports data aggregation and visualization website that’s part of the Graphiq network. Visit PointAfter to get all the information about NBA Players, NBA Historical Teams and dozens of other topics.