NBA's top 10 floor-spacers

If you've spent any time courtside in the middle of an NBA game, you've probably heard it before.


Coaches, players and even fans will shout it at the top of their lungs when an opposing team's sharpshooter breaks free off the ball. Find him, put a body on him. Now.

You have to respect the shooter. But have you ever wondered which players get the most respect?

Good news: We can now track it scientifically. Stats LLC has privately crunched the data from SportVU player-tracking cameras in all 29 arenas last season and generated two advanced metrics to assess a player's gravitational pull on a defense.

The first, called "gravity score," quantifies how closely a player's defender sticks to him off the ball. Generally speaking, bigs have higher gravity scores because their primary defender must also protect the basket and muscle for post position. They rarely let the big get too far away. On the other hand, guards typically have lower gravity scores simply because defenders have more liberty to shade off their guy on the perimeter.

The second metric, called "distraction score," quantifies how much a player's defender is willing to help off the ball to stop the ball handler. The worse he is as a shooter, the more likely his defender will be distracted by the ball handler. To shed light on who are the most effective floor-spacers in the NBA, I created a composite score that combines the two metrics. The result is what I've called "respect rating." For reference, the average point guard checked in with a 62.0 rating and centers registered an average 57.8 rating.

As I outlined Wednesday, the most "respected" players aren't necessarily elite shooters. Last season, Dwyane Wade ranked 21st among all players, thanks in part to his elite cutting ability off the ball. On Thursday, Kevin Pelton identified the gravitational outliers, players who surprised us with their respect rating.

Now it's time to reveal the top 10 in respect rating. To be clear, the list below isn't necessarily cataloguing the best shooters in the NBA, nor should it be treated that way. Rather, this list captures which players pulled the defense toward them the most off the ball. What's fascinating is that this metric ignores the box score completely and relies solely on optical tracking. This is the NBA in 2014.

So, which players generated the most respect off the ball? Let's take a look at the NBA's pre-eminent floor-spacers.


1. Stephen Curry | G | Golden State Warriors

Respect rating: 66.4