Steph Transcendent

Steph Transcendent December 8, 2015

Writing at, Benjamin Morris argues that Stephen Curry is the three-point revolution. This isn’t just the normal 3-for-the-price-of-two calculation: “Curry isn’t a product of the math; he’s so good that he has his own math. Indeed, the math is so far in Curry’s favor that the Warriors — and even basketball in general — may not fully understand what they have yet.”

Morris’s article offers some complex statistical analysis to support his enthusiasm for Curry. He tries to assess how good Curry is at bad shots (the short answer is, “Very, very good.”) He takes very few shots while defenders are smothering him, but he often shoots with defenders hanging close. It doesn’t seem to matter: “aside from the rare smothering, Curry seems fairly immune to defense. He hits about 42 percent of the hardest quartile(ish) of his shots (specifically, the 28 percent with the closest defender less than 4 feet away), or about 126 points per 100 attempts.” In short, “Yes, that’s right, Curry shoots threes about as well with a defender 2 to 4 feet away . . .  as an average NBA shooter does with the nearest defender 12 feet away.”

And pressure doesn’t phase him either. He shoots better as the shot clock winds down: “Curry takes a huge portion of his shots early in the shot clock (more than 50 percent) and is deadly on these. His worst time frame is with around 12 to 16 seconds left — where he has still made 42 percent. Then, he somehow shoots better and better as the clock runs down!” It’s a good  “example of how the traditional ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ shots don’t really apply to Curry.”

And then there’s the fact that Curry makes shots nobody else can replicate: “The pull-up three is not normally a great shot in the NBA. The league on the whole converts about 28 percent on average (corresponding to 84 points per 100 possessions) — well below the 35 percent that players convert on all 3-pointers. But since the start of last season, Curry has converted 42 percent of his.”

The burden of Morris’s article is to urge the Warriors to give Curry even more shots. “Curry’s teammates should be willing to pass up reasonably good shots even if it means Curry will have less time to set up his own.”If they did, and if the stats held, the Warriors would be scoring even more, and Curry would be even more effective in busting the received wisdom about basketball.

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