Atlanta Hawks: They still should shoot more 3s

Three weeks ago I suggested the most realistic way for the Hawks to improve their offense is to shoot more 3s. Blog person Najeh responded in the comments:

“Threes are fine as long as they are a result of good ball movement and taken in rhythm. The problem with relying on them, just like the problem with relying on long 2 point jumpers, is that if you miss, you’re less likely to get the rebound than if you are taking attempts at the rim.”

That last part sounded right, and I went looking for the data to answer the question, but I couldn’t find any at the time. Now there are some relevant numbers compliments of a research paper submitted last weekend at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

University of Southern California researchers Rajiv Maheswaran, Yu-Han Chang, Aaron Henehan and Samantha Danesis co-authored “Deconstructing the Rebound with Optical Tracking Data.” They used data from STATS’ SportsVu Optical Tracking system, which uses cameras in arenas to track the position of all 10 players and the ball, to analyze more than 11,000 missed field-goal attempts.

One aspect of the paper focuses on the effect of shot location on offensive rebound rates. The authors’ conclusion:

We see that the best location to attempt a field goal to maximize the chance of an offensive rebound is close to the basket. Shots attempted within 6 feet of the basket and missed are recovered at a 36% rate. From 6-10 feet, the rate becomes 28%. There is a significant change in the 10-22 foot range, where missed shots are only rebounded at a 21.5% rate. There is also an interesting transition at the three-point line where rebound rates outside 22 feet jump up to 25.5%. . . . We note that offensive rebound rates decrease as a function of shot distance with a sharp jump at the three-point line. This is very similar to effective field goal percentage as a function of shot distance. This result implies that mid-range shots are even worse than previously characterized due to their effects on offensive rebound rates. Strategically, teams have even more reason to eschew mid-range shots for shots closer to the basket or three-pointers.

So Najeh is correct that more offensive rebounds are collected from shots close to the basket. But it’s also true that a higher percentage offensive rebounds are collected off missed 3-pointers than shots from between 10 and 22 feet. I still believe that, after all this time, it’s not realistic to expect this group of Hawks players to suddenly become consistent slashers who attack the basket and score and/or draw fouls. The Hawks do have a good collection of 3-point shooters, however, and because missed 3s are more likely to result in offensive rebounds than 2s beyond 10 feet is yet another reason to keep shooting them.

Inevitably, hours after I wrote that first blog post, the Hawks went out and missed 20 of 27 3s against the Lakers to start a stretch in which they clanked them in four of five games. This drew the ire of some of my tweeps and blog people. (Thanks, by the way, for making me feel important by suggesting that I can somehow influence how the Hawks play. If that were actually the case the Hawks would be in big trouble.)

Still, I’m sticking with my theory the Hawks should shoot more 3s (as long as it’s the right guys shooting them, of course). Even considering their recent slump, 3s are a better option that mid-range and long 2s. Since and including the Lakers game, the Hawks have shot 68 of 204 on 3s for an effective field-goal percentage of 45.1. Over that same period, the Hawks shot 43.2 on 2s, including 31.3 percent from between 10 and 23 feet (67 of 214) and 53.3 percent at the rim.

The Hawks now rank tied for fifth in three-point percentage and 17th in attempts per game. Considering their personnel and style of play–and now the revelation that they have a better chance of rebounding their missed 3s than 2s beyond 10 feet–the Hawks probably should keep firing away from behind the arc.

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

78 comments Add your comment

High-sider

March 6th, 2012
1:52 pm

High-sider

March 6th, 2012
1:52 pm

High-sider

March 6th, 2012
1:53 pm

Melvin

March 6th, 2012
1:55 pm

Keep shooting them Josh…..LOL

kevkat

March 6th, 2012
1:56 pm

the streak is over High-sider..lol

honest_abe

March 6th, 2012
1:59 pm

awful advice.

