Anyone casually acquainted with the parlance of the game of basketball is well aware of the negative connotation the term “chucker” holds, and players to whom this term is applied are very likely to make an effort to shake the label in short order. In perhaps the most famous recent example, Kobe Bryant responded to criticism over his shot selection and selfish style of play by taking an extremely passive approach on offense during the 2006 NBA Playoffs. In the second half of a deciding first-round game, Kobe took just three shots as the Lakers lost by 31 points to the Suns.
While there are indeed individuals whose shot selection has been questionable at best, the fact remains that there is a certain amount of irrationality possessed by the game’s greatest players that grants them the confidence to take -- and make -- low-percentage shots that few others would ever dare attempt: Larry Bird’s one-footed, high-arcing shot from behind the basket and over the backboard, Michael Jordan’s mid-air switch from his right hand to his left in the 1991 NBA Finals (more commonly known as “The Move”) and, more recently, Stephen Curry’s nightly assault on the accepted definition of “highlight-worthy” shooting. These remarkable shots are all products of a superstar’s willingness to ignore what most would consider a “good” shot, let alone a high-percentage one.
With that in mind, it is important to view the term “chucker” as having a more ambiguous connotation. The game’s best players are encouraged -- and expected -- to take a large volume of shots, and many others are forced into taking more inefficient shots than they would prefer due to an absence of other viable scoring options on their team’s roster. The term “chucker” is probably best applied, at least in the negative sense of the word, to high-volume scorers who shoot a low percentage despite playing alongside other capable scorers.
The players included among the most indiscriminate chuckers will therefore be a fairly broad sampling of NBA talent, including players rightly considered superstars along with others whose exploits are viewed in a far different light. With apologies to Hall-of-Fame chuckers like Tommy Heinsohn and Pete Maravich, this list will be limited to the three-point era, as the preponderance of chuckers has grown immeasurably with the added incentive for long-distance shooting, not to mention the fact that the game’s early days hardly featured many efficient shooters at all (the league-wide shooting average was never higher than 45 percent until the 1969-70 season).
15 Honorable Mention
There have been several players since the addition of the three-point line to post relatively unsightly shooting percentages while putting up big scoring numbers, but the unsightliness of these players' shooting percentages is mitigated by made three-pointers along with an inherent ability to get to the free-throw line on a regular basis. The players to make honorable mention for this list are the best kind of chuckers: Despite shooting a low percentage from the floor, these players generate other scoring opportunities and make efficient use of the three-pointer.
14 Latrell Sprewell
13 Brandon Jennings
12 Ron Mercer
11 Nick Young
10 Stephon Marbury
Marbury’s NBA career was unfortunately marked by an inability to deliver on his immense talent and it now seems likely that the most memorable part of his professional basketball career will be his improbable resurrection as a massive superstar in the Chinese Basketball Association. During a 13-year NBA career that ended following his age-31 season, Marbury earned two All-Star appearances and racked up a total of 16,297 points while shooting just 43.3 percent from the field.
9 Steve Francis
8 Kemba Walker
7 Ray Williams
6 Russell Westbrook
A four-time All-Star and a consistent candidate to win the MVP Award, Westbrook’s breakneck style of play leads to plenty of difficult shots, explaining his unimpressive career shooting percentage of 43.3 percent. A ball-dominant point guard in every sense, Westbrook posted the second-highest usage rate during any single season in NBA history during the 2014-15 campaign, trailing only Kobe Bryant’s 2005-06 season and ahead of every season of Michael Jordan’s and Allen Iverson’s respective careers. With Kevin Durant out for all but 27 games that season, it made sense for Westbrook to pick up the slack on offense, but his career usage rate still ranks among the highest of all-time despite playing alongside one of the best players in the game today.
5 Jamal Mashburn
4 Jordan Crawford
3 John Wall
2 Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson, the 2001 NBA MVP and an 11-time All-Star, led the league in usage rate during five seasons and ranks third all-time in the category -- trailing only Michael Jordan and Dwyane Wade -- at 31.8 percent. Of the 11 players who registered a usage rate over 30 percent, Iverson’s career field goal percentage of 42.5 percent is easily the lowest.
With 18 NBA seasons and 16,409 career points scored, Stackhouse was clearly a player who relied on volume shooting to post solid scoring numbers. A two-time All-Star while playing for Detroit, Stackhouse twice ranked among the top 10 in scoring (finishing second in 2000-01 with 29.8 points per game), but he also was among the top 10 in field goals missed (his 1,153 misses led the league in 2000-01) and turnovers (leading the league twice in 1999-00 and again in 2000-01).
1 Antoine Walker
One of the most polarizing players in Celtics history, Walker somehow shimmied his way into the hearts of many fans despite taking consistently head-scratching shots and shooting an awfully low percentage from the field. During a three-year stretch in which the 6'8" forward earned two All-Star nods, Walker led the league in three-point attempts in three consecutive seasons while shooting just 34.5 percent from deep. His 15,647 career points required a total of 14,710 shots, and almost a third of those shots came from behind the three-point line -- often several feet behind the line.
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