NBA Three Pointers vs Two Pointers: Which is Better?

in MES Science6 months ago (edited)

In this video my brother Mark aka MFA is back at it again with the NBA basketball video. This time he compares the total league 2-pointers and 3-pointers made and calculates their effective field goal percentage. League wide, the effective field goal % for threes and twos are both about the same at approximately 53%. However, these field goal % vary depending on the teams involved. MFA demonstrates this with 2 examples: the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards. The Hawks shoot 53.1% from 2 and an effective field goal % of 56.1% from 3, thus making 3-pointers more effective than 2-pointers. On the other hand, the Wizards shoot 54.3% from 2 and an effective field goal % of 51.3% from 3, thus making 2-pointers more effective than 2-pointers.

Thus, ultimately the choice as to which type of shot to focus on depends on which effective field goal % is higher, and this depends on the individual players, teams, and coaching schemes!

The timestamps of the video are shown below:

0:00 - NBA league wide stats
1:08 - Atlanta Hawks stats
1:36 - Washington Wizards stats
2:00 - Conclusion

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NBA Three Pointers vs Two Pointers

NBA Three Pointers vs Two Pointers – Which is Better.jpeg

Which is Better?


3 pointers are worth more points than 2 pointers because they are more difficult to score. So the question is, what % do you have to shoot from 3 in order for it to be worth it compared to shooting 2 pointers?

2021-2022 Season – All Teams Combined

All FGs99,930216,72246.11%
3 Pointers30,59886,53535.36%
2 Pointers69,332130,18753.26%

The 3 point shooting percentage is of course lower than the 2 pointers but it is worth 50% more.

You simply multiply the 3 point percentage 35.36 by 1.5 (50% increase) to get the new effective fg % of 53.04%. It is almost identical as the 2 point percentage. This means that on average throughout the whole league, shooting 3’s and 2’s are about the same in effectiveness.

But it can be drastically different based on each team. Let’s see an example.

Atlanta Hawks – 2021/2022 Season


They shot 37.4% from 3 and 53.1% from 2. If you take 37.4 and multiply it by 1.5 (50% increase), it becomes 56.1%. This means that shooting 3 pointers for the Atlanta Hawks in that season was more effective than 2 pointers.

It also works the other way around.

Washington Wizards – 2021/2022 Season


They shot 34.2% from 3 and 54.3% from 2. If you take the 34.2% and multiply it by 1.5 (50% increase), you get 51.3%. As you can see here, it was more effective for them to shoot 2 pointers that season than it was 3 pointers.


On average, shooting 3’s versus 2’s across the league is about the same in the 2021-2022 season but some teams vary.

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