2.2.8 Shot selection – importance of the corner 3
The reason for this can be starkly illustrated:
- A team taking 100 2pt shots @ 50% accuracy scores 100 points;
- A team taking 100 3pt shots @ 35% accuracy scores 115 points!
It must be emphasized with junior teams that players should not be encouraged to shoot from “beyond the arc” until they have the correct strength and technique to do so
Increasingly, teams are adding specific options to their offensive playbooks to take 3 point shots and this trend seemingly continues even though the 3 point line is now further away from the basket than when first introduced.
In particular, the “corner 3” has been described by some commentators as the most important shot in basketball and some recent analysis in the NBA supports its increasing importance:
- Successful teams tend to take more “corner 3” shots than less successful teams do;15
- Teams shoot a higher percentage from the “corner 3” than other 3 pt shots.16
Whilst the “corner 3” is closer to the basket than a 3pt shot from the wing or top of the key, this is only a marginal difference and is unlikely to explain the increased shooting percentage from the corner. More likely an influence is how playing to the corners can distort and stretch a defence leading to shots from the corner not being as closely guarded.
Most teams will have a player move to the corner when there is dribble penetration. On baseline dribble penetration, there will often be a pass directly to the corner.
Most defences will “help” stop dribble penetration with a rotation from a player from the low split line – this is usually the defender of the offensive player that moves to the corner.
This rotation requires further help (x4) to rotate, which can result in a shot from the corner being relatively open.
On baseline penetration, a pass to the top of the key will often be defended as the team rotation is designed to defend. Here x2 is in position to close-out and defend either 2 or 4 if they receive the pass.
However, a quick pass to the corner forces a longer “close out” from the defence, which again, can lead to a relatively open shot.
The effectiveness of passing to create an opportunity to shoot from the “corner 3” is confirmed by analysis that indicates 95% of “corner 3” shots are “assisted”, meaning that they are taken after receiving a pass.3
Dribble penetration to the middle also requires rotation from x3, who is responsible for defending the player moving to the “corner 3”. Again, this can create a relatively open shot either as x4 closes out (rotating to help x3), or if x3 rotates (after doing a “hedge and recover” to assist in defending 1’s penetration).