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Layups: The NBA’s Best Penetrators

Posted by Neil Paine on March 20, 2009

Courtesy of Ryan Schwan over at, here's an interesting concept: how do we rank the best "penetrators", the best players in basketball when it comes to both creating their own shot and making those shots? To answer the question, Ryan uses FG% and 82games' % assisted stat. And the result? People always bring up the "Holy Trinity" of Kobe, LeBron, and D-Wade as the guys you'd most like to have handling the ball in a must-score situation, but perhaps we should think about stud PGs like Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Jameer Nelson in the same way...

2 Responses to “Layups: The NBA’s Best Penetrators”

  1. Ryan Says:

    Percentage assisted is kinda useless in this study. In its entirety this is a study that can only be accurately made by tracking and recording player movement through footage. Penetration to most would be indicative of moving from the perimeter to the paint, and finishing at the rack - or less commonly with a floater or jumpstop shot.

    The reason percentage assisted is useless, is because assists are given out so freely (especially to players like Chris Paul), that players will often penetrate and delve into their moveset after the pass anyway.

  2. Jason J Says:

    I guess this is a pretty good representation of who dribbles into the paint a lot, though it doesn't really account for how they get into the paint. Pick and roll? Rock-em-sock-em dribbling work? Catching the ball on the move and diving into the paint for a pass or shot? FTs attepted seems like it ought to be factored as well, though with the hand check rule a lot of players seem to be able to draw contact outside the paint to get the line (Kobe's amazing at that with his swing through into defenders' arms and all his jab steps and ball fakes).

    Still whether it's LeBron moving into the paint to throw one down or Rondo to kick one out, the list seems to have most of the names you'd expect.