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Why are the Thunder shooting better from three?

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Hot shooting has been the key to OKC’s five game win streak

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Since the turn of the new year, the Thunder have experienced some highs and lows. In the month of January, Oklahoma City is 8-5, including a five game win streak, but that was preceded by losing five out of six games, a number of which were to lottery teams.

One of the main factors in getting back to their winning ways has been the Thunder are shooting better from the floor. All season Oklahoma City has ranked near the bottom in three point percentage, but that has recently begun to reverse itself.

However, lately that has not been the case. Over their last five games, the Thunder are shooting 48 percent from the field and 45 percent from three while averaging over 121 points per game during this win streak.

Both the 45 percent from three and 121 points per game would rank first in the NBA. This sudden trend of great shooting has catapulted Oklahoma City into the top four scoring offenses.

Good three point shooting teams are characterized by two factors: shots created at consistent spots, and the shots are being taken by consistent shooters.

Where are the shots coming from?

1) Shots created off the high pick and roll

The majority of the Thunder’s shots this season are coming from the paint and top of the key. The Thunder have taken nearly 1,500 threes this season (31 attempts per game), and nearly 300 have came from the top of the key. Meaning the ball handler often is coming off the screen and shooting before the helping big steps up. However, OKC is well below league average on these attempts:

However, over the past 10 games, even with the uneven play, the Thunder, and specifically Paul George and Terrance Ferguson, have been on a tear from the wings:

2) Transition

The Thunder are doing a great job of finding shooters in transition. Those ahead on the break are looking back for trailing shooters, a method popularized by the Warriors and Rockets.

Here’s a perfect example:

3) The corner three

Statistically one of the highest value shots on the floor, the corner three is something OKC has struggled to generate in the past.

But recently, the corner threes are a big reason why Terrance Ferguson has made a lot of threes recently. In the last 10 games, Ferguson has made 32 three pointers, and shot 51 percent on those threes.

The Paul George Effect

As we all know Paul George is prolific scorer, who can score efficiently from anywhere on the floor. George leads the Thunder in three points attempted and three pointers made by a significant margin. Of 428 three pointer taken, George has made 172, a 40 percent clip. He is currently 3rd in made threes this season, behind James Harden (224) and Stephen Curry (203).

A lot of George’s points tend to come from him isolation plays. This is shown most in the areas of the court where he shoots the most. George favors isolating on the right half of the court.

Here is a visual of the area of the court George likes to operate:

And here is what George has done over the past 10 games:

Without the shooting production of George and Ferguson of late, the Thunder’s shooting stats would look similar to the 2016-2017 season. Where they were a league’s worse in three point percentage at 32 percent. But with this turnaround, not only have the Thunder found offense that was missing early on this season, it has helped reverse their most recent skid.


Do you think the Thunder’s three point shooting over the past 4 weeks is sustainable?

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