Yesterday, I did an analysis on the shooting statistics in NCAA basketball since 1948. Today, an astute reader discovered a fly in the ointment -- Apparently, the NCAA doesn't separate 3-point and 2-point shooting like a reasonable person would think. Instead, they keep all shooting, both 2 and 3 point, as a total, and break out only the 3-point stats separately. I didn't account for that in my analysis yesterday, so that requires a correction.
What we will do is replace the second graph from yesterday with this one:
What this shows is that shooting of all types has declined from its high in 1989. So my main point still holds up, despite my analysis error. But a new trend has also revealed itself - 3 point shooting percentage has declined less since 1993 than 2 point shooting percentage has. That actually makes sense, since more perimeter players are practicing the 3-point shot rather than the midrange game.
It's easy to see that result when we think about it -- rarely do we see shots from the wings inside the arc banked like we used to. When I played basketball, we were taught to use the backboard on wing shots from 12-15 feet when we were around a 45-degree angle from the basket. You don't see that much anymore, and when it happens, such players are often labeled "throwback" players, even though the technique has a larger margin for error than shooting straight at the basket -- which is why it was taught to begin with.
But even more interesting is the next graph:
What's interesting about it? Look at the number of shots being taken from 2 point range. Now, we would expect a decline from 1987 onward, as more and more 3-pointers were taken.
But look at the steep decline in shots taken from 1973 onward. I can't think of a reason why this is. We can assume, I suppose, that defenses got progressively tougher and more athletic, but that seems to be a very big drop in shots taken.
Not only that, but that drop occurred long before the advent of the shot clock, which you would think would create a faster tempo and more shots -- at least, that's what it would do in theory.
But in reality, even if we look at total shots (the green line before 1987 and the blue line after), they have declined even after the advent of the shot clock and even more since 1993, when the shot clock was changed from 45 to 35 seconds.
This is completely counterintuitive, and I have no idea why it should be this way. If anyone has an explanation, I would love to hear it.