A field goal in basketball has a simple definition. It refers to any 2 or 3-point basket scored without shooting from a free throw. That means that scoring baskets through slam dunks, shots from outside the three-point line, layups, and other shooting moves count as a field goal – only goals from free throws don’t.
There are only two types of field goals, however: two-point field goals and three-point field goals, depending on where the shooter stood with respect to the three-point line.
Most of the greatest NBA players in the world, such as Michael Jordan, LeBron, and Kobe, are rated or acknowledged based on their ability to make field goals in and out of the three-point line.
Making field goals consistently is so important that the field goal percentage (FGP) is perhaps the most important metric for rating player efficiency on the court.
What does Field Goal Percentage Mean?
Before defining field goal percentage, you need to understand two other important metrics called field goals attempted (FGA) and field goals made (FGM).
FGM is the number of field goals a player successfully hits, and FGA is the number of field goals a player attempts, successful or not.
Field goal percentage (FG% or FGP) is the ratio of successful field goals to the number of attempts within a specified period. It is used to measure a player’s efficiency on the court and remains one of the most important statistics in measuring a player’s performance in a game.
You can calculate FG% as:
Field Goal Percentage = (Field Goals Made / Field Goals Attempted) x100 %
FG% = FGM/FGA × 100%
An Example: If you hit 15 field goals from 28 shots in a game, your field goal percentage will be
FG% = ( 15 / 28 ) x100 % = 53.57%
This would mean you scored just over half of the shots you attempted in that game. Any FGP above 40% is highly respectable, even in the NBA.
Types of 2-Point Shots
Two-point field goals are shots taken inside or on the three-point line apart from free throws. If the player’s foot is on the three-point line when they start their shot and they score, it will be counted as a two-point field goal. The most common types of 2- point shots are:
This is when an offensive player runs up to the basket and tries to score a two-point field goal inside the paint area without touching the rim.
Dunk is when an offensive player leaps under the basket and hangs up on the rim for a finish to score a two-point field goal.
A hook shot is when an offensive player puts one hand away from the defender and shoots over their head in a bid to score a two-point field goal.
A floater is achieved when an offensive player drives up to the basket but stops midway to float the ball as high as possible to go over the defense.
A jump shot is when an offensive player shoots the ball wherever they are on the court but still inside the three-point line and tries to score a two-point field goal. They are categorized as leaning jump shots, fadeaway jump shots, normal jump shots, and bank shots.
Types of 3-Point Shots
Three-point field goals are when an offensive player shoots the ball when his feet are placed behind the three-point line. If the player’s foot is on the line, it won’t be counted as a 3-point shot. The following are the types of 3-point shots:
This is the most common way players make 3-pointers because of the difficulty in trying the dunk or layup without stepping in the three-point line.
This shot is more common with taller players because it is more difficult for defenders to block when the offensive player’s body is sideways. The main types of hook shots are the jump hook and skyhook.
Top 3 NBA Players with The Most Field Goals off All Time
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LA Lakers – Retired (15837 FGM)
Even though he has retired since the 1980s, Kareem still holds the record for most field goals made in the NBA. The most noticeable attribute about Kareem was his height, but he also showed that he had the skills to back it up. His signature hook shot, the “skyhook,” was almost impossible to block, and he is a 6-time NBA Champion, 6-time NBA MVP, 19-time NBA All-Star, and 2-time NBA Finals MVP.
Check out the skyhook in action here.
2. Karl Malone, Utah Jazz – Retired (13528 FGM)
The Mailman, as he is popularly called, earned a reputation for delivering in games, especially in critical moments. He has fewer fancy moves than other players like Jordan, but he knew how to get team members going when it seemed like all hope was lost. He has often depended on his power which is perhaps why he sits second on this list. He is a 2-time NBA MV, 14-time NBA All-Star, and 2-time NBA All-Star Game MVP.
Take a look at Karl Malone’s NBA highlights.
3. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers (12869 FGM)
LeBron has racked up several accolades and praises even though he is not yet done with his career. He is arguably the best player currently in the NBA, and he consistently pulls through even when all seems down for the count. He is a three-time NBA Champion, 4-time NBA MVP, and has scooped several other individual honors.
Take a look at LeBron’s Career-High 61.
Top 3 NBA Players with Highest Field Goal Percentages of All-Time
1. DeAndre Jordan – Brooklyn Nets (67.4%)
Deandre Jordan has an amazing ability to dominate down low and has kept at least a 70% FGP in multiple games, putting him at the top spot on this list. Playing on the same team with Chris Paul means he’s been able to leverage the point guard’s ability to tee him up for several big slams. In the past three seasons of the NBA, he hasn’t made lower than 227 dunks, and his career is not over yet.
2. Rudy Gobert – Utah Jazz (64.4%)
Rudy is known for multiple Defensive Player wins, and rightly so. His skill on the court is unlike any other. Gobert has a humble, quiet but bold, and powerful attitude unique to his playstyle and personality. He has a standing reach of 9’7″, which is one of the highest on file, undoubtedly contributing to his position on this list. Wherever his path takes him next, do not underestimate Rudy Gobert.
3. Clint Capela – Atlanta Hawks (62.9%)
Clint probably doesn’t get as much attention as he deserves as a solid defensive player that is already showing he’s up to the task in his new team Atlanta Hawks. Even though he doesn’t often create his shots, he finishes almost all the shots that come his way giving him the impressive 62.9% %FG of all time.
How to Get Better at Making Field Goals
Jog through each of the shots, so you sweat. Start practicing shots from five feet away from the basket and keep on it until you make a shot all-net before going back one step to repeat the process. Keep doing this until you get to the 3-point line.
If you’re practicing with others, the next drill should be with a passer and rebounder. However, if you’re by yourself, try shooting, then passing, then shooting again, rebounding, and speed dribble back to the spot you started the drill.
Practice this drill with defenders and have them close out on you to try and steal the ball or stop the shot. Sometimes let the defender foul you intentionally but not enough that you’d get hurt.
Consistently try to leap to the basket and score to increase your jumping reach and skill. Make it a bit more challenging by having defenders come at you as you try to maneuver your way away and make the perfect shot.
Chest and Bounce Passes
Move the ball from one area of the court to the other and pass to other players through the bounce pass. You can also try bouncing the ball off a wall to increase your ball control.
Field goals are a common metric for checking team efficiency and, a lot of times, a good way of determining a better team or player. Although some would argue that the hype around field goal numbers overshadows the acknowledgment of defensive or teamwork stats, we can’t deny its importance. Basketball is a high-scoring sport. Hence, field goals will always be the most important factor in the game.