Tag Archives: three point shooting

J.R. Smith’s shooting spree in charts

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J.R. Smith’s shooting chart over his last seven games.

While the Knicks’ season is veering off a cliff, J.R. Smith has come out with guns blazing in each of his last seven games, for better or for worse. He’s been one of the league’s leading scorers during that stretch at 23.7 per, much of it thanks to emptying the clip from beyond the arc by attempting 12.7 threes per game (!!!) and doubling his total attempts for the season in just two weeks. This was all capped yesterday afternoon when he set the record for attempted threes in a game with 22, a decent summary of the Knicks’ season and something only believable if it happened to, well, Smith himself.

But while some of those attempted threes have been cringe-worthy, Smith’s shooting over the last seven games has averaged out to decent efficiency: Nearly 24 points per game on about 18 shots and shooting splits of 48.5/46.3/100. Beyond the arc is where Smith’s done most of his damage, and by fooling around with similar charts I’ve used to visualize point distribution for teams we can see the shift in Smith’s scoring from his first 63 games to his last seven and even last three where he’s averaging 29.3 points. (If only that kind of scoring were sustainable, for NBA Twitter’s sake.)

The first chart we’ll look at is point per location from the normal six areas of the floor: restricted area, in the paint (non-restricted area), mid-range, corner three, above the break three, and free throws. As an example, below is Smith’s point distribution per game through his first 63 outings:

jr smith ppl england

Smith’s scoring weighed heavily toward the above the break three, for better or for worse, with nearly six points (5.62 to be exact) coming from that area of the floor. No other area gets as many as three points, with mid-range being the second most frequent scoring area at 2.86 points per.

Now, below features the graph previously mentioned along with his scoring distribution per game over his last seven outings and last three:

Smiff PPL

Click to enlarge. Quite helpful!

The very first chart provided shrinks considerably thanks to the max values provided to fit in Smith’s recent, unreal three-point barrage, and for the most part that’s all where he’s scored from. About three-fifths of his points coming from that scoring zone over his last seven games and two-thirds over his last three. The corner three and mid-range areas get some attention as well, but anywhere inside the paint and at the stripe has been mostly neglected.

Lastly, here’s a GIF of the increase:

smiff ppl on Make A Gif

While Smith’s upped his three-point attempts, the uptick in usage from 20.8 in his first 63 games to 25.9 over his last seven hasn’t hurt his overall efficiency. In fact, during the recent stretch, Smith’s effective field goal percentage is 62.2 compared to a pedestrian 48.6 during his first 63 games.

Below hopefully shows that increase from five spots on the floor, minus free throw shooting. A reminder should be given that Smith’s shots recently have largely come from the perimeter. He’s only taken a combined two shots per game from the two areas inside the paint.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

And like with points per location, below is a GIF of the increase in EFG% across the three stretches of games:

smiff EFG% on Make A Gif

Surely this isn’t sustainable, though there’s only four games left for the Knicks so we might see Smith lock and load until season’s end. New York doesn’t play another game until Friday anyway, giving him plenty of time to rest his shooting hand.

Edit: Previously, I mentioned that Smith holds the record for games with 10+ 3PA with four, but according to Basketball-Reference there’s actually a tie between multiple players for seven straight games of 10+ attempts. There’s still time for Smith to join that group as his streak is still alive, but for now he has a few games to go.

All stats are according to NBA.com.

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When Josh Smith makes consecutive threes

Over the last four months I’ve posted both optimistic words about Josh Smith’s shot selection and amazement of how bad it’s become. Hopefully this post is somewhere in the middle, both accepting of his jump shot and that I can’tstopwriting about him.

Josh Smith can do many good things on an NBA court. Catering his game to what math says about it, well, that’s not one of them (though that’s also on Joe Dumars). He’s taken nearly as many shots within five feet, where he averages 1.282 points per attempt, as he does from 20 feet and beyond where he averages .705 points per attempt. It also feels mandatory to mention that because Smith’s a 23.6 percent shooter from the arc that he’s five attempts away from becoming the worst in league history, minimum 200 shots. He’ll be the worst even if he makes every one of those five attempts. Fun times.

Making five threes in a row is possible, by the way. The current chance of Smith accomplishing that is 0.0011 percent or basically the chances of making a straight flush in poker, but the former event actually happened over two games in the 2012-2013 season against Memphis and Miami, when the likelihood of such an occurrence back then was slightly higher at .0053 percent.

Smith’s a streaky three-point shooter, proven as recent as last night when he laughed in the face of math by making two threes in a row against the Spurs. He came into the game shooting 22.9 percent from three (again, on nearly 200 shots) which meant the chance of making his next two attempts was 5.2 percent. If we go by his accuracy since January 1, that percentage drops to 3.1.

That’s exactly what happened, though.

As his 3-point percentage might show, however, Smith will have cold spells where he misses, say, eight in a row. His longest drought this season is currently 11 threes from December 23 to January 7, according to Basketball-Reference, which is currently about as likely to happen again as making another pair of threes. The odds for each are 5.55 percent and 5.18, respectively.

Here are some other occurrences in the NBA about as likely to happen as Smith either making two threes in a row or missing 11 straight, going off his new three-point percentage that’s a shade under 23.6 percent:

  • Brandon Jennings missing seven straight threes from above the break. Don’t count this out. Judging by the distance of a lot of his threes, this has happened multiple times this season.
  • Chris Bosh missing five mid-range shots in a row. With the looks LeBron James and Dwyane Wade give him, that possibility seems, um, not possible.
  • Carmelo Anthony missing five straight threes from above the break. More likely is Anthony making five straight threes and the Knicks still losing.
  • Stephen Curry missing in general, which feels like never.
  • And for the poker players, making two-pair is slightly less likely, calculating to 4.75 percent.

Smith doesn’t care for math, though, as last night was far from the only time he’s made consecutive threes this season — he’s accomplished that eight other times. Smith’s made 46 threes at a 23.5 percent clip, which should mean on average he’d only make two threes in a row just twice and maybe three in a contract year. A similar thing happened in 2013 when Smith shot just 30.3 percent from the arc, making 61 of 201 attempts but he made consecutive threes at twice the average occurrence — 12 compared to 5.6. As usual, the downswings were rough as he once missed 15 straight threes. Earlier seasons show similar variance, though this might be common for several shooters.

Smith’s been a downright streaky three-point shooter, for better or for worse with last night showing both sides. After making two consecutive threes early against San Antonio, Smith attempted another in the fourth quarter in which he proceeded to miss everything. Order was restored, but he’s going to keep hoisting threes whether his shooting hand is hot or so cold it confirms my suspicion he shoots with mittens.

If my math is off, feel free to chime in.

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