Numbers notes: The other great shooting backcourt in the NBA

VIDEO: Stephen Curry scores 51 points in Orlando

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Stephen Curry is following up his MVP season with … another MVP season.

On Thursday, Curry set the record for most consecutive games with a 3-pointer and hit 10 of them for good measure. He’s currently 10 away from his own record for most threes in a season (286), and he has 25 games left to play. He has shot an amazing 35-for-56 (62.5 percent) from 28 feet and out.

Klay Thompson, meanwhile, is quietly having the best shooting season of his career. He’s the only player within 100 threes of Curry and ranks fifth in effective field goal percentage among players who have taken at least 500 shots.

There’s no arguing that the Warriors don’t have the best shooting backcourt of all-time. But here’s a fun comparison …

Backcourt A has shot 44.4 percent from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line).
Backcourt B has shot 46.0 percent from mid-range.

Backcourt A has shot 44.3 percent from 3-point range.
Backcourt B has shot 43.9 percent from 3-point range.

Backcourt A has shot 44.3 percent on all shots outside the paint.
Backcourt B has shot 45.0 percent on all shots outside the paint.

Backcourt A is Curry and Thompson.

Backcourt B? Chris Paul and J.J. Redick. And the breakdown was similar last season.

Paul and Redick don’t get much credit for maybe being the second-best shooting backcourt of all-time, mostly because their 3-point volume isn’t nearly that of Curry and Thompson. In fact, the Warriors’ backcourt has taken almost twice as many 3-point attempts (1,023) as the Clippers’ backcourt (522) this season. And that’s what makes Curry and Thompson the much more effective shooting combo from outside the paint.

Once you take the value of a 3-pointer into account, the Warriors’ numbers vault way past those of the Clippers. Here’s the breakdown, with the Portland Trail Blazers’ backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum thrown in for fun …


Another big difference between the Warriors’ backcourt and the Clippers’ backcourt is shots inside the paint, where Curry and Thompson have outscored Paul and Redick by 444 points. The Clippers rank last in shots in the restricted area, in part because their guards don’t get to the basket very often.

Paul (2.3 per 36) and Redick (1.2 per 36) rank 212th and 249th, respectively, in shots in the restricted area per 36 minutes among 262 players who have played at least 750 minutes. Curry (5.2) and Thompson (3.5) rank 70th and 153rd, respectively.

But in regard to makes and misses from the outside, the Clippers’ pair is right there with the best shooting backcourt of all-time.

Potent pairing

There was some minor Ricky Rubio talk at the trade deadline. Rubio is a good (but flawed) point guard. He’s a career 33 percent shooter from outside the paint, and doesn’t make up for that with abundant or efficient shooting at the basket. Only *five players have shot a lower percentage from outside the paint on at least 250 attempts.

* Emmanuel Mudiay, Kobe Bryant, Stanley Johnson, Andrew Wiggins and LeBron James.

Despite the poor shooting, Rubio has given the Wolves’ offense a huge boost. Minnesota has scored 105.9 points per 100 possessions with Rubio on the floor, but just 100.1 with him on the bench.

On-off-court differentials are as much about a player’s back-up as they are about the player himself. And when Rubio has been off the floor, the point guard has been Zach LaVine, who’s not a point guard. Before being waived on Thursday, Andre Miller spent most of his season out of the rotation.

LaVine is better suited as a two guard, but until recently, he and Rubio hadn’t played very much together. Through Jan. 23, in Rubio’s first 39 games, the pair averaged just 4.5 minutes per game together. Over the next couple of weeks, they played about 12 minutes per game together, but most of their minutes were apart.

Coach Sam Mitchell has begun to play Rubio and LaVine more together since the first game before the All-Star break. Over the Wolves’ last five games, the pair has averaged more than 25 minutes together.


The results have been mixed and the defense has been bad. But the Wolves have scored 112.7 points per 100 possessions in 397 total minutes with Rubio and LaVine on the floor together. That’s equal to the rate that the Warriors are leading the league with this season and is the best mark among Wolves combinations that have played at least 250 minutes together.

The Wolves have three players who are 20 or 21 years old with a world of potential. But their 25-year-old point guard has been critical to the success of the young trio so far. The Wolves have been 24.2 points per 100 possessions better with Rubio on the floor with LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns than they’ve been with Rubio on the bench and those three on the floor.


Big Shot Joe

VIDEO: Where will Joe Johnson land?

Joe Johnson, who was waived by the Nets on Thursday so that he can sign with a playoff team, may not be able to carry an offense like he has in the past. But he’s shot 48 percent (46 percent from 3-point range) since Jan. 1 and added another buzzer-beating game-winner to his resume a couple of weeks ago.

Over the last five seasons, Johnson leads the league with 13 buckets to tie or take the lead in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime.


Another note on Johnson, though: wherever he goes, don’t expect him to get to the basket or free throw line. He’s taken just 0.9 shots in the restricted area per 36 minutes, which ranks 258th among 262 players who have played at least 750 minutes. And his free throw rate (17.8 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field) ranks 96th among 108 players who have taken at least 500 shots.

No post-break slump

A few weeks ago, it was noted that there was a big drop-off in offensive efficiency after the extended All-Star break last season. In 2015, the league scored just 100.0 points per 100 possessions in 76 February games after the All-Star break, down from 103.7 in 85 February games before the break.

This year, there’s been no such drop-off. The league has scored 105.6 points per 100 possessions over the first 59 games since the break, up from 105.4 in the 82 February games before the break.

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