Should the Suns shoot more or less threes?

The Phoenix Suns are in a bit of a slump right now, having lost their last two games to Denver in heartbreaking fashion. I’m certain coach Monty Williams is always looking at things the team can tweak and improve. One thing he is surely monitoring is the team’s shot profile.

The Phoenix Suns are currently shooting 55.0% on 2-pointers as a team (4th in the NBA) and 35.8% on 3-pointers as a team (16th in the NBA). Now for most teams, 3’s are more efficient than 2s in terms of average Points Per Shot, but the Suns are one of the exceptions to this. The Suns generate 1.1 PPS on twos and 1.074 PPS on threes. Now, this margin is small, but given that Phoenix have lost their last two games in overtime, they can use any advantage they can get.

Since the Suns actually generate more points on two’s than three’s, it is interesting that the Suns have the 6th highest 3-point Attempt Rate in the NBA. They are taking 44.3% of their Field Goal Attempts from behind the arc despite having a slightly below average team 3P%. So, my question is, should the Suns be shooting fewer three’s?

As the math currently stands, a 2-pointer is generating more points than a 3-pointer for the Suns, but it may not stay that way all season. In an attempt to predict how these percentages might change, I looked at each player on the Suns that has played at least 100 minutes and compared his 2P% and 3P% to his career averages and what he shot last season.

On the columns for this year’s percentages, green indicates a number that is much higher than what I would expect and red indicates a number that is much lower than what I would expect.

When a player suddenly performs much differently one year than in previous ones, it isn’t always a fluke. Sometimes players truly do get better or worse. However, by the looks of things, if the Suns shooting percentages regress to something closer to what they have done in the past, the team 2P% will likely go slightly down and the team 3P% will likely go slightly up. I would imagine by the end of the season, the team’s Points Per Shot on 2-pointers and 3-pointers will still be very close, but I predict the threes will end up being more valuable.

I don’t think the Suns need to change their shot selection very much. Long-distance shooting not only tends to lead to more points, it opens up the floor so that players like Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton can flourish inside as they’ve been known to do. It’s good that Phoenix is near the top of the league in 3-point Attempt Rate.

There are, however, times where I think they need to recognize when they are cold and attack the basket instead of continuing to chuck up lazy threes. If they can cut those down but still stay around the top-10 of 3PA Rate, this team will do just fine.


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Categories: NBA, Phoenix Suns

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