Shot Locations, Offensive Efficiency, and the Warriors
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson might be the league’s best deep-shooting backcourt, David Lee and Carl Landry have legitimate range to approximately 20-feet, and Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes get most of their offense from outside the painted area.
Put in a collective context, then, it makes sense the Warriors would be among the teams that shoot least frequently from close to the basket. Golden State simply doesn’t have the personnel of a rim-attacking squad like Denver or Houston, and lacks the traditional post-up options of a paint-dominant operation like Utah. And that would be a bad thing for most teams, a lack of shots nearer to the rim, but the Warriors nevertheless get by as a top-10 offensive unit due to all of that mid- and deep-range shooting acumen.
Here’s Golden State’s team-wide shot-chart, with the court broken down into five-foot zones.
The Warriors league-rank in terms of attempts from each zone plays out predictably. Inside five-feet: 27th. Five-feet to nine-feet: 10th. 10-feet to 14-feet: ninth. 15-feet to 19-feet: fifth. 20-feet to 24-feet: 19th. 25-feet to 29-feet: sixth.
None of that should surprise. Owed to their perimeter-based offense, Golden State ranks just 21st in paint points per game. That’s not an impressive mark on the surface but becomes more so when considering just how little the Warriors shoot from there. Despite developing finishers like Curry and Thompson doing a lot of the team’s penetrating and the relatively undersized Lee and Landry making up their vast majority of frontcourt attempts, Golden State shoots a solid 59.0% from the inside five-foot range. That number is the league’s 14th-best, and while a far cry from NBA-leading Miami’s 66.0%, a major boon to the Warriors’ offensive success.
If they were to struggle shooting from any particular distance compared to others, you’d assume it would be near the rim. Instead, Golden State shoots just a bit better than average from there, a big reason why they rank top-10 in both true shooting and effective field goal percentages.
The prevailing thought is teams that shoot closer to the basket more often will yield better offensive results overall. It’s too early to say that’s wrong, but this season is helping to show us there’s another way to score efficiently – prolific and proficient shooting from three-point range.
Of the top-10 teams in offensive efficiency, just four – San Antonio, the Clippers, Houston, and Denver – are among the top-10 in paint points per game, too. Meanwhile, six of the 10 most offensively efficient squads – New York, Miami, San Antonio, the Lakers, Houston, and the Warriors – are in the top-10 in percentage of points scored from three-pointers. Obviously, the double-dip accomplished by the Spurs and Rockets is the ideal scenario; close shots are easier than others and three-pointers are worth more than others, after all.
But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that mere efficiency in-close and production from deep can a great offense make, and the Warriors are just one of the league’s many examples this season.
*Statistical support provided by NBA.com and teamrankings.com
Follow Jack Winter on Twitter @armstrongwinter.