Long range shooting might be more valuable in the NBA than it ever has been before. Yet, it’s still one of the toughest parts of the offensive game to correlate to winning.
Last season, the San Antonio Spurs had the best three point percentage in the league.
The NBA champions turned solid perimeter decision making into one of the most efficient offenses in the game.
The new look Washington Wizards built their offensive success in the playoffs off the perimeter shooting of Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza — finishing with the 5th best three point percentage in the NBA.
We’re living in a basketball era with back court mates nicknamed, “the splash brothers” and basketball minds discussing a four point line.
Yet, the Association’s two most prolific offenses during last year’s regular season were all about getting to the rim.
The Los Angeles Clippers were the most prolific offense in basketball, yet they shot 35% from beyond the arc.
On the flip side, one of the worst Laker teams in team history had the third best three point percentage in the league last year, despite finishing 21st in the leagues offensive rankings.
While the league is transforming into a shooter’s paradise, the numbers still prove that the best path to success in the regular season is to have a balanced attack.
That’s the reason why shooting became the number one priority of the Pistons front office this offseason.
Detroit finished second in the league in two point scoring, only behind the Memphis Grizzlies. The 65 percent clip can be partially attributed to the inside scoring ability of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
The blame though has to go to the failed shooting experiment of putting a rookie and Brandon Jennings in the backcourt. While hoping that Josh Smith might be able to make some sort of shot on the wing.
Not only did the Pistons fail to make shots — they didn’t attempt them at a high enough rate.
Detroit’s offense finished 26th in the league in three point field goals attempted. Hang Time Blog’s John Schuhmann touched on the Motor City offensive enigma last week.
If the Sixers hadn’t played conscious-less offense at the league’s fastest pace, the Pistons would have ranked dead last in 3-point percentage. Josh Smith took 265 threes at a 26 percent clip, partly becauseJoe Dumars thought he could play small forward and partly because he lacks self-awareness. Of 315 players in NBA history who have attempted at least 1,000 threes, Smith ranks 314th (ahead of only Charles Barkley) in 3-point percentage.
So priority No. 1 for Stan Van Gundy is to get Smith to stop shooting threes, or get him to shoot threes for some other team. If we don’t consider Smith a small forward (and we shouldn’t), Detroit would have a frontcourt log-jam if Greg Monroe (a restricted free agent) is brought back. Though it’s not completely up to Van Gundy (he would need a trade partner), a choice between Monroe and Smith needs to be made.
Blaming Josh Smith and believing that he can’t fit into any type of system that SVG develops has become a cliche for writers across the country.
Instead of putting all of his eggs in the trade Josh Smith basket, Van Gundy became the only executive to sign four free agents that finished in the top 20 in three point field goal percentage last season. He knows what he has in Josh Smith.
He also understands what this team as a whole was missing.
In this league, it all comes down to team shooting. The Spurs and Heat have made the finals the last two years, due to their team play. Both finished first and second in team shooting last season. Of all the teams to make the playoffs last year, only the Pacers ranked outside the top 15.
The Pistons finished 28th.
The major makeover though will come from running an actual NBA offense that has a foot print.
Gone are the days of Josh Smith subconsciously looking to the bench because he knows he’s about to throw up a ticking time bomb of offensive destruction.
Brandon Jennings won’t be able to do whatever he so pleases on the court anymore.
There’s still questions about how the coaching staff will get all four offseason acquisitions enough time on the floor to make a difference.
One thing history has proven though is that Stan Van Gundy’s offensive system works. His coaching style will find the clutch shooting that Detroit was missing last season. Offensive issues will balance themselves out.
SVG has put his foundation towards success into place.
The next step is turning the brick and mortar into a winning culture.