With the Washington Wizards off to yet another dismal start to an NBA season, the Wizard faithful are scratching their heads, wondering yet again "why can't this team seem to win?" Well the team's dreadful 4-24 record can be attributed to the fact that the team as a whole is shooting extremely poorly which can be seen in the team's dead last Points Per Game ranking of 88.8. What is even more frustrating is that the team is actually playing respectable defense (ranking 11th in points allowed per game) and getting a considerable amount of rebounds as well (ranking 6th in the league per game). This Wizards team seemingly has all of the makings to be a competitive team, but just can't seem to score enough points to get into the win-column. Why?
Well for one, the Wizards offense is sporting an eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage) of just 44.3%, which compared to last year's league average of 48.8%, is far below what is required to perform at the same level of play as last year's Trail Blazers who finished with a final record of 28-38. So what does this mean, you ask? Well, quite simply, the Wizards aren't shooting the ball well enough to even be considered mediocre. The question this probably raises is "how are the Wizards going to improve their eFG%?".
Well let's start by breaking down the play of our young shooting guard, Jordan Crawford. Jordan Crawford's eFG% currently sits at 46.4%. Now if you read the hyperlink provided above, you would have read that Effective Field Goal Percentage is measured by adding .5 to the number of made shots a player has and then multiplying it by the number of three-pointers the player has made, you then proceed to divide that number by the amount of shots a player has attempted (FGM+0.5*3PM)/FGA). What this formula implies is that the three-point shot is more valuable than a regular field goal is and as such should be weighed heavier than it is in the traditional Field Goal Percentage. It is because of this heavier weight for three-point shots that Jordan Crawford's eFG% (46.4%) is higher than his normal FG% (41.1%).
The problem with Jordan Crawford, however, is that he takes too many low-percentage three-point shots. If you break down the court into five zones (restricted area, in the paint, mid-range, corner-3, and above the break 3) you get a more accurate view of how well Crawford shoots the ball in each zone of the court:
What stands out the most to me here is the fact that 28.7% of Jordan Crawford's shots come from the "above the break 3" zone, and of that 28.7% only 30% of those shots fall. What's even more alarming is that despite his relative success in the other four zones, he still insists on shooting such a high percentage of shots from above the break.
To this point in the season 27.8% of plays the Wizards run when Crawford is on the court result in him shooting the ball (Crawford's usage ratio). Of this number, 28.7% of Crawford's shots come from the "above the break 3" zone. What this means is that a bit more than roughly an eighth of the plays the Wizards run when Crawford is on the court result in a three-point attempt from above the break with only a 30% success rate. What I'm getting at here is that when you have a player that shoots the ball as much as Jordan Crawford does, you can't afford to take such a high amount of low-percentage of shot.
Theoretically, if Jordan Crawford were to have not shot the ball at all from "above the break" his FG% would improve from 41.1% to 45.8% and his eFG% would improve from 46.4% to 47.3%. I don't know the exact correlation between eFG% and wins, but I imagine Crawford's eFG% jump from 46.4% to 47.3% would translate into an estimated 1-2 wins added. Now is 1-2 more wins really worth eliminating the majority of Crawford's three-point shots? The answer to that question is a big, fat yes and any coach or GM that believes otherwise isn't deserving of their job.
*I apologize if some of the numbers and conclusions reached in this article are a bit off, but I hope you guys cut me some slack considering this is my first article working with advanced NBA statistics. Please correct any mistakes you might have found while reading this.
**Credit goes to NBA.com for the statistics used in the above "Jordan Crawford Shot Distribution Chart".