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Pat Connaughton, Stephen Curry among 12 catch-and-shoot leaders

Take a closer look at the top 12 catch-and-shoot scorers in the league.

Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton leads the NBA in scoring off catch-and-shoots at 7.8 points per game (min. 15 games played).

With Stephen Curry on the precipice of breaking the NBA’s all-time record for 3-pointers made, we’re taking a closer look at the top shooters in the league according to the player tracking data provided by Second Spectrum.

Today, we’ll break down the top catch-and-shoot scorers, before taking a closer look at the best pull-up shooters on Thursday. Spoiler Alert: Curry appears on both leaderboards.

So, who are the players that are highlighted on the scouting report as the ones not to leave on a double-team or a defensive rotation? Who are the players that run around multiple screens in order to get a sliver of daylight in order to launch a shot with the quickest of releases?

Here are the top 12 catch-and-shoot scorers (there was a three-way tie for 10th place) through games played on Monday, Dec. 13, with a minimum of 15 games played so far this season.

A look at the top 12 catch-and-shoot scorers as of Dec. 14.

Some players make this list thanks to great efficiency — see Patty Mills and Luke Kennard with effective field goal percentages north of 67% on catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Others make the list due to higher shot volume — see Nikola Vucevic, who averages the most catch-and-shoot field goal attempts at eight per game.

1 Pat Connaughton MIL 7.8 63.2 69.5%
2 Nikola Vucevic CHI 7.7 48.4 51.8%
3 Stephen Curry GSW 7.6 61.5 30.6%
4 Luke Kennard LAC 7.3 67.1 60.1%
T-5 Lauri Markkanen CLE 7.1 52.6 56.7%
T-5 Patty Mills BKN 7.1 67.7 51.8%
7 Kelly Oubre Jr. CHA 7.0 61.6 42.4%
T-8 Grayson Allen MIL 6.9 60.4 57.0%
T-8 Jaren Jackson Jr. MEM 6.9 54.4 47.1%
T-10 Carmelo Anthony LAL 6.8 60.5 53.4%
T-10 Duncan Robinson MIA 6.8 50.0 66.8%
T-10 Malik Beasley MIN 6.8 53.8 58.0%

At the top of the catch-and-shoot scoring list is Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton, who averages 7.8 points per game on 6.1 catch-and-shoot shot attempts per game, with nearly all of them coming from 3-point range. Just under 70% of Connaughton’s total shot attempts come on catch-and-shoots, compared to just over 4% being pull-ups. When we look at his shots dashboard, we see that 73 of Connaughton’s 76 catch-and-shoots have come from beyond the arc.

If we take it a step further and look at Connaughton’s passes dashboard, we can see that the majority of his passes come from Jrue Holiday (137 passes, 66 FGA, 55 of which are 3s) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (127 passes, 50 FGA, 38 of which are 3s). With teams sending help defenders to help build a wall to prevent Giannis from getting to the basket, it leaves shooters like Connaughton open on the perimeter.

Whether it’s a pass directly from Giannis or a swing pass to beat the rotating defenders, Connaughton is often wide open when he launches from beyond the arc. Only 19 of Connaughton’s 184 3-point attempts have had a defender within four feet when he attempted the shot; 80 came with the defender between 4-6 feet away and 85 came with the closest defender more than 6 feet away. Ironically, Connaughton has shot his lowest percentage (37.6%) when wide open compared to 46.5% with the closest defender less than 6 feet away.

Milwaukee is the only team in the league with two players ranked in the top 10 in catch-and-shoot scoring, with Grayson Allen tied for eighth at 6.9 points per game. The Nets would join them had Joe Harris remained healthy. Before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery and will keep him out 1-2 months, Harris led the league in catch-and-shooting scoring (8.1 ppg) and also would have topped this list with a 69.5% effective field goal percentage on his catch-and-shoots. Until Harris returns, Mills will be Brooklyn’s only representative on the leaderboard.

Of the top 12 catch-and-shoot scorers, Connaughton (69.5%), Duncan Robinson (66.8%) and Luke Kennard (60.1%) rank highest in catch-and-shoot frequency, with over 60% of their total shots coming on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Only three of the 12 players on the leaderboard have catch-and-shoot baskets account for less than half of their shots: Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. (47.1%), Charlotte’s Kelly Oubre Jr. (42.4%) and Curry (30.6%).

Curry is the biggest anomaly in this group as he is just as proficient in pull-up shooting (2.9 pull-up 3s per game) as he is on catch-and-shoots (2.5 catch-and-shoot 3s per game). It’s what makes him the greatest shooter of all-time because he can just as easily pull up for a deep 3-pointer in transition, shake his defender for a pull-up 3-pointer in the half-court (sometimes from 30+ feet away) or utilize multiple screens, catch the ball on the move and rise up for a 3-pointer from either wing. He’s got every 3-point shot in his bag.

Curry isn’t the only NBA 75 player on this catch-and-shoot list as Los Angeles’ Carmelo Anthony has been one of the top perimeter shooters in his first season with the Lakers. Anthony ranks 26th in the league in 3-point percentage at 41.2%, which is on pace to be a career-best percentage in his 19th NBA season.

Part of Carmelo’s surge in 3-point accuracy is the fact that he is shooting more catch-and-shoots than in any year we have player tracking data, going back to 2013-14.

A look at Carmelo Anthony’s catch-and-shoot frequency.

For the first time, over half of Anthony’s shots are coming on catch-and-shoot opportunities. It is part of a greater transformation for Anthony, who has gone from the primary scoring option for much of his career to a complimentary scorer in the latter stage of his career. While his usage has gone down (his 18.6% usage rate this season is a career-low), his efficiency has gone up (his 58.3% true shooting percentage is a career-high). Meanwhile, Anthony is just 848 points away from climbing to eighth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.