Ok, maybe he is God. He did just knock Jesus off the top spot, after all...

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Dec 15, 2021Liked by Eric Apricot

Rootin' Tootin' good stuff there EA.

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So there's naturally going to be lots of talk about how long (if ever) it will take for someone to break Steph's eventual 3 point record whenever it might be that he retires.

I'm of the camp that someone will eventually break it considering the sheer volume that new kids in the league are shooting it. However, I think the better record for comparing Curry's dominance from distance against those from eras to come will be the number of seasons leading the league in 3s.

Curry is currently on track for this to be his 7th season leading the league in 3s. No other player has more than 3 such seasons, with Harden being the only active player. I like this stat because it does a better job of showing how good a player was in comparison to the competition.

I would say it's quite likely Curry will end his career with ~10 seasons leading the league in 3s made. Is that record ever going to be touched, even if someone else eventually passes him in total made? I think it's highly unlikely.

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It's gonna be fun to look back at all the accolades and try to compare across generations. Just watch, they're going to move the 3 point line or add a 4 point line, and the kids will say "yeah, but Steph didn't play after they moved the line to 30ft and got so many easy short ones, this new guy is the best!" then we'll say "yeah, but they allow moving screens now, if they allowed moving screens for Steph, he'd have had 8,000!"

Lots of different ways to compare.

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How untouchable Steph's record will be depends heavily on how many more years Steph has left in the tank. As it stands, it's definitely not in that realm yet.

Looking at Anthony Edwards (who is not a very good 3P shooter), he's averaged 2.5 3PM over his 99 games in the NBA. If you extrapolate that over 15 years and an average of 70 games a year, that's already 2625 3PM -- and this is assuming he never improves or takes more 3PA.

If Steph has another 3+ years (which I think he will), I think that's really when it starts getting into the realm of "Stockton assists record" level of untouchable (15k assists, followed by Kidd 12k, CP3 10k) because of the efficiency + longevity factor.


> number of seasons leading the league in 3s

I like that. I was also thinking of normalizing 3PM based on each season's league average 3PA.

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> normalizing 3PM based on each season's league average

Wait, is that was bballref's adjusted shooting stats are?!


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If someone gets close, I think there will be discussion of efficiency. If a new Harden type rises up jacking up double the number of shots of everyone else and beats the record with a 36% 3P%, there are definitely old heads (and I might be one) that would say the new record didn't mean as much.

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IMO the efficiency discussion has to take all the winning into account. Because if you win inefficiently, who cares? But if you lose because you were inefficient, then yeah, maybe you should have tried to turn some more good shots into great shots.

It'll be a pretty different league if the person chasing Steph's record gets it while playing consistently winning basketball.

Ironically, in Harden's case his team actually did win a lot of games, which is because his signature shot—the free throw—is the most efficient one in basketball. But screw that noise, that's ugly and I'm glad the league came to its senses about what counts as actual basketball. (Still hoping it sticks, despite some signs to the contrary...)

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> I'm of the camp that someone will eventually break it considering the sheer volume that new kids in the league are shooting it.

Career (this season) 3PM/g rates:


Curry: 3.8 (5.4)

Duncan Robinson: 3.2 (2.9)

Hield: 3.0 (3.5)

Lillard: 3.0 (2.9)

Klay: 2.9

Harden: 2.8 (2.5)

Doncic: 2.7 (2.7)

Mitchell: 2.7 (3.3)

Devonte' Graham: 2.6 (2.8)

Paul George: 2.5 (2.7)

Trae Young: 2.5 (2.8)


Ray Allen: 2.3

For all the hype about how vastly more three pointers are made per game, most of the top shooters are only marginally above Ray Allen's rate. Compare that to Steph's current 5.4 per game and it shows how big the gulf is.

The only way to beat Steph's record will to have a consistently high 3PM per game... let's say in the 3-4 range... and to play a LOT more games than Steph did. The only guy playing now that I give a even a whiff of a chance is Buddy Hield. He shoots at a high percentage and takes a lot of shots, and seems like a durable dude who could play a long time.

If Steph keeps going at anything like his current rate for a few more years, though, none of the guys playing now have a shot. People say Steph changed the game, and they're right. But he changed his game more than everyone else's, and nobody else is even close to his stratosphere in the game today.

