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Top 15 Most Thoughtless Chuckers in NBA History

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 m

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).

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15 Honorable Mention 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Michael Redd all have career shooting percentages at or below 45 percent but also have a true shooting percentage (an advanced stat that measures overall shooting efficiency by considering 2s, 3s and free throws) over 55 percent. Each of these players has taken more than their fair share of shots, but it can be easily argued that their stellar production is more than adequate justification for their volume shooting.

14 Latrell Sprewell 

via complex.com

Latrell Sprewell always played a lot of minutes and was looked at as the primary scoring option during the bulk of his time in Golden State and New York, but that hardly means that his volume shooting was entirely warranted or even defensible. A four-time All-Star over 13 NBA seasons, Sprewell retired with 16,712 career points on just 42.5 percent shooting, good for an average of 18.3 points per game while requiring an average of 15.7 field goal attempts to produce that scoring output.

13 Brandon Jennings 

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Since entering the league in 2009, Jennings has never been bashful about taking more than his fair share of shots -- especially when those shots come from behind the three-point line. A career 39.1 percent shooter from the floor, Jennings' shot selection overwhelmingly favors opportunities from behind the arc despite his career three-point field goal percentage of 35.1 percent. While he only has five NBA seasons under his belt, the point guard has ranked among the top 10 in field goals missed during three different seasons.

12 Ron Mercer 

via buzzfeed.com

As a lottery selection playing for the late-1990s Boston Celtics, Mercer was immediately thrust into a role as a focal point on offense. Over eight NBA seasons, however, the former University of Kentucky star never emerged as an efficient scorer, averaging 42.9 percent on field goals and 25 percent from behind the three-point line while taking 13.4 shots per game. Despite the abundance of shots, Mercer only managed to post a career scoring average of 13.6 points per game and was out of the league by age 28.

11 Nick Young 

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A 6'7" shooting guard, Young is a black hole on offense who is simply too enamored with the three-point line to ever be regarded as anything resembling an efficient scorer. A career 42.3 percent shooter who has averaged more than five three-point field goal attempts per game with the Lakers, Young’s status as an unrepentant chucker is further underscored by the fact that he owns a career average of just 1.1 assists per game and undoubtedly believes the solution the Lakers’ current woes would be more shot attempts from the player who chooses to call himself "Swaggy P."

10 Stephon Marbury 

via rnbmagazine.com

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.

A ball-dominant point guard, Marbury’s usage rate was consistently north of 25 percent and even approached 30 percent during his relatively brief time with the New Jersey Nets. While he posted a career average of 19.3 points per game, Marbury needed 15.7 shot attempts per game and was always known as a point guard who was most comfortable with the ball in his hands.

9 Steve Francis 

via ballerball.com

What began as a promising career quickly turned south, as the three-time All-Star found himself out of the league at the age of 30. Not only did Francis shoot just 42.9 percent over the course of his career, but he also ranked among the top four in turnovers on five separate occasions, leading the lead in 2002-03 with a total of 299. Francis did manage to put up over 10,446 career points, but his status as a volume shooter simply cannot be denied.

8 Kemba Walker 

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker, a lottery selection out of the University of Connecticut, began his NBA career on a terrible Charlotte team that won just seven games during his rookie season. The talent on the roster has improved since that first season, but Walker has yet to become anything resembling an efficient scorer, posting a career average of 16.4 points per game while shooting just 39.9 percent from the field. Despite the poor shooting numbers, Walker still takes over 14 shots per game and has a usage rate (a percentage of the team’s plays dedicated to the player while he is on the floor) of 25.6 percent.

7 Ray Williams 

via everyjoe.com

In describing his former teammate’s playing style, Len Elmore offered an apt assessment, calling him a “consummate scorer” despite the fact that “at times he would take shots you wouldn’t necessarily agree with.” Despite his lack of discipline in terms of shot selection, Williams was known as a superb defender and a gifted passer, and he was routinely among the league leaders in assists and steals during his 10-year NBA career.

6 Russell Westbrook 

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Of course, there is a very good reason why Westbrook is considered among the game’s best players despite a low shooting percentage and his volume shooting habits, as the advanced stats demonstrate his value a bit more accurately. Westbrook undeniably takes a lot of shots, but his true shooting percentage (a stat that takes 2s, 3s and free throws into account to determine “true” efficiency) of 52.7 percent is a bit kinder than the traditional numbers seem to suggest. Still, Westbrook’s game is not without its flaws, as he has finished in the top five in turnovers during six of his seven full NBA seasons and has twice led the league in missed field goals.

5 Jamal Mashburn 

via thebrokencelebrity.com

A talented player who could have been so much more if not for injuries, Mashburn’s career shooting percentage of 41.8 percent is among the very lowest among players who generated a usage rate over 25 percent during the course of their NBA careers. Retiring with an impressive scoring average of 19.1 points per game, Mashburn was one of the more inefficient players of his generation, taking over 10,000 shots during his career but only totaling 11,644 total points.

4 Jordan Crawford 

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

When an NBA player finds himself out of the league after just four NBA seasons that include stints with four different franchises, it is often true that the player is clearly talented but also deeply flawed. Such was the case with Jordan Crawford, a first-rounder out of Xavier who rarely saw a shot he didn’t like over his brief NBA career. Shooting just a hair over 40 percent while generating a career usage rate of 25.9 percent, Crawford never lacked in confidence while averaging 12.2 points per game, but he needed 11.2 shots to get there.

3 John Wall 

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall, Washington’s immensely talented point guard and a former top overall draft pick, is still just 25 and has plenty of time to shake his status as a player whose scoring relies on plenty of shots and a high usage rate (26.1 percent over his career thus far). So far, however, Wall has only shot 43 percent from the field despite his impressive ability to get to the rim, scoring 17.6 points while taking nearly 15 shots per game.

2 Allen Iverson 

via genius.com

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.

Of course, Iverson’s low-percentage shooting did not deter him at all throughout his 14-year career, as he averaged over 20 shots per game on nine different occasions. It’s also worth noting that Iverson -- despite his inefficient style of play -- single-handedly took Philadelphia to the NBA Finals in 2001 and was routinely atop the NBA in minutes per game and retired with an average of 41.1, good for fourth all-time.

2. Jerry Stackhouse

via netssource.com

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).

Ultimately, Stackhouse finished with a career average of 16.9 points per game but only shot 40.9 percent from the field, owing largely to the fact that the majority of his shots came from mid-range. During his last three seasons with Detroit, Stackhouse’s usage rate was 32.2 percent, trailing only Allen Iverson and ahead of Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone during that same time period. For comparison’s sake, Shaq took just 10 more shots than Stackhouse over that three-year span but still managed to outscore him by over 1,200 points.

1 Antoine Walker 

via bleacherreport.com

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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Top 15 Most Thoughtless Chuckers in NBA History