Shooting in the Bubble

As the NBA bubble concluded this month, we wanted to take a look at the top ten shooting teams and evaluate their performance in the postseason. As expected, most of the teams on this list found at least some success in the playoffs.

#10 Toronto Raptors 

The Toronto Raptors finished number ten in shooting with a 42.2 field goal percentage in the bubble. The Raptors ended the regular season second in the Eastern Conference, but left the playoffs after a close seven-game conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics. Norman Howell led the team with the highest three-point average at 39 percent. While the Raptors finished tenth in field goal shooting, success at the free-throw line pushed them a little closer to the top in average total shooting. 

#9 Boston Celtics 

The Boston Celtics beat the Raptors in a thrilling game seven to advance to this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics had a 45.4 field goal percentage at the conclusion of this year’s season putting them in ninth place on our list. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics in both points per game (25.7) and rebounds per game (10). Despite a lower field goal percentage, the Celtics tied the Denver Nuggets for the second best free-throw average of 81.6 percent, which undoubtedly helped them win some close games down the stretch. 

#8 Indiana Pacers 

Coming in at number eight, the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers just barely outshot the Celtics with a 45.5 field goal percentage. Doug McDermott held the team's highest three-point percentage at 43.5. The Pacers finished the regular season fairly strong, but couldn’t muster a win in the postseason. New head coach, Nate Bjorkgren will look to correct this drought next year.

#7 Milwaukee Bucks 

The Bucks tied the Heat with a 46 field goal percentage. While they are number seven based on this ranking, poor free-throw shooting downgraded them to the lowest total shooting average of these top ten teams at 59.2 percent. After leading the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season the Bucks unfortunately battled some tough injuries and couldn’t get past the Heat in the conference semifinals. 

#6 Miami Heat

While tied with the Bucks for field goal percentage (46%), the Heat finished the season on top in terms of free-throw shooting with an impressive 82.5 percent. While not finishing as one of the best shooting teams this season and facing an uphill battle with a lower seed, the Heat made an incredible run to the championship series led by Jimmy Butler averaging 22.2 points per game. The Heat came up just short to the Lakers in a close six-game series.

#5 Denver Nuggets 

The Denver Nuggets came in with a 47.3 field goal percentage, earning them number five on our list. The Nuggets had the highest total shooting percentage with 64.3 percent largely due to the second-highest free throw percentage at 81.6 percent. Jamal Murray led the team in highest scoring with an impressive 26.5 points per game. 

#4 Dallas Mavericks 

Number four on our list, the Dallas Mavericks, finished with a 47.3 field goal percentage. The Mavs ended the season with the lowest free-throw average (72.3) significantly contributing to a lower position in average total shooting. The shining star for the Mavericks office, Luka Doncic, averaging 31 points per game, carried them to the playoffs, but wasn’t enough to get them through the first round.

#3 Los Angeles Clippers 

Breaking our top three, the Los Angeles Clippers had a 47.4 field goal percentage at the end 2019-2020 season. The Clippers’ free-throw percentage of 79.8 helped elevate their total shooting to one of the bests in our top ten.  Unfortunately, this consistent shooting couldn’t give them the edge they needed to get past the Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals. 

#2 Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz come in at a close second to the Lakers with a 48.7 field goal percentage. The Jazz not only managed to shoot this accurately, but did so while attempting almost 46 percent of their shots from behind the three-point line. Bojan Bogdanović led the team’s three-point efforts shooting over 41 percent while Donovan Mitchell led the team in points scored with 36.6 points per game. While accurate shooting wasn’t enough to carry them deep into the postseason, it was the spark that gave them some extra games at the end. 

#1 Los Angeles Lakers 

First in our top ten are this year’s NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. There’s no surprise the Lakers find themselves at the top of our list after a phenomenal season from start to finish.  The Lakers had an impressive 48.9 field goal percentage in the bubble and hit 75.8 percent from the free-throw line. The Lakers victory in a six-game series with the Heat puts them back on top for the first time since 2010.  

Congrats to the Lakers for bringing home this year’s Championship title! This was an interesting year to say the least, but as we see from this list, accurate shooting continues to play a major role in team performance. Though this shortened offseason doesn’t leave much room for training we look forward to the quick return to play!