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Posted by Zach Lowe on Oct 16, 2009 5 comments

I’ve already written about how the C’s maintained their high level of offense from 2008 through last season even though they attempted more than 200 fewer three-pointers. Contrary to conventional wisdom, taking three-pointers is generally a good thing for win totals. The long ball may let you down during a single game your team absolutely has to win, but over the full 82, it’s generally good to be in the upper half of the league in three-point attempts, as John Hollinger and others have shown. Even when the threes aren’t falling, the mere threat of them can open up the lane for penetration and inside shots.

So, yeah: Welcome, Sheed!

To review: The C’s actually improved a tick on offense last year by a) improving their overall shooting accuracy; b) shooting more corner three-pointers; c) making a higher percentage of their three-pointers than all but 11 single-season teams since 1980, when the league copied the ABA and introduced the triple.

You can expect that three-point percentage to go down this season. Law of averages and all. But you can also expect the team’s three-point attempts to go up, thanks mostly to the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace and the four threes per game he’s going to jack.

Math geniuses and computer programmers are still figuring out how strongly three-point attempts correlate with winning. But the early returns suggest the correlation is strong and getting stronger.

Here’s my totally unscientific and elementary contribution: I looked at team shot distributions to find out the records of teams that took a lot or a little of three type of shots: three-pointers, two-point jumpers and inside shots. For each of those shot types, I calculated the total winning percentages of the 10 teams that attempted that highest number of that particular shot type and did the same for the 10 teams that attempted the fewest. All data from this page onĀ 82games.

Here are the results:

**THREE-POINT ATTEMPTS:**

**Ten that took the most: 474-376** (.557 winning %)

**Ten that took the fewest*: 365-455** (.445 winning %)

**This group included the C’s, who ranked 21st in the NBA in three-point attempts.*

**TWO-POINT JUMP SHOTS:**

**Ten that took the most: 355-465** (.432 winning %)

**Ten that took the least: 421-399 **(.513 winning %)

**INSIDE SHOTS**:

**Ten that took the most:** 447-373 (.545 winning %)

**Ten that took the least:** 434-386 (.529 winning %)

Again, this is meant to be a fun post. It is not meant to be the sort of through study that would satisfy the 7th grade science teacher who taught me the scientific method in 1990 while I fruitlessly checked out girls. It’s a small sample size (one season), it doesn’t look at free throws, it’s not adjusted for pace and it doesn’t break down the three shot types into more specific (and thus more meaningful) shot categories.

But still: Isn’t it striking that the number of inside shot attempts had basically no impact on a team’s winning percentage, at least compared with how a team distributes its jumpers between twos and threes?If I repeated this same (rudimentary) exercise going back until 1990 or earlier, I bet I’d find this is a new-ish phenomenon—the product of a modern NBA in which coaches understand the three and use it instead of disdaining it as a trick that diverts a team from a “winning” pound-the-ball-inside strategy. Having more big guys who can shoot the three also helps.

It’s just a hunch. But in any case: Yet another reason to welcome Sheed to the club and to give Scal a chance to play 10 minutes a game.

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