Fundamentals

March 6th, 2012
2:00 pm

I still contend that if the coach or point calls the play, runs it and said player shoots the desired shot or backup if the play fails then all other players know that shooters tendencies, they’ll know when and where to usually expect the board, thus giving them a leg up in getting that rebound. This shooting a 22′ shot just inside the line at the end of the clock is poor ball management. It’s not a shot within the flow of the game and all too often the shooter catches and shoots it from an awkward position because they weren’t ready. It’s not one we can rebound. It all comes from knowing your offensive set and designing a play. For the most part…we just don’t do that here in Atlanta. More 3’s might be great…but more good shots from a designed play or offensive set would be even better.

Swingman912

March 6th, 2012
2:01 pm

You hear that J-Smoove?!?? Shoot more 3’s homie!!!!!!!! CHUUUUUUUUCH!!!!!

pointguardslim

March 6th, 2012
2:02 pm

“Strategically, teams have even more reason to eschew mid-range shots for shots closer to the basket or three-pointers.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmSVT3OcLOc

Anyone know a routine play we can run for this? Eschewing the Josh long 2 airball

pointguardslim

March 6th, 2012
2:08 pm

no they should work the ball inside and get paint points. 3s are a byproduct of that. Don’t go hunting 3s like the soft Orlando Magic.

Everything inside. And Teague is developing very nicely imo.

Sherewshevsky

March 6th, 2012
2:09 pm

Where’s the related data about how well a team blocks out? What about the force at which the ball hits the rim or backboard or both and the corresponding distance thew ball bounces? What about ball arc?

How many teams have won championships as 3-point shooters and a FG rate the Hawks make them in the appropriate ball movement/game rhythm you suggest?

More data needed.

High-sider

March 6th, 2012
2:14 pm

kevkat,

Did I break your streak? Sorry about that.

Najeh Davenpoop,

The beat writer, MC, is giving you props on one [or some] of your comments and your point concerning “more offensive rebounds are collected from missed shots close to the basket” has been proven statistically/scientifically. Congrats dude.

pointguardslim

March 6th, 2012
2:15 pm

Well preferably Smith shoots them then Marvin + Zaza crash boards?
Sometimes Smith isnt a very good at getting offensive rebounding position (due to his lack of size).

And that wouldn’t help vs Miami would it? I suggest Teague keep working at getting inside. Josh command a double team and pass backout. Then hit 3s when they arise. Im not going to go tell a team to go hunting 3s.

http://asubstituteforwar.com/2011/06/17/silly-superstars-3-pointers-are-for-role-players/
“Silly superstars, 3-pointers are for role players!”

pointguardslim

March 6th, 2012
2:18 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMVQ64HrY6o

Jeff Teague Development (Couple Plays vs OKC) – makes a nice CP3 type weave move off of a Smith pick and Smith has a lane so he drives and takes a 12ft jumper instead of a 20ft jumper. Nice.

Gwinnett Fred

March 6th, 2012
2:19 pm

How about some REAL information?

Who’s available tonight?

honest_abe

March 6th, 2012
2:21 pm

pgslim: lol josh didn’t seem to have much trouble with his “percieved” lack of size against ibaka.

Mike

March 6th, 2012
2:22 pm

Sure, their percentage is good. But it’s bound to go down if they become less selective about when they take them. Marving and Teague in particular are shooting it very well when wide open, but that doesn’t mean they force up more.

honest_abe

March 6th, 2012
2:32 pm

whether or not a team has the ability to “slash” or “drive” to the basket is largely contingent on having a pg who can get into the lane. as soon as the defense is rotating it’s much easier to get by an your inital defender.

so what i’m trying to say is it’s laughable to think that the hawks will succeed by just shooting more 3’s. instead, the hawks need to give JT more responsibilities. i.e. iso, pick and roll etc. but it starts with him breaking down the defense and the rest of the team will get better quality shots.

also, whenever josh does what most in this blog are screaming for him to do which is to post up and drive to the basket. the team has a shot to win on any given night. when he decides he’s sam perkins lil bro with some wheels is when the hawks find themselves in trouble.

