ATB3 through 34 games

Shot Analysis: Spurs and opponents looks through 2 months

AT&T CENTER – As December is coming to a close, the San Antonio Spurs are currently ranked third in offense (106.8 Points Per 100 Possessions) and first in defense (92.5 PP/100) through 34 games, when ranked amongst the other 29 NBA teams.

There are multiple areas where the Spurs rank in the Top-10 on both offense and defense, such as Field Goal percentage, 3-point percentage, rebounding, assists, holding opponents to low field goal percentages, 3-point percentages and free throw attempts, just to name a few.

While there are many areas statistically where San Antonio is highly ranked on both sides of the ball, I was digging into the Spurs’ shot charts and noticed some areas where they’ve progressed from the months of November to December. Using the shot charts provided from the NBA, I’ve picked apart the five main scoring areas on the floor for teams – the restricted area, the non-restricted area, the mid-range area, corner 3-pointers and above-the-break 3-pointers. Using these shot charts, you can see a few ways that San Antonio is scoring efficiently on offense, and making scoring tough for opponents with the Spurs’ defense.

The Offense

Here are the five areas from the floor the Spurs shoot from on the average night through 34 games, from most attempts to least attempts:

Mid-Range: 27.1 attempts

Restricted Area (Paint): 23.2 attempts

Non-Restricted Area (Paint): 13.2 attempts

Above-the-break 3s: 12.9 attempts

Corner 3s: 5.7 attempts

Now let’s jump into each area in detail with a month-by-month assessment.

The Mid-Range Area

Most of the Spurs’ shot attempts come from the mid-range and this makes sense with a roster built of some notable mid-range shooters in Kawhi Leonard (23.8% of points come from MR), LaMarcus Aldridge (35.4% pts from MR), David West (39.0% pts from MR), and Tony Parker (28.7% pts from MR). Here’s the mid-range area being referred to by the NBA’s shot charts.

MR through 34 games

Here’s a look at how many mid-range attempts the Spurs took in each month, as well as overall.

Month Mid-Range Area shots League Rank
November 29.1 2nd
December 25.2 5th
Overall 27.1 3rd

The Spurs take the third most mid-range looks overall, but as you can see from the attempts in December, San Antonio took that shot just a bit less. Though they take the third most mid-range looks in the league, San Antonio is efficient in making them, as they’re knocking down 42.5% of those shots, ranked 4th best in the NBA.

The Restricted Area

The second area where the Spurs take most of their attempts each night is in the restricted area. Of the Spurs’ nine core players (Parker, Green, Leonard, Aldridge, Duncan, Mills, Ginobili, Diaw, West), seven of them score more than 31% of their points in the paint. The only two who don’t frequently visit the paint are Mills and Green. Here’s a look at the restricted area for San Antonio.

RA through 34 games

Here’s a look at how many restricted area attempts the Spurs took in each month, as well as overall.

Month Restricted Area shots League Rank
November 21.3 30th
December 24.5 23rd
Overall 23.2 28th

San Antonio got to the paint more frequently in December, but overall, they only visit the restricted area 23.2 times per game. Still, when San Antonio players do attempt shots in the restricted area, they’re doing so at an efficient level, as the Spurs are ranked 3rd in restricted area shooting percentage, as they’re making 65.5% of their attempts.

The Non-Restricted Area

The non-restricted area is both in the paint and just outside of the paint, but not totally in the mid-range area. Here’s the Spurs’ shot chart from the non-restricted area.

NRA through 34 games

Here’s a look at how many non-restricted area attempts the Spurs took in each month, as well as overall.

Month Non-Restricted Area shots League Rank
November 13.0 8th
December 12.9 9th
Overall 13.2 8th

This is a shot most teams don’t want to take, because it’s more-so in the realm of a mid-range look, but as mentioned above about the Spurs having notable mid-range shooters, they will take the shot if it’s given, since they’re knocking it down at the best percentage in the league (47.3%). On a month-by-month basis, San Antonio has stayed consistent in attempting 13.2 non-restricted area looks through 34 games.

