Wizards slowly catching up to the curve on three-point efficiency

Jason Miller

The Wizards may not have made a lot of threes last night, but they're starting to get smarter about how to take them.

Last night, the Wizards attempted 32 three-pointers in their loss to the Cavaliers. As you'd expect, having A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford combine to attempt 15 threes is not a great recipe for success, especially when they only make two of them. The 32 attempts from behind the arc is the most they've attempted in a game since 2008, a game they also lost (HT: Adam Chandler). In fact, if you go back and look at all six games where the Wizards have attempted at least 32 three-point attempts, you'll notice that they've lost all six.

The knee-jerk reaction to data like this is to say "Live by the three, die by the three" and assume once teams start hoisting an inordinately high number of threes that the offense is out of balance and they'll probably wind up losing, but recent data doesn't support that notion. In recent years, there's been a correlation between three-point attempts and winning percentage as the number of threes attempted in the NBA continues to climb year by year. Here's a look at how each team in the NBA has fared when attempting at least 32 three-pointers in a game in their history.

As you can see, some teams have taken advantage of this better than others, but no team has been worse at capitalizing on turning a high number of three point attempts into wins than the Wizards. Only three teams (Wizards, Bobcats and Jazz) in the NBA haven't won a game when attempting at least 32 three-pointers; and the Bobcats and Jazz have both failed to do so because they've never had a game with at least 32 attempts in either team's history.

With all that said, let's keep in mind that 32 three-point attempts in a game is still an unusually high number of attempts (the league average was 18.4 attempts last season) and shouldn't be targeted as a norm for the Wizards moving forward. But clearly, games can still be won when teams shoot that much from outside, and it's concerning that the Wizards haven't managed to find a way to be successful when taking a high quantity of shots from outside, even during the Arenas/Jamison years.

Last night should serve as a reminder that the Wizards, despite their new additions, are still very much a below-average shooting team. But hopefully their willingness to utilize it as a bigger part of their offense last night shows a recognition of how games are being won in today's NBA that will lead to better results down the road.

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