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NBA Big Men, The Three Point Shot, and Kings Marvin Bagley III

Written By: Tom Witt
Contact: [email protected]
Blog: TomTooWitty Sports Blog

The Ever Evolving NBA

The NBA is evolving every season… offenses, and big men, are moving outwards – toward the three point line.

Big men are feeling more and more comfortable shooting the three point shot, and it’s changing how the NBA is played, coached and general managed; both defensively and offensively.

Movin’ Back and Puttin’ Em Up

During the 2014-15 season, the NBA as a whole averaged 22.4 three point attempts per game.

That is compared with the 2019-20 season, where the NBA as a whole was averaging 33.9 three pointers attempted per game! (Basketball Reference)

That increase of over ten three pointers attempted per game in just six seasons is a sign of changes in the NBA, and how to be successful in those changing times.

Big Men Can Shoot Too!

Below are a few examples of ‘big men’, both centers and power forwards, who have added the three point shot to their game recently

Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks center, did not make a three point shot in his first six seasons in the NBA.

Lopez ended up attempting 512 three point shots during the 2018-19 season, while shooting 36.5%!

That was compared to 35% on 332 attempted three’s during the previous season.

During the 2018-19 campaign San Antonio Spurs power forward Davis Bertans ranked 6th in the league in 3 point percentage at 42.9%, on 338 attempted three pointers.

During the 2018-19 season power forward Blake Griffin led all ‘big men’ in three point attempts with 522, making 36.2% of them.

Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns shot 40% from 3 during that same 2018-19 season, on 355 attempts. That is compared with 285 attempts on 42% shooting from three during the previous season.

Denver center Nikola Jokic shot 39.6% on 280 attempted three pointers during the 2017-18 season.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis didn’t always shoot the three point shot but has added it to his repertoire over his career.

In 2014-15, in an All-Star year, Davis shot went 1/12 from three for the entire season. The following season he attempted 108 three pointers, shooting 34%.

During this current season Davis is shooting a career high 34% from three point range, on 194 attempts. That is the highest amount of attempts for his career while shooting his highest percentage, in a shortened season.

Kristaps Porzingis, formerly of the New York Knicks, now with the Dallas Mavericks, shot 39.5% on 228 attempts from 3 point range during his 2017-18 season with the Knicks.

Porzingod is going to have a lot of open three point opportunities being paired up with the drive and dish magician, Luka Doncic.

These big men, especially the young ones, are continuing to shoot more and more three pointers each season.

And it only looks like that number is only going up.

History of Big Men Shooting the Three Point Shot

7’7″ Center Manute Bol once hit 6 of his 12 three point attempts in ONE HALF of a game in 1993.

That was unheard of for centers, and even most shooting guards, at that time.

From 1997-2005, while being coached by Don Nelson, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks made 37.5 percent of his three point attempts for during that time span.

That was while tallying up nearly four times as many made threes (758) than the rest of the NBA’s seven-footer players combined!

Nelly will drink… and consume other things… to that! 

Even big men like DeMarcus Cousins, who is a six time NBA All-Star, started increasing his three point attempts rapidly from just one season to the next.

In Cousin’s first All-Star season with the Sacramento Kings in 2014-15 he averaged 0.1 three pointers attempted per game. That was on only 8 three point shots attempted all season.

That next season, All-Star DeMarcus gave himself the green light from deep, attempting 210 three pointers, shooting 33.3%!

Cousins final season with the Kings in 2016-17 was another All-Star campaign, one where he was traded to New Orleans for Buddy Hield. During this season Cuz attempted 364 three point shots, for 36%!

“Bagley Pulls Up, From… Deep?”

The Kings drafted Marvin Bagley III with the second overall selection in the 2018-19 NBA draft out of Duke.

He was highly acclaimed for his athleticism and second leaping ability.

During his rookie season he averaged 13 points and 7 rebounds before the All-Star break. Bagley worked to increase those numbers to 18.5/9 after the break, while playing in 62 games total that season.

Bagley only played in 13 of the Kings games during the 2019-20 season due to multiple injuries.

When healthy, the duo of Bagley and point guard De’Aaron Fox have looked promising together, running the break and using their speed and athleticism.

Bagley put up a solid field goal percentage his rookie season, shooting over 50%. Yes, he gets a lot of dunks but he also looked to have gained confidence taking the mid-range shot as he gained more experience.

Marvin Bagley III 2018-19 Rookie Season Highlights

Bagley’s Rookie Three Point Improvement

According to Brooks Anderson of ‘Sports Raid’, “Through Bagley’s first 50 games of the 2018-19 season, he hit 16 threes, only once making more than one in a game. But he made 13 in his final 12 games, including 2+ makes in five games down the stretch. He’s made 3-of-9 this preseason, so he clearly plans to keep shooting.”

Marvin Bagley III NBA Career Shooting Stats

Basketball Reference, https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/baglema01.html

Marvin Bagley III College Career Shooting Stats

Basketball Reference, Marvin Bagley III NBA Career Three Point Stats, https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/b/baglema01.html

Bagley Earns Respect From Highly Acclaimed Shooting Coach – Rico Hines

Rico Hines is a well respected basketball skills coach that has worked his way up through the years and is now part of the Kings player development staff as a shooting coach.

Hines was a good player at UCLA until he suffered a knee injury that cut his playing career short, but that’s when his training career took off…

Hines started out by training his UCLA teammate, friend and future NBA star Baron Davis, and kept working from there.

