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The High Variance of the 3 Point Shot

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rox>Mavs, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Rox>Mavs

    Rox>Mavs Contributing Member

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    The recent Goldsberry article from Grantland started me thinking about something that's been bugging me for awhile. We depend so heavily on the 3 point shot and though it can be one of the most efficient shots, it also is the riskiest in terms of the variance (meaning the shooting percentage on any given night can go higher or lower than the average more than other shots).

    This article from Sloan Analytics says the variance of the 3 point shot is roughly double per shot than the 2 pointer.

    http://www.sloansportsconference.co...by the Three The Price of Risk in the NBA.pdf

    Other interesting things about that article:
    1) trailing teams do better by using the 3 more which isn't surprising but more surprising is

    2) leading teams ought to use the 3pt shot more especially when the lead is close but tend to become more risk averse and opt for 2ptrs

    3) teams that trail by 1 at the half win more often than teams that lead by 1 at the half which could mean trailing teams are more motivated to avoid losses than leading teams are to secure wins.

    This other article I found talks about the variance of the 3ptr and though it is effective and more efficient, the benefit is seen over the entirety of the season where the variance can be "smoothed" out over games. However a 7 game series the benefit is limited since there are less games to reduce the variance over time. The author implies one way for teams to overcome the variance is to increase the pace and possessions. More possessions allows the variance of the 3pt shot to be minimized.

    http://hoop76.com/peas-carrots-peanut-butter-jelly-3-pointers-pace/

    "There is a problem with the 3, however. While a triple-heavy attack is, in game theory parlance, a dominant strategy, it’s also a high-variance one. 3s are worth more than other shots and they go in less frequently, reducing the predictability of individual games. This makes a 3-centric offense well-suited for an 82 game regular season, where, over six months, the variance is ironed out–you lose a game you shouldn’t have here, steal one there–but in, say, a seven game playoff series, it can be a risky way for a favorite to play."

    I just get this uneasy feeling with how many 3's this team jacks up. When the shot is falling like it was last night it's great and we blow out teams, but a 20 point win is still just a win. Seems risky when the shot isn't falling and we dig ourselves into a hole.

    Sometimes I get the same feeling with our reliance on the free throw shots. It's an essential element to our offense but one that isn't controlled by the player but rather the refs.

    Anyway, what are y'alls thoughts on the riskiness or variance of the 3ptrs and our rate of usage of it?
     
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  2. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos Houston only fan
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    Great great read man .
     
  3. RudyTBag

    RudyTBag Contributing Member
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    In Dork Elvis we trust...
     
  4. cheke64

    cheke64 Member

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    Imma tell ya whats going happen. They going to clog the lanes to prevent Harden fouls, beard crumbles as usual, and just put a hand on every stand still role player camping at the 3. Fail philosophy.
     
  5. LosPollosHermanos

    LosPollosHermanos Houston only fan
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    If they mix in some screens, set shots...stuff that actually requires plays to be run, they can still run a 3-heavy offense. To lean almost completely on the 3 ball like they do now is bad news though, especially since we are so undisciplined. If we get bounced again in the 1st, Morey needs to bring in an established coach and swallow his pride about dictating the offense.
     
  6. cheke64

    cheke64 Member

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    Or minimum, throw it to dwight. Inside out. We are playing outside IN.

    That little run we had when players were out, somebody was coaching. Black setting picks and PnR. Canaan getting this offense to roll...
     
  7. kudos1017

    kudos1017 Member

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    I'm ok with a heavy dependence on 3's as long as this team gets back to its elite defensive ways. If they're defending well and get some easy transition buckets too, they should be able to keep games close even when they go cold from 3. Although I would prefer this type of offense if we actually had good shooters, or at least a true stretch 4 which would help everyone get better looks.
     
  8. bongman

    bongman Member

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    The top 6 teams that attempt the most 3 ptr's are playing in the west. I hope this eases your worries.
     
  9. baubo

    baubo Member

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    The basis for the study is wrong. The comparison should not be 3s vs. 2s. It should be 3 point jumpshots vs. 2 point jumpshots.

    Suppose you can build a team where you can shoot 40% from long 2s or 35% from long 3s. Which would you choose? That is the right comparison. If you just compare 3s to all 2s, you include transition points and driving into the paint, which clearly is more efficient than any other shot in basketball.

    The Rockets strategy isn't 3s. It's paint-then-3s.
    And if the Rockets don't use that strategy, it's not paint-then-paint. It becomes paint-then-long 2s.

    Stats are good and all, but you have to watch how offenses are built instead of taking one part of the offense and analyze it in a vacuum.
     
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  10. amazingskills

    amazingskills Member

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    2s taken in the flow of the offense are 3 times more efficient than forced and out of rhytm 3s with defender's hand in the face

    There is no substitute for ball movement and clever play!

    2 wing players below had the opportunity for 3 and the player in the middle had the opportunity for 2

    which shot is the most eficcient? which shot rockets usually take?

