Efficiency is everything when talking about a great scorer. Many players can score 30+ points in the NBA but how many of them can do it efficiently? Taking 25 shots to score 30 isn’t always what you’d expect out of your best player, especially in the playoffs.
The playoffs are completely different from the regular season. The defense gets more suffocating, tough, and physical, and referees don’t call fouls that often. That’s when the best scorers in the world either take a step forward or disappear.
Throughout the course of history, a handful of the best players on earth have been able to be as efficient as usual – or even better – in the playoffs. Others, however, are far from what you’d expect. Today, we’ll speak at some NBA stars and the number of playoff games shooting fewer than 30% from the floor on their careers.
Michael Jordan: 4
Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time and one of the main reasons why we say this is because not only he holds the highest points-per-game average in NBA history (30.1) but also because he managed to do that much damage at such an efficient rate.
Jordan was an elite playoff performer. He never lost a series in the NBA Finals, won 6 rings, and 6 Finals MVP. But perhaps one of the most impressive things about his playoff performances was the fact that he only shot below 30% from the field 4 times.
Kawhi Leonard: 6
Kawhi Leonard has been drawing a lot of comparisons with Michael Jordan lately. And while his personality is quite the opposite, you could argue that there are plenty of similarities in their games. They both thrive off the midrange and are dominant defenders.
But perhaps the biggest resemblance between the two is the fact that, like Jordan, Kawhi Leonard is an extremely efficient scorer. However, he’s already surpassed Jordan’s number of games shooting below 30% from the field but most of those come from his early days in the league.
Stephen Curry: 7
Stephen Curry doesn’t get the praise and recognition he deserves among some NBA fans. He’s the greatest shooter of all time and like it or not, he’s changed the game forever. He’s who most young ballers want to be right now, and the league is more oriented towards the perimeter as days go by.
One of Curry’s most impressive traits is his efficiency. We’re talking about a guy who shoots over 8 three-pointers per game, yet somehow manages to knock down at least 40% of them. Thus far, he’s only shot below 30% in the playoffs 7 times.
Kevin Durant: 8
Kevin Durant is the ultimate cheat code. He’s a player with the skill set of a guard and the body of a center. That’s just not fair. Moreover, he’s a cold scorer and a top-3 pure shooter ever. How can you guard a 7-footer that can pull up and shoot over anybody?
Like all great scorers, Durant reeks of efficiency. He doesn’t need to take many shots to dominate his rival’s defense and he’s one of those few players who get even better in the playoffs and clutch-time situations. He’s only shot below 30% in the playoffs 8 times.
LeBron James: 9
LeBron James is on pace to become the player with most wins in the history of the NBA playoffs. He’s made it to the Finals 9 times (8 consecutive) and is a perfect 14-0 in the first round of the playoffs. What we’re trying to say is that the guy has played countless postseason games.
That’s why it’s so impressive to see that he’s only shot below 30% from the field int he playoffs 9 times throughout his 17-year career. LeBron has always been an efficient scorer – especially for a small forward – but this stat is just impressive.
Damian Lillard: 10
Damian Lillard continues to evolve. He puts a lot of work every single offseason and the scary part about him is that he’s still a work in progress. Now, he’s added Stephen Curry kind of range and is constantly pulling up – and knocking down shots – from the logo.
For a guy who takes that many three-pointers and that makes the most of his damage from isolation, it’s somewhat impressive to see that he’s only shot below 30% from the field in the playoffs. He’s made for the clutch and those kinds of situations, for sure.
Jerry West: 13
Jerry West had one of the most illustrious careers in basketball history. He was a dominant scorer who could also lock down the rival’s best player and he made a reputation for taking a step forward in the playoffs, even winning the Finals MVP award despite losing the series.
Nevertheless, West does hold some unimpressive records, like most Finals series losses (9). Also, he shot under 30% from the floor 13 times throughout his career, which is underwhelming considering he made the most of his damage from within the close range.
Magic Johnson: 14
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard of all time and it’s not even close. He was a 6’9” specimen that could run the point, play, and guard one through five. The league had never seen anything like him and even though we’ve now found similar players, none of them are as good as he was.
Johnson was a human highlight film with the rock on his hands. He could find gaps in places no other point guard could but he was never known for being exactly a dominant scorer. In fact, he shot below 30% in the playoffs 14 times throughout his career.
Kobe Bryant: 16
Kobe Bryant. The man, the legend, the greatest Laker of them all. There have been fewer scorers as dominant as Kobe Bryant, a guy that could single-handedly lead his team back into a game and whose determination to compete at the highest level made him an icon.
Then again, Kobe’s critics constantly slandered him for hogging a lot of shots and playing hero-ball, especially in the playoffs. That often translated into poor shooting outings or a lot of points in a lot of shots. He shot below 30% from the field in the playoffs 16 times.
Russell Westbrook: 16
You never know what version of Russell Westbrook you’re going to see. He’s one of the most athletic and talented players to ever live but his overconfidence and lack of awareness is his biggest rival. That and his poor mechanic as a shooter.
Westbrook tends to struggle a lot in the playoffs because, like many other great scorers and leaders, he tries to overdo things. He’s shot below 30% from the field 16 times and had never made it past the first round without Kevin Durant until this year.
Paul George: 19
Paul George has been drawing a lot of criticism lately and for very good reasons. He called himself ‘Playoff P’ and warned the league about what was about to come. Well, what came were terrible performances on both ends of the floor, especially when it came to knocking down three-pointers.
PG-13 has made a reputation for choking in the playoffs and, like Westbrook, he hadn’t gotten past the first round in quite some time until this season. He’s one of the best two-way players in the league and that’s why people demand so much from him. Thus far, he’s shot below 30% 19 times.
James Harden: 20
James Harden has never been an efficient scorer but that’s never stopped him from dominating. You know he’s going to brick some shots and turn the ball over a lot but he’s just too good to count him out, even in the playoffs. You live by Harden, you die by Harden.
The Rockets play a fast-paced offense and they have a lot of possessions per game so he’s likely to miss a lot of shots. He’s also made a reputation for underperforming in the playoffs, so he’s got a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season, especially after shooting below 30% from the field 20 times.