ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry routinely produces some of the NBA’s best think-pieces. This article, published July 10th, might be his best one yet. Goldsboro examines a couple of the recent free agent signings (Arron Aflalo, Danny Green, DeMarre Carroll) and how their catch-and-shoot abilities will translate to their new environments (or, in Green’s case, remaining in his old one).
The home run/touchdown pass metaphor Goldsberry makes is a good one. 3’s come in a variety of ways. Very few of those (say isolation pull-ups or shooting behind ball screens) don’t involve another player creating a look for the shooter. The mechanism in which your shooter gets his 3’s off may vary (drive & kick, inside-out, transition throwaheads,ball screen throwbacks, etc.), but there needs to be some element of shot-creation (and spacing) within your offense for their catch-and-shoot game to thrive.
Basketball is a fight for space. A player’s shooting range defines the parameters for the space in which his teammates are able to operate. My good friend Adam Finkelstein of ESPN always says “Spacing is offense and 3-point shooting is spacing.”
Spot-up shooters serve as the indicator species of contemporary NBA ecosystems. They flourish in the spacing of San Antonio, Golden State, and Atlanta, but struggle among the crowds in New York, Memphis, and Lakerland. Many times their numbers reflect just as much about the health of their shooting environs as they do about the ability of the individual shooter himself. After all, if you’re a catch-and-shoot specialist in the best basketball league on the planet, chances are you’re already pretty good at shooting a basketball.