April 24, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins (15) shoots the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison (4) and center Cole Aldrich (45) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the Kings' offense in 2011-12 and some of the basics about its improvement, its home-road differences, etc. I wanted to dig in more to the most important part of that, the team's shooting. Studies pioneered by Dean Oliver (currently ESPN's tops stats and data man, formerly a Sonics and Nuggets adviser) showed that of the four factors on offense and defense, shooting was the most important, with a correlation to overall performance twice that of rebounding and turnovers, and even more than twice as stronger as foul drawing. Shooting explains about 45-50 percent of a team's offensive performance, and shooting defense explains about 45-50 percent of a team's defensive performance.
So let's talk about shooting.
You can break it down in a couple different ways.
TYPES OF SHOTS: twos vs. threes, transition vs. halfcourt, first opportunities vs. second chances, off the pick and roll vs. isolation, open vs. contested, by range, etc.
SOURCES OF SHOTS: can also be playtypes, or specific players (DeMarcus Cousins shots vs. Isaiah Thomas shots).
QUALITY OF SHOTS: this gets more qualitative, but it can be broken down any number of ways.
We'll stay pretty basic here and look at range of shots and the player sources. Today, range.
Hoopdata.com has solid range data. The site breaks shots down into "at rim" (at the basket), "short" (inside of 10 feet, excepting the ones at the basket), "mid" (10-15 feet), "long" (16-23 feet) and "threes" (three-pointers). Below are the Kings' percentage of shots at each range, the league average and the Kings' rank.
Rim: 33.7 | 30.5 | 4
Short: 16.4 | 13.3 | 4
Mid: 6.3 | 8.9 | 27
Long: 20.7 | 24.5 | 25
Threes: 22.8 | 22.6 | 16
So the Kings take many more shots in the paint than the average team, far fewer mid-range and long two-point jumpers and about the average number of threes. Is this in and of itself a good thing? Here are the league average effective shooting percentages at these ranges. (Notice that three-pointers get a boost due to being worth three points -- it reflect that going 2-4 on threes is better than going 2-4 on long two-pointers.)
As expected, shots at the rim are a highly lucrative business. So are three-pointers, usually. But interestingly enough, shots from 3-10 away from the rim are worse, on average, than even long two-point jumpers. Think about the types of shots players take from that 3-10 foot range. Runners, floaters, hooks, jumpers in traffic, turnaround fadeaways ... these are usually tough shots, unless you have a highly skilled post player. So while the Kings profile looks pretty good at the rim and on threes (in theory), those "short" shots are not good. (Chicago led the league in FG% from there at 42.5 percent.)
Hoopdata does a cool thing where they rank range profiles ... they called it expected effective FG percentage. Basically, it's what a team would shoot if they hit league average at the different ranges. Teams with strong range profiles rank higher.
The Kings ranked No. 6 thanks to the heavy volume of shots at the rim and relative low figures on mid-range and long twos. The Kings ended up ranking No. 27 in shooting for the season. That's a failure to convert shots into makes. We'll discuss that next time.