January 8, 2020, 4:40 pm
The Nets’ season isn’t exactly teetering on the brink, but even without Kevin Durant available there were expectations that make the team’s current seventh place standing a notable disappointment. Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert have definitely taken the wind out of Brooklyn’s sails to an extent, but the team was expected to have enough depth to keep them afloat.
With the Nets mired in a seven-game slide, and having lost 10 of their last 13 contests, one thing has emerged as a pattern: the team’s 3-point shooting has slipped, and they’ve been increasing the frequency of their 3-point attempts anyway.
This is not to say that the Nets are wrong for shooting so many threes. There’s more than one way to go about winning basketball games, and given the team’s personnel it’s safe to say that they’re built to win with heavy contributions from long-range buckets.
Brooklyn was one of the teams at the fore of the recent 3-point explosion, though as the rest of the league has caught up they’ve started to blend in with the rest of the pack a bit. Heading into Tuesday’s action they were sixth in the NBA with 37.3 3-point attempts per game, as well as sixth in terms of the percentage of shots that are 3-pointers, with 41.7 percent of Brooklyn’s shots coming from behind the arc.
And yet, the Nets have actually increased their 3-point output over the course of their losing streak. It appears that they’re content to try and shoot their way out of this slump – which, again, isn’t exactly a bad idea considering the team’s roster construction.
Here’s a five-game rolling average of the Nets’ 3-point percentage as well as the percentage of their total shots that are 3-pointers. The divergence over the last handful of games is a major factor in the recent skid.
Those numbers won’t get any better after Tuesday, with the Nets going 11-for-37 from deep (29.7 percent) while taking 98 shots overall.
Including those numbers, in Brooklyn’s seven-game streak, they have shot .297 from behind the arc on 40.9 attempts per game – well below their season average in efficiency and well above their season average in volume. In total, over 46 percent of their shots in that time have been 3-pointers.
Don’t let the recent streak take too much weight, either, as the Nets have been shooting just 30.6 percent from 3-point range since the start of December.
The Nets are built to ride these waves, and right now they’re unfortunately going through a team-wide slump.
Sharpshooter Joe Harris is at .349 from deep over the last seven, and while he’s at a respectable .429 on the full year that’s a far cry from his league-leading .474 mark from last season. Spencer Dinwiddie, a career .327 3-point shooter over four years with Brooklyn, is hitting at a .296 clip on 6.5 attempts per game. Taurean Prince is down from .390 to .356 on 6.8 attempts. Garrett Temple, a career .348 shooter from distance, is down at .317 on 6.6 attempts. The addition of Wilson Chandler has predictably hurt as well, as he is shooting a horrid .233 from deep on 3.0 attempts per game.
The team’s success is inexorably tied to winning the 3-point battle, or at the very least breaking even, and pretty much the entire roster has seen the bottom drop out at once.
While the Nets are really leaning into that part of their game, it can, and perhaps should, be interpreted as a positive sign that they’re secure in their identity and playing to their strengths rather than overreacting to a terrible stretch. It’s the sort of thing that can happen when teams are built on high-variance shots like this – just ask the Rockets and their 0-for-27 in the second half of Game 7 in 2018. Odds are that this will turn around.
Expect the Nets to keep shooting until it does.