Rod from College Park

March 6th, 2012
2:36 pm

“Your post at 11:31am was straight [on] fire. You checked the hell out of vava74. I guess he [vava74] won’t be walkin’ his baby n-ts around the block talkin’ stupidity about Jamal Crawford any time soon. I really liked the way you rebutted vava74 with facts and figures. As the old cliche goes, “Figures don’t lie, but liars [do] figure.””

Preciate it High-sider.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 6th, 2012
2:39 pm

Wow, I got shouted out by MC. That’s pretty cool.

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
2:42 pm

Offensive Basketball:

Play to your strengths whomever you are !

Najeh is correct … so is MC … However;
Science / Technology / Whatever – does not replace common sense.

If a team has Wilt, Kareem, or Hakeem;
then throw him the ball.
If a team is built around Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, & Sweet Lou;
let `em fly.
Najeh continues and if you listen to Nique on the broadcast
ball movement plus changing sides of the floor
[further re-enforced by Josh] works wonders whether
shooting inside, mid-range, or outside.
Continuing further, offensive rebounding is a mindset;
trained, reenforced through repitition and teaching.
‘`It`s not what you teach, it`s what you emphasise`’
-Don Meyer-
One other point;
Josh can`t, he just can`t continue to shoot the worst shot
in basketball any longer.
[with the heel of his foot on the three pt line]
Last point;
I see what MC is saying;
the hawks should play to their strengths,
which is their three pt shooting.
But as Najeh, and Nique and others contiually point out;
the Hawks are so much better when the ball moves from side to side
and this is important;;;inside out !
I must agree with Najeh again and especially for Josh;
please Josh:
shoot in rhythm, learn from Willie Green.
The mid-range game is best employed when shooters shoot in rhythm
coming off screens.

I`m done.

Geemack

March 6th, 2012
2:43 pm

Can’t figure out why the Hawks haven’t made a push for Chris Kaman. Perfect fit that would give the Hawks the best starting 2 in the East, when Al comes back and move Josh to the 3. Too late now they sign Dampier for the rest of the season.

Dawg

March 6th, 2012
2:46 pm

Yep, more jump shots has historically help win championships.

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
2:46 pm

Sherewshevsky

Usually players do not box out on offense.

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
2:50 pm

MC

-with the deadline approaching-

-any news ?

Rod from College Park

March 6th, 2012
2:51 pm

The thing that is also mis-leading about our team 3 point percentage is the fact that most of those shots are wide open looks. Teams fall of of Teague, and dare him to make the 3. He is shooting a high percentage, but is not a volume shooter. He won’t take the shot everytime it’s there. Marvin is always left open, and though his percentage is good also, he is not a volume shooter either. Pargo, Willie Green, and Vlad all shoot the 3 very well, but do not get enough minutes to really affect the game. The numbers are basically misleading. A hand in Teague and Marvin’s face, change their percentage tremendously, and Pargo, Green and Vlad, don’t get the time they should to really affect the game.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 6th, 2012
2:55 pm

“I still believe that, after all this time, it’s not realistic to expect this group of Hawks players to suddenly become consistent slashers who attack the basket and score and/or draw fouls. The Hawks do have a good collection of 3-point shooters, however, and because missed 3s are more likely to result in offensive rebounds than 2s beyond 10 feet is yet another reason to keep shooting them.”

This is true, but I think it is realistic to expect them to structure a larger percentage of their offense around post ups and Teague driving to the hoop, both of which are likely to result in a) more shots near the rim and b) more double teams/defenses collapsing in the paint that leaves 3 point shooters open.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 6th, 2012
3:01 pm

“no they should work the ball inside and get paint points. 3s are a byproduct of that. Don’t go hunting 3s like the soft Orlando Magic.”

Even the “soft Magic” get their 3s as a byproduct of working the ball inside and getting paint points. If they were just jacking up 3s all day with no Dwight to draw double teams in the post, their percentage would almost certainly go down.

Rod from College Park

March 6th, 2012
3:01 pm

I will also add that it is my belief (have not done the research), that a high percentage of those assist for those wide open 3 point shots come from Josh passing out of the post or leading the break. He loves making cross court passes, (some good and some bad) to wide open shooters. his does that a lot for Joe also, but instead of catching and shooting, Joe goes into his tricky dribble routine.

