Looking for an NBA title? Follow the Spurs 2013-14 blueprint

Spurs

With the 2014-15 NBA season getting started last night, teams that are looking to challenge or overtake the defending champion San Antonio Spurs would do well to take a look back at the Spurs title run last season and copy that blueprint.

One element that teams will want to replicate is the Spurs shooting. The Spurs were the only team last season to finish in the Top Five in two-point shooting percentage, three-point-shooting percentage, and free throw shooting percentage. In fact, only one other NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, finished in the Top Five in two of those categories (5th in two-point shooting and second in free throw shooting).

So, is accuracy in all three aspects of the shooting game that important in the NBA? The answer, at least from last year’s stats, is a resounding “Yes!”

Let’s take a look at some numbers to make the point. Based on year-end shooting percentages for each of the 30 NBA teams, we can see that teams that have better shooting percentages had higher winning percentages for the season… and it played out the same way for each of the three shooting stats. For example:

Two-point shooting
The eight teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a two-point shooting percentage over .500 won 64.2% of their games last season;
The 14 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a two-point shooting percentage between .475-.499 won 47.8% of their games last season;
The eight teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a two-point shooting percentage under .475 won 39.6% of their games last season.

Three-point shooting
The 10 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a 3-point shooting percentage over .370 won 55.4% of their games last season;
The 13 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a 3-point shooting percentage between .350-.369 won 52.7% of their games last season;
The seven teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a 3-point shooting percentage under .350 won 37.3% of their games last season.

Free Throw shooting
The 10 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a free throw percentage over .775 won 58.4% of their games last season;
The 10 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a free throw percentage between .750-.775 won 46.2% of their games last season;
The 10 teams that finished the 2013-14 season with a free throw percentage under .750 won 45.4% of their games last season.

I think you get the point… better shooting equals better records. Only two teams last season finished the year with a two-point shooting percentage over .500, a 3-point shooting percentage over .370, and a free throw percentage over .775. The two: San Antonio (.517/.397/.785) and Dallas (.508/.384/.795). Surprise, surprise.

In addition, the Spurs didn’t depend on just one or two players for last year’s shooting prowess. Taking the three categories we noted above and the top shooting percentages (two-point shooting percentage above .500, 3-point shooting percentage above .370, and free throw percentage over .775) we notice that 20 players finished the 2013-14 season above these three percentages in all three categories… four from the San Antonio Spurs. The 20 players:

Brooklyn: Paul Pierce
Charlotte: Chris Douglas-Roberts
Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki
Golden State: Stephen Curry
L.A. Clippers: J.J. Redick, Darren Collison
L.A Lakers: Jodie Meeks
Memphis: Mike Miller
Miami: Ray Allen
Minnesota: Kevin Love
Oklahoma City: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka
Phoenix: Channing Frye
San Antonio: Tony Parker, Patrick Mills, Kawhi Leonard, Marco Belinelli
Washington: Martel Webster, Drew Gooden
Boston/Memphis: Courtney Lee

It’s all about putting the ball in the basket!

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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