Tag Archives: corner threes

Paul George and his hot hand from the corner three

It seems like Paul George takes that “next step” every season. He was the NBA’s Most Improved Player last season, but like Kevin Love in 2011 and 2012, there’s always curiosity about him winning it a second-straight time.

Arguably this season’s most obvious improvement in George’s game has been his comfort handling the ball while attacking just about every area of the court. That’s huge when he’s taken on a bigger load of the offense. He’s upped his usage rate from 23.5 percent in 2013 to 28.1, but trimmed his rate of turnovers from 15.2 percent to 11.8. He’s also been scoring more efficiently with an increase in his true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, and free throw rate. In particular, measuring his usage and true shooting puts him in company with only nine other players this season.

While a lot of that has been aided by a mid-range jumper that makes George a handful to guard, he’s also been red-hot from the corners where he’s shooting a ridiculous 59 percent. That’s surprisingly not first but second-best in the league, minimum 20 attempts. (For Paul George’s complete shot chart, click here.)

Here are the top 10 shooters. I only included usage rate because I needed another category to help fix formatting issues, but that statistic will come in handy later.

Top 10 Corner Shooters


Player
 
C3FGM
 
C3FGA
 
C3FG%

Usage
Mirza Teletovic (BKN) 13 21 61.9% 19.3
Paul George (IND) 32 54 59.3% 28.1
Mario Chalmers (MIA) 20 35 57.1% 17.0
Andre Iguodala (GSW) 17 32 53.1% 13.3
Marco Belinelli (SAS) 18 34 52.9% 19.6
LeBron James (MIA) 11 21 52.4% 29.5
Omri Casspi (HOU) 12 23 52.2% 18.9
Mike Miller (MEM) 14 27 51.9% 13.6
Darren Collison (LAC) 15 29 51.7% 19.9
Damian Lillard (POR) 15 29 51.7% 24.8
Anthony Tolliver (CHA) 18 35 51.4% 10.5

Over the years, other elite wings have been up and down with how many corner threes they’ve taken. That isn’t surprising when expanding players like George to that area takes away the impact of role players who specialize in shooting corner threes. (You could also say this about LaMarcus Aldridge, who has Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum taking plenty of shots from the corners, and Dirk Nowitzki throughout his career.) Kevin Durant doesn’t take many shots from the corners at all while Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony have been hot and cold throughout their careers.

George is an exception along with LeBron James, who developed a killer right corner three last season. For George, he’s averaged about one corner three attempt per game since 2012, and though he tends to favor the right corner he’s been equally good (or in 2012, bad) from either side. He’s currently 13-for-24 from the left corner three and 19-for-30 from the right side with most makes coming from spotting up in transition, being the beneficiary of drive-and-kicks, and capitalizing on meltdowns from opponents while defending Indiana’s inbound plays.

90 percent of George’s corner threes this season have been assisted, a standard mark for that area of the floor. Lance Stephenson has been his main feeder, responsible for nine out of 29 assisted threes, according to NBA.com. That’s no surprise when Stephenson’s become capable (and sometimes obviously confident) of running the offense and finding shots for not only himself but everyone else. George Hill has been another primary passer to Paul George, responsible for seven assisted corner threes. I expected Roy Hibbert to have a similar impact, which he has been but primarily when George is either going to the hoop or on the left side of the arc. The difference in where each player assists to another is interesting in itself.

Is George’s current percentage from the corners sustainable? He’s on pace to take 116 attempts this season, or about 1.4 per game if he never took a game off. Mitch Richmond’s the only player to make over 50 percent of his corner threes, take over 100 attempts, and carry a similar weight of a team’s offense like George currently has, according to NBA.com. (Edit: Here’s a player comparison between that season and George’s 2014 campaign, via Basketball-Reference.)

