John Hollinger had a cool column today about the league’s most underrated shooters, as defined by secondary percentage. I’ll let Hollinger explain the stat:
Chauncey Billups shoots 43.9 percent, and yet he’s one of the most valuable offensive players in the league. That’s a fact. But I’ve had an unusual difficulty explaining it to people concisely. Yes, he has a great True Shooting Percentage, but that’s not quite the entire answer. Lots of players have great TS percentages, and Billups is pretty much the only one to do so while shooting such a low percentage from the floor.
I tend to say that "He shoots a lot of free throws and 3s," or, more precisely, "He makes a lot of free throws and 3s." But that, too, seems unwieldy. What we need is a single tool, a simple two-word explainer that shows how a player like Billups can be such a devastating weapon while missing nearly three-fifths of his field goal attempts.
It turns out we have it, and it’s something called "secondary percentage." First mooted, as far as I can tell, by my Basketball Prospectus successor and occasional ESPN.com contributor Kevin Pelton 15 months ago, the idea is to simply take the difference between a player’s TS% and his field goal percentage.
Baseball fans will recognize this instantly as a knockoff of Bill James’ "secondary average" formula, which in one number explains all the things a player does — besides hit for average — to contribute to his offensive value.
I’m sure you don’t want to hear it, but not only is Billups leading the league this year, his secondary percentage would be the best season all-time. In 2005-06, his secondary percentage was third-best all-time.
Anyway, I decided to see how this year’s Pistons’ stack up.
DaJuan Summers (11.2 percent) leads the team. It’s a small sample, but if you want to make a case he should get more playing time, this is probably your best weapon.
Among rotation players, Ben Gordon has the best secondary percentage (11.0). So, I guess that’s encouraging.
Unsurprisingly, Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown have negative secondary percentages.
To see every Pistons’ secondary percentage, see below the jump.