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Why shot-location defense matters

Apr 18, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

Playing effective NBA defense is more about dictating shot location than contesting shots.

To wit, here are effective field-goal percentages (which accounts for made 3-pointers being worth 50 percent more than made 2-pointers) of every NBA team for each of the five commonly used zones of the court: Restricted Area, In The Paint (Non-RA), Mid-Range, Corner 3 and Above the Break 3.


As you can see, teams are generally lumped by location on the floor.

Even the worst-finishing team in the Restricted Area (Cavaliers) shoots way better there than anyone does from In The Paint (Non-RA) or Mid-Range.

The worst team at Corner 3s (76ers) is also more effective from there than In The Paint (Non-RA) or Mid-Range, though the gap isn’t quite as wide.

Everyone except the Pistons shoots Above the Break 3s better than anyone shoots from the In The Paint (Non-RA) or Mid-Range,  and only the Heat’s In The Paint (Non-RA) shots – someone is practicing their floaters – fares better.

Clearly, you don’t want to shoot from In The Paint (Non-RA) or Mid-Range. Even the best teams from those zones are inefficient relative to other areas on the court.

That’s why defending a shot that is already being taken matters only so much. The bigger key is preventing shots from certain zones being taken in the first place and promoting shots from others zones.

  1. savvybynature - Apr 18, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    I agree with the premise here, but contesting shots is still very important. I’ve heard Coach Pop say it affects shooting percentages by something like 20%.

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      There’s very little difference between a good contest and a mediocre to bad one.

  2. basketballhooper1 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Really useless article man… more and more of these each day, i hoped for something better

  3. cyclops1771 - Apr 18, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    Statistics have no bearing in sports. Just go out and play. Its just a way for nerds to be involved because they can’t play.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Statistics just quantify what the eyes see. You can say you see something in a player, but how do you prove it?

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:56 AM

        Statistics quantify things that the eyes don’t see and the brain forgets. They’re more accurate because they hold no bias and never lie. People will argue till the cows come home about why one stat is more significant than the other, but they’re all more significant than the “eye test.”

  4. parasolmonster - Apr 18, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    “As you can see, teams are generally lumped by location on the floor.”

    No, we can’t see. Kudos on your article’s biggest element being an unreadable graph!

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 19, 2014 at 2:59 AM

      just click on the graph and it links to a slightly smaller and equally blurry version! Technology!

  5. mackcarrington - Apr 18, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Every time I see one of these charts, my eyes glaze over and get watery.

  6. weaselpuppy - Apr 19, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    we don’t need no stinkin charts.


    Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith

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