Trae Young and Three-Point Futility

Time to check in on Trae Young, the player who was considered a Stephen Curry clone last year in college. So far, as a rookie, Young has looked like he has some uses as a playmaker in the NBA.  At age 20, he has been a nice passer but the shooting has been bad.  Young has shot a decidedly un-Curry .226% from three on 5.6 attempts per game so far.  That sounds bad but how bad is it?  Here is the list of the worst shooting three-point chuckers who have taken at least four threes per game (in over 750 minutes in an NBA season):

  1. Tony Wroten, 2014-15: .261% (4.7 attempts per game)
  2. Mookie Blaylock, 1997-98: .269% (4.8 attempts per game)
  3. DeShawn Stevenson, 2008-09: .271% (4.0 attempts per game)
  4. Latrell Sprewell, 1994-95: .276% (4.7 attempts per game)
  5. Derrick Rose, 2014-15: .280% (5.3 attempts per game)
  6. Marcus Smart, 2016-17: .283% (4.2 attempts per game)
  7. Kobe Bryant, 2015-16: .285% (7.1 attempts per game)
  8. Allen Iverson, 2003-04: .286% (4.1 attempts per game)
  9. Monta Ellis, 2012-13: .287% (4.0 attempts per game)

     Jason Williams, 1999-00: .287% (6.2 attempts per game)

  1. Jordan Crawford, 2011-12: .289% (4.3 attempts per game)

A few notes from this list:

-The “winner” is Tony Wroten during the depths of The Process in Philly.  Wroten was a very athletic player from Washington but just was a miserable shooter.  Sound familiar?

-Don’t be too hard on Wroten.  His shooting was bad but Sprewell’s 1994-95 season was worse, as it came during the brief period when the NBA moved in the three-point line (it was also the same year the Warriors had an internal revolt against Don Nelson and Sprewell wasn’t exactly killing himself).

-We all remember Kobe’s brilliant final 60-point game but he was chucking often and terribly all season.  Incidentally, that last game didn’t really help Kobe’s three-point accuracy.  He shot a staggering 6-21 from three that game (.286%).  On a volume basis, Kobe might’ve been the worst three-point shooter ever that year.

-Iverson was a really bad three-point shooter.  He was a career .313% shooter and never topped .345% in a full season.  AI was always having to chuck, so that probably didn’t help his percentages.

-Sometimes, a terrible three-point shooting season can happen to a great shooter.  Paul Pierce randomly shot .302% and .299% in 2002-03 and 2003-04 before shooting about 38% the next 11 years.  Joe Johnson shot .297% in in 2010-11 during his prime.  At age-31, Joe Dumars somehow shot .305% from the easier three-point line in 1994-95 (he bounced back to .406% the next season).

-The sublime:  Michael Adams, playing for Paul Westhead’s run-and-gun 1990-91 Nuggets shot .296% on a crazy 8.5 attempts per game.  Adams was clearly being told to heave shots without regard to quality (the Nuggets shot .283% from three as a team).

This brings us back to Trae, who has been so miserable from three that he is way below even Wroten’s 2014-15 pukefest.   It’s hard to believe that Young could be so bad from three for a full season.  It is still early.  In fact, Russell Westbrook has been even worse (.176% on 4.6 attempts per game in 11 games) and Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday have been only slightly better than Wroten’s standard season so far.  As the season goes on, it’s hard to believe Young (and these other players) will continue to shoot so badly.  On top of that, rookies tend to improve in shooting as they learn the ropes but the early returns for Young as a shooter indicate he should probably chill out a little.

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