By John McCool
Last season, the Atlanta Hawks cruised to 60 wins, largely thanks to their three-point shooting proficiency. The Hawks featured three key sharpshooters in shooting guard Kyle Korver and forwards Demarre Carroll (now with the Toronto Raptors) and Paul Millsap. The trio propelled the Hawks to 2nd in the league in three-point field goal percentage at 38% and 7th overall in three-point field goal attempts per game (26.2).
In addition to 3-point shooting, the Hawks were also proficient in passing. Last season, Atlanta’s Pass% was 31.5, over 6 points higher than the league average. In fact, the Hawks ranked first in Pass% from the post and paint areas among all NBA teams.
|Pass% Drives||Pass% Post||Pass% Paint|
The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague (11.1 Assists per 48 Minutes) and Dennis Schröder (10.0 Assists per 48 Minutes). Even Al Hortford got into the action averaging 5.1 assists over 48 minutes, which ranked 3rd in the league among power forwards.
Atlanta tended to score most of its points as a result of passes. 59.1%, and an astounding 91.8%, of the Hawks’ two- and three-point field goals came off of assists, respectively. The Hawks also scored 33.9 points per game from catch-and-shoot jump shots.
Last season, Korver, a high-frequency jump shooter, took over 75% of his two- and three-point shots without a single dribble. In other words, Korver relied on teammates – particularly Jeff Teague – to pass him the ball and create open looks. On shots without a dribble, Korver shot 50.5% from the floor, making nearly 48% of his three-point attempts. Millsap and Carroll also benefited from the proficient passing, as they attempted the majority of their three-pointers 4 or more feet away from the closest defender.
|Player||Distance from Defender||eFG%||3PA||3PFG%|
In fact, the trio averaged 6.5 more “open” three-pointers than “contested.” Both Korver and especially Millsap shot well from 4-plus feet. It is also important to note that only 5.8% of Carroll’s three point attempts were within the 0 to 4 feet range, compared to 40.6% from 4-plus range.
Although Korver in particular is a naturally gifted shooter, there is no doubt that the Hawks’ pinpoint passes were a driving force behind his career high 49.4 3PFG%.
During the 2015-2016 season, the Hawks’ three-point average has dropped from from the elite ranks to middling numbers. They currently rank 19th in the NBA at 34.3% and 8th in three-point attempts at 26.7 per game. At the moment, Korver is shooting 36.4 % from beyond the arc. One explanation for Korver’s reduced three-point percentage is that he is taking 37.7 % of his three-point shots within 0 to 4 feet of the closest defender compared to 31.7% from last season. Korver is also struggling to convert on open three point attempts. This season, Korver is shooting only 40.3% and 32.0% on three-pointers from 4 to 6 feet and 6-plus feet respectively. In 2014-2015, he shot 51.7% and 53.2% from those same distances.
Despite Korver’s slipping numbers, the Hawks are finding three-point production from other position players. Guards Kent Bazemore and Jeff Teague are shooting 42% and 40.2% respectively while Mike Scott has converted 40% of his three-pointers in limited playing time. Together, the trio have averaged 3.6 three pointers made per game (3PM), which helps supplement Korver’s 1.9 3PM. On the flip side, however, Millsap is shooting a dreadful 28.7% from three-point range despite his overall 48.3 FG%.
Even with Carroll and Millsap’s three point struggles, however, the Hawks, at 23-16, are in position for a playoff spot in the East and can improve even more if they can regain their three-point touch from last season.
** Note these statistics are dated from January 15, 2016
 Pass% refers to how often a player or team passes the ball
 Last season, 14.2% of Teague’s passes went to Korver. Teague averaged 1.1 assists per game when he passed to Korver.
 Carroll is shooting 37.7% from three-point range this season
 Korver owns a 43.2% career 3PFG%