A Deep Dive: Analyzing the Rockets 3 Point Attack
As of this writing the Houston Rockets are the best team in the NBA. They have a better record than the vaunted Championship belt holding Golden State Warriors, NBA darlings Boston Celtics and their historical defense and rampaging Cleveland LeBrons. Houston is rated 2nd in Offense and 5th in Defense so they are dismantling teams on both ends of the floor. They are also 8th in pace which means after an opponent miss they are getting shots up fast on the other end.
The Rockets are also leading the NBA with 43.4 three point shot attempts per game and making more than 15 of those shots. Some quick math tells up that puts 45 points/game on the board from long distance. Let’s take a deep dive into this phenomena but looking at the numbers. This offense is geared around two of the league’s best distributors setting up deadly outside shooters. James Harden is the MVP front-runner and Chris Paul has been an assist machine since coming back from an early season knee injury. CP3 and the Beard are averaging 9.8 and 9.2 assists per game so far.
Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system surrounds these dynamic playmaker with solid outside shooting. Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah A Moute all are being assisted on over 95% of their 3 point attempts. Eric Gordon has spent about 78% of his time as a second unit point guard and is still being assisted on 77% of his three point attempts.
The Rockets have been super deadly from the corners in the drive and kick offense. Seven different players are shooting 37% or better from the corners. Ryan Anderson is nailing 58% of those shots and Ariza is at 52%. Harden is also over 40% from the corners.
Evidence of the shot distance extremes instilled in the Rockets offensive principles shows that Ryan Anderson is shooting an average distance of 22.3 feet. Anderson has taken serious heat recently for his Home/Road shooting splits. He is lights-out on the road and slightly better than league average at home. This season hasn’t been as disparate as he is shooting 44% away and 37.7% at the Toyota Center. In December, thus far he is shooting 50% from deep.
Clint Capela (13 pts, 11 rebounds, 66% FG, 25.8 PER), has been exceptional as a rim running, shot blocking big man and has an average shot distance of only 1.8 feet; the dude only dunks the basketball. Nene is the next closest at 4.6 feet per shot. Overall, nine players are shooting more than 16 feet from the basket per attempt.
As the numbers show, the Rockets are setting up deadly outside shooting and killing opponents off assists from two of the league’s best distributors in Harden and Chris Paul. The role players know their roles and shoot from their hot spots. Capela is catching alley-oops and Ryan Anderson is drilling corner threes at a nightmare inducing clip. If this shooting keeps up, not even the Warriors swarming defense can keep up with the rapid barrage of deep shooting. The Rockets are living the Daryl Morey dream of three pointers and lay-ups on the way to the best record in the league.