For the past two seasons the Splash Brothers of the Golden State Warriors have dominated the NBA in terms of three-point field goals made. Stephen Curry has led the NBA in made threes the past two seasons and set the NBA’s all-time record with 272 made threes in a single season 2012-13. Klay Thompson, his running mate, hasn’t been too far behind and has finished top three in that same category the past two seasons.
So, why would one even fathom that these two could be overtaken by another tandem? Well, the statistics and change from 2012-13 to 2013-14 show us that it’s entirely possible – “probable” is another story, but definitely possible.
The Portland Trail Blazers have a formidable tandem when it comes to the money ball as well with Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. Lillard finished fifth in the NBA in made threes in 2012-13 (setting the NBA’s all-time record for threes made by a rookie with 185) and finished right behind Curry and Klay last year in third place. Matthews had a much larger jump as he finished 11th in the NBA in threes made in 2012-13 and then finished fifth last season with 201.
In 2012-13, Curry and Klay became the first teammates to both have 200+ threes made in a season and in 2013-14 Lillard and Matthews matched that feat, so they are certainly formidable when it comes to making the outside shot as a duo.
So, what I did here was I took a look at how much growth each individual had — and each tandem — from the 2012-13 season to the 2013-14 season in terms of three-pointers made and attempted, and came up with a projection for the 2014-15 season if that growth were to continue. First, some interest points to note when this data was collected that might be surprising.
- Curry & Klay made 483 threes in 2012-13 and 484 in 2013-14 — very consistent.
- Lillard & Wes made only 354 threes in 2012-13 but jumped up to 419 in 2013-14 — an 18 percent uptick.
- Matthews had the largest gain from year to year making 19 percent more threes in 2013-14
- Curry was the only one to actually see a decrease of four percent fewer threes made in 2013-14
- Even considering the drop, Curry made 533 threes over the past two seasons (good Lord!)
Those were just some of the tidbits I found interesting with the data. The main reason I only used two seasons’ worth of data is because Lillard has only played two seasons, so while I understand this data is not a full enough range to produce a legitimate trend — it’s all we have at this point.
Now, we have the results of the projection model for the 2014-15 season…
Damian Lillard — 3PM: 257 3PA: 610 3P%: 42.1
Wes Matthews — 3PM: 239 3PA: 614 3P%: 38.9
Stephen Curry — 3PM: 250 3PA: 630 3P%: 39.7
Klay Thompson – 3PM: 236 3PA: 544 3P%: 43.3
So as you can see here, the model that I used has Lillard and Matthews combining to make 496 three-pointers next season, based on their growth in made threes from 2012-13 to 2013-14. Keep in mind that this trend could continue as there were not any major changes to the Blazers’ lineup this offseason, so their numbers should continue to trend upwards.
Klay and Curry combine to make 486 three-pointers, which is right in line with their consistency from 2012-13 to 2013-14. The major difference you should still be able to note is that the Splash Brothers are still more efficient with their shooting which frankly makes sense, because they are two of the best shooters in the NBA. Their combined three-point percentage projects at 41.5 percent while Lillard and Wes combine for 40.5 percent.
When it comes to stats and records being broken, nothing really surprises me in today’s NBA anymore so could I see this happening? I really could. Whether or not it actually happens is a completely different story, but if it does, I hope you remember that you saw it here first.
Now we just need a cool nickname for Lillard and Matthews — I’m open for suggestions!