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A Basketball Revolution: 3-Pointers


Before the first ever three-pointer made in NBA, which was scored by Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics on October 1979, the basketball game was probably very boring to watch. In fact, the treys are revolutionary new rule serving to open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the spectators. With no doubt, after the first three-pointer made, the game changed completely.


However this analysis will not be about the history or the strategy of the three-pointers, nor we will honor legendary three-pointer such as Ray Allen or Reggie Miller. But we will rather look last two seasons of NBA, try to answer questions like which teams shot more threes both on lost games, or won games, both on home court or away courts and also is there any correlation about winning and three pointers made?, etc..


The following table summarizes team based thee pointers statistics in last two seasons:

Three Points NBA Team Comparison


In 2013-14, most treys attempted by Houston Rockets (26.59 FG3A per game), Houston is followed by Atlanta, Portland and Phoenix respectively all around over 25 attempts. The league average was 21.53. On the other hand, Memphis tried least threes than any other team by far with 13.99 FG3A per game, followed by New Orleans (15.89).


The previous season we saw New York (28.91) and again Houston (28.89) on top. Memphis once more used least threes than any other team by far with 13.5 FG3A per game, followed by Chicago (15.43) and Utah (16.89).


Looking to the averages, 3PT attempts are increased nearly 1.6 shots per team in a game in 2013-14 regarding the previous season.


For successful three pointers, in 2013-14, Warriors and Lakers was the leader with 9.44 FG3M per game. But in 2012-13, New York made 10.87 treys and Houston made 10.57. The most seasonal differences for both FG3A and FG3M is occurred by Phoenix Suns. They tried 7.32 more threes and made 3.48 more in the last season than 2012-13.


San Antonio Spurs was the most effective team in three pointers with 0.4% FG3%, in the previous season Golden State had this feat with same percentage.


Nonetheless, without regarding pace, such comparisons remained a little bit vague. In order to neutralize the pace effect, we can compare 3PTA per team possessions. In this category, Houston is still the leader per 27.42% and they are followed by New York (27.33%) and Atlanta (27.18%). For 10 teams, this ratio is higher than 25%, which means 10 teams tried a three every for 4 possessions in their game.


Surprisingly, in 2012-13, for only 5 teams, their 3PTA per possessions were over 25%, thus we can say that 3 pointers usage is increasing year-by-year. New York was on top nearly a three per 3 possession (32.19%) followed by Houston (29.99%) in 2012-13.


When comparing the pointers percentages in all points scored, New York is the leader both 2013-14 and 2012-13 with 28.17% and 32.61% respectively.


Home Court and Won/Lost Game Effect


In away games, teams attempted slightly more threes than their home games on average in 2013-14. In away games Atlanta was the leader of 3PTA with 26.34 (27.77% per possession), but in home games Houston was the leader with 27.17 (28.03% per possession).


For 3PTM leaders, Portland made 9.66 treys per away game, and Houston 9.76 treys per home game.


In Won games, Lakers is the leader of 10.96 three pointers made per game. But in lost games, Atlanta made the most 3PTM with 8.98 per game (thanks to Kyle Korver and his consecutive FG3M record).


Three Pointers Importance to Win Games


When we look at the correlation between FG3A, FG3M and win/lost statistics. FG3M is positively correlated with winning; but there is no any relationship between FG3A and result of the game. Therefore, we can affirm that higher FG3M resulted in higher chance of winning game, but it is not true for FG3A. Even when we split the data for home/away courts and also for 2012-13 or 2013-14, the same result appears.


Three Point and Winning Correlation


Statistically we can roughly predict that scored more treys than the opponent, increase the chance of winning nearly %22.


When we split the data into two halves (the first group for the teams when they scored at least 7 treys in a game), and look the total points scored in a game, there is clear and highly (%99 level) significant distinction between groups where making more 3 pointers, result in scoring more points on average.


Total Score and Three Points Analysis

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