# Nylon Calculus: Drivers, shooters, and the players who can do both

Last week, Jeff Siegel wrote about how Kemba Walker’s burgeoning ability to knock down 3-pointers off the dribble has opened up his offensive game. Walker has always been a good off-the-dribble shooter inside the arc but the ability to pull-up for 3-pointers behind a high screen forces the defense to adjust and makes his dribble penetration that much more effective.

The same recipe is one of the reasons Stephen Curry is such a nightmare to defend and, to a lesser degree, it’s the offensive staple for other lead ball-handlers like Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard. Go under the screen, and they’re stepping into an easy 3-pointer. Chase them over the top, and they’re already in the middle of your defense causing chaos. Switch, and you’ve likely put yourself at a disadvantage somewhere on the floor.

In general, catch-and-shoot jumpers are higher quality shots than off-the-dribble attempts but having a player who can pull-up and make 3-pointers efficiently is becoming an increasingly destructive offensive wrinkle. For players who are already comfortable attacking the basket, or hitting a spot-up 3 from the corner, being able to shoot off-the-dribble over the top seems like the must-have skill of the season.

The graph below is an attempt to visualize that relationship and find players who excel in both areas — scoring efficiently by attacking the basket and shooting long jumpers off the dribble. Every player who is averaging at least two drives per game and at least two pull-up shot attempts per game is show below. They are charted by their true shooting percentage in each scenario. Full disclosure, this is something of an apples to oranges comparison, well let’s say Granny Smith to Red Delicious. True shooting percentage on drives includes free throws because they are a crucial component of interior scoring, the pull-up true shooting percentage is really just effective field goal percentage since I did not attach any shooting fouls to those attempts.

The team logos make it pretty easy to draw quick conclusions. Obviously, the Golden State Warriors are incredibly loaded when it comes to this skill combination. As expected, Stephen Curry is above average efficiency, both on drives and pull-up jumpers. Kevin Durant is as well, and Klay Thompson is in the ballpark, although he’s slightly below average on pull-ups to this point. Having three players who can exert such tremendous pressure on the defense with the ball in their hands is almost unfair.

At the other end of the spectrum you can see teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls who all feature several ball-handlers whose efficiency is below average in both scenarios. The return of Jrue Holiday clearly bodes well for the New Orleans Pelicans offense but Anthony Davis’ performance in these scenarios is pretty eye-popping in its own right.

If we filter down to the real high-usage players, those who have played at least 200 minutes and average at least 15.0 combined drives and pull-up shot attempts per game, we wind up with this group: John Wall, J.J. Barea, Kyrie Irving, CJ McCollum, Isaiah Thomas, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, James Harden, Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler. There are a few surprises here — Barea having himself a year, Wall getting consistent on pull-ups — but mostly we’re looking at some of the best perimeter scorers in the league.

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These skills have always been impactful to some degree but the importance of having them overlap in a single player seems to be of increasing value. The arms race between offenses and defenses never stops and the more possible modes of scoring you can pack into the player with the ball in his hands, the bigger an edge the offense has.

Drivers. Shooters. Get you a man who can do both.