Confirmed: Anthony Bennett Should Be Shooting Three Pointers

Anthony Bennett going up for a long two.

Anthony Bennett going up for a long two.

 

A lot has been written about Anthony Bennett’s lack of three-point shooting this season. Flip Saunders told him not to shoot threes, and he hasn’t.

This post takes a look at what Bennett’s and the Wolves offensive numbers might look like if Bennett were taking a step back and able to shoot at the same clip he’s been shooting at.

(Eds. Note: This analysis is laden with assumptions, but we’re just having fun. And some of the assumptions aren’t crazy.)

Where Bennett Takes and Makes Shots

Bennett has shot a lot from the perimeter, as this chart shows.

 

chart

 

And Bennett has shot well from the perimeter. He’s alllllllllmost a layups and treys player, except his hot zone is 1-2 feet inside the arc.

 

From NBASavant

From NBASavant

 

Some Numb#rs to Consider

The table below is a breakdown of all of Bennett’s shots as of Nov. 25, 2014. Bennett has taken 67 shots and is shooting 52% on the season so far.

 

Type Attempts % of Total
Made 35 52.24
Missed 32 47.76
Total 67 100

 

Not bad.

Now, we know that Bennett shoots A LOT of long twos–and the eye test suggests he can make long twos with ease.

Here are Bennett’s numbers on shots from 19 feet or deeper. (Bennett hasn’t shot a three yet this season. According to NBA.com, his longest shot is 22.5 feet.)

Anthony Bennett: Shot distance >= 19 feet

Attempts Converted Pct.
30 16 53.3%

We see that so far, Bennett is shooting about one percentage point better from 19 feet and beyond. The eye test hasn’t betrayed us.

How Much of a Difference Would It Make if Bennett Took a Step Back?

One concern is that Bennett might not quite have the range or comfort with the NBA three-point line to take a few steps back and convert with nearly the same accuracy.

We cannot test this assertion, of course, because we don’t have any counterfactual world in which Bennett has done so.

But we can see whether Bennett has shot well from very close to the three point line (as opposed to just 19 feet and deeper).

Here we’ve got the risk of very small sample size theater absurdities, but Bennett has made half of the attempts he has taken from between 21 and 22.5 feet.

Anthony Bennett: Shot distance >= 21 feet

Attempts Converted Pct.
14 7 50%

 

Bennett has only shot three field goals from 22 feet and deeper, but he’s made two of them.

The Counterfactual: What if Bennett’s Long Twos were Threes

So let’s imagine Bennett’s prowess so far were both sustainable and transferrable to the NBA three-point arc. All else equal, he’d have 16 more points on this season if all of his long twos (defined as 19+ foot twos) had been treys. The Wolves have played 12 games so far; Bennett is averaging 7.5 ppg.

So if all of Bennett’s long twos were threes, his average points per game would go up by 1.33. That would bump up his average to 8.83 ppg. He wouldn’t be an MVP candidate with those numbers, but it would push him closer to double figures per game.

But wait, there’s more.

Bennett is only averaging 17.3 minutes per game on the season. He’s currently averaging 15.7 points per 36. If Bennett’s long deuces were treys, he’d be averaging 18.8 per 36. (Eds. Note: Paging Flip Saunders–give Bennett more run, kthxbai.)

Implications for the Wolves Offense

The Wolves are currently scoring 101.1 ppg, according to NBA.com. If Bennett’s long twos had been scored from a couple feet deeper, they’d be averaging 102.5. That would move them from 14th in the NBA, behind the LA Lakers, to a tie with Atlanta as the 11th highest-scoring team in the League.

This obviously wouldn’t solve all of our problems, but it would move us from our current position in the middle of the pack to the cusp of the upper third of the League. Given that our horrible record, that’d at least be something.

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