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Splash Engineering: A Look at the Science Behind Golden State’s Sublime Shooters | Grantland

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Why Stephen Curry is the best:

One of the most amazing things about Curry is that even though his reputation motivates every defense in the league to key on him, he still manages to hit more 3s than anybody else. And he hits them at crazy rates. His ridiculous shot chart is the bar by which we can measure every other great perimeter shooter in the league.


So, how does he do it? How does he get this volume? The answer involves lots of screens by bigs and clever plays engineered to get him open. In this next example, the Warriors use a pair of drag screens set by bigs to free up Curry near the top of the arc. Given his shooting prowess, it’s easy to overlook his becoming a solid NBA playmaker. While some of these picks result in open shots or open driving lanes for Curry, other times they prompt switches that enable him to make a key pass.

A recent study by the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective found that the Warriors passed the ball less frequently than any other team in the league this season. At first glance, that number may seem bad. But when you consider who their primary ball handler is, it becomes less objectionable.

Curry is not a normal NBA point guard. He’s not Jeff Teague, Ricky Rubio, or Brandon Jennings — he’s a portable jump-shooting savant who also happens to run his team’s offense. He perpetually surveys the floor in hopes of trying to find the Warriors’ favorite scoring option: himself.

Curry was seventh in the NBA in points per game this year; the only point guard in the top 10 of that category. Even while in point guard mode, he weaves around like a merry snake twining through the woodpile (h/t to Kesey), searching for the perfect little moment to attack. There’s no other guard in the league like him.

Relative to normal NBA shooting standards, Curry’s a freak, and I’m not just talking about his volume or his efficiency. Across the league, 84 percent of made 3s were assisted during the regular season; only 46 percent of Curry’s league-best 261 made 3s during the regular season were assisted. That’s ridiculous. Curry made 143 unassisted 3s this year; for context, Ray Allen had a total of 116 3s; Dirk Nowitzki had 131.

Out of 21 NBA players who made more than 150 3s during the regular season, Curry is the only one whose unassisted makes outnumbered his assisted makes. Thompson is also in that group, but teammates assisted on 95 percent of his made triples. In other words, while both guys are fantastic spot-up shooters, Curry has also become the standard-bearer for shot creation beyond the arc.

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