Continuous improvement, Lebron James edition

Curry and James are both taking four pull-up threes per game this season. Curry is making 45% of them. James is making 40% of them.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. James made 30% of his two pull-up threes per game in 2016. His shooting percentage ranked 19th of the 21 players who took as many of these shots as he did. He was closer to Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook than Curry.

There are 12 players this season with similar numbers to his. Curry is still No. 1 in terms of shooting percentage. James is now No. 2.

…James now relies on threes for nearly 30% of his shots. That percentage is by far the highest of his career. It’s also higher than Kevin Durant’s this season.

He’s not only taking more 3-pointers. He’s also taking longer 3-pointers.

Here is the full WSJ article.  Here is my earlier post on the three-point shot and the duration of the Great Stagnation.


I think rock climbing may have something to tell us here.

It's well known that it is significantly harder to be the first person to climb a route than it is for those that come after, *even* if they know nothing about the route other than it's grade (roughly how hard the route is) and that it has been done before.

This effect would, I expect, be much greater for a given tactic in competitive in sports with an opponent. With rock climbing you try things you can't climb until you can climb them - that's part of the fun. In basket ball trying tactics that don't work initialy means getting beat.

Is taht because those who come later stand on the soulder of giants and have to climb smaller distances?


It's just the knowing it can be done effect, or more accurately the knowing it can be done by them (ie if you're pretty sure it's grade you can climb you're more likely to climb it than if you think there's a reasonable chance it's too hard for you)

So climbers just had to believe in themselves.

No. It is because of morphic resonance. First climber carved a chreode, changing the potential topography. We see this everywhere, most famously the 4 minute mile.

Actually, it does not explain why someone running the 4 minute mile makes easier for the others to do so.

That is precisely what it does.

No, it doesn't. The track does not get shorter because someone went throught it before.

I never said the track got shorter, I said the probability space for the event changed.

No, it doesn't. If the athlete's speed remains constant (and it remains unless he is Ben Jonson), only by shortening the track can the athlete make a better time!

Every event that ever occurs, easy or difficult, occurs for a first time.

So it happens the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce?! That's communism actually.

Combine the horse-like three point barrage with the proliferation of buddy ball, pioneered by LBJ, and you have a game and competitive framework that is borderline unwatchable.

Geez, NBA statistical analysis is a proven cure for insomnia. If, indeed James is shooting from way outside 30% of the time it doesn't seem to be doing a lot for the team since he's averaging only 4.8 points/game on the 3 pointers. That's a sliver more than 4% of the Laker's average point total. Big deal. What's the percentage of his misses that are rebounded by his team mates and turned into points?

The cognoscenti claim that the percent of hits from outside is more important than the number of hits. When you are a threat from outside it is harder to keep you from scoring inside. Even if you don't a single 3 point shot the fact that you could can help you score more points.

Ripe for regression to the mean in James's case.

Lebron has followed the modern trend of maximizing efficiency by eliminating the long 2’s. He has a tradition of adapting and adjusting over his career. It’s fair to assume he’s making these changes with intention, given his understanding of the game. I would disagree with the commenter who said the NBA is borderline unwatchable - the previous low-scoring era was unwatchable.

Kobe Bryant started shooting more 3's when he got older and his legs started to go, too. Dog bites man.

Except that Kobe shot an already mediocre ~35% on 3s before turning 30, and an even more meager ~30% after turning 30.

Well, he wasn't as good, so that's to be expected.

He probably took Curry's excellent Master Class

#6. Lottery-like prizes to induce savings (NYT).


... or just stop taxing interest on personal savings accounts

() "Popular though they may be, state lotteries, with their billion-dollar jackpots, come uncomfortably close to being taxes on those who can least afford them."

... the government always wants to harvest as much revenue from the populace as possible... and is extremely creative at that task. Government Lotteries are a great way to fleece people, while generally banning evil/terrible/immoral non-government-sponsored "Gambling" across most of the nation.

Any private "savings" are lucrative targets for politicians.

We seem to have an over-supply of naive economists at Northwestern University.

This is just pointless as analysis. 30 games at 4 attempts a game is a very small sample for 3 pointers, 7-800 is a decent sample. This is highlighted by Lebron shooting 35.9% from 3 for the year which is modestly better than his career 34.4% from 3 and slightly worse than either of his two previous years in Cleveland. There is no evidence that he is a better 3 pt shooter now than at any time during the past, and splitting his attempts up into different categories to find improvement is bad statistics.

If you've ever been to a Harlem Globetrotters show, you know where this is heading. At some point, they have a guy hit 3 of 4 from near half court. Anyway, it's possible if you practice it. 40-45 footers will be pretty common in a few years.

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