The game of basketball is an ever-changing sport and over the last decade or so, the three-point shot has become a marquee component of the game. A team’s three-point percentage has a big say in where they fall in the NBA standings, which explains why the Los Angeles Lakers are currently out of the playoff picture.
Three-point percentage is not everything as a team still has to play good defense and do other parts of the game well. But if a team cannot keep up from beyond the arc then they are going to get lost in the shuffle. Period.
Most of the top teams in the NBA standings are also teams that shoot the ball better than other teams. The correlation between success from beyond the arc and winning percentage is apparent.
NBA standings based on three-point percentage:
- Denver Nuggets (38.9%)
- Golden State Warriors (38.4%)
- Phoenix Suns (37.9%)
- Los Angeles Clippers (37.7%)
- Portland Trail Blazers (37.4%)
- Dallas Mavericks (37%)
- Sacramento Kings (36.7%)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (36.1%)
- Utah Jazz (35.9%)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (35.7%)
- New Orleans Pelicans (35.2%)
- Memphis Grizzlies (34.2%)
- Los Angeles Lakers (34%)
- San Antonio Spurs (33.9%)
- Houston Rockets (32.5%)
For the most part, teams rank similarly in three-point percentage as they do in the actual Western Conference standings. The West is very jumbled so a team being a few spots off of its actual place in the standings is not huge.
The most surprising teams are the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. Golden State is fighting for a spot in the play-in (because of injuries) while Memphis is third in the standings despite being 12th in three-point percentage.
- Brooklyn Nets (38.6%)
- Philadelphia 76ers (38.4%)
- Boston Celtics (37.8%)
- Indiana Pacers (36.4%)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (36.3%)
- Milwaukee Bucks (36.2%)
- Chicago Bulls (36%)
- Washington Wizards (35.9%)
- Atlanta Hawks (35.4%)
- New York Knicks (35.3%)
- Detroit Pistons (35.3%)
- Orlando Magic (34.6%)
- Toronto Raptors (33.4%)
- Miami Heat (33.3%)
- Charlotte Hornets (32.8%)
There are not too many big surprises with the Eastern Conference. There are some middle-of-the-road teams like the Heat that rank low in three-point percentage but that is part of the reason why they are middle-of-the-road and not a true contender.
Brooklyn is so high because of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are no longer on the team. Milwaukee may seem low for a contender but they are 0.3% from being in the top four in the East.
The Lakers’ three-point shooting will keep them low in the NBA standings.
Los Angeles made additions at the NBA trade deadline that were meant to help the team’s three-point shooting but it has not had a drastic effect. The new-look roster has shot 34.6% from three, which is not much higher than the team’s season average.
To be fair, D’Angelo Russell has missed several games now with an ankle injury and he alone is going to make a difference beyond the arc for the Lake Show. But the sweeping improvements from three have not shown up, at least not yet.
Los Angeles does not need to be an elite three-point shooting team to make a run in then playoffs but they have to at least be respected from beyond the arc.