Different but Deadly: Using SportsVu Data to Analyze the Splash Bros

By Harrison Chase 

Golden State’s offense is one of the best in the NBA, ranking fourth overall in offensive efficiency, per ESPN. They have two of best shooters in league in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, or as they as they are affectionately known, the Super Splash Bros. But as anyone who has watched even one game of theirs can tell you, Curry and Thompson are very different players. Curry is much more of a shoot off the dribble guard, forcing players to guard him closely on the three-point line and try to contain him when he dribbles, a tough task. Thompson is much more of a traditional catch and shoot player, but can still create opportunities for himself off the dribble if need be.

Until recently, distinguishing between these two styles of three point expertise was impossible to do by looking at the box score – there wasn’t a way to capture which shots were created off the dribble and which were catch and shoot besides watching every game and marking down which shots were created in which way, a tireless task. Now however, thanks to Nba.com releasing some SportsVu data, we are able to look at a player’s shooting statistics for various types of shots, including catch-and-shoot shots, which are defined as “Any jump shot outside of 10 feet where a player possessed the ball for 2 seconds or less and took no dribbles” and pull up shots, which are defined as “Any jump shot outside 10 feet where a player took 1 or more dribbles before shooting.”

Using the same method as I used when looking at which players contributed the most by drives, I’ll now try to look at which players have contributed the most above what an average player would have contributed for these two types of shots.

For each shot though, there are two different types of shots that must be looked at individually – two point shot and three point shots. The leaders for those, as you will see, are very different.

Lets first look at the top two point catch and shoot shooters:

Players Above average on 2 pointers per game
Jason Smith 2.32
David West 2.08
Al Horford 1.87
Andrea Bargnani 1.52
Luis Scola 1.50

Most of the top two point catch and shoot players are big men, either power forwards or centers, who like to camp out and shoot elbow jumpers.

Now onto three pointers:

Player Above average on 3 pointers per game
Klay Thompson 3.88
Kyle Korver 3.26
Andre Iguodala 2.79
Jodie Meeks 2.53
Gary Neal 2.35

Klay Thompson, Splash Bro number 1, is great on threes, as is Kyle Korver. They’re both averaging over five catch and shoot three point attempts a game – and they’re both hitting over half of them. In third is Andre Iguodala, who is also on the Warriors. It’s a pity Mario and Luigi didn’t have a third brother – Iguodala would have fit the role of the third splash bro perfectly.

Total catch and shoot:

Players Above Average on Catch and Shoot per game
Klay Thompson 4.17
Kyle Korver 3.68
Andre Iguodala 3.16
Andrea Bargnani 2.53
Jodie Meeks 2.43

It should come as no surprise that the top three point shooters are top overall, but sneaking onto this list is a revived Andrea Bargnani, who does a bit a everything.

Now moving onto pull up shooters, starting first with two pointers:

Player Above average on two pointers per game
Russell Westbrook 2.23
Mo Williams 2.15
Chris Paul 2.10
Jrue Holiday 2.02
Monta Ellis 1.89

These are mostly all players who are the primary creators on their team, and spend a lot of time dribbling and pulling up. It may come as a surprise to see Mo Williams second on this list, above of a player like Chris Paul. But so far this year Mo Williams has been great at pull up two’s, hitting well over fifty percent, while Chris Paul, despite taking many more, has hit less than forty percent of them.

For three point shooters:

Player Above Average on three pointers per game
Damian Lillard 1.63
OJ Mayo 1.55
Stephen Curry 1.50
Eric Bledsoe 1.28
Kevin Durant 1.23

As we expected, Stephen Curry, Splash Bro number 2, is right up there, but Damian Lillard is number one. That’s because Lillard has made nearly as many pull up threes per game as Curry – and he’s done it on one less shot a game. As a result, his shooting percentage is a good bit higher than Curry’s.

When we look at all pull up shots, Curry comes in fourth.

Player Above Average on Pull Up Shots per Game
Russell Westbrook 3.08
Kevin Durant 2.98
Eric Bledsoe 2.63
Stephen Curry 2.53
Damian Lillard 2.52

Westbrook and Durant are exceptional at both pull up twos and threes, as the Thunder’s offense relies heavily on those two creating their own shots. Bledsoe likewise has been asked to do the heavy lifting on the Suns offense, and has done so remarkably well so far. Again, does this mean these are the best players at shooting pull up shots? No, it means these are the players who have added the most points above average to their teams by pull up shots.

There you have it. The Warriors, with their high flying, three point-loving offense has one of the best pull up three point shooters in league to go with two of the top five catch and shoot shooters.  The Super Splash Brothers are taking over the NBA.

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