Dec 20, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Jose Juan Barea (11) raises his hand after making a three point shot in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Target Center. The Timberwolves won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Importance of hitting a 3


What’s the importance of being able to hit a 3 point basket? Well if you have watched any of the Minnesota Timberwolves games up to this point of the season, you know it’s huge. The ability for a team to hit outside shots works 2 fold in the NBA. It can allow a team who has established a good inside game and force the defense to suck in and provide shooters an open look. Or, if the outside shot is falling, it forces the defense to crowd the shooter and create open looks inside. Look at what the league 3PT% stats show us:

Rank

Team

3P

3PA

3P%

Rank

Team

3P

3PA

3P%

1

Heat

198

484

0.41

16

76ers

169

476

0.36

2

Knicks

297

736

0.40

17

Cavaliers

213

601

0.35

3

Thunder

193

480

0.40

18

Bobcats

162

464

0.35

4

Hornets

184

477

0.39

19

Nets

195

559

0.35

5

Spurs

233

616

0.38

20

Blazers

198

572

0.35

6

Lakers

239

643

0.37

21

Kings

158

460

0.34

7

Warriors

191

519

0.37

22

Pacers

170

495

0.34

8

Grizzlies

125

341

0.37

23

Clippers

165

483

0.34

9

Mavericks

187

511

0.37

24

Bulls

101

296

0.34

10

Hawks

195

534

0.37

25

Magic

139

413

0.34

11

Pistons

157

436

0.36

26

Raptors

203

604

0.34

12

Rockets

242

676

0.36

27

Nuggets

161

496

0.33

13

Jazz

174

486

0.36

28

Bucks

137

422

0.33

14

Celtics

136

380

0.36

29

Wizards

157

485

0.32

15

Suns

175

491

0.36

30

Timberwolves

139

462

0.30

 

The top teams clearly get great looks inside because of their ability to hit 3 point shots. Tyson Chandler is possibly one of the biggest benefactors of his team’s ability to knock down 3 point shots. The entire undersized Heat front court gets great looks inside because of opposing teams needing to guard the perimeter and in turn it creates gaps on the defense in the paint.

One of the problems the Wolves have seen by shooting a league worse 30% from the 3 point arc is, no matter how much the Wolves establish their dominant inside game in the first half, or how large of a lead they open. The second half adjustments made by the opposing teams has their defenses collapses down into the post, and the game plan for the Wolves is completely different since they can no longer dominate the inside, and are unable to hit outside shots. If the Wolves could just hit an outside jumper to keep the defense honest, the inside game could get a chance to dominate all 4 quarters.

Take the Miami game for example: The Wolves shot 53% in the paint for 58 of the teams 92 points.  The Wolves also had 14 points at the Free throw line, for 72 of the 92 points. The remaining 20 points were on mid-ranges jumpers 4-14 (29%) and 3 pointers 4-17 (24%). That’s 8-31 (26%) to make up the remaining 20 points. Even if this team could hit mid range jumpers, it would at least keep a team honest on defense. But, for this particular game, once the Wolves got out of the lane, they really couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. When the shooting for the Wolves is that bad, the dominate inside game of the Wolves really goes to playing 2 on 5 basketball late in the game, because there is no threat of an outside jump shot. As we’ve seen the opposing team collapses the paint while not worrying about any threat of outside shot going in.

As for the Wolves their roster has shown no consistency to hit an outside shot. The team overall has the worst 3 point percentage in the league, this is after Kevin Love was very successful last season. Luke Ridnour and JJ are close to being at their career average of 36%. Chase Budinger while he hit big shots early this season, he is only a career 36% 3PT shooter himself. Kirilenko has never been a good 3PT shooter, and neither has Brandon Roy, who are both 31% and 35% respectively. Kevin Love who is the reigning 3 point champion is also only 36%. So if most people are thinking “Oh, they’ll be OK. They’ll get back to their career averages.” The problem is, for the most part, most of the players are close to their career averages.

Player

Pos

3 PTA

3PT%

Jose Barea

PG

56

0.339

Luke Ridnour

PG

68

0.338

Malcolm Lee

SG

24

0.333

Alexey Shved

PG

109

0.33

Derrick Williams

PF

37

0.324

Josh Howard

SF

16

0.313

Chase Budinger

SF

23

0.304

Andrei Kirilenko

SF

39

0.282

Kevin Love

PF

73

0.247

Brandon Roy

SG

9

0

Dante Cunningham

PF

0

0

Greg Stiemsma

C

0

0

Nikola Pekovic

C

0

0

Ricky Rubio

PG

5

0

 

Take any of the Wolves and compare them to the top 3 point percentage players in the league (minimum 60 3PTA). You see, nobody on this Wolves team comes remotely close to the top performers.

Rank

Player

Team

Pos

3PT%

Rank

Player

Team

Pos

3PT%

1

Kevin Martin

Okc

SG

0.458

10

Mike Dunleavy

Mil

SF

0.433

2

Jason Kidd

Nyk

PG

0.45

11

Brandon Knight

Det

PG

0.432

3

Jose Calderon

Tor

PG

0.443

12

Stephen Curry

Gol

PG

0.429

4

Quincy Pondexter

Mem

SF

0.443

13

Ben Gordon

Cha

SG

0.427

5

Toney Douglas

Hou

PG

0.443

14

Kevin Durant

Okc

SF

0.427

6

Shane Battier

Mia

SF

0.441

15

Jared Dudley

Pho

SG

0.426

7

Kyle Korver

Atl

SF

0.438

16

Kyrie Irving

Cle

PG

0.423

8

Steve Novak

Nyk

SF

0.438

17

DeShawn Stevenson

Atl

SG

0.422

9

LeBron James

Mia

PF

0.434

18

C.J. Watson

Bro

PG

0.42

 

Granted any Wolves fan knew they wouldn’t be near the top, but the purpose of this is to highlight how far away the Wolves players are. It’s a wide gap, over 10% points between the top Timberwolves performer and Kevin Martin, the top 3PT% shooter in the NBA.

On Thursday night against the Thunder, the Wolves not only moved the ball exceptionally well, they finally managed to hit 3 point shots 9-20 for 45%. The fact they were making jump shots allowed for passing lanes to move the ball so well. The 3 point shot was most noticeable in the 4th quarter. The Wolves had clearly dominated the inside game, Pek was tearing apart the Thunder big men. In the 4th quarter, the Thunder players were collapsing the paint to limit the Wolves inside looks, and it was creating open looks for the perimeter players. JJ Berea, Kevin Love and Alexey Shved finally knocked down some shots for the Wolves, as those 3 players went a combined 9-17 for 53%, and consequently the Wolves led the game from wire to wire and showed the national TV audience they are a complete team. Problem is, the true Wolves fan have seen more games of terrible shooting than games of good shooting.

As the Wolves have now released Josh Howard, and Malcolm Lee is being said to be done for the year, the Wolves really need a wing player who can knock down a open shot, specifically from 3. Who do the Wolves get? This is for sure; the answer isn’t going to be in the D League, Europe or a veteran player who is out there just waiting for a contract to get back in the League. Do you, the fan, really think Michael Redd, Michael Finley or even Raja Bell will be the answer to the Wolves 3 point woes? How about Lazar Hayward, Chris Douglas-Roberts? The only way this team, who is in the make the playoffs now mode, will get the wing player they need, will be through a trade. The question is who will they target or who will be available, and how soon will the Wolves get something put together?

 

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