Thursday, February 9, 2017

Why three point shots are the best in basketball

Basketball coach Dan D'Antoni uses expected value per attempt to explain why his team takes so many 3-point shots:
"If you can get a layup and it's clean — it's not one that's highly contested — it's [worth] 1.8 points [per attempt]. It's 1.3 from that corner, 1.27. Do you know what a post-up is, with a guy standing over top of you? It's 0.78. So you run your team down there and we'll see how long you can stay with teams that can play the other way. You've seen it in the NBA. The last two championships have been Cleveland and Golden State. What do they do? You don't see anybody post up. They just spread that thing out and go."

HT:  Jason

1 comment:

  1. This was a cool article! I was not aware of how granular coaches get as to breaking down the probability of points per attempt from different areas on the court. It’s surprising to see the “post up” shots actually equate to the lowest points per attempt at 0.78. My whole life playing basketball the message was always to work the ball down into the post player for the closer shot, and in reality, that statistically isn’t the best option for the team to put points on the board. The 3-point shot has really changed the game between 2005 and 2012 Six of the seven NBA champions averaged at least 18.5 three-pointers during the regular season. In 2012, both Miami and San Antonio averaged over 21 attempts per game (Babb, 2013). This is mind blowing to see the strong correlation between teams that lead in 3-point field goals and the corresponding NBA champions. Analytics have revolutionized sports in recent years, more and more teams look at data now to decide which players they want to draft or trade for. Once, the dominant way of judging how well a player or team would perform was the “eye-test”—the organic, gut-instinct impression that came simply from watching a game unfold. But that time has been replaced by an era in which coaches and their backroom staff pore over formulas and figures—how many mid-range jump shots a team uses versus attempts near the hoop, or how many three-point shots versus two-pointers—to predict the most effective methods for winning (Ross, 2015). Statistical data and algorithms have changed every aspect of sports in the last 20 years. All the way down to where to take a shot from on the basketball court. It’s a different NBA and different sports arena now, I’m curious to see how the development of coaches change in the future, are analytics going to become as important as motivation, and team building? Will future coaches have a background in statistics?


    Babb, Stephen. Bleacher Report. How the 3-Pointer has Revolutionized the NBA. August 1, 2013.

    Ross, Terrance. The Atlantic. Welcome to Smarter Basketball. June 25, 2015.