Usage Rate Theory: D-Wade

Usage rate simply conveys the amount of plays used by a specific player when he’s on the court.  A commonly held belief in the basketball world is that as usage increases shooting percentage decreases and vice-versa.

A defense can more easily double team the focal point of an offense than the fifth scoring option.  An extreme example would be the mid-’90s Bulls.  Imagine that Luc Longley was their go-to guy and Michael Jordan was an afterthought.  With so many shots attempted Longley’s field goal percentage would decline dramatically in the face of defensive pressure.  Conversely if Jordan took five shots per game he would have made four of them.  MJ would obliterate the FG% record in this scenario.

A real world example is taking place in Miami with Dwyane Wade.  The two seasons before LeBron James joined the Heat Wade was taking 21 shots per night.  His effective field goal percentage was 51% (just above league average).  Since he was scoring 28 points per game Wade’s high usage on average teams was more than acceptable to coach Spoelstra.

Compare the pre-LeBron era to this year.  D-Wade is taking only 15 shots/game the last two years while posting career highs in eFG% each season.  At age thirty-two Wade is among the top ten in field goal percentage in the NBA for the first time in his career.  Turns out sidekicks LeBron and Chris Bosh are a bit more helpful than Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal.

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