The NBA's Best Offensive Players by Type of Play

After years of hype and not-quite-living-up-to-his-potential, it seems that things are finally clicking for Joel Embiid. Anthony Davis, LeBron, and the Lakers figured out just how difficult the big man can be to stop this past Wednesday night as they lost their first road game since last season - a performance that also opened my eyes to exactly how well Embiid has been playing.

Coming off that performance, I thought it might be fun to do a mini-dive into some different offense metrics, and see if, in Joel’s case, the numbers back up the eye-test - and what other players have also popped to open the 2021 season!

Volume vs Efficiency by Offensive Play Type

Beginning with Post-Ups, as a tip to Embiid, and continuing all the way to Pick and Roll Ballhandling, I pulled down metrics for each qualified player by play type from the NBA Advanced Stats portal. With that data in hand, I found the view most suitable for at-a-glance interpretation was a simple one - plotting per-game volume of possessions for that play type against points per possession. This view lends itself very well to a “four quadrants” interpretation: players in the top right are going to the “best”, top left are effective but underused, bottom left are ineffective but only lightly used, and players in the bottom right are the worst - ineffective, and using way too many possessions at the same time!

Post Up Offense

Transition Offense

Isolation Offense

Spot-up Offense

Cutting Offense

Pick-and-Roll Handler Offense