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Russell Westbrook joins Team Anti-Long 2s

Dec 16, 2013, 6:17 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

Russell Westbrook is shooting 3-pointers more than ever.

Per game, per minute or as a percentage of all his shots – Westbrook is taking 3s at a career-high clip by a fairly wide margin.

But he’s barely attempting more jumpers than usual.

Westbrook is taking 47 percent of his shots from at least 15 feet, up slightly 42 percent each of the last two seasons.

The biggest difference comes in the distribution of those long jumpers.

On shots from at least 15 feet, 56 percent of Westbrook’s attempts are 3-pointers. That was 47 percent last year, 36 percent the year before and 23 percent the year prior.

Simply, Westbrook is playing smarter. Via Royce Young of CBSSports.com:

“There’s no need to take long 2s,” Westbrook told CBSSports.com before Sunday’s game against the Magic. “If you’re going to take a [long] 2, you might as well take a step back and shoot a 3.”

Has the Thunder front office or coaching staff — a very analytically driven organization — consulted Westbrook on that front?

“Nah not really, just something I’ve learned,” he said. “It’s a better percentage if you just back up a step or if you go in a step instead of taking a long 2. It’s a bad shot.”

Westbrook actually makes a higher percentage of his 2s outside 15 feet than his 3s, 40 percent to 30 percent. But because 3-pointers are worth an extra point per make, his 3s generate more points per shot than his long 2s, .91 to .80

Plus, when Westrbook takes an extra step back, Kevin Durant has more space to operate.

This isn’t rocket science, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Westbrook gets it. Really, the wonder is why more players don’t.

  1. rickyspanish - Dec 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    An efficient Westbrook is something to fear.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 16, 2013 at 6:57 PM

      Yeah, well, what’s ironic about this article is he’s the least efficient he’s been in at least 3 years.

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Good for Westbrook, smart guy.

      Such a shame that Melo at his age can’t be more cerebral and apply such changes to his game.

  2. antistratfordian - Dec 16, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    If Westbrook wants to play even smarter, he’d stop taking 4.8 threes a game.

  3. shanelsweet - Dec 16, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    He’s not alone. Nobody takes long 2’s on purpose anymore as a staple of their game, and coaches certainly aren’t drawing up and having their teams practice getting any player a wide open long 2. I’m surprised Dan F. thinks that there are players who don’t get it.

    • mytthor - Dec 17, 2013 at 2:28 AM

      Except Dirk, and Kobe. And lots of players, actually. Read ESPN’s NBA player profiles that opened the season, and the probably the single most commonly cited problem with players’ games is that they take too many long 2’s.

  4. dinofrank60 - Dec 16, 2013 at 10:31 PM

    Because a lot of players can’t shoot 3s and shouldn’t shoot 3s. Just because it is more efficient means that players can’t dial up a 3 anytime you want. You really want to watch Westbrook jack up threes, stand out on the perimeter and hope this is a good night?

    Dunks are efficient,too. Why doesn’t Westbrook just drive to the hoop every time he has the ball and dunk it? He can certainly do that.

    So I can get a rhythm shooting the 15 to 20 footer. Dribble drive, jab steps and crossovers; a natural flow. But no, let me stand outside the arc and cast up an iffy shot, sometimes with no feel or rhythm. That’ll work; maybe if I follow my shot I might get the rebound.

    • spursareold - Dec 17, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Even if you shoot 50% from long 2 (and RW doesn’t), a player shooting 37.5% from 3 will outscore that player shooting 200 shots because of the differing point values of the shots.

      200 * .50 * 2 = 200 points
      200 * .375 * 3 = 225 points

      It is a FAR better shot to take the three, even at a much lower hit rate.

      • dinofrank60 - Dec 17, 2013 at 6:31 PM

        Except that:
        You’re not going to find too many players shooting 200 times in a game. In fact, I can assure you that no player will shoot 200 times a game. Not even JR Smith!
        But you just can’t dial up a three. It’s a hard enough shot even if wide open, so you really should try to take an easier shot if you can. I mean, you’re in rhythm for a two, but you’re going to catch yourself and step back for a three? How natural is that?

  5. cmehustle - Dec 17, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Im loving this whole analytics thing. Its nerdy, for sure but since Im sort of a nerd Im really enjoying it. Its a whole new take on statistics. Durant has always to me been a very efficient player. He shoots in the high 40s and low 50s percentages. If he took more shots he could easily lead the league in scoring. The biggest issue is Westbrooks inefficiency to me. If he can get more efficient too, lookout.

    • antistratfordian - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      Heh. You’re a little late to the party, but better late than never! Welcome to the Terrordome!

    • spursareold - Dec 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

      Not sure if serious. KD has already led the NBA in scoring THREE TIMES.

    • biasedhomer - Dec 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      If Lebron took more shots, he could easily have been leading the league in scoring for the past 5 straight years.

      • azarkhan - Dec 17, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        James has been in the top 4 in scoring over the last five years. Three of those years he was #2. It’s not like he isn’t trying.

    • dinofrank60 - Dec 17, 2013 at 6:33 PM

      If he took more shots, Durant would bounce three basketballs off his head…

      • dinofrank60 - Dec 17, 2013 at 6:34 PM

        Oops, I meant Westbrook!!!!

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