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by Ben Leibowitz
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry brought new meaning to the term "three-point sharpshooter" throughout 2015-16. The Golden State Warriors point guard obliterated the NBA record for most threes made in a season (286) that he set a season ago by draining an astonishing 402 treys.
But while Curry drained threes with Pop-A-Shot-like mastery, other league stars regressed in terms of efficiency from downtown.
PointAfter, a sports data visualization site that's part of the Graphiq network, examined NBA players who attempted at least 80 three-pointers in each of the last two seasons to determine who slumped most year-over-year. While the players we highlighted aren't the absolute bottom of the barrel by drop in three-point percentage, they're some of the league's elite. That's what makes their prolonged regression from deep so befuddling.
5. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2014-15 3P%: 35.4 percent
2015-16 3P%: 30.9 percent
Percent Difference: -4.5 percent
To his credit, LeBron James really locked in from beyond the arc after the All-Star Game.
After shooting an ugly 27.7 percent from distance prior to suiting up in the All-Star Game, James drained a highly respectable 37.9 percent of his triples thereafter. Unfortunately for the King, that 25-game shooting surge wasn't enough to prevent an overall down year from three-point territory.
James isn't known for his three-point shooting, but a dip down to 30.9 percent on the season wasn't ideal. He's now been on a steady decline since topping out at 40.6 percent for the Miami Heat in 2012-13.
4. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
2014-15 3P%: 37.8 percent
2015-16 3P%: 31.2 percent
Percent Difference: -6.6 percent
Although Jimmy Butler sunk a higher percentage of his triples than LeBron, he also saw his efficiency from downtown regress after his breakout campaign a season ago. Last year, "Jimmy Buckets" made his first All-Star team and won Most Improved Player.
The Chicago Bulls' alpha dog actually managed to average slightly more points per game in 2015-16, but his roller coaster of inconsistency continued from beyond the arc.
Butler has continually followed up a stellar outside shooting season with a poor one. That might be nitpicking, because he's a tremendous scorer and an elite defender. Still, Bulls fans would surely enjoy some consistency from Butler on his three-pointers.
3. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
2014-15 3P%: 41.8 percent
2015-16 3P%: 33.2 percent
Percent Difference: -8.6 percent
In his first season after signing a four-year, $45 million contract, Danny Green didn't exactly live up to expectations. Touted as one of the league's premier "three-and-D" free-agent wing players last summer -- and paid as such -- Green's excellence from three-point range disappeared.
After cashing in on at least 41 percent of his three-point attempts for four consecutive seasons in a Spurs jersey, the former second-round pick made just 33.2 percent of those shots throughout 2015-16. It was the lowest mark since his rookie year, when he played 20 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Green's defensive prowess at least keeps him a playable part of San Antonio's rotation, but his three-point cold snap has to be of some concern. The 28-year-old made just 25.8 percent of his threes in March and wasn't much better in April at 28.6 percent through six games.
He's been a shell of himself as a shooter throughout 2015-16 and he'll enter the 2016 postseason ice cold.
2. Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
2014-15 3P%: 49.2 percent
2015-16 3P%: 39.9 percent
Percent Difference: -9.3 percent
During the 2014-15 season, Kyle Korver flirted with what would have been the league's first ever 50-50-90 season (he finished at 48.7 percent from the field, 49.2 percent from three-point range and 89.8 percent from the charity stripe). He made the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the first time in his career as an injury replacement, and continued to establish his standing as one of the league's truly elite catch-and-shoot snipers.
But a lot of obstacles got in the way of Korver between last season and this one. He underwent right ankle surgery in May to repair ligament damage that occurred after wily Cleveland Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova rolled into him while pursuing a loose ball. After that, Korver went under the knife for a second surgery to remove loose bodies from his shooting elbow.
Getting back to his old self after that shouldn't have been deemed feasible, but a 9.3-percent drop-off is still rather alarming for a shooter as talented as Korver.
1. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
2014-15 3P%: 41.5 percent
2015-16 3P%: 32.1 percent
Percent Difference: -9.4
For as much as Korver struggled relative to his masterful 2014-15 season, Kyrie Irving was worse. Not only did his percentage drop more than Korver's, but Irving also made just 32.1 percent of his three-pointers -- ranking him No. 131 among qualified players, behind lesser shooters like P.J. Tucker, Ish Smith and Ricky Rubio. He genuinely lost his touch from deep by plummeting to a career-low percentage of makes.
Since Irving entered the league as a one-and-done out of Duke, the three-point shot has been one of his primary offensive weapons. That wasn't the case throughout 2015-16.
Despite the shooting woes of Irving and James, Cleveland still managed to rank tied for No. 7 in three-point percentage (36.2 percent). If those two studs catch fire in the postseason, their road back to the NBA Finals will have a much rosier outlook in the vastly improved East.
Article: Courtesy Point After
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