Most Missed Shots in NBA History

Most Missed Shots in NBA History

It’s no coincidence that the best basketball players of all-time are also the ones with the most missed shots in NBA history. They’re the ones that shoot the most, they’re the ones that score the most, and they’re the ones that are usually asked to shoulder the load for their team. 

Wayne Gretzky once said, ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,’ and while he was a hockey player, the quote applies to any sport — as well as life, in general. As for the best NBA players, they aren’t scared to shoot the ball and certainly aren’t scared to miss — it happens. 

The more you fear missing, the less you’ll want to shoot the ball. The less you shoot the ball, the less you’ll miss — as well as make — a shot. It’s that simple. If you want to succeed, you shouldn’t be afraid of failing because the greatest players in league history failed very often.

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Who Has the Most Missed Shots in NBA History?

Most Missed Shots in NBA History
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There are several factors that go into finding yourself on the list of most missed shots in NBA history. First off, you have to be a player that shoots a lot. Secondly, you need to play a minimum of 16 years in the league. Thirdly, you have to make as many as you miss. 

If you don’t shoot often, you won’t have as many chances to miss — obviously. If you don’t have a long career, you won’t match up with those that have. And finally, if you don’t make as many as you miss, you’ll likely have a hard time getting consistent playing minutes for your team. 

As we list the players with the most missed shots in NBA history, you’ll be surprised to see that most of these players are regarded as the best ever. Trust us, it’s no coincidence. In fact, it’s what it takes to be great. You shouldn’t fear missing and should trust your shot 100% of the time.

20. Bob Cousy

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,300 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1950-1963, 1969-1970 (14 seasons)

Teams: Boston Celtics, Cincinnati Royals

Career Stats: 924 games, 35.3 minutes, 37.5% field goal percentage, 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.5 assists per game

Bob Cousy was drafted fourth overall by the Tri-City Blackhawks in the 1950 NBA Draft. He was a 13-time All Star, 6-time NBA Champion, and one-time MVP. After 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he retired in 1963 just to make a return in 1969 — which only lasted one year. 

19. Hal Greer

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,307 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1958-1973 (15 seasons)

Teams: Syracuse Nationals, Philadelphia 76ers

Career Stats: 1,122 games, 35.5 minutes, 45.2% field goal percentage, 19.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists per game

Hal Greer was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals with the 14th overall pick (2nd round) in the 1958 NBA Draft. He shot the ball often, averaging 16.8 field goal attempts per game throughout his 15-year career — which is largely why he has the 19th-most missed shots in NBA history.

18. Alex English

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,377 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1976-1991 (15 seasons)

Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks

Career Stats: 1,193 games, 31.9 minutes, 50.7% field goal percentage, 21.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks per game

Alex English was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 1976 NBA Draft. Though he struggled early in his career, he dominated the league from 1979-1990 as a member of the Denver Nuggets. He averaged more than 23 points per game in nine straight seasons. 

17. Ray Allen

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,388 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1996-2014 (18 seasons)

Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle Supersonics, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat

Career Stats: 1,300 games, 35.6 minutes, 45.2% field goal percentage, 18.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks per game

Ray Allen will go down as one of the greatest three-point shooters in NBA history, but that won’t excuse him from our list of most missed shots in NBA history. He averaged more than 21 points per game in eight straight seasons and currently has the most made three-pointers in history.

16. Kevin Garnett

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,637 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1995-2016 (21 seasons)

Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets

Career Stats: 1,462 games, 34.5 minutes, 49.7% field goal percentage, 17.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.4 blocks per game

Let’s turn our attention to Ray Allen’s teammate, Kevin Garnett. They made up two-thirds of ‘The Big Three’ in Boston — don’t worry, we’ll get to the third head of the monster later in this list. Garnett was a 15-time All Star, one-time MVP, one-time NBA Champion, and Hall of Famer.

