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Last night volume beat efficiency, what does NBA History say?

There have been 314 different players who have shot 20+ FGA against the New Orleans / Utah Jazz. Some have helped their team win, but most have not.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Last night Paul George was shooting horribly, but as shooters do he kept shooting. Eventually he managed 19 points off of 20 shots, and the National Media message here is that he led his Indiana Pacers to a victory over the Utah Jazz. Gordon Hayward scored 38 points off of 24 shots, and his career high in his home state wasn’t enough to get the win. That got me to thinking that perhaps we Jazz fans over-emphasize efficiency over volume. (Casual fans and big market fans seem to appreciate volume over efficiency, like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and others.) So maybe ‘we’ are wrong here? I needed to check out the bottom line: wins.

Also, big ups to Jazzy for getting me to think about this. (N.B. George had 17 points at this point in the game, and got to the line for two more before it was over.)

And big ups to for allowing me to delve into this. BBALL-REFs data base is from the 1983-84 season till today, so it does miss out on about the first decade of Utah Jazz basketball. That’s fine, it just means we don’t have a lot of data of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other giants hurting us.

Utah Jazz Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images

What I did was I looked at every single time in the entire database (regular season and playoff games combined) where a player shot over 20 FGA in a game and won (535 total games, Source), and when they lost (671 total games, Source).

The 535 - 671 record is a 44.36% winning percentage against the Jazz. Or, alternatively; when one or more players from the other team shoots 20 or more times in a game, the Jazz win 55.64% of the time. So by that calculation alone last night’s loss is not usually the result when one guy goes for volume over anything else.

And of course, a high volume (20+ FGA) doesn’t include the variables of shooting well or shooting poorly. However, we have clear evidence in our minds that guys who are known for high volume and low efficiency usually end up with losses against the Jazz. For example: John Starks is 0-4, Al Jefferson if 0-3, Ben Gordon is 0-3, Allen Iverson is 3-13, and Charles Barkley is 1-4 in this 20+ FGA situations against Utah.

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Of course, there are some Epic level guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant who are on another level. Those three are 62-51 when playing against Utah and shooting a lot.


For the ease of the reader, I sorted all 314 players by position here so it’s “nicer” to see. , AllThatAmar , AllThatAmar

The Breakdown by position goes as follows:

  • PG: 83-107 (.4368), 190 total games (15.75% of all 20+ FGA games in database)
  • SG: 146-206 (.4148), 352 total games (29.19% of all 20+ FGA games in database)
  • SF: 151-164 (.4974), 315 total games (26.12% of all 20+ FGA games in database)
  • PF: 84-105 (.4444), 189 total games (15.67% of all 20+ FGA games in database)
  • C: 71-89 (.4438), 160 total games (13.27% of all 20+ FGA games in database)

Small forwards are almost breaking even, and there are some great performances over the years from guys like Alex English, Carmelo Anthony, Walter Davis, Mark Aguirre, LeBron James, Dominique Wilkins, Mike Mitchell, Kiki Vandeweghe, Larry Bird, Vince Carter, Kevin Durant, Chris Mullin, Glenn Robinson, Xavier McDaniel, Purvis Short, James Worthy, Bernard King, Danny Manning, Glen Rice and others.

But nearly 30% of every 20+ FGA game was by a shooting guard -- which is, I guess, not surprising because these guys are designated gunners for each team.

But overall, Kobe (20-13), Hakeem (25-21), that flying shoe salesman (17-17), and by the numbers Chris Webber (11-5) have had a lot of success against Utah while shooting a lot. Is Paul George (2-1) going to get on this level? Probably not. But last night was a game where volume beat efficiency (Gordon Hayward’s career high 38 overshadowed by someone getting a lot of press for making one big shot in the fourth).

So . . . efficiency over volume? Against Utah it’s usually sharing the ball that wins. It just didn’t last night.