Detroit Pistons: The importance of the three point shot

Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons went from playing some of the best basketball of the year to some of the worst, it seemed like, overnight. Despite that they were able to pull of a win against the Lakers.

Now, don’t get fooled, the win against the Lakers was not the best brand of Detroit Pistons basketball. But, the team topped 100 points, so there is at least one positive to take from the experience.

The key difference in the wins and the two embarrassing losses is the ability to score from beyond the arc. It’s no secret. James Edwards III of The Athletic shed some light on the situation in a recent article. The numbers spoke for themselves.

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As Edwards points out, the Pistons did a good job converting threes, among other things, during their recent stretch of success. Before winning 12 of 14 games, they sat 25th in offense, and jumped to fifth over the span of those 14 games.

So, what did the three-point output look like against the Lakers win, as opposed to the Heat and Nets losses? That is the winning question.

Lakers Win

The Detroit Pistons shot 43.6 percent (17 of 39) from deep in the win. Wayne Ellington, Langston Galloway, and Reggie Jackson accounted for most of them with four each. Blake Griffin had two, while Luke Kennard, Thon Maker, and Ish Smith each had one. Every player who attempted a three made at least one.

For reference, the Pistons team three-point percentage is 34.9 on the season.

Heat/Nets Losses

To go chronologically means to start with the 103-75 loss to the Nets. In that game the Detroit Pistons went 23.5 percent (8-34) from three-point range. That night led by Galloway with three and Ellington with two.

The Heat game, which ended with a 108-74 final, saw Detroit shoot 21.6 percent (8-37) from beyond. Of course, the similar cast of sharpshooters were doing their thing.

Three Pointers Matter

This is not re-inventing the wheel, by any means. Three pointers are analytically the better choice, as the Warriors have beat into our heads for the last few years. But the glaring difference in what being able to make them does for the Detroit Pistons is clear.

Even in this small sample size of three games, the difference is evident. clearly the team will not always shoot upwards of 40 percent from deep, but shooting 20 is not getting the job done. The team went from one extreme to the other.

This leads into another point from Mr. Edwards, the Pistons were among the bottom dwellers in terms of making shots within 10 feet of the basket. Without that, being able to make threes becomes all the more important.

The recent run showed us all that the right pieces are there. But when one guy on the team goes cold, the rest of the team cannot. That is what was went wrong against the Heat and Nets. Finding that consistency, or at least some middle ground, from beyond as a team will be imperative is Detroit wants to finish this playoff run.

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Again, this is a small sample size of three games. But the two sides showed themselves, and that is helpful in truly showing how important one stat can be. In the grand scheme of things it will not only be three pointers that dictate the season, however they seem to be an important element.