The Incredible Flying 3-Ballers: a.k.a. the Houston Rockets
What’s up: The Rockets are an analytic junkie’s Holy Grail team. And that sect has always lived by this sentiment, among others: If you shoot a billion 3-pointers, it doesn’t matter if the percentage is low, the three points for a made shot make it worth it. Well, not only are the Rockets eschewing most other shots for the trey, they’re making nearly 40 percent of them. In the NBA, four of the top nine players in 3-point attempts are Rockets. The Golden State Warriors of last season were the first team to ever make more than 1,000 threes (1,077). That team made 13.1 per game. The Rockets check in at 14.8 this season; that would obliterate the league record for made threes per game in a season. The Rockets are on a pace to make more than — sit down for this — 1,200 3-pointers. And they’re on pace to attempt more than 3,100 this season, becoming the first team to eclipse the 3,000 3-point shot barrier. The Rockets have set the record for 3-point attempts in a game twice this season — first with 50 in a game, then with 61 on Friday night in a 122-100 rout of New Orleans. Those are dizzying numbers to see on paper, much less watch it all go down on the court on a nightly basis.
Background: Friday night the Rockets blasted off to uncharted starry skies, launching 3-pointers as if it were the last night the opportunity would exist, and in the process they set an NBA record for treys made in a game (24).
Dempsey’s take: The D-League experiment has finally reached the NBA. Two years ago, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s D-League affiliate, gained notoriety for playing “threes and dunks” basketball. The pace was the fastest of any professional team in two decades, nearly half the shots taken were from the 3-point line, and the master plan was to get that style to the NBA. And here we are. As of Saturday, the Rockets were taking a ridiculous 44 percent of their shots from the 3-point line. And it’s working. Houston was 20-7 heading into the weekend, boosted by 400 made 3-pointers.
Trevor Ariza shoots one of Houston’s NBA-record 61 3-point attempts Friday night against New Orleans. Houston won 122-100.