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The Pistons seem to get the value of the corner three

Zack Lowe of Sports Illustrated has a really interesting look at the value of shooting corner 3-pointers. First, here’s his description:

It has become accepted among NBA geeks that the hierarchy of the “best” shots, from most efficient to least, goes something like this:

1. Dunks/layups

2. Free throws

3. Corner three-pointers

4. Other three-pointers

5. Mid-range shots

Teams last season shot 39 percent on corner threes, which is about the same percentage teams shoot overall on two-pointers outside the restricted area. Teams last season shot about 35.5 percent on all three-pointers, meaning they shot something like 33.5 percent to 34 percent on three-pointers taken anywhere but the corners.

In short: The corner three is a great shot, something Spurs coach Gregg Popovich understood probably before the Internet became a thing.

And, in his section on coaches, Lowe notes that the Pistons have improved immensely at defending corner threes under Lawrence Frank:

Another coach to watch: Lawrence Frank. The Pistons are right behind Philly in corner-three attempts allowed after surrendering many more than average last season while playing at a tortoise-like pace. Frank, of course, is a defense-first coach who spent 2010-11 with the Celtics, a team that patrols the corner well.

11 Comments

  • Mar 30, 201211:35 am
    by JT's Hoops Blog

    Reply

    Too bad those corner three have not led to wins, huh?

  • Mar 30, 201212:57 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    This is exactly why Ben Gordon should never shoot between the three point line and the paint. 

    I do have a couple beefs with some pieces here, though.

    The first is about offense. It’s really difficult to design sets and/or plays that result in a corner 3 (if you’re the Pistons). The reason it works so well for Pop and the Spurs is because their offense is predicated on either the P&R or post ups for Duncan. In both scenarios, the goal is to spread the floor with guys like Bonnor and Bowen and force their defenders to help on either the P&R or the post up. That works when you have great P&R/post up players and good spot up shooters.

    The Pistons have an emerging post player in Monroe, but they don’t really have knock down shooters or great P&R play.

    Other than the scenarios described above, it’s hard to set up a play that results in a corner three. You can’t really run baseline screens (like used to be done for Rip) for corner 3′s, because the space between the line and OB is so limited. It’s hard to come from full speed ahead of a screen to a complete stop and pull up for 3. It just doesn’t work that well.  

    The second is about defense. The goal of most defenses is to keep the ball out of the middle, toward the sidelines and baseline. It’s easy to understand why — the OB lines function as additional defenders. You don’t see it prominently in the pros, but this is why you see full court and half court traps designed to push guys into the corner, because you end up with four defenders to one offensive player (two OB lines and two players).

    Obviously, defenses don’t want to give up wide open 3′s from anywhere, especially where they’re the easiest, but defenses do still want to push offensive players away from the most vulnerable position (the middle of the floor) to the position of greatest defensive strengths (sidelines, baseline).

    It almost seems implicit in this analysis that defenses should somehow focus on keeping shooters away from the  corners. I don’t necessarily agree; it’s more nuanced than that. I think it’s desirable to continue to push offensive players away from the middle. To me, it would seem that the danger to a defense comes when the defense is forced to collapse (Because they gave up the middle of the floor) and good shooters are left open in the corner as a result. 

    To me, this underscores the most important point – don’t give up the middle on defense, because when you do, you’re very vulnerable to give up layups, commit fouls on a shooter, or give up open 3′s (particularly in the corner) – which as this analysis aptly points out, are the most effective ways for the opposing offense to hurt you.

    In other words, it’s not about “patrolling corner 3′s” but rather about the integrity of your defensive scheme to protect the most vulnerable spots in the D as a whole.

  • Mar 30, 20122:47 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    “The Pistons have an emerging post player in Monroe, but they don’t really have knock down shooters or great P&R play…..”
    er…they have a guy who was an excellent shooter throughout his career who went through a slump and who they subsequently buried on the bench.
    a guy who hit 40% on all 3′s last year.  (wonder what his percentage on corner 3′s was?  i’d bet it was pretty good.)
    of course, it made lots of sense to let a guy who was capable of shooting that really important shot fester on the bench instead of trying to get his season turned around.
    in fact, earlier in the season, the pistons had a very good percentage on 3 point shots, but they didn’t shoot very many of them.  not sure if that percentage held up over the season, but it obviously doesn’t make lots of sense when a team fails to exploit a strength, especially when that team has trouble scoring.
    brilliant coaching.

    • Mar 30, 20126:55 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      If this is referring to Austin Daye, you do realize he is shooting 20.8% on 3s this season, right? What he shot last year is not relevant to the fact that Austin Daye was really terrible most of this year. Ben Gordon also shot over 40% from 3 last year, which is why he is playing 27 minutes a game and shooting over 40% from 3 this year as well. So, either you mean Daye and you are ignoring how bad he has been this year, or you mean Gordon who is still getting play time. Whatever the case, your argument is deeply flawed.

