CONTROVERSIAL STATEMENT: Shooting 3s is more efficient than shooting 2s is a common misconception.
DISCLAIMER: Since all the maths here is integrated into my metric (PJP48), I won’t be revealing the exact numbers that took weeks to source and extrapolate.
THE BASIC BASIS OF THE MISCONCEPTION
It’s safe to say an NBA average 3-point shot attempt produces just under 1.1 points - as at last year.
An (NBA average) 2 point attempt produces approximately 1.05 points.
Yes, this is less...
But wait there is more.
Imagine, if you would, a third way of scoring...
A much more efficient method which also stops the clock, and even penalises the other team’s player!
Bam! That’s too fantastical? Nope, it’s called free throws.
My point, easily proven, is that free throws are almost exclusively the domain of 2 point attempts and inextricably bound to them. A subset if you will...
A trend about to be exacerbated by...
THE HARDEN RULE
When pretending to shoot 3s, a heavily bearded rogue called James Harden often hooks and flops.
He has done so more than any other single team over his career.
The average NBA player is fouled on 1.66% of 3pt attempts. Harden 11.5%.
This is barefaced bearded cheating and our NBA league of gentlemen would clearly never stand for it. Quick as molasses, they pounced and only a brief decade after he started rolling around on the floor, they decisively announced the Harden Rule - which they called something else... Coming up with the instantly forgotten title probably took 2-3 years alone.
This will - please, sweet baby Jesus - eliminate or at least hamper the constant flopping. It will also reduce the shine of a lot of stars. The other chief culprits benefiting from this blatant ref love are Dame in distress Lillard, Steph Curry and Kemba Walker. Finally, justice for all.
It will also further reduce the impact of 3s overall. Those that can read the tea-leaves like Daryl Morey at Philadelphia, are stockpiling centers because the worm may finally be turning...
But back to my vague maths...
Even in the 'modern; NBA there are still more 2 point attempts (approximately half) than 3 points (roughly a third of all shots), the remainder are frees. And despite Harden and his flip-flopping all star mates, the vast majority of those frees are generated by inside the arc actions.
If you add the overall results - they are significantly different for the four types of trip to the line - of the free-throws bound to the separate categories of 2s and 3s, the efficiencies of the two categories are reversed
Based on last year’s NBA stats, a 3 point attempt barely gets a boost, generating around the same real points (1.1), but is leapfrogged by the 2 point attempt by a similar margin.
So last year the 2pt attempt was already better than the 3pt attempt. It always has been, albeit to varying degrees.
SIDENOTE: What often goes under the radar is that the league's increasing improvement in 3-point percentage is always offset by the corresponding improvement in free throw percentage. To what degree I don't know and am not about to go down that rabbit hole.
That was then. This is now...
Players who shoot 3s are naturally much better free shooters than average. Thus, the new Harden Rule will widen the gap between the efficiency of each type of shot even more than expected.
A new approach is thus statistically supported. It’s really a return to old school, but with a twist.
Spacing the floor is a valid concept, but it may become used more to unclog the lanes. You will always need balance.
Because I’ve done all this math myself, it’s already been incorporated into my PJP48 metric along with the true values for every other stat, so they already show out to me.
Thus it’s no surprise Alperon Sengun was a runaway number one in PJP48 generating 35+ points per 48mins.
Followed by Josh Giddey because rebounds and assists also translate and thus matter, too.
So the players I would prioritise for the new age are ones who get to the line and shoot above average 2s & FTs, (55%&75%) regardless of size. This should be the priority when scouting.
If they’re smaller, they’ll need a 30%+ 3-point shot as well to space the floor for our precious bigs.
So in essence I'm saying the league had it ass backwards for the last 20 years and the swings and roundabouts are about to turn again.
Are you convinced? Curious? Or disgruntled?
Let me know.