1

This shows what an NBA basketball court looks like:

enter image description here

As you can see, the 3-point line is an arc until it gets close to the sides of the court, where it becomes a straight line due to not being able to fit within the width of the court.

The distance from any point on the curve of the 3-point line to the basket is 23.75 feet, and the distance of the closest part of the straight portions of the 3-point line to the basket are 22.0 feet.

You would think that shooting percentages for 3-pointers would be higher when they are taken along the straight portions of the line near the sides of the court, since those parts of the 3-point line are closer to the basket. Has this been confirmed by any analysis showing shooting percentages from different areas of the 3-point line?

4

Corner threes are much more efficient than wing or straight-up threes. 82 Games' stats showed corner threes as being about 118.8 points per 100 possessions, while the other two are much lower. (Though, all three are worth doing - Wing 3s are just about the same as an average shot, and straight up (top of the circle) threes are 105.3 points per 100, which is quite good also. Only shots from the low paint - e.g., layups and dunks - are more efficient than those.)

Much of this is because these are more often uncontested shots made by three point specialists, of course; it's quite common to put a pure shooter (Kyle Korver type) in the corner and hit him with a pass when his defender comes over to the post to double someone. That means these shots are often unguarded, and so are higher percentage.

ShotTracker has a good writeup here too that points out the difference between a "pull-up 3" and a "catch and shoot 3"; corner 3s are usually catch-and-shoot (112 points per 100 possessions) versus 97 points per 100 possessions on pull-up threes [which, again, is still very good compared to any two point shot except at the hoop].

Finally, FiveThirtyEight has some nice charts from Kirk Goldberry, which I highly recommend.

4
  • 1
    For the 82games link, I'd be more interested in the FG percentages, since the "points per 100 possessions" also includes fouls/turnovers where a 3-point shot wasn't even attempted. – pacoverflow Feb 4 at 5:40
  • It is interesting that the FiveThirtyEight link shows no difference in 3-point percentage - the corners and the top of the key are all 35-40%. Then again a 5% difference is fairly broad, and perhaps corner threes are closer to 40% and top of the key threes are closer to 35%. That must explain why corner threes are worth 1.10-1.20 points/shot, while top of the key threes are worth 1.05-1.10 points/shot. It wouldn't make sense for them to be worth different points/shot if they had the exact same shooting percentage. – pacoverflow Feb 4 at 5:41
  • 1
    @pacoverflow The 538 graphs show a tiny spot at the top that's roughly the same as the corners, but that may well have the same advantage as the corners - and is a tiny spot on the floor. I assume that's the reason - because they're being mixed in with a bunch of more challenged shots. The corners are basically equivalent no matter where in those areas you are - because they're nearly all the same kind of shot (less- or un-contested assisted, catch and shoot threes). They're also slightly closer, of course. – Joe Feb 5 at 3:43
  • That one graphic on 538 shows even the wing 3-pointers having the medium tan color representing 35-40%. The colors have bands within them, almost like a topographic map. I wonder if the closest band represents 35%, and the furthest band represents 40%. Maybe not, since that wouldn't be consistent with the points per shot graphic. – pacoverflow Feb 5 at 18:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.