Nichols and Dime: Each Player’s Impact on His Teammates’ Three-Point Shooting

In my last two pieces of research, I took a look at the impact of superstars on their teammates’ three-point shooting. Specifically, I looked at how often and how efficiently teammates shot three-pointers when a particular superstar is on the court versus when he is off of it. The theory has always been that superstars create open looks for their teammates, and my research for the most part confirmed that.

Unfortunately, I only took a look at ten players. What about the rest of the league? How good do you have to be to have a positive impact on three-point shooting? What kind of impacts do role players have? Do weak offensive players make three-point shooting harder for their teammates because defenders don’t pay them attention?

Today I will provide the data that should answer many of those questions. My methodology for generating this data was the same as before, only on a much larger scale. For each player, I calculated the three-point attempt percentage (three-point attempts divided by total field goal attempts) and three-point percentage for each of his teammates when the given player was on the court and off it. Each of those teammates was then weighted based on their total number of attempts. Finally, I calculated a weighted average for each player. A player’s own three-point shooting was excluded from teammate effects.

In case you didn’t care about any of the stuff in the last paragraph, all you need to know is the following: the table below contains two numbers for each player who saw action in the NBA last year. The first number is the average increase (or decrease) of all teammates’ three-point attempt percentage when the given player is in the game. The second number is the average increase (or decrease) of all teammates’ three-point shooting percentage when the given player is in the game. In both cases, a positive number is generally good.

Before you take a look at the numbers, beware of small sample sizes. Some players may appear to have very positive or very negative impacts on their teammates, but it is most likely due to that player receiving very little playing time or some other confounding factors.

The numbers, courtesy of Google Docs:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AvNKNGJ_AHijdFJSNVJ1R3dzNTJsbEU3aDBCejhsY0E&hl=en

Below are some leaders and other interesting categories:

Top Impacts on Three-Point Attempt Percentage (Outliers Removed)

  1. LeBron James, 11.42%
  2. Chris Paul, 8.53%
  3. Kobe Bryant, 7.2%
  4. Rajon Rondo, 7.15%
  5. Hedo Turkoglu, 6.89%
  6. Joe Johnson, 6.65%
  7. Jason Terry, 6.63%
  8. Dwight Howard, 6%
  9. Dwyane Wade, 5.36%
  10. Aaron Gray, 5.3%

Nothing too shocking as there are a lot of great playmakers at the top of this list (except for Gray). We’ll see if the Magic miss Turkoglu’s playmaking ability, although he benefitted by often playing with Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.

Top Impacts on Three-Point Shooting Percentage (Outliers Removed)

  1. Desmond Mason, 12.27%
  2. Will Solomon, 12%
  3. Jamaal Magloire, 11.85%
  4. Kyle Lowry (MEM), 8.92%
  5. Mike Taylor, 8.61%
  6. Lou Williams, 8.4%
  7. Caron Butler, 8.07%
  8. Rashard Lewis, 7.7%
  9. Aaron Gray, 7.54%
  10. Reggie Evans, 6.86%

Unless these ten seemingly random players have some special abilities we’re not all aware of, I think this list is strong evidence that perhaps a player’s “impact” on his teammates’ three-point shooting efficiency can often be a matter of luck or hidden factors such as common teammates. There are some offensive stars with high impacts in this area (such as Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Paul), but this measure appears to be rather inconsistent.

Top Big Man Impacts on Three-Point Attempt Percentage (Outliers Removed)

  1. Dwight Howard, 6%
  2. Aaron Gray, 5.3%
  3. David West, 4.64%
  4. Brandon Bass, 4.51%
  5. Boris Diaw, 3.83%
  6. Marreese Speights, 3.44%
  7. Chris Bosh, 3.36%
  8. LaMarcus Aldridge, 3.35%
  9. Elton Brand, 3.07%
  10. Kevin Garnett, 2.89%

Some randomness, although I think Howard at the top is no fluke. Orlando’s offense often runs through him and he’s more than willing to kick out the ball for an open three.

Top Point Guard Impacts on Three-Point Attempt Percentage (Outliers Removed)

  1. Chris Paul, 8.53%
  2. Rajon Rondo, 7.15%
  3. Roko Ukic, 5.09%
  4. Tony Parker, 4.8%
  5. Deron Williams, 4.45%
  6. Kyle Lowry (HOU), 4.43%
  7. Will Solomon, 4.42%
  8. Goran Dragic, 4.14%
  9. T.J. Ford, 3.77%
  10. Derrick Rose, 3.77%

Top Swingman Impacts on Three-Point Attempt Percentage (Outliers Removed)

  1. LeBron James, 11.42%
  2. Kobe Bryant, 7.2%
  3. Hedo Turkoglu, 6.89%
  4. Joe Johnson, 6.65%
  5. Jason Terry, 6.63%
  6. Dwyane Wade, 5.36%
  7. Courtney Lee, 2.98%
  8. O.J. Mayo, 2.85%
  9. Linas Kleiza, 2.81%
  10. Manu Ginobili, 2.75%

I plan on doing more studies like this in the future, as well as working more with the data I presented here today. There may be some randomness to the numbers but there also may be some relevance, so I’d like to dig deeper.

Seth Carstens