The Sixers are Shooting the Ball Better than Anybody in the NBA

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What if I told you that the Sixers had the best field goal percentage in the NBA?

Pigs flying? Hell frozen over? Dave Spadaro speaking without a filter? You would probably point to any number of circumstances that seem totally weird, like we’re living in Seinfeld’s bizarro world.

But this is the truth. Nobody is shooting the ball better than Doc Rivers’ team, which is currently 5-2 with a 49.2 field goal percentage.

Here’s the current top five as of November 2nd, 2021:

  1. Sixers – 49.2%
  2. Lakers – 47.5%
  3. Nuggets – 47.4%
  4. Bulls – 46.9%
  5. Spurs 46.9%

Raw numbers are useless without context, and one might assume that the Sixers are #1 because they shoot fewer threes than most other teams. That would have been true last year, when their three-point volume was bottom-five in the league, and they took a ton of two-pointers while scoring frequently at the foul line and around the rim.

But that’s actually not the case this year. The Sixers are the fourth-best three point shooting team, at 38.1%, and they’re middle of the pack in three-point volume. They’re shooting 34.9 threes per game this year, compared to the 30.1 they averaged last year, which moves them up from 26th to 18th in the league, and results in an early-season shot plot looking like this:

They are at or above the That’s a solid chart. They’re league average or above in every single quadrant except for three shitty blue zones that aren’t important anyway. You don’t want to have heavy volume in those mid-range areas, hence the lack of attempts. The reason the right side is blue and the left side is in the warm colors range is because Joel Embiid likes to shoot that faceup 10-14 footer from that beginning point.

To extrapolate a little further, here are some other current numbers and rankings:

  • The Sixers are only shooting 84.4 field goals per game, which is 29th out of 30 teams. Obviously the more shots you make, the fewer offensive rebounds and etc. They’re being very efficient with a lower overall volume.
  • 58.7% of their field goal attempts are two pointers, which is 18th
  • 41.3% of their field goal attempts are three pointers, which is 13th
  • 9.7% of their points come from the midrange, which is 15th
  • 14% of their points come from the foul line, which is also 15th (way down from last year)
  • 15.2% of points come from turnovers, which is 18th (down from 7th last year)
  • 58.4% of their field goals are assisted (14th)
  • 41.6% of the field goals are unassisted (16th)

There’s a lot of good in there. They are much less reliant on getting to the foul line and getting out in transition after forcing turnovers. There’s more natural creation in the half court. They’ll still post Embiid frequently, but those pick and rolls are effective. Same with Seth Curry running that Allen Iverson cut and then flowing into the next action from there.

Yeah, it’s early, but the Sixers are “scoring the ball” nicely. Showing balance. Sharing the rock and playing effective basketball in Ben Simmons’ absence.

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