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I think the point was that since Steph changed the game these young guys are getting way more leeway in terms of 3P volume -- Duncan Robinson is averaging 10 attempts per 36 minutes over his first 4 seasons... it took Steph 7 years to have a season where he averaged over 10 3s per 36. If some young kid comes out of the gate now bombing 10 3s per 36 they'll essentially have a 1.5 season head start on Steph. If they come into the league at 19 they'll have another 2 year head start... Of course whoever this imaginary player is they'll still have to be consistently elite over 20 years to challenge him, but it's hard to imagine that that 3.5 year head start won't put someone over the edge eventually.

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Agree with most of your points except on Buddy Hield having any chance of catching Steph. The dude is only a few years younger than Steph (29 vs Steph's 33) and is more than 1700 3's behind Steph. He's also never had more than 282 3's made in a season. If Steph retired before the next game and never shot another 3, Hield would still take over 6 years to catch up to him if he shot as many 3's as his career best every single season from here on out. I think the player who will eventually catch Curry, if it happens, is not even in the league yet.

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Ah, LOL. I didn't realize he's 29... yeah, that pretty much puts the kibosh on that one.

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Fascinating. It seems like averaging 3.5/game is already cream of the crop, unheard of (Hield at 3.5 this season). IF they can maintain that for 80 games, for 16 years (age 19-35) (that’s a stretch), we’re looking at 4480 threes. So Steph would need to hit 4500 to put the record fairly out of reach of even good shooters, until another 90% Steph mimic comes along.

Fingers crossed health holds up I think Steph can realistically hit 4000 (averaging ~4/game) in 3+ more seasons after this one. Getting to 4500 will require 1-2 more years on top as a veteran specialist/role player to get there… so also not impossible…

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Hield would get more shots if he had better distributors, I think. Even as much as we credit Draymond, I think his impact and ability to get Steph his shots is still a bit undersold.

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That's my thinking too. At least three more years and then it starts looking unreachable.

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So another point as to why the record might not actually fall, we're past the age of the three-point "specialist." While teams might consistently shoot more 3s, more players are capable of, and therefore, taking 3-pointers. Instead of having the Korver types who everyone tries to get the ball to for 3 point shots there are lots and lots of players taking the shot. As the saying goes, there's only one ball. A hire rate of team 3s might not necessarily equate to THAT much higher of a rate of individual 3 shooting.

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And yet, Steph is the exception. If another player comes across who can make 45% contested 3s and pull ups, it's a weapon their coach will leverage. It'll happen, they'll get their chance to approach Steph's milestones...

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this was my thought exactly! If the 3pm per team continues to rise BUT it's spread out more evenly (bc you can't get on the floor if you can't hit an open 3) than the 3PA per game for individuals might actual decrease. Again it's not just how good steph is it's how much BETTER he is than everyone around him

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also worth noting that nobody in this single season (with the three point revolution fully established) is matching Steph's career rate (which includes his less prolific early years)

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I'm not sure it's "fully established" though... Steph is still miles ahead of anybody else in the league, though. He (and Klay) ushered in the 3 point revolution by being so good, that it was such an obvious thing:

"Hmmm... these guys make well over 40% of their 3PA. That's over 1.2pps every time they get one up, which is better than the best offense in league history. Let's lean into that."

Analytics people took that and EXTRAPOLATED to confirm that even worse 3 point shooters should be taking more 3s, especially higher percentage open ones, and brought the 3 point revolution to the masses.

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That's why you need A LOT more games to make up the difference. The "weakness" of Steph vis a vis the record is that A) he hasn't played that many games in his career to date due to injuries and B) he wasn't shooting at a high rate early in his career. The longer his career goes the less those become a factor and the more impossible the chase becomes.

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Here's my guess at where he ends up:

Over 5,001: 25%

Between 4,501 & 5,000: 50%

Between 4,001 & 4,500: 20%

4,000 or fewer: 5%

My rough prediction:

400 for 2 seasons (including this season)

350 for 1 season

300 for 1 season

200 for 1 season

100 for 2 seasons

Total: ~4,700

If somebody has a Ray Allen type career with 1,300 games, they need to average 3.6/game for the career to get there. There's going to be another great shooter that comes along, but a lot is going to have to go right for them to get up there.

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Some random three-pointer stats:

* The league is shooting 34.8 3P%. Dubs are 5th overall at 36.5 3P%.

