The fact that Ron Artest and Mike Bibby take the highest number of shots among all Kings is not a secret - most fans have made a big deal about this all season, especially with both players shooting horribly in 2006-07.
But just how bad is this top duo? I decided to look at each NBA team's top duo in field goal attempts per game in order to better judge our favorite gunners.
In nearly every case, the top two players in FGA/G are listed. I used special circumstances in the cases of Philadelphia and New Orleans. In Philly, Allen Iverson and Chris Webber are both gone, so Andre Miller and Willie Green were selected as the top gunners based on post-trade numbers (with Green shooting only slightly more per game than Andre Iguodala on the season). In New Orleans, both Peja Stojakovic and David West (technically the team's top gunners) have played in too few games to make sense of the numbers. Chris Paul and Desmond Mason, the two next gunners, were included in this study instead.
For Denver, Iverson and Carmelo Anthony were used though they have yet to play together. While their FGA/G numbers will certainly change, it's not difficult to imagine the aggregate might stay in the same neighborhood.
With those caveats in place, here's the data. Team and Players should be self-explanatory. FGM and FGA denote the combined FGMs and FGAs per game for the two players. FG% is the combined field goal percentage. Pts is the players' combined points per game, and PSA is the tandem's aggregate points per shot attempt, calculated using (points/field goal attempts). This last measure helps account for perimeter-oriented players and players who get to the line frequently. In short, it's a good measure with which to judge scoring efficiency.
The list is sorted according to PSA, from best to worst.
MEM Miller/Gasol 13.6 25.7 .529 36.5 1.42
CHI Gordon/Deng 14.4 29.1 .495 41 1.41
ORL Nelson/Howard 11.4 21.9 .521 30.7 1.40
LAL Bryant/Odom 15.3 32.4 .472 45.4 1.40
BOS Pierce/Szczerbiak 14 31.4 .446 43.5 1.39
PHX Marion/Nash 14.7 28.2 .521 38.9 1.38
DAL Nowitzki/Howard 15.3 32 .478 43.8 1.37
SEA Allen/Lewis 16.4 35.4 .463 47.7 1.35
SAS Parker/Duncan 15.6 29.1 .536 39.1 1.34
WAS Arenas/Butler 17.4 38 .458 51 1.34
DEN Anthony/Iverson 21.7 45.1 .481 58.9 1.31
NJN Carter/Jefferson 14.6 31.7 .461 41.3 1.30
TOR Bosh/Ford 13.3 28.5 .467 37.1 1.30
MIA Wade/O'Neal 15.1 32.3 .467 41.9 1.30
LAC Brand/Cassell 13.1 26.4 .496 34.2 1.30
NYK Crawford/Curry 13.1 27.8 .471 36 1.29
HOU McGrady/Ming 17.5 37.2 .470 47.9 1.29
MIL Redd/Williams 16.1 35 .460 45 1.29
UTA Boozer/Williams 15.5 30.4 .510 39 1.28
MIN Garnett/Davis 14.1 30.6 .461 38.5 1.26
POR Randolph/Roy 13.1 29.4 .446 36.8 1.25
ATL Johnson/Lue 14.4 31.1 .463 38.9 1.25
CLE James/Hughes 15.1 33.4 .452 41.7 1.25
DET Hamilton/Prince 14.3 31.1 .460 38.8 1.25
GSW Davis/Ellis 14.1 31.5 .448 38.4 1.22
NOH Paul/Mason 11.9 26.1 .456 31.8 1.22
IND ONeal/Harrington 13.5 29.3 .461 35.1 1.20
SAC Bibby/Artest 11.6 29.2 .397 34.3 1.17
PHI Miller/Green 10.1 24.3 .416 24.7 1.02
CHA Morrison/Felton 10.2 27.2 .375 27.6 1.01
Mike Bibby and Ron Artest make up the third-worst 1-2 punch in the league, ahead of only the vaunted tandems of Andre Miller/Willie Green and Adam Morrison/Raymond Felton. (By the way, Charlotte and Philadelphia have a combined record of 22-54, a robust winning percentage of .289. They are two of the worst four teams in the league.)
Teams can't be solely judged by their tandems - Boston and Memphis are horrible precisely because they have little behind their big twos, and Detroit and Utah rely on four or five big scorers in rather egalitarian systems where there is little difference in the number of shot attempts between Weapons #1 and #2, and Weapons #3 and #4.
This is where Sacramento suffers from the worst of both worlds. Outside of Bibby/Artest, only Kevin Martin shoots more than nine shots a game, which makes Bibby/Artest a very important 1-2 punch. But Bibby/Artest sucks as a 1-2 punch. The problem is defined.
What are some solutions to this?
- Obviously, the first way to attack the problem is to take shots from the unproductive shooters and give them to more productive shooters. Only Francisco Garcia and Maurice Taylor have shot a worse percentage than both Bibby and Artest this season, so one would not think this solution would be hard to accomplish. (However, it's probably a lot more difficult than us fans can rationalize, so the benefit of the doubt goes to the coaching staff here.)
- Trade the unproductive shooters for more productive shooters. This is easier said than done, unless Isiah Thomas or Billy King is on the other end of the line. Also, the fact that Isiah and Billy have traded away many of their productive shooters makes this doubly difficult.
- Trade the unproductive shooters for salary cap relief, young players, or draft picks, and elevate your current productive but underutilized shooters to bigger roles in the offense. My vote is here.
- Continue to let your unproductive shooters blast your team into Bolivian, get a high draft pick, and consider options 1-3 in the future. (This appears to be the path Sacramento is on.)
There's plenty of blame to go around for the Kings' slide from decency. It's clear, however, which two players bear the brunt of responsibility on the offensive side of the ball.