Najeh Davenpoop

March 6th, 2012
3:04 pm

” What about the force at which the ball hits the rim or backboard or both and the corresponding distance thew ball bounces? What about ball arc?”

I think the force and arc probably vary based on the distance, which would explain why 3s get offensive rebounded more than long 2s.

I can believe that 3s get offensive rebounded more frequently, because the ball tends to bounce farther away from the hoop on those shots, and often bounces over the heads of the defensive players who are boxing out and into the hands of the offensive players who are being boxed out.

High-sider

March 6th, 2012
3:04 pm

You [bloggers] talk about how attractive Stephanie Ready is. Y’all need to check out Tamron Hall on MSNBC when you get a chance. That is one nice-looking woman to me. She is really underrated and under the radar when people talk about beautiful women celebrities or beautiful women in/on television.

Section 303

March 6th, 2012
3:08 pm

I still am not going to totally buy into the idea that the Hawks have to shoot more 3’s. I think they need to focus on taking good shots. If those good shots happen to be 3’s, so be it.

It does make sense that offensive rebounds would increase on deeper shots. Most of the time those shots, when missed, result in long rebounds. That usually favors the offense.

Not sure what I think of the Sloan conference, either. I heard Bill Simmons interview Bill James. James is credited as the first “money ball” baseball guy. He used to cut boxscores out of Sporting News to track stats. He made conclusions like it was better to take a walk than try to drive the ball, causing an out. That used to be a radicle thought back in the day.

Anyways….James said that the number crunching is just that, number crunching. The players are the ones who actually have to go out and win games. So, though parts of the Sloan Conference are interesting (some is just too geeky for me), ulitmately the players determine games, not numbers.

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
3:09 pm

A point that may have been missed in my previous dissertation:

-Inside Out-
It`s like in fb running the ball to set up the pass.

Passing to set up the run is backwards,
conversely,
shooting 3`s to set up the Post game, would be backwards.

-basketball is still a game of balance-

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
3:12 pm

Section 303

good point / -good shot-

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:17 pm

@honest_abe: “whether or not a team has the ability to “slash” or “drive” to the basket is largely contingent on having a pg who can get into the lane. as soon as the defense is rotating it’s much easier to get by an your inital defender. so what i’m trying to say is it’s laughable to think that the hawks will succeed by just shooting more 3’s. instead, the hawks need to give JT more responsibilities. i.e. iso, pick and roll etc. but it starts with him breaking down the defense and the rest of the team will get better quality shots.”

three things:

1. Teague is a below-average finisher and foul-drawer at the rim for his position.
2. Teague is looking to score, not pass, when he drives, so don’t see how driving more will necessarily mean “the rest of team will get better quality shots.”
3. his teammates tend to stand and watch him when he drives, and that probably some of that has to do with No. 2.

what you suggest is a sound plan. it’s just not a realistic one for this team. the Hawks are not good at driving, kicking and then taking defenders off the dribble on the swing. if they were, they’d take a higher percentage of their shots at the rim, take less long 2s and draw more fouls. but they are what they are: a jump-shooting team. as long as that’s the case they should take more efficient jump shots, which are 3-pointers.

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:20 pm

@Grandad: i see what you are saying. however, like with honest abe, i think you are wishing for the Hawks to play a style that they’ve proven time and time again they aren’t suited for (especially when facing elite defenses). so would you settle for them cutting out the long 2s and taking more 3s?

drmaryb.[*_*].

March 6th, 2012
3:21 pm

Najeh, everybody on this blog knows that you have a brilliant basketball mind.

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:22 pm

@Gwinnett Fred: “How about some REAL information? Who’s available tonight?”

game-time decision means a decision will be made close to game time. a look at the clock confirms that that time is now now. but i will shoot you an email as soon as i know.

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:24 pm

@Grandad: “MC

-with the deadline approaching-

-any news ?”

nope. you know me, when i’m reasonably sure info is accurate and real i will put it out there.

