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Giving away threes, courtesy of the Bobcats

Stats used are from NBA.com/Stats and current through 1/14. If the Bobcats managed to stifle Boston and Indiana’s offenses on Monday and Tuesday, well, it takes time to compile these things and I apologize. But the basic tenets still hold and please enjoy.

The following slideshow presents screenshots from Saturday’s game against the Indiana Pacers. In that contest, Indiana attempted 28 three-pointers, making 11. That works out to 39.3% shooting from long range, which is basically in line with the Bobcats’ season average for opponent 3-point shooting of 39.1%, good for second worst in the league. My estimate: On 13 of these 28 attempts, the Pacers were able to begin their shooting motion with a defender 10+ feet away from them.


The dagger three that sealed the game came off a David West assist to D.J. Augustin, where Ben Gordon made a half-hearted attempt at the double team and did not attempt to recover back to D.J. for the shot attempt. But this isn’t unusual to Cats’ fans this season – it has felt like a consistent theme that the opposition has heated up against the Bobcats and won the game from deep (see O.J. Mayo, Shannon Brown, and Jason Richardson in various games this season).

So, I decided to put some numbers to it – independent of pace. Sure, the Bobcats’ allow their opponents to take the most threes per game of any team in the league, but that’s partially influenced by the (slightly) above average pace they play. But it doesn’t change the story – it actually makes it more concerning.

This first chart shows where the league’s average opponent shoots from, by percentage of attempts, and then where Bobcats’ opponents shoot from. And it shows that the Bobcats let team’s in the paint about an average amount, but allow far more three pointers than midrange jumpers than average:

Shot Location Allowed, % of Attempts
Restricted Area Paint Midrange Corner 3s Above Break 3s
League Avg 34.1% 13.3% 28.4% 6.7% 17.5%
Charlotte 36.1% 11.2% 24.3% 10.2% 18.3%

The thing about allowing all of those attempts at threes is that they’re worth more points than twos; however, the Bobcats not only allow a very high percentage of looks, but they allow opponents to convert on above average numbers of those looks. The Bobcats actually do a decent job of defending inside the three-point line, with about average numbers for field goal percentage allowed, but like the old (overly simplified and somewhat misleading) expression says, “Shooting 33% from three is like shooting 50% from two.” So, here’s how the Bobcats’ compare to league average in opponents’ field goal percentage by area as well:

Field Goal % Allowed by Shot Location
Restricted Area Paint Midrange Corner 3s Above Break 3s
League Avg 58.5% 38.0% 39.2% 38.3% 35.0%
Charlotte 58.4% 38.3% 39.8% 39.8% 39.4%

Here’s a fun stat: Bobcats’ opponents would have to miss 70 consecutive 3-point attempts from above the break for the Bobcats’ allowed field goal % from that area to drop to league average. That’s outside of the realm of coincidence (and if you need further proof, just go back through that slideshow again).

What’s the impact of their weak defense against three pointers and their giving them to their opponents at an unusually high percentage? Well, without even factoring in their abysmal defensive rebounding (2nd worst in the league, so their opponents also get to keep trying if they miss the first attempt), the Bobcats defense surrenders a very high points per attempt number. To try and show the impact, I’ve calculated 4 values:

Points per Shot, by Location and Allowed FG%
Average Location Bobcats’ Locations
Average FG% by Location 0.984 1.006
Bobcats FG% by Location 1.013 1.038

As the table shows, the Bobcats’ defense would allow for more points no matter which combination you use: If you give them credit with league average shooting against, the shots they’re giving up allow their opponents to score more points. If you credit them with forcing opponents to take the average distribution of shots, the shooting percentages they allow would still be an offensive advantage for the opposition. And then the combination that they actually allow, many threes and great shooting from deep, is the worst possible pairing.

So, the next time you’re inclined to say, “Oh, the Bobcats got unlucky. The (insert opponent) got hot and hit a lot of threes”, just remember the slideshow above and how the Bobcats have been getting “unlucky” all season long in regards to how well opponents are shooting threes.