The graph below shows the percentage of MSU’s field goal attempts taken from 3-point range for each of the last 12 seasons. This is a manually-constructed chart, as statsheet.com doesn’t track this particular number.
Bullet point review:
- MSU ranked in the bottom ten nationally in 3-point attempts as a percentage of field goal attempts this past season. The percentage of 24.5 was the third lowest the team has put up over the last dozen years.
- The two seasons with lower percentages were the seasons just before and after the national championship season in 2000.
- That 2000 season featured a big spike (7+ percentage points to 31.1) in the percentage of shots taken from 3-point range. Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, and A.J. Granger all more than doubled their 3-point attempts from 1999 to 2000 (Peterson more than tripled his). And Mike Chappell basically replaced Jason Klein’s 3-point attempts. Five guys attempted more than two 3-point shots per game in 2000: Peterson, Chappell, Bell, Granger, Cleaves.
- The graduations of Peterson and Granger were the major factors in the subsequent decline in 3-point attempts in 2001. Only Bell, Jason Richardson, and Marcus Taylor attempted more than two 3-point shots per game. Taylor was just above that threshold, though (Chappell was just below it).
- Another peak above 30 percent occurred during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Those were the two seasons the team had four wing players who could shoot the three: Chris Hill, Maurice Ager, Kelvin Torbert, and Shannon Brown. Plus Alan Anderson shot a few 3-point shots playing everything from point guard to power forward. Those five players all averaged at least two 3-point attempt per game in 2005, with Neitzel chipping in another 1.5 attempts per game in limited minutes.
- This past season, only two player took more than two 3-point shots per game: Neitzel (6.8) and Allen (2.8). Hard to see that the percentage of shots taken from beyond the arc will go up significantly next season, unless Lucas, Morgan, and Summers all increase the frequency with which they shoot from long distance (or Korie Lucious gets major minutes).
- MSU has never ranked really high in the percentage of field goal attempts taken from 3-point range. Even in the 2005 season, MSU ranked just 164th in the nation–barely above the national median. (We only have national rankings for the last 5 seasons, via kenpom).
The relatively low percentage of shots MSU has taken from 3-point range during the Izzo era is somewhat surprising, given that the MSU offense tends to be fairly guard-driven. I’ve speculated previously that the relative dearth of Spartan 3-point attempts may help explain why the offense was so inconsistent this past season: if the set plays weren’t creating high-percentage looks near the basket, they were forced to take mid-range jumpshots with low expected efficiency values.
From that perspective, it’s not surprising that two of MSU’s most successful seasons under Tom Izzo (2000 and 2005) came when they had multiple 3-point shooting options in the lineup (including a power forward who could shoot the three) to turn to if they weren’t scoring near the basket. I’ll wait to make any firm judgments, though, until we’ve examined the full set of offensive statistics.
We’ll look at MSU’s historical efficiency at converting 2-point and 3-point shooting opportunities next week. I’m taking off for a long weekend tomorrow morning; I don’t expect there will be any new content up until early next week.