Three Ball, Corner Pocket

While trying to determine where the Nets will get their points this coming season, a key to their offensive success will likely come from the corners of the field.

While the Nets were an above-average three-point shooting team last season – they shot .376 from beyond the arc, good for 9th overall in the league – the Nets were nearly in a league of their own last season when it came to corner three-pointers.

Of the 18 teams who attempted more than 400 corners 3s last season, the Nets were the second most accurate from that floor spot with a .449 percentage, a few hundredths of a percent behind the Boston Celtics, who shot .451 from the corner. However, the Nets made 58 more corner threes than the Celtics last year (246 to 188) and also utilized them for a higher percentage of their total offense. Of the 98 points a game the Nets averaged last season, 9 points a game were the result of corner treys, good for 9.2 percent of the Nets total offense. Comparatively, 6.8 percent of the Celtics total offense came from the corner.

Here’s a breakdown of the Nets shooting tendencies via NBA Hotspots. Look at all that red in the corners:

teamshots

When looking at some other teams that relied heavily on the corner three, about 9.4 percent of the Orlando Magic’s offense came from that spot, but they collectively only shot .392 from their. The Portland Trailblazers also produced 9.4 percent of their total offense from the corner, but they too, shot significantly less than the Nets, connecting on .403 from that spot. The Nets, despite being an average-to-below-average offensive team in almost every other area, seemed to be one of the league’s elite in this one particular spot on the floor.

Here’s a listing of all the teams that attempted more than 400 corner threes:

cornerthree-leaders

The bulk of the corner threes came from two new members of the Nets last season – Bobby Simmons and Jarvis Hayes. Simmons connected from the corner 70 times last year, out of 152 attempts, good for 46 percent. Hayes hit 56 of 131 corner treys, good for 43 percent. Together those two connected on 51 percent of the entire Nets total corner 3s.

The Nets were able to generate so many corner threes because they had two players in Devin Harris and Vince Carter who were able to break down defenses and kick out the ball to one of their wing guys waiting in the corner. Headed into 2009-10, even without Vince Carter, there is no indication that the Nets are going to dramatically change their offensive system so as to affect the number of corner 3 opportunities they’ll have. Harris will get even more touches on offense with Carter gone and the drafting of Terrence Williams, an athletic wing who was an excellent passer in college, could also play the role of ball distributor to the corner three zone. Coach Lawrence Frank has also indicated the Nets will play more of a post game with Brook Lopez this season. If Lopez draws many double-teams, his best option may be to pass the ball to the corner.

Something that is not a given, is how accurate the Nets will continue to be from the corner, specifically Hayes and Simmons. Prior to last year, Hayes shot 39 percent in 2007-08 and 35 percent in 2006-07 from the corner. Simmons shot 42 percent in 07-08 and 39 percent in 05-06. So it remains to be scene whether or not these two players had career-seasons or benefited from the offensive system and the drive and kick abilities of Harris and Carter.

Sebastian is now going to quickly break down a little video he made putting to video what I have just talked about.

1 quick thing before we get to the breakdown, these clips were taken from a game against the Heat.  A game that Bobby Simmons was out for, which is why Trenton Hassell was starting.  So when you see him hit that first shot in clip number 2, just imagine Bobby there, because that is usually how it works out.

Clip 1 – In this first clip, Keyon Dooling takes the spot that Devin Harris usually takes, with Devin sliding into the 2 spot.  Josh Boone sets an awesome screen at the top of the key (something that the Nets love doing – with Brook instead of Boone usually).  With the Nets running this top screen, it allows for the ball handler to get into the lane at will, and just like in this clip, when the defense collapses, it allows for an easy kick-out and an open look…which Hayes drills in this case.  This is the type of stuff we can expect to see continue this upcoming year.

Clip 2 – Right off the tip,  the Nets quickly get into their offense, and the ball swings back around to Devin.  As Devin attacks the baseline, you see two Heat defenders clog the lane to help.  That is how much Devin’s speed and ability to drive is respected by opposing defenses.  Devin decides not to take it to the baseline, and spots Hassell before the defense can recover leading to an open 2 (I included this video because this is how a lot of 3s were made in the year, so it is relevant)

Clip 3 – In this clip, Vince gets the ball up top and all eyes are on him.  They continue to be when Brook comes up to set the screen.  Devin rotates to the corner, this leaves his man in a tough spot.  Since Brook’s man is hedging on Vince coming off the screen (the Heat decided not to let Vince hurt them off screens this game), Brook rolls wide open to the basket.  Devin’s man needs to help on Brook, so he does not get an open lay-up, and that leaves Devin wide open for the three.  Vince spots him and gets it to him in time for Devin to drill the three.

Clip 4 – This clip again starts with Vince at the top and a screen coming (From Josh Boone this time).  In this case, Vince beats the hedge and makes his way towards the basket.  Once he gets into the lane, you see the two weakside defenders sink into the lane to help.  With 4 defenders with their eyes on Vince defending him, this allows him to make a pass to Hayes, wide open for another 3.

Now Mark talked about the big question going into this year, and that is will we be able to keep this up.  The first question is will Jarvis Hayes and Bobby Simmons shoot as well as they did last year.  For now, lets say that they will.  That still doesn’t guarantee the Nets will keep up the same pace shooting from the corner.  That is all dependent on the effect Vince Carter’s departure will have.  With him gone there will be less corner 3 point opportunities (especially of the wide-open variety).  Look at clips 3 and 4 again, those 3s come solely based on the fact that teams don’t want Vince Carter to beat them, so they play defense in a way that gives up open 3s to other players.  This isn’t saying that there won’t be any opportunities available.  Look at those first 2 clips.  They come out of our offensive sets and the fact that teams are afraid of letting Devin attack the basket.  We will be running the same sets and Devin still is a part of the Nets.

In the end, I think that we will still be as efficient from the corner, but I just don’t think we will get as many opportunities.