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Myths and Facts About Three-Point Shooting

Posted By Howard Megdal On November 6, 2012 @ 11:26 am In Strategy | Comments Disabled

[1]It is easy analysis. The Knicks are 3-0, they are shooting 45 percent from three-point range. The threes will disappear, so will the wins. Right?

Well, no. The picture is far more complicated than that, and to the benefit of the Knicks’ future outlook.

First: sure, the Knicks aren’t going to shoot like Steve Novak from three, but as a team. J.R. Smith is shooting 61 percent from three. Ronnie Brewer is at 55 percent. Jason Kidd is shooting 54 percent. These numbers are coming down.

But other than Brewer, a career 25 percent shooter, the Knicks aren’t getting threes from people who can’t make them at all. Smith, remember, is a career 37 percent shooter from three, with four full seasons at 39 percent or better. Kidd hit 35 percent from three last year, and put up a pair of 40 percent-plus seasons from deep for Dallas. Steve Novak, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony are right around their career rates.

This is a team, then, that can certainly be expected to shoot well from deep based on their careers. And as long as the passing is so effusive, and Anthony is so quick to kick out of his inevitable double teams, those looks should be open ones.

In the meantime, so long as the defensive effort and other variables remain roughly static, the Knicks should win plenty of games, despite that regression. Consider that if the Knicks merely shot three-pointers at last year’s 33.6 percent rate as a team, with personnel far less effective at making them overall than this year’s team, the Knicks would have scored 33 fewer points over three games, assuming every missed three was rebounding by the opposition. They’ve outscored the Heat and Sixers, twice, by a combined total of 58 points.

In other words: had they performed like a below-average three-point shooting team to date, they’d still be a safe bet to be 3-0.

This is no fool’s gold start [2], Knicks fans.

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[1] Image: http://knicks.lohudblogs.com/files/2012/11/Outtakes-AP-S-BKN-NY-_Megd.jpg

[2] no fool’s gold start: http://www.masoninteractive.com/2009/02/dynamic-keyword-insertion-in-a-bad-economy/