* Oubre is 5th in the league in 3PM shooting it at 38.8 3P% (!!)

* J. Harris, M. Conley, J. Valančiūnas, L. Kennard, G. Williams lead the league in 3P% with all of them over 45 3P%

* Out of the top 15 in 3PA per game, 10 are shooting below league average (34.8 3P%). The biggest offenders are: D. Lillard (9.6 3PA; 29.7 3P%), J. Clarkson (8.9 3PA; 29.9 3P%); P. George (8.4 3PA; 31.8 3P%). For comparison, fan-fave Brad W. is shooting 28.6 3P%.

* Top 3P% on GSW: GP2 (41.7 3P%; 36 3PA), Chiozza (40.9 3P%; 22 3PA), Wiggs (40.8 3P%; 147 3PA), Otto (40.2 3P%; 97 3PA), Beli (40 3P%; 70 3PA), Steph (39.9 3P%; 363 3PA)

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oh wow Lonzo is shooting 3P% @ 42% good for him

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Yea, both Ball bros shooting pretty well this year. LaMelo was at 39.1% before he got injured.

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Oh not injured. H&S protocols.

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Dec 15, 2021Liked by Eric Apricot

There was a play earlier in the game where Damion passed up a wide open 3 and the Warriors ended up getting a horrible shot. Afterward Kerr was demonstratively talking to Damion, probably saying something like "I can't play you if you're not taking that shot". I bet Kerr felt the leadership opportunity to talk to give positive feedback after Damion took (and made) this one, especially coupled with the reality of limited minutes available for Damion and how Damion's been struggling with his shot (His right thumb seems all taped up, maybe that's got something to do with it?). I'm always really impressed by Kerr's leadership.

I also loved how Jordan Poole (again) showed his maturation by drawing the defender and moving the ball, instead of just shooting the ball. It would have been a decent shot against the closing defender, but giving it up for Dray to find a great shot was the right decision. Really great to see. Also continually loving how willingly he takes Draymond's feedback. Especially after they had a heated bench argument a few weeks ago, it really shows the strength of their relationship and Jordan's maturity.

On the last play, Dray completely had Randle beat, somebody needed to rotate. If I'm Thibs, I'm still fining the rookie for leaving Steph, tho.

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Steph could be 90 feet from the hoop, and I'm still not leaving him to give some help defense on a drive by ANYONE else.

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And that decision will keep your paycheck in your pocket.

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Dec 15, 2021Liked by Eric Apricot, punk basketball

Great job as usual.

I think I speak for many of us who are pining for a breakdown of JFK’s play, good and bad, in the last two games.

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What a special night. Loved seeing all the love in the air.

Question: how many plays are needed to cover most of possessions? Eg if one counts all variations of head tap as head tap, all variations of klay play as klay play, etc. Curious how many overarching plays the rookies need to learn to get caught up, and how to balance complexity with making sure you're not so easy to scout.

My unsubstantiated guess is that maybe 25% is transition (off of turnovers, and some missed baskets). 5% ATO, and maybe 10-15% per play type for the remaining 70%, meaning about 4-5 set play types to cover most of the set defensive plays. Or maybe there's a lot more improvisations?

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But by these estimates this also means each set play is called around 10 times a game?

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This is an interesting question that I want to think about, but I think most set plays are called at most twice per game, usually once and then again with a counter. The real standards like Head Tap maybe 5 max. I don't think any set play gets called 10 times unless you count wing pick and roll. Transition and improvising with split cuts, pin-ins and other automatics is the majority of the offense.

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Isn't Golden State a little rare in the paucity of set plays they call, relative to other teams?

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Okay, I've been curious about the mix myself, so I sat down and listed the first 31 plays of the 2021.12.13.GSW.IND game, a particularly gunky and slow game.

In brief,

14 ATOs

17 Quick (transition, early clock, improvisation using known automatic pieces)

Here is a list of plays, given my own names.

ATO. BLOB Iverson Spain

ATO. BLOB Iverson Spain Counter

ATO. Fist Klay Play. Signaled, messed up execution.

ATO. Head Tap

ATO. Head Tap for Steph.

ATO. HORNS Follow Ram

ATO. HORNS Follow Ram

ATO. HORNS Follow reverse (to High PNR)

ATO. Iverson stagger elbow PNR pitchback. Improv triple split.

