Many times in the NBA, a team will come out of a loss and chalk it up to unluckiness, especially if the opponent hits a ton of threes. “You can’t help it if a team hits a bunch of threes” is the generally accepted motto of the league.
That’s not the case with the 9-29 Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats are not a good defensive team by any measure. They allow the second most points per game in the NBA at 103.5, and are tied for 27th in the NBA in opposing field goal percentage at 46.1 percent.
However, the thing that has absolutely mauled their defense this year is the three-point shooting of their opponents. Charlotte is allowing opponents to shoot 24.2 attempts and make 9.4 threes per game. That’s good, or rather bad enough for the league-worst opposing three-point percentage of 39 percent.
This is more than just being unlucky, as well. The Bobcats are atrocious at closing out on shooters, abandoning defensive assignments because they’re collapsing on a penetrating dribbler and helping off of screens on the perimeter.
Team’s aren’t shooting and making so many threes against the Bobcats because they catch fire; they shoot so many because they’re open.
In the NBA this year, the average percentage of field goal attempts that are allowed from three-point range is 24.2 percent. Charlotte allows 28.5 percent of opposing field goal attempts to come from long-range.
More than that, the league average of opposing shooting percentage from corner threes is 38.3 percent and 35 percent from elsewhere on the arc. Bobcats’ opponents are shooting 39.8 percent with corner threes and 39.4 percent from everywhere else behind the arc.
Given that the rest of their defense is allowing an average shooting percentage from other areas, it’s pretty easy to see that the Bobcats’ inability to defend the perimeter is one of their biggest issues at the present.
The sad part is that it’s not a question of Charlotte not having the speed or athleticism to keep up with these guys on the perimeter. They do. Most of their issues come from a lack of basketball IQ and a lack of effort.
Charlotte’s perimeter defenders have to be smarter if they want to try and smother these three point problems, and they have to hustle to close out on open shooters. Are NBA players going to hit threes with shooters closing out on them sometimes? Of course. But it’s a lot easier when someone isn’t even close to them.
The moral of the story is, if you’re a basketball player, young or old, big or small, who is struggling from beyond-the-arc, call the Charlotte Bobcats for a game right now; they’ll help you with that.