Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder Loving the Money Ball

Thunder Loving the Money Ball

That’s another Thunder Money ball! We’ve all heard Thunder radio man, Matt Pinto, use that phrase during his radio broadcasts. The Thunder are really loving it this season. After three years of having one of the worst three-point shooting percentages in the NBA, Oklahoma City made huge strides last year, getting up to the 11th spot in the statistical rankings. This year, the Thunder are shooting the money ball at record pace. The 41.8 percent is close to the NBA record of 42.8 percent. That was Charlotte Hornets in the 1996-97 season.

What’s scary is that the Miami Heat are shooting the ball at 42.5 percent. We’re not about them though, back on the Thunder…

If you want efficiency from deep, look no further than our line up. Every player, but one, is shooting over 34 percent from three. The lone person shooting below that is Serge Ibaka. He’s shooting just 25 percent. We know he’s not supposed to be really shooting three’s anyway.

It helps that Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefolosha are shooting the three at an accelerated rate.  Since Martin has joined the Thunder, he’s hitting three’s at almost 50 percent, more specifically 47.7 percent.  It’s hands down the best shooting percentage of his career. It’s a lot to thank for Martin for his percentage improvement. Mainly being on the Thunder has helped Martin improve his shooting. He’s not facing double teams or the best defender of a team anymore. He’s able to roam freely. His amount of shots he’s hitting wide open is astounding.

As you can see Martin is shooting really well from the left side of the floor. His shooting improves immensely from the first quarter to the second quarter, where he’s averaging just 33.3 percent in the first quarter and 51.4 percent in the second quarter. Which makes some sense. He’s on the floor more with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the second quarter, more than he is in the first quarter.

The other guy shooting the lights out is Thabo Sefolosha. He’s shooting 45.1 percent. Sefolosha quietly shot 43.7 percent last year. He was actually shooting over 48 percent before his injury. Unlike Martin, Sefolosha does not shoot high quantities, he’s just so efficient. Thabo is taking more three attempts than he’s averaged in his career. He’s averaging almost three attempts a game at 2.8 attempts.

Martin and Sefolosha both are 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) from the wings.  However, unlike Martin, Sefolosha struggles from other parts of the floor. Especially above the break. Thabo is just 11-for-29, I know JUST, for 37.9 percent. He’s definitely taking advantage of the extra pass. Being able to be set up with the pass comes his way. Sefolosha is definitely a spot up shooter. If you’ve noticed, Thabo is definitely a first half shooter.

The first chart is Thabo in the first half, and second is Thabo in the second half. It’s tough to admit that Thabo’s minutes actually increase in the second half. There is a reason why I say “Sefolosha used up his allotted amount of made baskets in the first half.” He’s not a great second half shooter. It’s something that the Sefolosha needs to work on throughout the season. Good news is that he is still kings from the wing though.

Overall though, it’s a bountiful three barrage for the Thunder. Shooting as well as we do, we’re behind Miami in a lot of the shooting positions. This is the shot chart for the team, as you can see, we’re great from the wings and the top right, not so much.

I know what some of you are saying, “Hey, we’re just 20% done with the season, quit over analyzing.” While that’s true, it’s nice to point out something that players have worked hard on, and it’s really key to why we’re as successful as we are now. In fact, we are better off with the current line up due to our success from beyond the arc, than we were with James Harden. I know what I just said. While Harden was great at penetrating the lane and getting to the foul line, Martin is a much better three-point shooter, and Oklahoma City really lacked a true sharp shooter from three, besides Durant. (By the way, we didn’t even touch on the fact that Durant is shooting 43.7 percent from deep).

Also would like to point out that Oklahoma City is ranked just 20th in the league in total attempts, while being ranked number two in total made threes. While they’re not relying on the three ball to win the game, they’re being proficient in hitting the shot. I think it’ll be key for Oklahoma City to continue this all season, obviously. Taking smart shot attempts, and not really forcing things.

Feel great Thunder fans. Oklahoma City keeps getting better throughout the season. If you’d like to know, our three-point shooting percentage has gotten better as the season has progressed. If Oklahoma City is going to win a world championship, the three-ball will have to be a weapon in their arsenal. Still hope for a world Championship yet.

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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