Otherwise, shooting around 50 percent from the corners is usually reserved for role players, but ones that become incredibly valuable when defenses have to adjust for their shooting. Here are some players who came close to matching each criterion, sorted by the season. Richmond’s hot shooting is also included:

100 attempted corner threes, nearly 50 percent made, with a usage rate near 28%
(according to NBA.com)

Player Season C3FGM/C3FGA C3FG% Usage
Paul George (IND) 2013-14 69-116* 59.3 28.1
Joe Johnson (ATL) 2005-06 55-119 46.2 24.6
Rashard Lewis (SEA) 2004-05 66-134 49.3 24.0
Latrell Sprewell (NYK) 2002-03 54-116 46.6 22.6
Jamal Mashburn (MIA) 1999-00 74-157 47.4 23.8
Ray Allen (MIL, SEA) Any from 2000-07 A lot-A lot 40-45ish 27.0
Mitch Richmond (SAC) 1996-97 56-103 54.4 29.4

* – projected if George played 82 games.

In the second half of this season, variance will probably rear its ugly head towards Paul George’s corner threes. It would take him out of the hunt for the rare accomplishment previously listed, but it’s nowhere near the end of the world if that really happens. The corner three is a nice weapon for George just like it was last season, but it’s the other improvements like tightening his handles and adding a mid-range game that’s placed him among the league’s elite.

Looking at the corner 3, where the Utah Jazz are shooting nine percent

Shotchart_1384330671093

Utah’s shot chart. So much blood.

It might be overkill to look at the Utah Jazz’s struggles when I wrote about Toronto’s shooting yesterday. That, and Zach Lowe touched on the cramped spacing for Utah at the end of his latest column. But I’ll also look at a few more things about the corner three, including which team was once so good from that special area that it was silly.

But to start, as you can see in the Jazz’s shot chart, there are a lot of areas where the Jazz are struggling to convert offense from. None of it is worse than the corner three though, where they’ve shot a whopping 9.1 percent (3 for 33). It’s obviously a small sample size and a few other teams have been brutal from the area that usually produces the most efficient shot outside of a layup, but it’s difficult imagining the Jazz not being one of the five worst shooting teams from that area by season’s end. Who’s going to make those shots? Can Richard Jefferson catch fire for like one game? Where’s Brandon Rush? It might be up to Gordon Hayward, who was at least 45 percent from the right corner last year.

Again, it’s only been eight games, but hopefully they don’t break the record for worst shooting ever from the corners. That record belongs to Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse and the 1998 Detroit Pistons who shot a record-worst 25.2 percent, according to NBA.com. To stay above that mark, Utah, if they keep taking the same amount of shots from the corner as they previously have, will have to make at least 28 percent from here on out.

Hopefully that’s manageable, and it should be. No team has made less than 30 percent of their corner threes since the Jazz of 2007. If it’s not, then starting 0-8 may only be the beginning of a long, frustrating season in Salt Lake City. (At least there’s college basketball to look forward to.)

It’s weird though. Utah used to traditionally be at or near the bottom in corner threes attempted but were very good at making them. And since they were good at making them (they shot 50.7 percent in 1999, which is nowhere near the best and soon you’ll see who is) then why didn’t they shoot more? Why didn’t every team shoot more from the corner? No team neglected corner threes as much as Portland did in 1997 though, according to NBA.com, setting the record for the least corner threes attempted in a season with 86. Last year, 12 teams surpassed that many attempts before December.

But in 1997, another record involving corner threes was set–and this one is way better! The Charlotte Hornets, featuring Dell Curry and Glen Rice in his career year, set the record for the most accurate shooting from the corners by making 108 of their 175 attempts for a blistering 61.7 percent. Most teams today don’t even shoot that well around the rim. (Edit: Glen Rice was 45 for 68 from the corner three — 66.2 percent) 

There are a ton of good shooters from the corner today but picturing a team breaking that mark, combined with the total number of shots taken there? That would surely be a team for the ages. Hopefully the Utah Jazz don’t end up on the opposite end of that discussion.

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