Each Tuesday throughout the season, we’ll break down the leaders in a specific statistical category — digging into player tracking, play type and shot type data to go beyond the box score to highlight some of the game’s top performers. This week we’ll focus on some of the league’s most prolific drivers, a list that includes Luka Doncic, De’Aaron Fox, Ja Morant and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Through games played on Sunday, Nov. 13, there are 11 players averaging at least 15 drives per game, with the trio of Gilgeous-Alexander (23.9), Morant (22.8) and Doncic (22.2) sitting well above the field at over 22 drives per game.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering that those same three players led the NBA in drives last season — Gilgeous-Alexander (23.9), Doncic (22.2) and Morant (20.9) – with SGA and Doncic putting up identical numbers through 12 games this season.
2022-23 Leaders – Drives Per Game
|Kevin Porter Jr.||HOU||13||16.2||7.5||38.8||1.5|
Jalen Brunson has made a significant leap in drives per game as he ranked 19th last season (13.6 drives in 31.9 minutes per game) while teammates with Doncic in Dallas, and he now ranks fourth just behind Doncic at 17.8 drives in 32.7 minutes per game in his first season in New York.
Last season, Morant led the NBA in points in the paint (16.6 ppg) — the most on record for a guard, with data going back to 1996-97 — due in large part to his drives to the basket. Through the first four weeks of play this season, Morant ranks seventh in points in the paint (14.5 ppg), while Gilgeous-Alexander leads all guards at 17.1 points per game, which ranks third overall behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson.
SGA is scoring 17.1 points in the paint per game.
Over the last 25 years, the only players to average more are Shaq, Giannis and Zion. pic.twitter.com/wUm4qq11TE
— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) November 15, 2022
Most points on drives
Morant leads all players in both field goals attempted (12.5 per game) and points scored (16.2 per game) on drives so far this season, edging out both Gilgeous-Alexander (15.4 ppg) and Doncic (15.3 ppg). The scary part is Morant still has room for improvement.
Last season, he shot 51% on his drives to the basket. This season, he’s at 46.7% through 12 games. If Morant can bring his conversion rate near last season’s level, he could put more distance between himself and everyone else.
2022-23 Leaders – Points Per Game on Drives
Morant’s scoring on drives is boosted by the fact that he draws fouls on 11% of his drives, helping him earn 5.1 free throw attempts per game on drives, which is second only to Giannis (6.1 per game), who is fouled on a staggering 21.3% of his drives.
Highest efficiency on drives
When it comes to scoring efficiency on drives, three players stand out that combine high volume and high shooting percentage: Doncic, Fox and Donovan Mitchell.
While Doncic (15.3 ppg) ranks third in scoring on drives behind Morant (16.2) and Gilgeous-Alexander (15.4), he is right on their heels despite averaging only 8.8 field goal attempts on drives per game, compared to 12.5 for Morant and 11.3 for Gilgeous-Alexander. Doncic is shooting 64.8% on his drives so far this season, which is on pace to be a career-best for the fifth-year guard.
Luka Doncic — Year-By-Year Drive Stats
Fox narrowly edges out Doncic for the highest field-goal percentage on drives among the 53 players averaging at least 10 drives per game so far this season.
Through his first 11 games, Fox is averaging career highs in points per game (25.5) as well as every shooting percentage: field goals (54.8%), 3-pointers (37.5%), free throws (83%) and shooting on drives (65%).
Fox has been one of the league’s fastest players with the ball in his hands since entering the NBA in 2017. That speed has enabled him to consistently beat opponents off the dribble on drives to the basket. However, as a rookie, he converted on only 41% of his shots off drives. As his game continued to develop, Fox has steadily improved that mark, and is now converting better than any player in the league.
2022-23 Leaders – FG% on Drives
During his first five NBA seasons, Mitchell (then with the Utah Jazz) ranked as high as third (10.4 ppg in 2018-19) and no lower than 13th (9.7 ppg in 2019-20) in scoring average on drives. Through his first 11 games as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mitchell is averaging career highs in both points per game on drives (11.8) and field-goal percentage on drives (63.8%).
While Mitchell was consistently a top drive scorer, he was not always efficient in his scoring during his time in Utah. He shot between 45% and 48% in his first four seasons before posting his career-high of 53.9% last season. He’s currently on pace to best that mark by 10%, which may be unlikely over the course of an 82-game season. It does show how well the Cavaliers’ offense suits him over his first month in his new digs.