Trying to Understand the Point Guard Results, Part III: Combining Three-Point Percentage and Three-Point Attempts

by Jon Nichols

So far, I’ve run two studies trying to make some sense of my original study on the importance of three-pointers for point guards (http://basketball-statistics.com/howtheshootingabilitiesofpointguardsaffectoffenses.html).  First, I factored in true shot percentage (http://basketball-statistics.com/tryingtounderstandthepointguardresultsparti.html).  Next, I re-did the original study using career three-point percentage instead of the current season’s percentage (http://basketball-statistics.com/tryingtounderstandthepointguardresultspartii.html).

Today, I’m going to look at the interplay between three-point percentage and three-point attempts.  So far, I’ve established that at least in some ways, three-point shooting is important for point guards.  However, it makes sense that a player that can shoot threes not only efficiently but also often will be even more effective.  It may even be possible that being an average three-point shooter but attempting a lot of them is more useful than being an accurate but timid shooter.  After all, if a player keeps hitting threes, the defense will inevitably be forced to adjust and leave other players more open.

To see if there is some truth to this, I first divided the point guards into three categories based on percentage: those with a 3PT% above 40%, those between 30% and 40%, and those below 30%.  I then split those three categories into nine based on the amount of attempts a player had.  For each category, I calculated the average Offensive Rating of all the lineup combinations that featured one of those players.  The results are below:

To see the amount of lineups that qualified for each category, see below:

As you can see, not enough players qualified for the top right and lower left categories, and that’s a good thing.  That means that the best shooters aren’t afraid to fire away and the worst shooters know their limits (to an extent).  Another observation is that accuracy is more important than frequency.  The players with the highest percentages had the most positive impacts on their offenses, regardless of the number of attempts.  Additionally, it is better to be more efficient with a medium amount of attempts than less efficient with a higher amount of attempts.

Beyond that, there are many more observations to be made.  There are also many other ways I could qualify the importance of three-point shooting for point guards.  In the future I will do some more research as well as gauge the importance of three-point shooting for other positions.