This week we’re going for a quick Data Dependent taking a look at the mighty three-pointer in the NBA. Nowadays, it seems like everyone’s offensive setup entails sticking players around the arc while a ball handling guard drives to the basket waiting to see which defensive players help out. The ball’s kicked out to the free three shooter. Shoot the ball. Rinse. Repeat.
Everyone’s shooting threes and the eyeball test indicates that players are making more of them than ever before. Hell, even centers are heaving up shots from beyond the arc with regularity. Steph and Klay’s Warriors. Harden’s Houston Rockets. It’s the Golden Era of the Three-ball.
Let’s look at the numbers, albeit only up to 1996. Blame nba.com for that one.
First average number of attempts leaders…
|2006||Golden State Warriors||24|
|2007||Golden State Warriors||26.6|
|2008||New York Knicks||27.9|
|2012||New York Knicks||28.9|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||31.6|
And now, the more important number, three-point percentage…
|2000||San Antonio Spurs||40.7|
|2010||San Antonio Spurs||39.7|
|2011||San Antonio Spurs||39.3|
|2012||Golden State Warriors||40.3|
|2013||San Antonio Spurs||39.7|
|2014||Golden State Warriors||39.8|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||41.6|
|2016||San Antonio Spurs||39.1|
|2017||Golden State Warriors||39.1|
|2018||San Antonio Spurs||39.2|
Turns out the shooting hasn’t improved all that much in the past quarter century. Oddly enough, the 2014-2020 Warriors pretty much shot the league average for the 25 years charted, except for 2015, a non-Championship year mind you.
The 2009 Suns shot really well with Steve Nash, Hason Richardson, Channing Frye, Goran Dragic, and Jared Dudley contributing from beyond the arc.
In fact, the best complete year for three point shooting was in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets led by Glenn Rice (an underappreciated shooter these days) and Dell Curry (aka father of Steph and Seth). They finished the season shooting a hefty 42.8% from beyond the arc.
The jury is still out for the Los Angeles Clippers and the entire 2020 season.
So are today’s greatest-ever-most-athletic-NBA players much better three point shooters than previous generations?
Short answer. No.
Long answer. Nope.