15. Paul Pierce 

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,797 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1998-2017 (18 seasons)

Teams: Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers

Career Stats: 1,343 games, 34.2 minutes, 44.5% field goal percentage, 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks per game

Is it a coincidence that ‘The Big Three’ are lined up in a row on this list? It might be. While they have some of the most missed shots in NBA history, they were also one of the best trios to ever join forces. Paul Pierce is also one of the greatest players in Boston Celtics’ franchise history.

14. Wilt Chamberlain

Career Missed Field Goals: 10,816 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1959-1973 (14 seasons)

Teams: Philadelphia Warriors, San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,045 games, 45.8 minutes, 54% field goal percentage, 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists per game

One of the best to ever do it, Wilt Chamberlain is known for breaking records that may never be broken again — including his 50.4 points per game in 1961. Of course, you can’t score as much as him without finishing your career with some of the most missed shots in NBA history. 

13. Allen Iverson

Career Missed Field Goals: 11,439 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1996-2010 (14 seasons)

Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies

Career Stats: 914 games, 41.1 minutes, 42.5% field goal percentage, 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.2 blocks per game

Allen Iverson is one of the most iconic players to ever step foot on the court. He was an 11-time All Star, 4-time scoring champ, 3-time steals champ, one-time MVP, and Rookie of the Year in 1996. He never won a championship, but he was still inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

12. Elgin Baylor 

Career Missed Field Goals: 11,478 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1958-1972 (14 seasons)

Teams: Minneapolis Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 846 games, 40.0 minutes, 43.1% field goal percentage, 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game

Elgin Baylor is one of the greatest players to ever suit up, but doesn’t get as much attention today as he should. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft was an 11-time All Star and earned the 1958 Rookie of the Year. His 27.4 points per game is the most in Lakers’ history.

11. Dominique Wilkins

Career Missed Field Goals: 11,626 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1982-1999 (15 seasons)

Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic

Career Stats: 1,074 games, 35.5 minutes, 46.1% field goal percentage, 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks per game

Dominique Wilkins was drafted third overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1982 NBA Draft and is regarded as one of the best dunkers in NBA history. He was a 9-time All Star, one-time scoring champ, and Hall of Famer, but never won an NBA Championship in his 15-year career

10. Vince Carter

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,046 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1998-2020 (22 seasons)

Teams: Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks

Career Stats: 1,541 games, 30.1 minutes, 43.5% field goal percentage, 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks per game

Speaking of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, let’s not forget about Vince Carter. While he rarely missed a dunk, he’s still in the top-ten of most missed shots in NBA history. Carter enjoyed an illustrious 22-year career, averaging 20+ points per game in 10 straight seasons.

9. Carmelo Anthony

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,120 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 2003-present (18 seasons)

Teams: Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,191 games, 35.0 minutes, 44.7% field goal percentage, 23.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks per game

Carmelo Anthony was drafted third overall by the Denver Nuggets in what could go down as one of the best drafts in NBA history — the 2003 NBA Draft. He averaged 20+ points per game in 14 straight seasons to start his career, including a career-high 28.9 points per game in 2006.

8. Michael Jordan

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,345 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1984-2003 (15 seasons)

Teams: Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards

Career Stats: 1,072 games, 38.3 minutes, 49.7% field goal percentage, 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 0.8 blocks per game

Highly regarded as one of the best players to ever suit up, Michael Jordan was a one-of-a-kind player. He was a 14-time All Star, 10-time scoring champ, 3-time steals champ, 6-time NBA Champion, 5-time MVP, Rookie of the Year in 1985, and 9-time All-Defensive player. 

7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,470 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1969-1989 (20 seasons)

Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,560 games, 36.8 minutes, 55.9% field goal percentage, 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 2.6 blocks per game

Not many players were as dominant throughout their career as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In his 20 seasons in the NBA, he was a 19-time All Star, 6-time NBA Champion, 2-time scoring champ, 4-time blocking champ, 1-time rebounding champ, 6-time MVP, and Rookie of the Year. 

