6 Things in the NBA Worth Putting On a List

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Ja Morant Attacks The Rim At All Costs

Ja Morant has put the NBA on notice in his inaugural campaign. The rookie sensation out of Murray State has a must-see highlight play seemingly every night, and the Memphis Grizzlies have looked promising despite their overall record.

Morant’s high flying dunks and acrobatic layups are a product of his relentless pursuit of the rim. Ja currently sits as the No. 1 point guard in the league in frequency of shots taken within four feet of the rim, according to Cleaning The Glass.

In an era of three-point shot after three-point shot, Morant is attempting 54 percent of his takes at the basket. For comparison, the second and third-ranked points guards in the category for the 2020 season, Dejounte Murray and Russell Westbrook, shoot 45 and 43 percent of their shots respectively at the rim.

Morant is a breath of fresh air in his commitment to the paint but is it necessarily a good thing? Westbrook and John Wall are obvious comparisons of smaller players who have been able to make this style work, however, a quick look at the other point guards at the top of the 2020 list for shot frequency within 4 feet reveals an offensively anemic group.

Names such as Delon Wright, David Nwaba, Elfird Payton, Kris Dunn, and Eric Bledsoe are the point guards who rank highest after Morant, Murray, and Westbrook — none of whom are particularly well known for their scoring.

That man Morant, though, might be a different type of beast.

The Free Throw Shooting Of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons are floor generals of the highest caliber in the NBA. Both players use their frames to dominate basketball games and are leading teams positioned atop the Eastern Conference.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are two squads with championship aspirations, but they have another similarity that connects them. The organizations have premier players that cannot make a damn free throw.

Simmons is second to last in the entire league from the charity stripe, shooting a dismal 58.2 percent. Antetokounmpo isn’t much better, with the Greek Freak ranking 7th worst in the league out of qualified players at 61.8 percent. For all of Giannis’ recent success, his free throw percentage has actually gone down in each of the last two seasons, and he is now shooting 10 percent worse from the line than last year.

Playoff games come down to the smallest of margins, and you can’t help to think that these two All-Stars could let their teams down in the most serious of ways from the line, when the postseason comes along.

I Really Wish Myles Turner Was Better

I know this will most likely make Indiana Pacers fans upset, but I just so deeply wish that Myles Turner was better at basketball. The 6-feet-11-inch center has all the tools to be a dominant force on the court. Turner can spread the floor with jumpshots, has the size to finish inside, the coordination to make special plays, yet the breakthrough moment just hasn’t happened for the fifth-year player.

Turner has played in 30 of the 38 games this year, and is averaging 12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 2.0 blocks in 29.5 minutes. Each of these statistics are down from the 2018-19 season, including all of his offensive percentages.

Turner is considered a centerpiece of the Pacers organization, yet he has shown barely any progress since his rookie season. If anything, he has actually decreased in productivity since his career-best sophomore season.

Another troubling sign with the big man, he’s shooting 4.5 three-point shots through his first 30 games played in the 2019-20 season. A number that represents a huge jump from the 2.6 three pointers he attempted in the 2018-19 campaign.

I draft this man every year in fantasy, and every year I end up disappointed.

The Sneaky Impact Ben McLemore Has On The Rockets’ Half-Court Offense

What if I told you Ben McLemore was the secret to the success of the Houston Rockets half-court offense?

You’d laugh.

And you’d do so fairly, as very few people think about Ben McLemore when discussing the Houston Rockets’ offense. However, his name absolutely deserves to be brought up, and here’s why.

When McLemore is on the court, the Rockets incredibly have a +14.4 point score per 100 halfcourt plays, it’s a number that ranks the Kansas product second in the league. Kemba Walker in Boston is first in the category and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota is third.

The Rockets have been trying for years to find the right collection of players to surround James Harden with in the halfcourt, and this number screams for McLemore to get even more minutes than he already is.

McLemore is averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 assists and 2.5 made threes a game in 23.9 minutes a game this season. Mike D’Antoni needs to bump these minutes up for the wing player as clearly something works on the offensive side of the ball.

San Antonio And The Death Of The Mid-Range Jumpshot

We may have finally gotten to the end of the sustained excellence of the San Antonio Spurs. Greg Popovich’s team currently sits as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, with a 16-20 record.

One big reason for this drop in performance can be tied to the offensive tendencies of the Spurs two best offensive players: Demar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.

DeRozan currently ranks in the 100th percentile of frequency of shots taken from the mid-range, with an incredible 64 percent of his attempts coming from that distance. He also ranks in the 0th percentile for three-point shot frequency. It’s a stat combination that has proven to be a destructive one in the modern NBA.

It’s not much better for LaMarcus.

Aldridge, ranks in the 99th percentile in frequency of shots from the mid-range, and in the 100th percentile of shots from outside of 14-feet but not from behind the three-point line.

With the Spurs’ best offensive players taking quite literally the most of the worst shot in basketball, it’s no real surprise they’re struggling to win games.

J.J. Barea Is Fourth In The League In Put-Backs

Every once in awhile a stat comes along that takes your breath away. Makes you gasp and pickup the phone to text your friend. It’s also an example of a statistic that isn’t tied to the actual reality of the situation, but hey, numbers don’t lie.

Out of every player in the National Basketball League, J.J. Barea ranks fourth in the NBA at +34.5 in the amount of points his team scores per 100 putback plays. It doesn’t make any sense. Barea has most likely never had a putback dunk in his entire career, but clearly the rest of the Mavs just feel like crashing the offensive boards a little more when he’s on the court.

Stats are taken from Cleaning The Glass, ESPN and Basketball-Reference.com.