Updated: Feb 14
Improving Your Basketball Program with Advanced Stats
Ready to Win More Games? It's Time to Shoot More 3s!
There, I said it. And trust me, I do really believe it. 🤣 Now before you decide I’m crazy and stop reading this email, all I ask is one thing. Give me the chance prove it to you.
Now we do need to get one thing out of the way first. Yes, I do LOVE the three-point shot. Like really love it. As in, I couldn’t always tell my teams how much I loved it because they might have thought it was free rein for them to only shoot 3s and nothing else.
I get it if you don’t love the 3 as much as I do, but one thing’s for certain – you MUST understand it’s value in your offense and why your team should be taking them, whether you make them at a high percentage or not.
When I was coaching at the high school level, my teams were always known to generate a high-volume of 3s year in and year out, and it was a direct correlation to the consistent success we had as a team in the win column.
Now here’s one key thing that we understood better than most: generating a high-volume of 3s isn’t just about making 3s. There would be years that we’d be winning upwards of 75% of our games, and “only” having a team 3-pt FG% in the high 20s to the low 30s. You see, making 3s is just one of many benefits for your offense when you start shooting more 3s per game. In fact, I’d argue that most of you reading this should be having your teams shoot 8-10 more 3s per game than you currently are right now.
Why is that? Well here are four major reasons why you should start generating more 3s, this season and beyond. 😉
1. Points Per Possession
Take a look at the below chart of NBA points per shot. The data is a little old (it’s from the 2016-17 season), but it’s still incredible valuable information across all levels.
Now imagine that your team takes 20 pull-up 2s per game. Based upon the above data, you’d expect to score 15.8 points on those shots. Now if you were to replace 10 of those pull-up 2s with catch-and-shoot 3s, your expected points increase to 19.1 points on those 20 shots.
To win games, we must score more points than our opponent. (Duh, right?) But to actually score more points than our opponent, we want to shoot shots with a higher value compared to the competition. We can make fewer shots, but still have more success. Over the course of a game/season, that will give us a significant advantage over the teams we play.
A hallmark of great offensive teams is their ability to make the defense guard the entire length and width of the floor. If your team is known to generate a high volume of 3s as a part of your offense, the defense can’t stay packed in. As they are forced to extend out and guard more space, that is going to open up wider driving lanes and cutting lanes for your team.
But when your team isn't a threat to even shoot a 3, what motivation do good defensive teams have to come out and guard you? Instead, they can "pack it in" inside the arc which will not only make it harder for you to get shots closer to the basket, but it will also significantly decrease your opportunity for offensive rebounds.
Great spacing leads to opportunities like these:
3. The Mike D'Antoni Effect
While Mike D’Antoni has never won a NBA championship, he is known across the league for the way his offensive schemes elevated the level of play for his players in ways that few other coaches or systems did. Whether it was stars like Steve Nash and James Harden, or role players like Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell, or Nick Young; players often had their most productive years while playing for D’Antoni.
A big part of this success was their focus on the 3-point shot. Because players knew shooting a lot of 3s was expected of them, they worried less about the misses. Instead of looking over their shoulder after a miss to see if they were about to be subbed out, they had the freedom to play with a continued confidence and move on to the next play.
You can learn more about the D'Antoni Effect and how players thrived playing in that environment by clicking here.
As coaches, we always want our players to make the best use of their time out of practice. However, I constantly hear from coaches at all levels concerning their frustration that players either 1) don’t spend time on their craft outside of practice or 2) take a very haphazard approach to their personal training time.
Now consider this. What if the players on your team knew that the better of a 3-point shooter they were, the more shots (and playing time!) it would GUARANTEE them during games? Do you think their focus outside of practice would change? I do. In fact, I saw it happen for 14 years as a head coach.
We not only valued great 3-pont shooting, but we also went a step further by taking the time to track and measure our shooters performance in practice and correlating that to their freedom to shoot in games. This approach was a complete game-changer for the way our players approached their personal training time.
Side note: If you’d like to learn more about how we did this and created a culture of player-development, I’d love to connect with you on it. Click here to schedule a free 20-minute consult together.
I’ve also found that the more “fun” my players have when they’re playing our style of play, the harder they work and the more consistent effort they put in over time! I know there are a lot of coaches who feel like players should always be playing hard, giving great effort, etc. because the coach says so; and I don’t necessarily disagree. But what if we as coaches created an environment where players WANTED to come and work hard each day and actually had fun while they did it? That’s what being a great motivator is all about.
So whether you start shooting 30 three-pointers per game or not, it’s vital that you find ways to incorporate these concepts into your teams and its offensive strategy. You’ll begin to find more success on offense, which will lead to more wins and a lot of fun while you’re doing it.