Would You Rather, NBA Edition


Your favorite team needs points. Would you rather it have...

Drummond is a notoriously bad free-throw shooter. He shot just 60.5% from the charity stripe last season. (That was a good season by his standards. His previous best was 41.8%).

Smart has no problem launching from behind the arc. He took 249 threes last season. Unfortunately, he only shot 30.3% on them.

So, the correct answer must be a mid-range jumper from former NBA MVP Westbrook. Right?

Westbrook loves the mid-range jumper. He took 530 of them last season. On them, he shot 39.8%, which may not sound so bad.

To compare the three options, we need to use points per shot. Here, we’ll consider a trip to the free-throw line a “shot.”

The answer to our “Would You Rather?” is a trip to the line for Drummond.

Note that NBA teams have fouled Drummond intentionally, because Andre at the free-throw line is bad offense. If Oklahoma City could replace Westbrook’s 530 mid-range jumpers with something equivalent to sending Drummond to the line, they’d score an additional 217 points on the season or just under 3 per game.

The Marcus Smart 3-point attempt, often the subject of ridicule among Boston fans and media, is a better shot than Westbrook’s mid-range attempt.

If you answered option C at the onset, you’d be like most NBA fans. We don’t have the same level of disdain for average mid-range jumpers that we do for poor 3-point or free-throw shooting. The numbers say we should.