The NBA’s Three Point Revolution !


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So far in this NBA season, the average amount of threes taken by each team is about 31. At the beginning of the century in the 2000 – 2001 season, the Boston Celtics lead the league in three point attempts with nearly 20 a game; the San Antonio Spurs right now are at the bottom of the league in attempts per game with “only” 24.

There has clearly been a huge jump in three pointers and the numbers prove it. Since 2011, there has been an upward trend in the amount of three pointers made. Every year from 2011 – 2015, the trend increased by only one attempt a game going from 18 to 22 a game. However after the 2015 – 2016 NBA season, the biggest jump in attempts per game occured; the average amount of attempts went from 24 to 27 a game! The league attempts were only increasing by 1 and then all of a sudden, teams on average were shooting 3 more three pointers and there had to be reason. Well, there is one reason that I would like to credit for this: The Golden State Warriors.

In the 2015 – 2016 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors were lead by the “Splash Brothers”, which included All-Star Klay Thompson and unanimous MVP Steph Curry, and by Draymond Green’s versatile playstyle. In that season, we saw some of the best basketball of all time. Both Steph Curry AND Klay Thompson beat Ray Allen’s record for most threes in a single season. While Klay beat it by about 10 threes, Steph passed it by more than 100 threes and ended the season with 402 It was no surprise that the entire league took notice of the importance of the three point shot as the team would go onto beat the NBA record for most games won in a single season with 73. While the Warriors were not able to win the championship that season, it cemented the fact that any team that wants to win will need three point shooting; Kyrie Irving’s dagger to beat the Warriors in Game 7 was even a three pointer.

The increase in three point shooting has also resulted in a growing stigma in the league surrounding long mid-range jumpers. To fans and critics alike, the value of said jumper has decreased throughout the years. Why shoot a long mid-range that is worth 2 points when a three point shot is only a couple of inches away worth 3. Also, a shot that is only a couple of inches from the rim is worth the exact same as shot 15 feet away.

The table below goes over the top 10 three point shooters right now in the league with at least 100 attempts, all-stars highlighted in yellow. If you do not recognize most of the names in the top 10, that’s not a surprise. A decent chunk of those in the top 10 are simply role players who are known for being sharpshooters. With the exception being Steph Curry, as you go down the three point percentage ranking, more recognizable names being to come up. If you only go off of the percentages this season, you may infer that these less recognizable players are better shooters though there is a very obvious reason for all-stars being lower: they take more shots.

When you take more shots, there are obviously going to be of a chance to miss more shots than some other players even attempt. For example, despite James Harden attempting 13 threes a game, he is still shooting 38 % which is about 3% higher than the league average !

As the years go on, it is still expected for the amount of three pointers to keep increasing. The Warriors, love ‘em or hate ‘em, have revolutionized the way that basketball is being played. The playstyle of fast paced shooting with tons of passes and catch-and-shoot threes is going to stay for a long time in my opinion. Now players are being forced to adapt to this playstyle. Big men who have played in the post their whole careers are being met with an ultimatum of either learning how to shoot the three or possibly never playing in the NBA again. Isolation-heavy players such as Carmelo Anthony have already shown that players who do not accept their new roles may not ever play in the NBA. Teams now are searching for the next Steph Curry in the draft (e.g. Trae Young). Players who are shooting threes at an amazing rate will now be very valuable free agents; Kyle Korver has made an entire career due to his accepted role as an off-ball sharpshooter.

The three pointer is here to stay and teams will continue to emulate the beautiful play of the Golden State Warriors.

League Average of 35 %

 

Name**** 3pt Ranking (2018/19) 3pt Ranking (2017/18)** 3pt %

(2018/19)*

3pt %

(2017/18)

Career 3pt %
Seth Curry 1 8*** 48.6 % 42.5 % *** 44.3 %
Joe Harris 2 16 47.3 % 41.9 % 42.0 %
Davis Bertans 3 79 47.0 % 37.3 % 40.9 %
Derrick Rose 4 46.8 % 20.9 % 30.9 %
Danilo Gallinari 5 45.3 % 32.4 % 37.4 %
Steph Curry 6 13 44.3 % 42.3 % 43.7 %
Marcus Morris 7 96 44.0 % 36.8 % 46.6 %
Bojan Bogdanovic 8 33 44.6 % 40.2 % 38.6  %
Buddy Hield 9 9 44.4 % 43.1 % 42.1 %
Tobias Harris 10 26 44.3 % 41.1 % 36.6 %
Kyrie Irving 27 29 39.7 % 40.8 % 38.8 %
James Harden 49 99 37.9 % 36.7 % 36.6 %
Klay Thompson 81 4 36.0 % 44.0 % 41.7 %

 

*At least 100 threes attempted this season

** “-” means they were unqualified to be ranked last year

*** Did not play in 2017 – 2018, so ranking/percentage is from 2016 – 2017

**** Stats are current as of 1/15/18

 

Source: ESPN, Basketball Reference