The Spurs’ offense is working just fine, thank you. Despite shooting even fewer threes than last year, they currently rank 7th in offensive efficiency, per Cleaning the Glass. From their continued dominance in the midrange to their strange affinity for playing in the half court, the Spurs’ offense defies conventional thinking. Being successful with such a unique offense in today’s NBA manifests itself in some strange ways.
One of those is the team’s relatively shocking excellence in shooting off the dribble. Well, off one dribble, anyway. So far this year, the Spurs have put up the 2nd highest eFG% when shooting after putting the ball on the floor just once.
It may seem natural that a team that rides DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge’s combined midrange excellence would do well in this area, but that’s not the cause. The Spurs are actually in the middle of the road in 2P% after one dribble. Where they lead the league, and by a wide margin, is in 3P% after one dribble.
After seeing that, you probably already know who’s mostly responsible.
He is not alone, of course. Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White all currently have an eFG% over 70% on 1 dribble pull ups, though none have taken even half as many attempts as Bryn Forbes.
The Spurs, as a whole, shot well in almost every situation last year, regardless of the number of dribbles. Like most teams, though, they were more efficient the less they put the ball on the floor, with a 60.2 eFG% when they didn’t dribble and descending from there. This season, though, they’ve undergone a bit of inversion. The Spurs have been more accurate off 1 dribble (57.0 eFG%) than on pure catch and shoot attempts (55.3 eFG%).
The change is almost entirely due to poor shooting from three, which is quite a shift from last year, when they led the league. Whether that’s due to the loss of Davis Bertans, the early season shooting slumps of Gay and Marco Belinelli, or some bigger change in their offensive ecosystem is hard to say at this point.
It is, after all, still early in the season and there’s a good chance these are outlier numbers that will straighten out as the games pile up. In the meantime, though, take the opportunity to enjoy Bryn and co’s one dribble efficiency.