      • Mar 30, 20127:39 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        whatever…
        pistons’ fans act as though they have never seen a player go through a shooting slump before.
        and i think your illogic is deeply, fatally flawed.
        and your argument is so totally illogical in that it proposes that a player’s history means nothing.
        try making that argument anywhere about anything…
        let’s see…
        “what has happened in the past has no relevance to a consideration of what is going on in the present or to what may happen in the future…
        what is happening in the present is totally divorced from and separate from anything that has gone on before.
        one may not consider any of that evidence in considering the truth or falsity of any present occurrence. 
        the stupidity such a statement is readily apparent.

        • Mar 31, 20121:34 am
          by oats

          Reply

          Please. I never said Daye would never get better, and don’t pretend like I did. The coach can’t play Daye just because he shot well last year, that is moronic. What is happening now matters. Saying he needs to fix the teams lack of 3 point shooting by playing a guy who isn’t shooting well is really dumb. Yes, Daye was in a slump, and yes, he was bound to come out of it eventually. To claim you have any knowledge that suggests Daye would have come out of it sooner if he played more is also quite dumb. You don’t know that. What’s more, without his shot Daye had no confidence, and that led to him playing terribly all around. He didn’t look like he was just in a slump, he looked like a guy who couldn’t play. That’s a completely different situation than just a slump. Daye wasn’t just useless, he was actively harmful to the team. Not only that, insisting on playing someone who isn’t really trying reinforces that behavior both for Daye and the team. That is insanely bad coaching.
           
          Why am I even bothering? frankie d is always right. I’m talking to the master of all knowledge. Frankie may not be god, but he is omniscient. Fine, carry on with your delusions, I don’t feel like dealing with you.

          • Mar 31, 201211:12 am
            by frankie d

            “To claim you have any knowledge that suggests Daye would have come out of it sooner if he played more is also quite dumb. ”
            how moronic is that statement?
            so…a player is supposed to get out of a slump by sitting on the bench, not shooting and not playing?  a player in a slump is supposed to will himself out of a slump and miraculously declare that he is out of a slump and simply be out of the slump because he is out of a slump.
            yea, that is a pretty moronic statement.  
            one of the biggest, though most true cliches of basketball is that a shooter has to shoot himself out of a slump.
            “i’d love to have you explain how that happens from the bench.
            Why am I even bothering? …. I don’t feel like dealing with you.”
            this is the funniest, though thoroughly insane part of your comment.
            i’m posted a comment, and you decide, for whatever reason, to reply in an insulting fashion. 
            why did you bother? whenever i see one of your comments i pass it by, a i have no interest in reading anything you have to write.  none.
            if what i write is so dumb, why do you even bother to read it?
            and to cap it off by saying, “i don’t feel like dealing with you.” after you’ve done exactly the opposite…well, that is pretty, freakin crazy.
            like someone talking to the voices in their head.

          • Apr 1, 20124:30 am
            by oats

            Deal. You’ve been consistently condescending towards me pretty much since I started getting more involved in conversations on the site, and you seem to really enjoy misrepresenting my arguments in order to pick apart something I didn’t actually say. I admit you don’t usually respond to something I say first, but whenever I attempt to engage you in a conversation that is where you go with it pretty quickly. I would respond to your points in part to try to engage you in a conversation, and in point to allow counter points to be available to anyone else who reads the site. I kind of got tired of your behavior. I do apologize for resorting to being so insulting so quickly though, seeing as that is not proper adult behavior. I’ll drop it and try to ignore you from here on out.

  • Mar 31, 20127:42 am
    by Robert Zieger

    Reply

    I’ve always found this odd.  Why is the corner three a higher percentage shot?  If anything, I’d assume that it would be the opposite, given that the odd top of the key shot does ricochet off the backboard and drop.  Just seems counter-intuitive.  Perhaps it’s a reflection of corner threes always having to be within a limited distanced, while from the rest of the court, the stupid 28 footers get added to the mix?  Or is it simply that corner threes are less likely to be contested, as there is likely to be no one in the area ready to help?

    • Mar 31, 201211:14 am
      by frankie d

      Reply

      i may be wrong, but i believe that the corner  is the shortest 3 point shot.  so you essentially get 3 points for  a relatively short shot.

  • [...] big reasons the Heat signed Ray Allen was for his ability to hit the corner three, Lawrence Frank talked about it with the Pistons last year — with more teams realizing the importance of this type of statistical work, do you have [...]

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