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:26 pm

@Rod: “The thing that is also mis-leading about our team 3 point percentage is the fact that most of those shots are wide open looks.”

why does that make the percentage misleading? should we knock off a couple points because they are open? and if they are making them and still being left open, doesn’t that mean they should shoot them more?

SWAT Native

March 6th, 2012
3:27 pm

Wow, some blog people compete to say first, but how many have had a beat writer take the time to analyze, research and write a blog in reaction to their comments? Nice work, Najeh!

Michael Cunningham

March 6th, 2012
3:29 pm

@ Rod: “I will also add that it is my belief (have not done the research), that a high percentage of those assist for those wide open 3 point shots come from Josh passing out of the post or leading the break. He loves making cross court passes, (some good and some bad) to wide open shooters. his does that a lot for Joe also, but instead of catching and shooting, Joe goes into his tricky dribble routine.”

probably something to this. it’s been my observation that nine out of 10 times Joe is the only guy Josh will pass it to on the break and that a high percentage of those passes are to the perimeter. i’ve also noticed that when Joe catches these passes in rhythm in transition, he tends to quickly step in to a jump shot instead of starting the dribble routine.

honest_abe

March 6th, 2012
3:36 pm

three things:

1. Teague is a below-average finisher and foul-drawer at the rim for his position.

2. Teague is looking to score, not pass, when he drives, so don’t see how driving more will necessarily mean “the rest of team will get better quality shots.”

3. his teammates tend to stand and watch him when he drives, and that probably some of that has to do with No. 2.

“what you suggest is a sound plan. it’s just not a realistic one for this team. the Hawks are not good at driving, kicking and then taking defenders off the dribble on the swing. if they were, they’d take a higher percentage of their shots at the rim, take less long 2s and draw more fouls. but they are what they are: a jump-shooting team. as long as that’s the case they should take more efficient jump shots, which are 3-pointers” – MC

1. i don’t know if it’s fair to say he’s a below avg finisher. characterizations such as those should be reserved for marvin. he’s a good finisher who hasn’t been consistent. the rest of teague’s game relies on his ability to finish so it might be a good idea for him to figure out how to become a more reliable finisher.

2. he’s def more of a scorer than a distributor but the hope is once defenses continually collapse on him, he’ll learn to kick it out.

3. could be solved by running more pick and rolls. i don’t know why but anytime teague runs a pick and roll it’s with zaza. i’m assuming he’s comfortable running it with him since they played together on the 2nd unit. teague needs to run it with someone capable of picking and popping. marvin or joe might not be bad options.

josh seems to be coming around. the entire offense runs so much more smoothly when smoove takes over a block instead of parking out by the free throw elbow. maximize teague’s strengths and this team is a legitimate 4th seed.

ntrigue

March 6th, 2012
3:38 pm

They need to take 3s if they are hitting them but if they are off they need to adjust and drive to the basket! This our problem we dont adjustwhen jumpers are not falling. We need to continue running post up with josh and also throw in a few isos for Teague when we are relying to much on jump shots!

northcyde

March 6th, 2012
3:40 pm

MC, first off, your numbers are wrong.

If the hawks shot 68 – 204 their eFG% would be 59%

68 * 1.5 = 102
102/204 = 50%

Second, a 50% eFG from 3 point range is NOT GOOD. So a 45% EFG from 3 would be flat out horrible. The EFG is easily the most misleading advanced stat in basketball because of this. A 50% EFG from 3 is only an actual 3 point % of 33%.

The hawks shoot 37.5% actual 3 point %. That would be an EFG of 56.25%. League average is 35% actual 3 pt% and 52.5 EFG%.

31% from 10 – 23 ft is absolutely horrible and is more of an effect of JJ not getting in the paint and Teague not making floaters, as well as Josh and JJ missing a ton of midrange shots. That still doesn’t mean the Hawks should simply start jacking from 3, because all of our shooters are streak shooters.

Just to illustrate how misleading the EFG is, look at when a guy like JJ gets gun happy and go 3 – 9 from 3 point range. He may have an overall shooting night of 5 – 10 from 2. But because he jacked up all of those 3s and missed, his FG% is now 8 – 19 ( 42% ).

