Jordan Crawford and Cartier Martin work on their corner 3s during a post-practice shooting drill after the morning session of Washington Wizards training camp day one.
Last season the Washington Wizards attempted 329 corner 3-pointers, 16th most in the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks led the league with 464 3-point attempts from the corner and the Spurs were next with 453 attempts.
Washington made 132 of their corner 3-point attempts, good enough for 40.1 percent and seventh best in the NBA. Atlanta made 39.7 percent of their corner 3s and San Antonio made 41.9 percent; the Golden State Warriors led the league in shooting 45.6 percent on corner 3s.
One could easily deduce: Hey, the Wizards need to shoot more corner 3s. From a tweet of NBA.com’s John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) in September:
Here’s a fascinating one: The league leader in assists on corner 3s was, by far, John Wall (77). Rondo was next w/ 59.
Remember: the corner 3-point zone is 22 feet away from the rim, 1.75 inches closer than “above-the-break” 3-point attempts. The angle in relation to rim and backboard can vary for corner 3s as it does for other attempts around the arc from 23.75 feet away, but those 1.75 inches are more important.
Seventy-one (71) NBA players attempted 50 or more corner 3s last season. On average, these players shot 39.6 percent from that area, a 3.9 percent improvement over their shooting averages on above-the-break 3-point attempts.
Thirty-two (32) NBA players attempted 75 or more corner 3s last season. On average, these players shot 41.2 percent from that area, a 4.6 percent increase from above-the-break 3s.
With improvement from the league’s best shooters when in the corner, being less than two inches closer clearly negates any lack of depth perception that comes with corner attempts.
Washington’s best returning corner 3-point shooters:
Cartier Martin — 13-for-29 (44.8%, plus-10% from above-the-break 3s)
Jordan Crawford — 23-for-59 (39%, plus-13.1% from above-the-break 3s)
Chris Singleton — 15-for-40 (37.5%, plus-4.2% from above-the-break 3s)
And the newcomers from the corner 3:
Trevor Ariza — 16-for-39 (41%, plus-13.3% from above-the-break 3s)
Ariza in 2010-11 — 36-for-106 (34%, plus-5.8% from above-the-break 3s)
Ariza in 2009-10 — 33-for-89 (37.1%, plus-4.5 % from above-the-break 3s)
Martell Webster — 16-for-40 (40%, plus-8.7% from above-the-break 3s)
Webster in 2010-11 — 25-for-47 (53.2%, plus-16.2% from above-the-break 3s)
Webster in 2009-10 — 54-for-140 (38.6%, plus-2% from above-the-break 3s)
The Wizards are clearly a mixed bag, but not one without promise. Still, at a bare minimum, someone needs to fill in for Nick Young as a volume shooter from the corner — Young shot 48.1 percent from the corner 3 last season (50-for-104), which was fourth best in the NBA after Courtney Lee, Ray Allen and Steve Novak. How Bradley Beal, a 33.9 percent shooter from the college 3-point line as a freshman at Florida, will fare remains to be seen.
But it’s not just about which Wizards shooter, if anyone, will step up, even though the Wizards have long waited for a shooter to step up. (That’s why they drafted Beal, right?) It’s about whom amongst the Wizards’ several-headed monster at point guard will best spell John Wall while he is injured and run an offense that can open creation for the most efficient jump shot in the NBA.
Or, it could be about channeling more corner 3 opportunities by running inside-out offense through Nene in the post. Before last March’s trade of JaVale McGee to Denver, the Wizards shot 40.9 percent on corner 3-pointers (95.3 percent were assisted). After the trade, with Young being sent to the L.A. Clippers as part of the deal, corner 3s went in at a slightly lower clip (38.1 percent), but the makes which were assisted increased to 97.9 percent (plus-2.6 percent). Above-the-break 3-pointers went in at 28.1 percent pre-trade (78.1 percent assisted), and 29.5 percent post-trade (81.8 percent assisted).
The image below from Kirk Goldsberry (via @kirkgoldsberry) shows from where all NBA corner 3s come from — 13 percent hail from the pick-and-roll area at the left elbow, a bread and butter zone for quick right-handed point guards like Wall (which is also why Wall gets so many open jump shots in the same area). Who on the Wizards will have the wherewithal and court vision — Jannero Pargo? Shelvin Mack? A.J. Price? Nene from the high post?
So much about this Wizards team will depend on two simple basketball concepts: shooting and passing. With a to-be-determined backcourt situation, Randy Wittman probably wishes his roster decisions were easier, but whether the superstar point guard is around or not, this is exactly what the coach signed up for. Figuring out how to get the ball in the hands of the best shooters in the most ideal situations is the easy part, now who’s going to step up and execute?
[Other stats via NBA.com/stats]