    <a href="https://imgflip.com/gif/g835l"><img src="https://i.imgflip.com/g835l.gif"/></a>
     
  11. Red Chocolate

    Red Chocolate Contributing Member

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    This is a great article and sums up the Rocket's style pretty well. When trailing or up big, 3's are good and bad possession 2s/turnovers are awful.

    Against really bad teams, the Rockets should probably utilize DMo more or Harden drives, and against great teams be willing to chuck up more 3's. Game theory optimal strategy suggests lowering variance against significantly weak opponents and increasing it against great ones.
     
  12. RoxBeliever

    RoxBeliever Member

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    In the end, it's still basketball. Play to win. Find out if you are hot that night or if the team is shutting down the paint.

    Our strategy is not just 3s; it's 3s AND shots at the rim. These hopefully will lead to FTs.
    The 3s and rim shots complement each other. When opponents have to sag in to stop our post play, hopefully that leads to open perimeter shots. And the space created by our 3pters, hopefully will give our frontcourt more room to operate.

    Doesn't Morey advocate high variance? I think he said in a radio interview last year that he is looking to create high variance games against the top teams.
     
  13. rocketsballin

    rocketsballin Member

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    the mid range shot is criminally underrated by this team. you saw what happens when you have a good playbook and move the ball when the hawks beat us.

    rockets are ranked 17th in 3pt% at 34.8, behind the likes of the heat, lakers and knicks. they make the most cuz they keep chucking them regardless if they're making them or not. i rarely see this mentioned. this three, ft or layup gameplan is flawed and again will get exposed in the playoffs if this team doesnt get some real plays going.

    maybe morey's philosophy can work if he had several above avg 3pt shooters. right now there's only two with terry and bev at 40%. bev hasnt played a full season in his career and his career avg from three is 37%, so you cant be sure he'll finish around 40%. brewer's at 42% but is a career 29% from three and is fluking big time. the other 3pt shooters are average or worse.
     
  14. Rox>Mavs

    Rox>Mavs Contributing Member

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    I think the second article clearly states this is a great strategy for the regular season hence why the top 6 teams might use it as you say. But the question of variance relates to a shorter 7 game series during the playoffs. Personally I don't care about seeding nearly as much as I do about playoff success.
     
  15. Rox>Mavs

    Rox>Mavs Contributing Member

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    Missing the forest for the trees. The study from Sloan was purposed only to demonstrate the difference in variance between 3's and 2's. If anything your post implies the variance of points in the paint have far less variance than long 2's. The long 2 might have the worst of both worlds (1 point less in value and higher variance/risk of not going in).

    The point is a 3 heavy offense is a high risk / high reward strategy that seems to be favorable over time if you can smooth out the variance with a large sample size. But that advantage gets severely limited in a 7 game series where the sample size is shortened. I don't know if that's true or not but that's the point I'm trying to discuss.
     
  16. Bball_Gill

    Bball_Gill Member

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    Some of us get it........... and appreciate your tour through the forest.

    If you couple this with defenders running out much harder on three's during the playoffs, it really provides some food for thought.

    There are reasons that old school basketball seems to prevail at the championship level. There are nuances that are not immediately evident by statistical analysis.
     
  17. baubo

    baubo Member

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    My point is that saying the Rockets utillize a "3 heavy offense" in of itself is misleading.

    Take for example the gold standard of offenses, the Spurs and their shot distribution.

    Rockets 34% of shots at the rim
    Spurs 32% of shots at the rim

    Rockets 49% of shots in the paint
    Spurs 50% of shots at the paint

    Rockets 11% of shots mid-range
    Spurs 23% of shots at mid-range

    Rockets 13% of shots corner 3s
    Spurs 7% of shots corner 3s

    Rockets 27% of shots non-corner 3s
    Spurs 19% of shots non-corner 3s

    So basically, the difference between the Rockets and the Spurs is that they switched from Spurs mid-range shots to 3s.

    And you know what the Spurs shoot on mid-range shots? 38%. That's it. The study is trying to say the the Rockets would be better off taking a 38% shot that nets them 2 points to become better. That makes no sense.

    The Spurs have a better offense than us because they have better shooters. They shoot the 3s better. They shoot inside better. They have better offensive talent. Not because they take better shots.
     
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  18. bongman

    bongman Member

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    I also don't care about seedlings.

    The point I was trying to make is that the other western conf teams will also be hoisting up a lot of 3 ptr's during the playoffs too. They will not be changing their style of play once it begins. In a playoff series, if both teams apply the same strategy during the playoffs, that variance is nullified. Teams don't normally reconstruct their offensive philosophy after 82 regular season games.
     
  19. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    Dmo Dwight josh smith Terrence jones
     
  20. TTRocket

    TTRocket Contributing Member

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    Good discussion here. Seems to me that there is more to it than simply 3s versus (long) 2s. I think its important to distinguish between quality shots (wide open) and contested shots as well.

    The discussion seems to center around 3s vs 2s, all else being equal. Given the actual plays, though, it would seem that shot quality should be an important variable (it may be easier to get quality shots with 2s than with 3s, or vice versa, depending on the particular circumstances and what the defense is giving you.)
     

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