Best Rim Finishers in 2021

As I've thought many a times watching the Raptors, Norman Powell is an absurdly good rim finisher for not really getting any mention of it, so I thought I ought to calculate "who is actually the best in the NBA?" I knew it wasn't going to be Mr. Powell, nor was he going to be even close using my calculation, but using the top 300 players in the NBA via minutes played, all I can confirm is that I am greatly biased and desperately need my stats to maintain a grip on reality, as he ranked a completely neutral 180th out of the 300. My calculation isn't too complex, I measured rim attempts (shots within 3 feet) per 100 possessions, and then multiplied by their rim FG%, minus .538%, which is currently the league average EFG%. Everyone should in theory be above that .538% mark, as what's easier than a layup? Some aren't of course, but for the most part I think it's resulted in a pretty good list. #1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (12.7 attempts/100, 82.4% at the rim)

It should come as no surprise that Giannis is near the top, but I do think it's come to be a little underappreciated how good he is. Antetokounmpo is currently 4th in attempts and 3rd in percentage (if you remove small samples), while playing full time minutes and just doing the same thing he always does. He's, by my metric, 23% more effective than the 2nd best rim finisher in the league, who is... #2 Christian Wood (9.4 attempts/100, 84.9% at the rim)

Christian Wood may come as a surprise that he's near the top, Before I started this, there were a clear two who were going to be at the top of the league, while the other guy is coming next, it is pretty interesting that Wood slipped in at the 2nd spot. Among the top 10 players, Christian Wood at 214 lbs is the only player on the list under 240 lbs. He has missed a lot of games so it's a bit of a small sample size, but for his career he's actually taking a lower percentage of shots at the rim than he normally does, and he's a career 79% shooter from within 3 feet, so I would air more toward the side that he is actually just elite and people have just been underrating him more than they should. #3 Zion Williamson (17.6 attempts/100, 68.1% at the rim)

Zion is taking an absurdly-higher amount of attempts at the rim than anyone else in the NBA. I shouldn't say anyone, Andre Drummond is there at 15.9 attempts, but he's barely above a league average EFG% so he's somehow all the way down at 248th in my ranking. But after Drummond, Clint Capela is 3rd with almost 5 less attempts. His efficiency isn't elite, but when you consider how many shots he's just able to throw up it's definitely impressive. That's almost 1/5th of New Orleans possessions are just Zion shooting at the rim and 68% equates to a 136 ORTG, so, uh, let's hope you can shut New Orleans down the other 4/5ths of the time. #4 through #7 Robert Williams (8.3 attempts/100, 81.0%) Rudy Gobert (10.4 attempts/100, 75.4%) Montrezl Harrell (10.1 attempts/100, 75.8%) DeAndre Jordan (8.0 attempts/100, 81.5%)

With the top 3, there was a clear tier one another, and then follow up group. This is the follow group, and the order will change game-by-game, but they do have a bit of a cushion between the next group of guys, so I decide to group them all. Just based on attempts and percentage you can see some similarities. Time Lord and DeAndre Jordan's roles are both very similar in their respective offences, surrounded by very good talent, they're just the sneaky 4th/5th option that can power home lobs. Gobert is that to an extent, but is given a little more liberty to take a step or two with the ball, equating in his extra 2 attempts and slightly lower percentage. Trez is much more of a self-creator than the others, but I find it interesting how it all equates to the same value. Also, I know DeAndre Jordan is in as-perfect-a-situation as one can be in with his offensive skills, but I do think it's still impressive with his age. I don't want to make this too long, so I'll wrap it up with a few other notes: Speaking of doing it "at his age," LeBron is 9th right now, just behind Jarrett Allen in 8th. After Christian Wood, Bam Adebayo has the best FG% at the rim (84.3%) and is 10th overall. James Wiseman is 11th, the highest (by far) among rookies. His top 3 compatriots LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards are 126th and 206th respectively. The highest player smaller than Christian Wood is Jake Layman at 20th. He is a very good rim finisher, just under 72% for his career, but he is posting both his highest attempt rate and FG% of his career. Perhaps just an outlier, as he has only played 372 minutes. Next would be Zach LaVine at 26th. De'Aaron Fox (37th) and Ja Morant (40th) are the top 2 for the under-200 club. I don't know if this is surprising, as looking at numbers he's been pretty consistent, but Doug McDermott is 48th. He is 8.1 attempts, which is as much as the earlier mentioned Robert Williams and DeAndre Jordan. Just never really thought of it as a huge part of his game. Going to the bottom of the list, Nickiel Alexander-Walker is Mr. 300, Jordan McLaughlin and Aaron Holiday are right ahead of him, none of which are too shocking. What is a little more shocking is DeMarcus Cousins at 297th, former Slam Dunk champion Glenn Robinson III at 296th, "the next LeBron" Stanley Johnson at 295th, and tragically Derrick Rose at 293rd. That's all I've got, written by Will Smith, data gathered from basketball-reference.com, and images were gathered just through googling the respective players' names. You can view the full data and an ugly graphic I made here. Thanks for reading!

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