Why Looking for Corner Threes Is a Bad Idea

This type of argumentation sounds probably familiar and maybe logical:

“The value of [three-pointers from the corners] is even higher because corner threes are the shortest shots worth that much — 22 feet as opposed to 23 feet, 9 inches above the break, that spot on the court where the line changes from straight to an arc. NBA teams this season are making 35.6% of three-pointers overall but 38.9% from the corners.”

So if you want to be a smart, analytical NBA team you should shoot a lot of corner threes, right?

No. Actually looking for corner threes may be a horrible idea. These are reasons why.

  1. See the pic. When there’s a drive to the middle, the shooter in the weak side corner often stays in the corner for a corner three. If the lifted above the break, often the pass to him would be more readily available. If he stays in the corner, the pass to him is more difficult. There may be a turnover or no three pointer at all because the pass can’t be made.
  2. Not shooting an above-the-break three but instead passing to the corner may lead to a turnover.
  3. Sometimes the defender closes out on the pass receiver and he doesn’t shoot but drives against the close out. Out of the corner, these drives are less effective than from above the break. Additionally, corner drives lead to more frequently to turnovers because players using the plyostep sometimes step out of bounds.

This doesn’t mean imply there shouldn’t be a shooter in the corner. Often there certainly should be because it’s often good spacing. Yet not always.

And this doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t shoot corner threes. When open, take it. The percentage is high.

But this implies that the disadvantages of consciously looking for corner threes are bigger than the advantages. It’s hard to put those disadvantages into numbers, though, and so it may seem to “analytical” to look for corner threes.

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