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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is the Effectiveness of Tim Duncan's Bank Shot Overrated?

During Phoenix' 94-87 victory over San Antonio last Sunday, ABC commentator Jeff Van Gundy made an intriguing and counterintuitive assertion about one of the game's most fundamentally sound players, declaring that Tim Duncan's bank shot is "overrated." Van Gundy said that defenders should not worry about that shot at all and instead back off of Duncan to prevent him from getting into the paint. I wonder if Van Gundy or anyone else has some numbers that would prove or disprove this. Duncan shot .546 from the field last season--the second best mark of his career--and his field goal percentage this year (.504) is just a tad below his career norm (.508). I have not tracked or charted Duncan's percentage from specific areas but my subjective impression the past couple years is that Duncan has not shot quite as well on his bank shots as he did early in his career but that he has made up for that by finishing very well on his close-in shots, which kind of goes along with Van Gundy's statement. It also seems to me that Duncan shoots the bank shot better at home; he likes to tee it up from a particular spot on the Spurs' logo that is painted on the wing. If anyone has some statistics regarding Tim Duncan's field goal percentage on bank shots I'd be very interested to see them.

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posted by David Friedman @ 8:40 PM



At Friday, March 14, 2008 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not sure how often he attempts a bankshot, but from the looks of his hotspot chart he's not very effective at the left or right wings.

I'm a huge fan of your blog btw, keep up the good work.

At Friday, March 14, 2008 4:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I followed that link but could not get the page to completely load. What percentage does it say that Duncan shoots from the left and right wings?

At Saturday, March 15, 2008 4:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a screencap of the 07-08 season for you: http://img341.imageshack.us/img341/2565/0708seasontdhotspotslb8.jpg

And as a comparison, the 06-07 season: http://img341.imageshack.us/img341/9796/0607seasontdhotspotsbu4.jpg

At Saturday, March 15, 2008 5:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double comment, but i knew there was something i was forgetting before; i meant to use an earlier season (not last season) as the comparison. The hotspots only go back to 2004, so here's the 2004 reg season hotspots for Duncan:


At Saturday, March 15, 2008 11:25:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


That is very interesting. Thank you for posting those screen shots. Assuming that whoever charted Duncan's shots did so accurately, during those three seasons Duncan did not shoot particularly well from the areas where he usually employs the bank shot. In fact, he did the vast majority of his high percentage shooting from within the paint, with the exception of a couple spots from which he did not have very many attempts by comparison.

At Tuesday, June 03, 2008 2:54:00 AM, Blogger Walton's Wisdom said...

That's an interesting point. I don't know which is more effective -- the Duncan bank shot or the Duncan low post shot. I do know that allowing him to shoot the bank shot keeps his free throw attempts down. While that would appear to be a good strategy, Duncan's free throw woes have been well-documented (even though he shoots close to 70%). I will say that Duncan seems to lose his aggressiveness and confidence when he goes through one of his brick-fests from the charity stripe.

At Tuesday, June 03, 2008 7:03:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Walton's Wisdom:

Based on my informal observations, Van Gundy's comments and the "hotspots" data it seems like Duncan's post up shots are more effective than his bank shot.

I agree that his game sometimes seems to be adversely affected when he is missing free throws. It is also hard to understand how a fundamentally sound player with a good shooting stroke can be so erratic from the free throw line.


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