The importance of the three point shot

The title of this article shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. When the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals, they did so with terrific ball movement. That ball movement led to open threes. When the Golden State Warriors took over the league in 2014, we know how they did it. The three point shot is an important component of every team’s offense in the modern NBA. In the perfect world, most if not all of your players should be able to shoot threes. If they are not natural three point shooters, they must learn how to shoot threes. My next point really emphasizes the importance of shooting threes.

During the 2014-2015 season, the Houston Rockets led the NBA in three point attempts with 32.7 attempts per game. At the time, this was considered a high volume. In 2022, the Minnesota Timberwolves leads the league in attempts with 41.6 attempts per game. Last year, the Utah Jazz led the league in three point attempts with 43 per game. From 2018-2020, the Houston Rockets averaged at least 45 attempts per game.

This year, the Washington Wizards averaged 30.8 three point attempts per game. In 2014-2015 season, Washington would have be second in the league in three point attempts per game. In 2022, they are 29th in the league in three point attempts. Although Washington is near the bottom of the league in three point attempts, their offense still features a decent amount of three pointers. Washington averages 80.6 field goal attempts per game. If 30 of your 80 shots are coming from beyond the arc, that’s still a fair amount.

In order to shot threes, you need players who are confident in taking them. If they aren’t confident in the shot, they need to improve on it. Especially if they aren’t the first or second option scorer on the team.

Rui Hachimura

The last sentence applies to Rui Hachimura to a tee. As a rookie, Hachimura was not all that comfortable shooting threes. He was comfortable shooting mid range jumpers, which requires slightly different shooting mechanics. As an athletic 6’8 power forward, Hachimura had the ability to elevate over defenders for a jumper. Although his mid range shot was accurate, the arc on his shot was relatively flat. Which didn’t translate well to the NBA three point line, where you need to put arc on your shot. As a rookie, Hachimura shot 28.7 percent from beyond the arc.

In his second season, Hachimura increased his three point accuracy to 32.8 percent. In the 2021 playoffs, Hachumira shot 60 percent from the three point line in 5 games. The 5 games might be a small sample size, but keep this in mind. Hachimura averaged 3 attempts from beyond the arc per game. Sure we only have 5 games to look over, but Hachimura was getting threes up and making them.

Hachimura’s success in the playoffs from three carried over into this season. In 31 games, Hachimura is shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc on 2.6 attempts per game. By being able to space the court, Hachimura is having his most efficient season to date. He has an effective field goal percentage of 57.5 percent, and is shooting a career high 49.6 percent from the field. All while averaging a career low 20.2 minutes per game and a career low 8 shot attempts per game. These stats are from Basketball Reference.

Is this the best way to play basketball?

If you came into the league not known as a three point shooter, you need to develop that shot. Threes are such an important part of NBA offenses now. Even teams like the Wizards who are at the bottom of the league in three point attempts per game, take a good amount. If you don’t make enough threes, it’s hard to score enough points to be competitive in the modern NBA. But is shooting a ton of threes the best way to play basketball?

I would say yes because having floor spacing gives your best players room to do what they do best. Having shooters on the court stretches the defense out, making it more difficult to double team your star player. In Hachimura’s rookie season, you can give him space for that three point to double team Bradley Beal. Today, it would be a mistake to leave Hachimura wide open from beyond the arc. The more shooting you have on the court around your star player, the better.

Should the Wizards shot more threes?

In the perfect world, yes the Wizards should attempt more threes. Their main obstacle is that some of their best three point shooters have seen a drop in their long range accuracy. Bradley Beal’s decline as a three point shooter has been well documented. Corey Kispert was considered one of the best if not the best jump shooter in his draft class. On the season, Kispert is shooting 34.6 percent from beyond the arc. Not terrible, but not good enough if you are known as a shooter.

As a team, Washington is shooting 33.9 percent from beyond the arc. Which is 26th in the league according to Washington doesn’t shoot enough threes or make enough threes. Not a good sign in the modern NBA.

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The importance of the three point shot The importance of the three point shot The importance of the three point shot

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