A streak shooter like JJ may make his first 2 threes, then miss 5 in a row at a critical juncture in the game, then make 1 for 2 to end the game. That 3 – 9 shooting = 50% EFG, but there is no way JJ will get major props going 8 – 19 for 19 points ( if he didn’t shoot any FTs ).

MC, the Heat are the best 3 point shooting team in the league. You know why? Because their most schizophrenic 3 point shooters ( Lebron and Wade ) stop taking 3s. Miami now get high percentage shots from everybody now. And a shooter like Chalmers is a designated 3 point taker, than having Lebron take those shots.

Nah MC. What the Hawks need to start doing is attacking the rim HARD and draw more FT attempts.

Miami is 1st in 3 point shooting, despite taking the 24th most attempts. But the Heat have taken the 5th most FT attempts, while the Hawks are 24th.

We don’t need the team taking more 3s, unless they are making them early. If not, the need to abandon the shot and take the highest percentage shot available.

The long 2 only became the worst shot in basketball when guys got 3 point happy. The shooters in the 80s would flat out KILL YOU with the 16 – 21 foot jumper. And those teams scored a hell of a lot more too.

Go look at the teams that shoot a lot of 3s, and see how many of them are actually any good.

ntrigue

March 6th, 2012
3:42 pm

Teague struggles with pick n rolls he needs ISO with the court spread out everytime we run pick n roll with Teague the person that sets the screen brings his defender with him ans this tends to cause problems with Teague he needs room to work one on one to create and breakdown the defense!

Rod from College Park

March 6th, 2012
3:52 pm

“@Rod: “The thing that is also mis-leading about our team 3 point percentage is the fact that most of those shots are wide open looks.”

why does that make the percentage misleading? should we knock off a couple points because they are open? and if they are making them and still being left open, doesn’t that mean they should shoot them more?”

MC. I only meant that when the game is on the line, or in the playoffs, teams will not leave Teague nor Marvin wide open like they do now. Sort of like Chicago last year in the playoffs closed out on Horford, and his offense was done. Marvin nor Teague are not good shooters when the are defended. Teague will fare better than Marvin though because he can put the ball on the floor and penetrate.

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
3:52 pm

MC

‘`so would you settle
for them cutting out the long 2s and taking more 3s?`’

No sir – I would not *’`settle`’*
but maybe that is not what you mean`t.

I believe in taking the 1st [best] shot that presents itself;
(within the structure of the offense).
I think; In LD`s [motion] offense;
each player should move w/o the ball;
but,
end up at, or batter said, move to [their] spots.
Josh in particular,
should shoot [true] mid-range, in rhythm, jump shots.

Note – I think Josh shoots the long 2’s as a giant FU …
to everyone for complaning so much in previous years.

When I say Inside;
let me define – Players receiving passes on basket cuts,
finishing on fast breaks, some post ups, drives,
drives and dishes, backdoor plays, etc.
There are a multitude of ways to get the ball inside w/o
simply throwng it to the block for a low post player.

Why we don`t pick & roll with Joe & Josh ?
Of course to run P & R a team has to practice to become
very, very, very, good & accomplished.

To simply answer your question:

Yes a *’`3`’* is better than a long *’`2`’* !

Grandad

March 6th, 2012
3:56 pm

*better said

-not-

*batter said

-ain`t-

(~~~~>baseball<~~~~)

northcyde

March 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

And another reason why teams rebound less off of shots taken from 10 – 22 feet, is because more PFs and guys who are 6-9 and taller are taking more shots from that range, which means your more traditional rebounders aren’t in the paint to gather up the rebound. This is the exact reason why the Hawks offensive rebound rate plummeted when Drew gave the green light for Horford and Smith ( our 2 best rebounders ) to start taking over 60% of their shots from midrange.

And no …. a 3 isn’t always better than a long 2. The nature of the NBA pretty much allocate that you have a guy who can make the 20 foot shot. The teams that can, usually win at a high percentage. The teams that can’t are schizophrenic offensively.