Precision Shooting

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.

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.