The Above-the-Break 3 Area

With the Spurs shifting more of a focus this season to looks from the mid-range and the paint, San Antonio is attempting less 3-pointers this season. Of their nine core players, only Green, Mills, Ginobili and Leonard are making more than 25% of their points from 3-point range. Here’s how the Spurs are shooting from the above-the-break 3 area.

ATB3 through 34 games

Here’s a look at how many above-the-break 3 area attempts the Spurs took in each month, as well as overall.

Month Above-the-break 3 Area shots League Rank
November 13.8 26th
December 11.8 27th
Overall 12.9 26th

While the attempts from each month show the Spurs are content with taking around 12.9 above-the-break 3s per game, the percentages show that when San Antonio does have to settle for a 3-pointer from that area, they’re knocking them down 36.8% of the time, best for 5th in the NBA.

The Corner 3 Area

The last area where the Spurs take shots from is the corner 3 area. Here’s the Spurs’ corner 3 shot chart.

C3 through 34 games

Here’s a look at how many corner 3 area attempts the Spurs took in each month, as well as overall.

Month Corner 3 Area shots League Rank
November 5.4 22nd
December 6.4 12th
Overall 5.7 21st

The month-by-month numbers become interesting here with the corner 3, as the Spurs added one more corner 3 per game to their offense in December, which ranked them in the Top-15 of the league for attempts from that area. This could be a product of the development in the offense when either Leonard, Aldridge or Diaw get double teamed in the low block, then they’ve been known to kick out to a wing player, who will then pass to what should be an open corner 3-point shooter. When the Spurs are given a corner 3, they’re knocking that shot down 40.2% of the time, best for 3rd in the NBA. The corner 3 shot will be one shot to monitor, to see if that’s a shot the Spurs will be adding more frequently as the season progresses.

Now that we’ve done some dissection of the Spurs’ offense and their shot attempts, it’s time to take a look at how the Spurs’ suffocating defense is making teams take shots that most don’t want to take.

The Defense

Before breaking down each area of the floor for the Spurs’ defense, here are the five areas teams shoot from on the average night against the Spurs’ defense, from most attempts to least attempts per game.

Restricted Area: 24.8 attempts

Mid-Range: 24.1 attempts

Non-Restricted area: 14.1 attempts

Above-the-break 3s: 13.6 attempts

Corner 3s: 4.9 attempts

Now let’s go through each of those areas on the floor and look at how many shots the Spurs’ defense is forcing teams to take from those areas, as well as how the opponent is shooting from those spaces.

The Restricted Area for Opponents

Here’s the Spurs’ defensive shot chart in displaying how opponents are shooting against San Antonio when they get into the restricted area.

ORA through 34 games

The month-by-month number of opponent shots in the restricted area is shown below.

Month Opponent Restricted Area shots League Rank
November 27.5 19th
December 22.3 1st
Overall 24.8 4th

The Top-10 teams in restricted area shot attempts take anywhere from 28.5 (10th) to 32.2 (1st) attempts in the restricted area per game, so as you can see from the numbers above, the Spurs are not allowing many looks in the paint (24.8 attempts for opponents). When looking at the month-by-month numbers, the Spurs almost put a wall around the paint in December, as they made it quite difficult for teams to even attempt a shot over their frontcourt of Aldridge/Duncan/Diaw/West. When teams do get into the restricted area and attempt a shot, the Spurs make it very difficult to score, as they’re holding teams to a league lowest 55.3% shooting in the restricted area.

The Mid-Range Area for Opponents

In today’s NBA of teams wanting either points in the paint or 3-pointers, the Spurs are forcing opponents to shoot the shot most offenses don’t want to take – mid-range looks. First, the Spurs’ opponent mid-range shot chart is shown below.

OMR through 34 games

Here’s the month-by-month look at how many mid-range looks the Spurs are forcing from their opponents.