ATO. Not sure, weak wing offball screen

ATO. SLOB Baseline Split. Improv stagger DHO

ATO. SLOB Stagger into High PNR

ATO. SLOB Stagger Over to High Split.

ATO. SLOB. Simple to Wing DHO

High PNR

Post Split

Post Split

Post Split

Quick drive

Quick drive

Quick drive

Quick High PNR

Quick High PNR

Quick Invert PNR

Quick stagger DHO.

Quick Wide reject drive

Quick Wing ISO

Quick wing pin

Quick wing PNR reject

Triple split

Triple Split Improv(?)

and now by timestamp

1.11.50. ATO. HORNS Follow Ram

11:20. Quick drive

11:15. ATO. BLOB Iverson Spain

10:50. Quick High PNR

10:20. ATO. Not sure, weak wing offball screen

10:15. ATO. SLOB Stagger into High PNR

9:50. Quick drive

9.27. ATO. SLOB. Simple to Wing DHO

9:18. ATO. SLOB Stagger Over to High Split.

8.50. ATO. Head Tap

8:20. Quick High PNR

8:00. Post Split

7:40. Quick Invert PNR

7:05. Post Split

6:59. ATO. BLOB Iverson Spain Counter

6:40. High PNR

5:58. Triple Split Improv(?)

5:35. Quick Wing ISO

5:01. Post Split

5:00. ATO. SLOB Baseline Split. Improv stagger DHO

4:36. Quick wing pin

4:05. ATO. HORNS Follow reverse (to High PNR)

3:40. Triple split

3:00. ATO. Iverson stagger elbow PNR pitchback. Improv triple split.

2:15. Quick wing PNR reject

1:52. ATO. HORNS Follow Ram

1:07. Quick Wide reject drive

0:45. Quick drive.

0:30. ATO. Fist Klay Play. Signaled, messed up execution.

Q2.11.30. ATO. Head Tap for Steph.

10.50. Quick stagger DHO.

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For the ATO plays where it's a variation/counter/reverse, are those reads built into the set plays?

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I think there is always agency to make a good read and react, but I think when the play gets run for the first couple of times, they hardwire the read, because often they seem to force a certain option regardless of how the defense is playing

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Eric you're amazing! So fascinating how many ATO's there are. I'm guessing for when the ball goes out of bounds and such?

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It’s funny because I consider this a very small number of ATOs. There are specialized Baseline Out of Bounds and Sideline Out of Bounds plays (but not many) and then there’s Head Tap, Fist Klay Play, HORNS Follow and variants and the Stagger. Then a small number more set plays, like the Fake Handoffs, etc. I think compared to other teams, this is a very *small* playbook.

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Ummm... you're gonna need to parse that data for me :-P

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Fascinating! I was looking up stats and only about 18% of Warriors possessions are in transition. Say about 5% ATO, 17% for all the staple plays combined, that’s still 60% of plays unaccounted for that need to be improvised! Really impressive. No wonder teams without the personnel run so much ISO or get really PnR heavy. The Warriors are lighter on iso+PnR (maybe 25% total?) leaving 35% non-transition improvised high-IQ plays.

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It looks like you guys are defining ATO differently. What is an ATO?

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After Time Out

Set plays that are off an in-bounds pass

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Dec 15, 2021Liked by Eric Apricot

Hilarious that Wiggs got the assist. I'm sure Dray wanted that one, but it actually makes Wiggs more a part of the Warriors history and I see that as a positive. For the Warriors to continue their march through history, guys like Wiggs, Poole, Wiseman, JK, need to have their own moments. We can't go black and white Turner Classic Movies and expect 5 more years of Curry-Klay-Dray highlights. It's a new chapter with new characters and the story doesn't move forward without them.

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Dec 15, 2021Liked by punk basketball

We're more of the MCU here as we work in transitioning from one batch of superheroes as they first bring up the next batch of Avengers, and then move aside to make way to the rising generation.

Just the fact that such a transition is even possible in the first place is such a rare and awesome thing in the NBA. Here's hoping it plays out how we all hope it will!

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I know some of us want to ship out those youngsters for "win now" players...

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Dubs appear to be winning now with the new players.

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That was a Hollywood production. Peter Guber must be smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

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