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Chris Paul’s Presence Is Pushing Rockets Three Point Shooting To New Levels

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Chris Paul’s return has helped four Rockets improve their three point shooting by over 10 percentage points.

Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns
The Rockets are shooting 8% better from three point land since Chris Paul’s return.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the Houston Rockets pursue the NBA’s single season record for three point makes and attempts Chris Paul’s mere presence is pushing the Rockets to new heights.

The NBA’s top offense is hoisting 44 threes a game. An astounding four more shots than last year’s record breaking season. James Harden alone has 98 made threes on 242 jacks.

There’s many factors behind the rise. No more Corey Brewer or Sam Dekker passing up open threes. An emboldened Eric Gordon. And the point god himself... Chris Paul.

Paul’s presence, penetration and pace are pulling opposing defenses in new directions leaving shooters more open than ever before. More importantly Mike D’Antoni’s dream scenario has come true, there’s always a Hall of Fame point guard running the show.

Gone from the Rockets offense are the lulls of a second unit marshaled by Patrick Beverley or Eric Gordon. In its place is more Moreyball, more three pointers, led by Chris Paul pushing the most high-octane offense of his career.

Paul’s presence, with and without James Harden, and his elite passing have created more quality three point opportunities than Harden is able to on his own. The results are clear when you look at the Rockets three point shooting percentages during and after Paul’s injury:

Rockets Three Point Shooting & Chris Paul

Player After CP3 Return Rox 1st 15 Games* Change
Player After CP3 Return Rox 1st 15 Games* Change
Luc Mbah a Moute 61.5% 34.1% 27.4%
Ryan Anderson 52.4% 36.1% 16.3%
Trevor Ariza 51.2% 32.3% 18.9%
PJ Tucker 44.0% 33.9% 10.1%
James Harden 44.2% 38.8% 5.4%
Eric Gordon 23.1% 34.2% -11.1%
Team 42.1% 34.0% 8.1%

These stats are split between the season’s first 15 games, including Paul’s only pre-injury appearance on opening night, and the seven games since Paul’s return.

Luc Mbah a Moute’s shooting percentage has gone up a jaw-dropping 27.4% since Paul’s return. Similarly Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker have all seen double digit rises in their shooting from downtown. Only Eric Gordon’s shooting has slipped since Paul’s return.

Meanwhile, Paul’s is assisting on more three pointers than ever before. Reddit user /r/good_newseveryone observed this week that 54% of Chris Paul’s assists are on three pointers. It’s not even close to his previous career mark of 31% and signals Paul’s total assimilation to Houston’s brand of threes and layups.

Houston’s opposition since Paul’s return has been far from top shelf. High-fiving after defeating Brooklyn, New York, Indiana and the Lakers should be considered more of an injury risk than a means of celebration.

With the Western Conference’s best record this level of nitpicking is good. Houston’s offense is glistening and deserves the rigors of a sustained playoff run, Chris Paul’s first.