Monday, May 5

More Numbers

As mentioned earlier, this past season the Sonics took the fewest number of 3-pointers of any team in the entire league. Naturally, this means the Sonics also ranked at the bottom in points scored from 3-point attempts, checking in at 11.5 points per game (actually, they just edged out Philly, but it was a close race).

However, as the father of the nerdy 27-year-old virgin says to him at his 28th birthday party, “You’ve got to score sometime, right?”

In the Sonics’ case, they scored on 2-point jump shots. Call it the Alex English Approach.

Long ago, 3-pointers were not commonplace. Even after the league added the line 20-some years ago, it just didn’t happen. Just as an illustration, Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s leading scorer this season, attempted 415 3’s this year. In 1983-84, that would have led the league.

And, by league, I mean league. San Antonio led the league with 308 attempts as a team. Kobe Bryant is a gunner, to be sure, but, still, he attempted 100 more 3’s than any team did in '83'-84.

Anyhow, how does that relate to the Sonics? Well, Seattle led the league in points scored off 2-point jump shots, and, in this year of melancholy, I suppose that’s a bright spot (these numbers all swiped from After all, they could have ranked last in 3-point attempts and 2-point attempts, right?

Interestingly, the 2-point leaders were not all cellar dwellers. Among the top ten were Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, Toronto, and Utah. Of course, the top ten also included the Clippers, Bulls, and T-Wolves, so it’s not exactly a who’s who of great NBA teams.

But here’s the rub: the playoff teams, unlike the losers, were good at taking 2-point shots, which is why they took so many of them. Here’s an illustration:

Granted, the difference between the worst and the best is not huge, but is it really a coincidence that the four worst teams out of the top ten all failed to qualify for the playoffs?

It speaks volumes to the inefficiencies of an organization that 1) produces a team which is unsuccessful at something and 2) continues to do it frequently. It’s fine that the Sonics are not good 2-point jump shooters, but why continue to do it? The Golden State Warriors hit 36% of their 2-point jump shots, a woeful figure to be sure, but that accounted for only 33% of their total attempts on the season, the second-lowest in the league.

That’s what smart organizations do: spot inadequacies and make moves to minimize the impact those inadequacies would have.

In a way, though, the decisions facing the Sonics’ coaching staff this season paralleled the decisions facing the creators of the Bush Presidency DVD. It’s all fine and dandy to tell them what NOT to focus on, but what should they include?

Because, after all, what the hell do you emphasize when the entire thing is a miasma of crapitude?


Anonymous said...

They should emphasize anything but midrange shots.

Being good at midrange is an extra if you have a real strength inside or from 3 pt land or both but will never be the primary strength. The best midrange team is still weaker on those shots on an efficiency basis compared to points per shot inside or from 3 by far.

3 pt frequency and accuracy will have to ramp up.

Anonymous said...

I can understand they don't want players to "fall in love" with the 3 if they can't hit well but the absence of the 3 pt game is severe and they ultimately need it.

Durant hit about .75 of a 3 each game on 2.5 attempts. Ideally he grows into hitting at least 2 per game on about 5 attempts.

Green attempted one a game. Either he should get to where he can hit 1 game on a decent FG% or he should get out of the 3 pt business.

Anonymous said...

Average team hits 6-7 3s a game. Sonics fell short of 4.

Ridnour and Watson didn't average 1 combined. Ideally you'd want at least 2 from PGs.

Unless you have a strong post player you'd want to get to 7-8 3s a game. A few teams got near 10.