NBA Winning Strategy

Forums Academic discussion Data mining and analytics NBA Winning Strategy

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  • #4124

    One of the reasons that NBA teams have increasingly relied on the 3-pointer is because teams realize that if you’re not going to be attacking in the paint (underneath the basket), then you are better off shooting 3s instead of long 2s. I wanted to investigate whether this claim is true, and I also wanted to see if higher 3-point attempts % and higher 3-point success % actually correlates with winning%

    From my study, there is a correlation with 3-point attempts % and ORTG (NBA offensive rating)

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    Though not specified on this plot, I am assuming that the x-axis indicates the ORTG which is a players’ points per possession which measures their offensive performance. From your graph you could see a trend upwards that would indicate there is a positive correlation between a player’s ORTG and their three-point shooting %. But, as seen at points like (.256, 100) and (.17, 107), there are a few outliers in this graph which makes sense. It would be a good guess that those are forwards who shoot poorer from the three-point line or shoot fewer threes, but still score many points in the paint.

    Adam Newton

    When I saw this post I remembered hearing recently about the correlation of three point attempts and winning in the NBA (I think it was on NPR, maybe). Anyways, this triggered a quick search, and the first hit in google was the following:

    Three point shooting and efficient mixed strategies: A portfolio management approach

    This might be of interest to the original poster, as it’s a fairly detailed analysis of shooting strategies over the last 40-odd years in the NBA. Hope someone finds it useful!

    Nick Lawrence

    A similar observation was made in the MLB – batters who ‘swing for the fences’, that is, hit many home runs but with a low batting average, is becoming more popular in the MLB:

    Justin Pospishil

    Reply to Alex of #4124:

    Hi Alex,

    Were you ever able to prove the correlation between higher 3-point success % with winning%?

    A recent study I found interesting (take the reliability as you will) was that an increase in 3 point attempts/game resulted in an increase in points/game. To your question… wouldn’t teams with increased points/game also see an increased number of wins/year? I don’t see how they wouldn’t.


    This is why Steph Curry will be the GOAT ten years from now. You heard it here first.

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