Thunder: The debate over non-paint 2-point shots
SAN ANTONIO – Analytics have labeled non-paint 2-point shots inefficient.
LaMarcus Aldridge defies analytics.
“Those are hard shots, and they’re really good at it,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before OKC’s 121-112 loss at San Antonio on Thursday. “But, to me with them it’s the other stuff, it’s not that. I think that there’s a lot of attention on that because it’s loud. And what I mean by loud is it speaks to how talented he (Aldridge) is offensively because there’s not many guys in the league who can make those shots, so it looks like two points is 10.
“But I think where they’re really good is, one, is they offensive rebound really well on some of those shots, and then what they do is they’ve always been really efficient from the 3-point line. They maybe have not been a team that takes a lot of 3s, but they’ve always been really efficient. And then, they get to the free throw line.”
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Donovan’s observations about the Spurs held true on Thursday. Yes, the Spurs shot well from midrange, making 48.5 percent of their non-paint 2s. But they were more efficient in the paint, shooting 64.1 percent. San Antonio out-rebounded OKC 12-4 on the offensive boards. The Spurs only took 20 3-point shots, but they made nine of them. They missed just one free throw all game.
Aldridge’s 39-point performance, however, called common sense into question. He took more non-paint 2s than shots in the paint, and he made 10 of his 12 mid-range shots (83.7 percent).
“I think the biggest challenge was I thought we gave him too many comfortable shots early, which enabled him to get going,” Donovan said after practice Friday. "And I always say this about great scorers, if we allow them to get into a rhythm, they’re able to make more difficult shots than most players when they get going. I think it was just a byproduct there late, some of the tough ones he made, was the fact that we could have been better getting out there and contesting them and putting him under duress.”
On Saturday, the Thunder plays the Warriors, a team that has traditionally taken a different approach from the Spurs. With 3-point shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, analytics supported Golden State’s high volume of 3-point shots. Both Curry (left hand fracture) and Thompson (left ACL rehabilitation) will miss Saturday’s game. The injury-riddled Warriors are averaging just 31.6 3-point shots per game, landing them at No. 17 in the league in that category.