We know the Brooklyn Nets love shooting, deep shooting ... breaking records for 3-pointers, attempted and made as a team and in Allen Crabbe’s case, as a player.
They came within one three of breaking the NBA record in a late season game vs. the Bulls. If only Spencer Dinwiddie’s last minute shot hadn’t gone in and out ...
In fact, toward the end of the 2017-18 season, we saw the team morph into the playing style Kenny Atkinson wants to see from his club. After the All-Star Break, the Nets were fifth in 3-point shooting percentage. Overall, they finished 19th for the season after a woeful start. That’s up from 26th in Atkinson’s first year.
Joe Harris, who came into the season with a goal of shooting 40% from three, led the team at 41.9% for the season and shot a league-best 47.1% after the All-Star Break.
“That’s just a personal goal of mine,” Harris said at training camp in the Naval Academy back in late September. “I hovered around 38 and 39 percent last year. If you look at all the top shooters in the NBA, guys that might be specialists — like how I see myself as a good shooter and specialist — they’re always 40 percent and above. So that’s a personal goal for me to get into that elite three-point shooting percentage.”
Allen Crabbe took a while to settle in Brooklyn, shooting 35.3% from three through his first 50 games of the season. Then he (finally) became more aggressive. He not only shot 41.7% from deep over his last 25 games (February 6 through April 11), but his scoring average improved more than anyone else on the team, going from 11.6 to 16.3 points per game, including 10 games with 20 or more points and 10 with 5 or more three’s made. He had a career best of 41 on April 9, his 26th birthday.
“I didn’t have the consistent season I wanted to have,” Crabbe told BrooklynNets.com in their season review. “But I got one year under my belt [in Brooklyn] and I know where I can be effective on this team and what I can bring – what I can do. Just go into offseason and come back a completely different player.”
Two other key young players were given the green light as well and Caris LeVert hit 37.3 percent of his long bombs after the All-Star Break and D’Angelo Russell was only slightly behind at 36.4.
The Nets have also tried to turn Quincy Acy and Dante Cunningham into three-point specialists at the power forward spot, which plays more like a finesse 4 in the Nets scheme and combined they shot an even 40 percent after the break ... 52-of-130. DeMarre Carroll, not to be outdone, shot 39 percent.
Not everyone improved, though. Dinwiddie shot less than 30 percent after he won the All-Star Skills Challenge in L.A., as he had DLo tried to figure out each other’s game.
So what about next year? Is this something the Nets can build on? Before his season was cut short before it even began, Jeremy Lin also voiced a desire to hit 40% from three.
First of all, do not expect any changes. The Nets are a 3-point shooting team, period. The roster may dictate some changes at the edges but both Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson are married to deep shooting.
“There is a lot of it that involves analytics here,” said Marks last month at HSS Training Center. “Obviously the roster build, you look at the way the NBA is going and has gone, the way teams are playing size-wise, the skill sets that are needed not only from a shooting guard but from across the board what the talent and skill set looking at 4’s and 5’s stretching the floor and the pacing of the game and everything else.
“In conjunction [with that], we try to build a roster that suits Kenny’s vision for that, but also where the NBA is going and where we can find advantages for us.”
“We want to keep moving up the ladder on offensive and defensive efficiency,” Atkinson added. “There are ways to do it. Obviously, the 3-pointer is a big weapon in today’s game and it’s a high valued shot. I also think it’s a trifecta. Your rim attempts and drives to the rim attempts, free throws are all super high value shots and threes. I think we all get that equation,” said Atkinson.
Do the Nets have enough 3-point shooting? You’d think with those post-ASB numbers that the answer is yes, but don’t be surprised if the Nets take a shooter in the Draft or pursue free agents who can hammer it home from deep. Look at who they’ve tendered offer sheets over the past two off-seasons? Crabbe, Otto Porter Jr., even Tyler Johnson all fit the mold.
Also expect it to be a big part of player development.
You can watch and simply tell that the Nets love having the mere option of shooting three’s. It’s probably why Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said he wants to get in on the action, when asked what he hopes to change in his game during exit interviews last month.
“Shooting less mid-range and adding three’s,” he said with a laugh. “I would say just adding that to my game, I feel like would be better for our team and for myself. Just because analytics, efficiency. You want to do what’s best at the end of the day to make your team better. Coaches want it, staff wants it, teammates want it, so I’m all for it.”
In a limited amount of time, the Nets have shown an ability to aid jump shots of, at times, refined if not evolving NBA players – like those previously mentioned, including Hollis-Jefferson, who dramatically improved his mid-range shooting.
“It’s not easy to get those shots. The last part of that goal is to make sure we try to get them open and we’re not just shooting them to shoot them,” added Atkinson. “We’re working the system whether it’s off-the-ball screening, pick-and-roll, spacing, whether it’s pace, we’re constantly talking with analytics and the performance team. Everybody has a role in this.”