Month Mid-Range Area shots League Rank
November 23.3 27th
December 24.4 29th
Overall 24.1 29th

The Top-10 teams who try to avoid the mid-range shot only attempt anywhere from 10.8 (30th) to 19.3 (21st) attempts per game. That list includes some run-and-gun offenses like the Rockets, Warriors, Hawks, Cavaliers and Pistons. Then along comes the Spurs’ defense, which is making teams take 24.1 mid-range looks per game. In this case, being 29th ranked is a good thing if you want your defense to force opponents into a mid-range look. When teams do have to take a mid-range look against the Spurs’ defense, they’re knocking down those looks 38.9% of the time, which ranks the Spurs’ defense at holding opponents to the 12th lowest mid-range shooting percentage.

The Non-Restricted Area for Opponents

The Spurs’ shot chart for opponents that take the non-restricted shot against their defense is displayed below.

ONRA through 34 games

Here’s the month by month shot attempts from the non-restricted area for opponents against the Spurs’ defense.

Month Opponent Non-Restricted Area shots League Rank
November 13.4 24th
December 15.1 30th
Overall 14.1 28th

The Top-10 teams who try to avoid the non-restricted area shot attempt 8.8 (30th) to 10.7 (21st) of these looks per game, which includes some clubs like the Clippers, Pacers, Hawks, Rockets and Thunder. The Spurs’ defense forces teams to shoot this shot 14.1 times per night, which ranks them 28th, which means only two more teams in the league force teams to take this shot each night. When opponents do have to take the non-restricted area shot, they’re making 39.5% of them, which ranks the Spurs’ defense close to average (14th) in terms of how low of a percentage a team is shooting from this area.

The Above-the-break 3 for Opponents

Here’s the Spurs’ shot chart on defense when allowing opponents to shoot the above-the-break 3 (ATB3).

OATB3 through 34 games

The month by month shot attempts from the ATB3 area for opponents is displayed below.

Month Above-the-break 3 Area shots League Rank
November 14.8 2nd
December 12.6 1st
Overall 13.6 1st

The Top-10 teams that take the most ATB3s include names like the Warriors, Mavericks, Celtics, Rockets, and Cavalers, as some of those teams take anywhere from 19.8 (10th) to 24.1 (1st) ATB3s. Once more, the ATB3 is a shot the Spurs’ defense prefers to take away from opponents, as the Spurs’ wing players will run a shooter off the 3-point line and funnel them into their wall in the paint of Aldridge and Duncan. In December, the Spurs’ defense in taking away ATB3s got even better at limiting opponents looks from that area. When teams do get to shoot an ATB3 against the Spurs’ defense, they’re only making them 32.0% of them, which ranks the Spurs’ defense at 5th in holding teams to a low shooting percentage from that area.

The Corner 3 Area for Opponents

The last area on the floor where San Antonio limits opponent shot attempts is the corner 3, and the shot chart for opponents is shown below.

OC3 through 34 games

Here’s the month-by-month shot attempts from the corner 3 area for the Spurs’ defense.

Month Corner 3 Area shots League Rank
November 4.9 5th
December 4.9 7th
Overall 4.9 5th

Like the above-the-break 3, some notable outside shooting teams would prefer corner 3 attempts like the Rockets, Warriors, Cavaliers, Hawks and Celtics. Those teams take anywhere from 6.6 (10th) to 9.6 (1st) corner 3s per game. Like with the ATB3s, the Spurs’ defense is stingy in not allowing offenses to shoot that shot often, as the Spurs are limiting teams to just 4.9 corner 3 looks per game, best for 5th in the league. When teams do finally get to shoot a corner 3, the Spurs have the best defense so far in making that a tough shot, as teams are only making 29.2% of those looks.

Overall, the Spurs’ offense and defense have just gotten better through the first two months of the season, as you can see below. There’s still 48 games left in the regular season for the team to continue to improve as January approaches in the coming days.

Screenshot (71)

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

Quantcast