I see it said often that the Blazers are a jump shooting team that relies on hitting outside shots rather than getting to the rim. This has been said so many times that it has become conventional wisdowm. But that made me wonder ... is it actually true, and if it's true, is it a bad thing?
The first question can be answered fairly easily. 82games.com has a link for each team showing the % of team shots that are "jump", "close", "dunk" and "tips". So I looked up the Blazers and found that their shot distribution is:
So most of the shots are jumpers and only 7% are dunks or tips. But to put this in context, I looked up some the jump and close %s of other teams in the West, starting at the top:
SAS 71% jump 25% close (96%)
LAL 70% jump 24% close (94%)
DAL 75% jump 19% close (94%)
OKC 70% jump 23% close (93%)
DEN 64% jump 30% close (94%)
NOH 74% jump 21% close (95%)
So it seems that compared to the teams above them in the Western standings, only De
nver shoots significantly fewer jump shots. Portland is comparable with all the rest.
To be fair, I don't think this pattern holds throughout the league. Memphis shoots a lot fewer jumpers, and in the East the top teams (CHI, MIA, BOS, but not ORL) mostly shoot a lot fewer jumpers.
But still, while it is sort of fair to call Portland a "jump shooting team", it might be more accurate to call the West a "jump shooting conference", in which the Blazers are the norm among playoff teams.
That brings us to the question of whether this is a good or bad thing. All else being equal, teams that can get more high percentage shots will score more efficiently, but in the real world all else is not being equal. Shot selection is a process of optimizing opportunities your players can create against opposing defenses, and the extra value of a made 3-point shot means that jumpers are often very efficient shots.
But to me, the biggest fact arguing that being a jump shooting team isn't so bad is the fact that the top teams in the West, including the Lakers who are the odds on favorite in Vegas to win it all right now, are almost all jump shooting teams. The top West teams are also all among the most offensively efficient in the league (although to be fair again, the one team that shoots fewer jumpers is #1 in OE).
To add to that point, I looked up the shot selection %s of some of the top players in the league and found this for each of their "jump" numbers:
It's kind of a haphazard sampling, because I didn't see any links for sortable stats and had to click each player individually to get the numbers. And another caveat: I don't think a guy like Aldridge should be compared to non-bigs in this metric But I think there are two notable things about this:
1) Some of the best players in the game take a lot of jumpers and some don't. It appears there are many ways to skin that cat.
2) The Blazers' Aldridge, this year, is no mere jump shooter (in case you haven't seen the 'oop-school he has been conducting this year).
The Blazers are sort of a jump shooting team, but not exceptional in that category, and since many great teams and great players are jump shooters, I don't think the Blazers being a sort of jump shooting team should be considered a negative thing.