Sunday, October 27, 2013

3 or Key Mentality

Courtesy of
You hear a lot of coaches talk about the death of the mid range game like it's a bad thing. In my opinion, good riddance!! Ok, I don't feel QUITE like that, but I do favor a "three or key" mentality when running offense. It makes for the most statistical sense to take these types of shots over the mid-range variety. I was first introduced to this concept when reading about Vance Walberg's Dribble Drive and overall philosophy. Being a basketball purist, I thumbed my nose at this at first. But after spending more time researching the ideas I am a complete convert.

The reasoning is simple and it boils down to Points Per Shot. You make shots inside the lane at approximately a 60% rate. You take .6 x 2 and you get 1.2 points per shot. You take a mid range shot and it's about 38% x 2 points or .76 points per shot. When you take a three pointer players make that about 33% of the time on average and it's 3 points for roughly 1.0 points per shot. So as you can see, the best bet is in the layups and three pointers.

What's the worst shot in the game? Well this Tweet by Coach Karius pretty much sums it up...

The pull up jumper is the shot that we DON'T want players taking. It's just not that efficient, especially at the high school level. Many coaches will point to people like LeBron James and other good NBA players who shoot pull ups. My response is twofold: First, look at the stat above for NBA players, imagine the poor shooting at the high school level. Second, if you've got LeBron on your high school team by all means let em fly! Otherwise, stop letting your players settle for mid-range pull up jumpers.

Why not adopt a three or key mentality? I really do think it helps your players to understand shot selection better. It also makes more sense statistically. What do you have to lose? 


Unknown said...

You also need to factor in the likelihood of being fouled. It doesn't change your conclusion but it can change the relative difference in the various shots.

See and

Kyle Ohman said...

From the stats there is no argument against the basketball coaching "3 or Key" philosophy, but I think that it leaves out the number of different types of mid range shots. If a shooter shot fakes and takes a one dribble mid range pull up it is going to be a much higher percentage, or if a face up post player like Tim Duncan faces up and hits a shot it will be a higher percentage shot. I still think that it comes down to the quality of the shot in the mid range.