Who Has the Most Missed Shots in NBA History?

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 6 Min Read
6 Min Read

In the fast-paced world of professional basketball, every shot counts. Whether it’s a graceful swish through the net or a heart-wrenching miss, players leave their mark on the court with each attempt. But who holds the dubious honor of missing the most shots in NBA history? Let’s delve into the numbers and explore the players who have left their imprint on the hardwood, even when the ball didn’t find its mark.

1. Kobe Bryant: The Mamba’s Missed Legacy

At the pinnacle of our list stands a name synonymous with greatness: Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba, as he was affectionately known, left an indelible mark on the game. His relentless pursuit of excellence led to a staggering 14,481 missed shots throughout his illustrious career. But here’s the twist: despite this high number of misses, Bryant maintained a healthy field goal percentage of 44.7%. His effective field goal percentage (eFG%), which accounts for the added value of three-pointers, was even more impressive at 48.2%.

Bryant’s legacy extends beyond the numbers. He was a five-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and a scoring machine. His partnership with Shaquille O’Neal fueled the Los Angeles Lakers’ three consecutive titles from 1999 to 2001. Bryant’s fadeaway jumpers, clutch performances, and unwavering work ethic made him a basketball icon. His misses were merely stepping stones on the path to greatness.

2. John Havlicek: The Boston Legend

John Havlicek, a Boston Celtics legend, ranks second on our list. Over his career, he missed 13,417 shots. Havlicek’s impact extended far beyond the stat sheet. He secured eight NBA championships (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976), trailing only Bill Russell and Sam Jones in championship rings. Havlicek’s relentless hustle, defensive prowess, and clutch plays made him a cornerstone of Celtics history.

3. Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone, and Dirk Nowitzki

The third, fourth, and fifth spots belong to three remarkable players:

  • Elvin Hayes: The Big E, a dominant force for the Washington Bullets and Houston Rockets, missed 13,296 shots. His scoring ability and tenacity left an indelible mark on the game.
  • Karl Malone: The Mailman, a Utah Jazz icon, ranks fourth with 12,682 missed shots. His consistency and longevity made him one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history.
  • Dirk Nowitzki: The sweet-shooting German from the Dallas Mavericks rounds out the top five with 12,565 missed shots. Nowitzki’s one-legged fadeaway jumper became his trademark, and he led the Mavs to their first NBA championship in 2011.

4. LeBron James: The Active Contender

LeBron James, currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, sits at eighth place with 12,300 missed shots. His pass-first mentality and versatility set him apart. Despite the misses, James continues to redefine greatness on the court.

5. Allen Iverson: The Answer’s Misfires

Allen Iverson, known as “The Answer,” was a scoring dynamo during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. His crossover dribbles, fearless drives, and relentless work ethic made him a fan favorite. But alongside his dazzling highlights were the misses—12,183 of them, to be precise. Iverson’s scoring prowess often overshadowed his inefficiencies, but his impact on the game remains undeniable. His MVP season in 2001 and his iconic step-over of Tyronn Lue in the NBA Finals are etched in basketball history.

6. Carmelo Anthony: The Scoring Machine

Carmelo Anthony, a prolific scorer, ranks sixth on our list with 11,089 missed shots. His mid-range jumpers, post moves, and ability to create his shot defined his career. Anthony’s time with the Denver Nuggets and later with the New York Knicks showcased his scoring prowess. Despite the misses, he consistently delivered buckets and left a lasting impression on the league.

7. Dominique Wilkins: The Human Highlight Reel

Dominique Wilkins, aptly nicknamed “The Human Highlight Reel,” was a high-flying forward for the Atlanta Hawks. His acrobatic dunks and scoring outbursts thrilled fans. Wilkins missed 10,988 shots, but his electrifying performances earned him nine All-Star selections and a Hall of Fame induction. His battles with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan are etched in NBA lore.

8. LeBron James: The Active Contender

LeBron James, our active contender, continues to climb the ranks. His 12,300 missed shots place him among the greats. But here’s the twist: James balances his misses with an impressive field goal percentage of 50.4% and an eFG% of 54.6%. His versatility, court vision, and leadership redefine the game. Whether in Cleveland, Miami, or Los Angeles, LeBron’s impact transcends mere statistics.

9. The Bigger Picture

As we reflect on these numbers, let’s remember that missed shots are an integral part of a player’s journey. They signify risk-taking, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. Every missed shot is a lesson learned, a chance to adjust, and an opportunity to rise again. So, the next time you see a player rim out, appreciate the bigger picture—the story behind the miss.

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