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NBA teams are shooting 3-pointers at historic numbers -- but you already knew that. And you also probably know that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn't a fan of the increased volume.
“These days there’s such an emphasis on the 3 because it’s proven to be analytically correct,” Popovich said last week. “Now you look at a stat sheet after a game and the first thing you look at is the 3s. If you made 3s and the other team didn’t, you win. You don’t even look at the rebounds or the turnovers or how much transition (defense) was involved. You don’t even care. That’s how much an impact the 3 shot has and it’s evidenced by how everybody plays.
“I hate it, but I always have. I’ve hated the 3 for 20 years. That’s why I make a joke all the time (and say) if we’re going to make it a different game, let’s have a four-point play. Because if everybody likes the 3, they’ll really like the 4. People will jump out of their seats if you have a five-point play. It will be great. There’s no basketball anymore, there’s no beauty in it. It’s pretty boring. But it is what it is and you need to work with it.”
The funny thing is -- Steve Kerr played for Popovich and the Warriors currently rank 19th in 3-point attempts (29.5), while the Spurs shoot the second fewest (24.4).
NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh decided to put Popovich's comments to the test, so he dove into the numbers. After analyzing the box score for every single game this season (through last Sunday), here is what he found when it comes to the win-loss record of teams that "won" each stat:
Here's the W-L record of teams that "won" the stat in the box score.
So basically, simply making more 3-pointers isn't the most important statistic that determines winning or losing. However, shooting better than your opponent from distance is pretty dang important.
Are these numbers representative of the Warriors? Let's take a look at 3-point shooting, with the important caveat of Steph Curry's availability:
-When Curry plays this season, the Warriors are 10-2 when they shoot better than their opponent from deep -- an 83.3 winning percentage, which is about nine points higher than the league average.
-When Curry plays this season, the Warriors are 8-2 when they make more 3-pointers than their opponent -- an 80.0 winning percentage, which is 16 points higher than the league average
-Without Curry this season, the Warriors are 3-1 when they shoot better than their opponent from deep -- a 75.0 winning percentage, which is essentially the league average.
-Without Curry this season, the Warriors are 1-1 when they make more 3-pointers than their opponent -- a 50.0 winning percentage, which is 14 points below league average.
(Another important caveat -- Draymond Green was out for nine of the 11 games Curry has missed this season, which obviously has a negative impact on the Warriors)
As you can see, the Warriors shot better than the opposition from distance only four times and made more triples only twice when Curry was not in uniform. Without him, they went just 5-6 and struggled to generate points from beyond the arc.
So how about this for a main takeaway: When Curry plays -- whether they're making 3-pointers or not -- the Warriors win a lot more than they lose, and Curry is really good at the sport we call "basketball."
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller