Houston Rockets guard James Harden last season led the NBA with 1,617 shots taken, 19 more than runner-up in this category, Steph Curry. What may surprise you, however, is that when it comes to the shots taken by his Rockets’ teammates, Harden had a whole boatload more shot attempts than the rest of his team.
Harden’s 1,617 shots were 758 more (yes, that’s 758!) more than Trevor Ariza, who took 859 shots for Houston last season. That difference of 758 was by far the biggest difference in shot attempts by a player leading his team in that category and the teammate who took the second most shots. No other NBA team had a difference of 600 or more in this stat.
At the other end of the spectrum were three teams that had less than 20 shots separating the player who took the most shots for the team last season and the teammate that had the second most. Leading the way were the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose attempted 1,048 shots in 2015-16, and Jimmy Butler was a close second with 1,035, a difference of only 13 shots.
Let’s look at the teams that had the biggest (and smallest) difference in shot attempts last season.
Biggest Difference in shot attempts
758: Houston (James Harden, 1,617, Trevor Ariza, 859)
550: Washington (John Wall, 1,349, Bradley Beal, 799)
458: Charlotte (Kemba Walker, 1,331, Nicolas Batum, 873)
439: Cleveland (LeBron James, 1,416, Kevin Love, 977)
428: Indiana (Paul George, 1,449, Monta Ellis, 1,021)
421: New York (Carmelo Anthony, 1,307, Kristaps Porzingis, 886)
363: Boston (Isaiah Thomas, 1,382, Avery Bradley, 1,019)
330: Sacramento (DeMarcus Cousins, 1,122, Rudy Gay, 792)
308: Miami (Dwyane Wade, 1,183, Goran Dragic, 875)
258: Dallas (Dirk Nowitzki, 1,112, Wesley Matthews, 854)
Smallest Difference in shot attempts
13: Chicago (Derrick Rose, 1,048, Jimmy Butler, 1,035)
15: Los Angeles Lakers (Kobe Bryant, 1,113, Jordan Clarkson, 1,098)
18: Atlanta (Paul Milsap, 1,066, Al Horford, 1,048)
28: Phoenix (Brandon Knight, 895, Devin Booker, 867)
42: Philadelphia (Jahil Okafor, 781, Ish Smith, 739)
43: Portland (Damian Lillard, 1,474, CJ McCollum, 1,431)
45: San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard, 1,090, LaMarcus Aldridge, 1045)
63: Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook, 1,444, Kevin Durant, 1,381)
76: Orlando (Nikola Vucevic, 1,046, Victor Oladipo, 970)
78: Denver (Wil Barton, 983, Emmanuel Mudiay, 905)
A total of 40 players in the NBA last season attempted 1,000 or more shots for their team. Four teams did not have any players with 1,000 or more field goal attempts (Denver, Memphis, Philadelphia and Phoenix) while 14 of the 30 NBA teams had two players reach the 1,000 shots attempted mark.
If we drop the number down to 800 shot attempts, five different teams had four players each reach these numbers: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, the Lakers and Milwaukee. The only team that did not have at least one player with 800 shot attempts last season were the 76ers.
Here’s a look at the number of players with 800 or more shot attempts each team had in 2015-16.
4: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee
3: Atlanta, Chicago, Golden State, L.A. Clippers, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Utah
2: Brooklyn, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Toronto
1: Memphis, Sacramento, Washington
It will be interesting to see what shot distribution for some teams will look like for the 2016-17 season. Keep an eye on the Warriors with Kevin Durant added to the mix, and with Durant gone, could Russell Westbrook have a Harden-like season with more shots available in Oklahoma City?