Who’s the Best 3-Point Shooter in the Big Ten? An Analytical Look…Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 5th, 2013
The title of this post asks a pretty straightforward question: Who is the best shooter from deep in the Big Ten? Seems simple enough. But how do you define the “best” three-point shooter? Is it the player who makes the most threes? Is it the player who makes the highest percentage of his threes? Is it the shooting specialist who contributes the most to his team’s wins? The best approach, of course, is to appreciate all three characteristics. So let’s do exactly that and look into the numbers.
First, we need to create a list of players in the Big Ten who meet certain criteria. For the purpose of this analysis, we will only include returning Big Ten players and use last season’s statistics for measurement. While we recognize that freshmen can be highly effective from long range right out of the gate — look no further than Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas last year — we have no set methodology for projecting freshman output from their high school performance. Therefore, in the interest of convenience, no freshmen are included in this list. The next criterion is that players must have attempted at least 100 3-pointers last season and shot at least 30 percent from deep. This filters out players with a high percentage from a small sample size of 3-point attempts and gunners who put up too many bricks to be considered top-tier shooters.
The table below displays our initial list of candidates given those criteria, and their pertinent statistics from the 2012-13 season (from basketball-reference.com).
From this table, we can see each player’s 3-point shots made (3PM), 3-point shot attempts (3PA), 3-point shooting percentage (3P%), estimated win share, their team’s total number of wins, and each player’s percentage of the team’s number of wins. If you’re measuring “best” 3-point shooter by volume, then Nebraska senior Ray Gallegos is your man. He sank 83 treys last season, the most in the conference. If you prefer efficiency, then Nik Stauskas is king of the hill. He shot an absurd 44 percent from long range. And if you need your shooter to be the most effective player in the game, then you may prefer Minnesota junior Andre Hollins. His play contributed to an estimated five wins, or 23.8 percent of the team’s 21 total wins last season.
It’s easier to interpret these statistics visually. The bubble chart below compares volume, efficiency, and effectiveness simultaneously. The higher on the chart a player is, the more threes he sank last year. The farther to the right a player is, the more efficient he was shooting the ball from long range. And, the larger a player’s bubble is, the more he contributed to his team’s total wins. Players located in the upper right-hand corner of the chart, with the large bubbles, are the conference’s best overall 3-point shooters.
From this chart, we see that as a group, Brust, Harris, Andre Hollins, and Stauskas have set themselves apart from the rest. Specifically, Andre Hollins and Stauskas appear to be the two best long-range shooters in the conference. In sheer volume, Hollins has the edge over Stauskas by a single bucket (81 3PM vs. 80 3PM). Stauskas, though, had a better shooting percentage by 2.2 percent (44% vs 41.8%). Our final metric and tiebreaker shows that Hollins was much more instrumental in his team’s wins than Stauskas. Hollins had an estimated win share of five games versus Stauskas’ 4.7 games. But Hollins did not have the benefit of a team as talented as Michigan and did much more of the heavy lifting. He was responsible for 23.8 percent of his team’s wins compared to Stauskas’ 15.2 percent. For this reason, we’ll go with Andre Hollins as the best returning 3-point shooter in the league. These guys will battle for the title once again this year, and we couldn’t be more excited.