Precision Shooting

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And now for something completely different, here is Matt Yglesias on three-point shooting in the NBA:

In general, there’s not enough three point shooting happening in the NBA. In the 2008-2009 NBA season the average possession resulted in 1.083 points. The league average on three point shooting, meanwhile, was .367 meaning that the expected value of a three point attempt was 1.101 points. Better than average. Indeed, last year only four teams scored at a more efficient rate than 1.101 points per possession.

My takeway from this is a little different: it’s astonishing how close these two averages are.  If you assume that players generally attempt the best possible threes, then additional attempts are going to have a poorer success rate.  Probably much poorer, since I imagine that effectiveness falls off exponentially with distance and coverage.  In other words, if NBA players attempted even 1% more threes, the expected value of triples would probably fall below the average possession.

That’s no big surprise, I suppose.  Professional basketball players, it turns out, have an extremely precise sense of how effective various plays are.  Still, the fact that they take threes at something like 99+% of the ideal rate is pretty remarkable.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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