6. Dirk Nowitzki

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,565 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1998-2019 (21 seasons)

Teams: Dallas Mavericks

Career Stats: 1,522 games, 33.8 minutes, 47.1% field goal percentage, 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks per game

It’s rare to see a player spend 21 seasons in the NBA, let alone spending 21 years with the same team. That’s exactly what Dirk Nowitzki did with the Dallas Mavericks and made 14 All Star appearances in the process. He’s also a one-time NBA Champion and MVP winner. 

5. Karl Malone

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,682 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1984-2004 (19 seasons)

Teams: Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,476 games, 37.2 minutes, 51.6% field goal percentage, 25.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks per game

Karl Malone, nicknamed ‘The Mailman,’ spent 19 years in the NBA and scored more than 20 points per game in 17 of those seasons — including a career-high 31.0 points per game in 1989. He was as consistent as they come in the NBA, but that doesn’t mean he never missed a shot.

4. LeBron James

Career Missed Field Goals: 12,701 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 2003-present (18 seasons)

Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,310 games, 38.2 minutes, 50.4% field goal percentage, 27.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.7 blocks per game

Depending on how many more years LeBron James plays in the NBA, he very well could have the most missed shots in NBA history by the time he retires. He’s about 1,700 missed shots away from the top spot and he currently averages anywhere from 500-700 misses each year.

3. Elvin Hayes

Career Missed Field Goals: 13,296 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1968-1984 (16 seasons)

Teams: San Diego Rockets, Houston Rockets, Baltimore Bullets, Capital Bullets, Washington Bullets

Career Stats: 1,303 games, 38.4 minutes, 45.2% field goal percentage, 21.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.0 blocks per game

Elvin Hayes is a player many fans forget about. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft spent 16 seasons in the NBA and scored above 21 points per game in 10 of those seasons — including a career-high 28.4 points per game in his rookie year (1968-69 season).

2. John Havlicek

Career Missed Field Goals: 13,417 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1962-1978 (16 seasons)

Teams: Boston Celtics

Career Stats: 1,270 games, 36.6 minutes, 43.9% field goal percentage, 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists per game

John Havlicek will go down as one of the greatest Boston Celtics’ players in franchise history. He was teammates with Bill Russell during the Celtics’ golden era. He was a 13-time All Star, 8-time NBA Champion, 8-time All-Defensive player, and won the 1973-74 NBA Finals MVP. 

1. Kobe Bryant

Career Missed Field Goals: 14,481 missed field goals

Seasons in the NBA: 1996-2016 (20 seasons)

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers

Career Stats: 1,346 games, 36.1 minutes, 44.7% field goal percentage, 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.5 blocks per game

No one wanted the ball in their hands more than Kobe Bryant. He loved to shoot the ball, wasn’t scared to miss, and is one of the most clutch players to ever play the game. With the career he had in Los Angeles, it’s no surprise to see that he has the most missed shots in NBA history. 

Shooters Shoot, But They Also Miss Often

Since 1967, there has only been one player to miss 30 or more shots in a single game — Kobe Bryant. He went 17/47 from the floor, but still managed to score 41 points in a three-point loss to the Celtics. No one else on his team scored more than 11 points, so he didn’t have a choice. 

Joe Fulks is a player that missed often in the late-1940s. In a single game, he missed 42 shots against the Providence Steam Rollers, 38 shots against the St. Louis Bombers, 35 shots against the Boston Celtics, 34 against Providence, and 33 shots against the New York Knicks.

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Players that have recently come close to missing 30 or more shots in a game include Russell Westbrook (27), James Harden (26), Bradley Beal (25), Kevin Durant (23), Kyle Lowry (23), LeBron James (23), Donovan Mitchell (22), John Wall (22), and Jrue Holiday (22).

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