FanPost

Salvation and Doom from Beyond the Arc

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I am about to spend (read: waste) a bunch of time talking about a stat that I feel is very important to understanding our beloved basketball team: Three-Point Point Distribution Percentage. That stat measures the percentage of a team’s total points that come from three pointers. If you score 100 points in a game and hit 10 3's, you have a 3pd% of 30. Ok, here goes…

Remember the 2011-12 season? Here's a refresher:

-We're gonna get a great coach!

-We'll never get a coach!

-What is a Mark Gottfried? Yow sucks!

-I LOVE MARK GOTTFRIED! Thank you Yow!

I bring up that season because it was the only time that Gott’s Wolfpack have not been at the bottom of the ACC in conference 3pd%. NCSU was last in the league last year at 20% and will almost certainly finish last this year as they are currently at 15%. But in 2011-12? CJ Williams, Lo Brown, Alex Johnson, and some chucker named Wood had the Pack sitting pretty at 11th (out of 12) with a 3pd% of 21.6.

So it could be assumed that a low 3pd% is a characteristic of the Gottfried offense. It also isn't necessarily a bad thing. Roy Williams teams tend to be toward the bottom of the ACC in 3pd% and they typically do alright. In fact, the year we were next-to-last they were actual-last at 17.6% and went 32-6. But the difference between that UNC team and their 17.6% and the last two NCSU (20.4% and 15% respectively) is that they had several guys hitting threes, and we just have the one…and that’s the problem.

3pd% is not just a team stat, it can also tell you what % of a teams’ threes come from an individual player. The chart below shows where Gott's teams have gotten their three-pointers in conference play, and how well each indivdual shooter fared beyond the arc in that season:

11-'12

3p%

3pd%

12-'13

3p%

3pd%

13-'14

3p%

3pd%

Wood

41%

51%

Wood

42%

58%

Turner

38%

57%

LoZoBro

35%

15%

Purvis

39%

19%

Buckets

26%

23%

CJW

34%

17%

LoZoBro

26%

12%

Tyler

15%

7%

Alex

30%

12%

Tyler

29%

5%

Dez

27%

10%

Team

5%

Buckets

40%

5%

Cat

22%

3%

I didn't include that '11-'12 UNC team with the 17.6 3pd%, but they basically had 4 shooters splitting the 3pd% and 3 of those shot over 35%. When we include them, what we see is 4 examples of teams that all share one common stat: very low 3pd%. The difference between the 2 good teams and the 2...um...less good teams is that the good teams (1) took a lot fewer shots to earn their percentage and (2) were getting efficient deep production from several players.

Yes, I kind of just said that better teams have higher 3p% and at least a few efficient shooters. That's obvious. But I think something less obvious can be found in the details: You can have a low 3pd% OR you can get have a high-volume 3p shooter, but if you have both then you will be very easy to defend. How many times have we seen our 3p shooter frantically sprinting, changing direction erratically, swinging his arms as he fights through screens and the defense...basically looking like a dude being chased by an invisible swarm of bees? Every team has those plays, but we have had to turn to them so often out of necessity. It's our only chance at an open 3 from a shooter capable of hitting them with any regularity. Good shooting teams don't have to do that. They get 3's from multiple reliable contributors within the flow of their offense.

So here's where all these numbers (which we know to be bullshit) have a practical effect. Remember when Cat was taking all those jumpers in the first half against UNC? It was partly bad decision making but mostly as a result of the packed-in defense that was in front of him. UNC, UVA, and most other good teams are going to slam the lane full of dudes and make us use anyone but our one good shooter to shoot them out of it. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it this year just like there wasn't much we could do about it last year. But I believe that the '11-'12 season shows that Gott's system can and does work when the right parts are in place. Let's just hope Lacey and those Martins can hit some damn 3's.

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