Coach Hines holds some of the best ‘runs’ during the NBA off-season. Which feature NBA, college, G-League and overseas pro’s in his world-renowned training sessions and open gyms. (@ricohinesbball on IG)

Jason Jones of ‘The Athletic’ recently interviewed Hines, and this is what they had to say about the young Marvin Bagley:

Hines is high on Bagley, too. One reason Bagley was so excited about this season was the work he did with Hines at UCLA over the summer, but a broken thumb and two foot sprains limited Bagley to 13 games.

“(Bagley) was hungry and he still is hungry,” Hines said. “He’s working his butt off to be a killer whenever this thing starts back up this season or next season.”

“Rico Hines focuses on the players, but their successes put the light on him”, The Athletic, 4/30/20, Jason Jones, https://theathletic.com/1782303/2020/04/30/all-time-sacramento-kings-team-best-era-in-last-35-years-dominates-the-squad/

Seeking Advice from Some of the Best

While the big man Bagley shot a VILE 18% from three during his injury riddled sophomore season, his work ethic and forward thinking looks to be promising.

Here Bagley is seen during his rookie season working on his shot with the Kings three point dynamic duo of Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovich.

But Does He NEED to Shoot From Deep?

The question remains, does Marvin Bagley NEED to shoot from deep more often for the him and the Sacramento Kings to be successful?

A lot of that depends on coaching style, the players that are around him, the Kings opponent and the place that the Kings are in the NBA playoff hunt.

Bagley Showing Off Range in NBA Debut

Harry Giles III Comparison!

I don’t know many Kings fans who don’t love a good Harry Giles III reference!

A similar example to the maturation of Marvin Bagley III, MB3, is Harry Giles III.

As Harry Giles III gained experience, he really helped the Kings offense during the 2019-20 season. That was aided by Giles shooting a higher percentage as the season went on.

Early in the 2019-20 season Giles would hesitate on taking mid range and deeper two point shots.

That hesitation made defenders not respect that he was going to take the shot.

Defenders would lay back on him, clogging passing and cutting lanes, creating less space for his teammates to move and create scoring opportunities.

As the season went on Giles gained confidence. That led to less hesitation when he had an open shot.

Giles started forcing defenders to step out on him, creating more space and scoring opportunities for the Kings.

I’m sure Bagley has been taking some pointers from his fellow Dukie, Giles.

My Take… For Now

I think that it would be great if Bagley was able to consistently hit more smart shots from mid-range and from deep.

It would also be nice if it was at a high percentage.

Someday, 35% or more, would be acceptable in my opinion.

Though not necessarily with a high number of attempts… until he proves himself.

Bagley needs to take smart shots, ones that will give him confidence, as well as force defenders to step out and respect his shot.

That can help the Kings spread the floor, cut, drive the lane, move the ball and create scoring opportunities in the half court.

GO KINGS!

-SpikeballTom

Marvin Bagley III in One of his Thirteen 2019-20 Appearances
1/13/20 vs. Orlando Magic

Video Breaking Down Bagley’s Shot in College at Duke

More Sacramento Kings Articles By SpikeballTom

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Sac-Town Crown Kings Report Blog Site

References:

“They Shootin: The Rise of the Big Man Three-Pointer”, 2016, Max Rappaport, ‘Complex’, https://www.complex.com/sports/2016/12/the-rise-of-the-big-man-three-pointer

“Which NBA Centers Will Suddenly Start Hitting Threes This Season?” 2019, Brooks Anderson, ‘Sports Raid’, https://medium.com/sportsraid/2019-nba-centers-start-making-three-pointers-basketball-big-men-threes-brook-lopez-ayton-bagley-sabonis-14c5b8408db8

Basketball Reference, NBA Season Stats, https://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_stats_per_game.html

“Marvin Bagley working with Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic on 3-point shot” 2019, James Ham, https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/kings/marvin-bagley-working-buddy-hield-bogdan-bogdanovic-3-point-shot

SpikeballTom
My name is Tom and I am a 30 year old dude who loves sports, and the Sacramento Kings. I have a lifelong love for the sport of basketball which was instilled by my grandpa Ernie at a young age. He would me to the local hoop court at the park, teaching me to "keep my hand in the cookie jar", that "it's all in the wrist" when shooting, and that you can learn more from a loss than a win. Grandpa Ernie grew up playing on the dirt courts of Berkeley, CA and played basketball at University of San Francisco in the 1930s, before Bill Russell. My first live basketball game was a Cal Bears game in the Cow Palace with my grandpa, watching NFL Hall of Famer Tony Gonzales and my favorite, point guard Randy Duck! I grew up as a young kid falling in love with the NBA by watching Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc and the Chicago Bulls on the national WGN Chicago television station. But when I received a Kings Kids Club flyer in the mail in 1998 it was game over, GO KINGS! I started off watching Lawerence Funderburke and Corliss Williamson, as they slowly built the pieces that got them to the "Greatest Show on the Court" with J-Will, C-Webb, Peja, Vlade, Christie and the 6th man! My favorite Kings player growing up was Gerald Wallace, I would always watch to the end of games just to see if my favorite high-flyer would get into the game for even a minute or two! We made it through the Donaghy travesty, the Maloof monstrosity, "Here WE Stay", and we are climbing our way back to the top! "If you don't like that you don't like KINGS basketball!" GO KINGS!
https://sites.google.com/view/tomwittsportsblog/tomtoowitty-sports-blog
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