A Look at 3% Diff

I the past two seasons, the Bucks season ended by running into a team with a much better 3% diff than the Bucks.

Miami had a +3.2 3% diff (vs the Bucks 0.0 3% diff)

Toronto had a +2.1 3% diff (vs the Bucks -0.8 3% diff)

My fear is that despite another great regular season, history will repeat itself. This got me thinking. If a team wants to improve 3% diff, should they focus on improving offensive or defensive 3%? Of course, the answer should be both, but if you had to choose, which way should you go?

Looking back at the past three seasons


Top 7 in offensive 3%, those 21 teams averaged +2.0 margin of victory, with 15 out of the 21 teams with a positive point differential.

The bottom 7 in offensive 3% diff, had a -3.6 point diff with only 3 out of 21 having a positive seasonal point spread

This adds up to a 5.6 diff from the top 7 vs the bottom 7. Not rocket science , but it is safe to say, being good at 3% helps with winning.


Top 7 in defensive 3%, those 21 teams averaged a +3.2 point diff (18 out of 21 with positive pts/g diff)

Bottom 7 in defensive 3% averaged a -4.8 point diff ( 2 out of 21 with a positive pts/g diff)

This adds up to a whooping 8.0 diff from the top to bottom. Again, if you want to be good, be good in defending the 3 is pretty good place to start.


The spread between good teams and bad teams can be seen at how well they shoot and defend the 3 pointer. In fact, in the past 3 seasons, the spread between good and bad teams is greater when looking at 3 point defense. Of course past performance does not mean the future will be the same.

Two years ago, the Bucks allowed 36.1 3pt% in the regular season but a disappointing 37.4 3pt% against Toronto in the playoffs. Last year the regular season improved to 35.5 3pt%, but allowed 37.3 3pt% against Miami.

On offense, the Bucks in the past two seasons improved slightly from 35.3 to 35.5 3pt%. In the playoffs against Toronto they shot 31.0 3pt% and improved slightly to 32.7 3pt% against Miami (neither very good).

Going back to my original question, "if a team wants to improve 3% diff, should they focus on improving offensive or defensive 3%?" I would answer both is needed, but there might be more potential gains in 3pt% defense. Anyhow, I predict that I will be watching the Bucks 3pt% diff closely.

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