Tollison and the Three-pointer
Mark D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets are pushing the envelope on the three-ball, once again. They shot 40 per game last year and “destroyed the record for most three point attempts by 23%.” A loose target for this year is 50%. The reason? If you are good at shooting the three-ball and expected points are higher than with a two point shot, expected points scored will increase by moving “would-be” two point shots outside the three point line. This is a form of basketball arbitrage explored 25+ years ago in papers by Robert Clement and Robert McCormick, and Kevin Grier and Robert Tollison. D’Antoni is channelling his inner Tollison with this: “The league will keep changing until the expected points and all the different actions on the floor converge into a similar number,” Morey said. “I do not think we’re there yet.”
From a good story for opening night in the NBA by Ben Cohen in the WSJ.
P.S. KPC channelled Bob Tollison over the weekend: “I told y’all so, again!.
EZ Angus and Bob Tollison, “Arbitrage in a Basketball Economy,” Kyklos, V. 43(4), 1990
Bobby McCormick and Robert Clement, “Intrafirm Profit Opportunities and Managerial Slack: Evidence from Professional Basketball,” In Advances in the Economics of Sports, ed. G. W. Scully, Greenwich CT., JAI Press.