Portland Trail Blazers forward Josh Hart talks about the drop in three-point shooting rate

Portland Trail Blazers forward Josh Hart talks about the drop in three-point shooting rate

If you have seen the Portland Trail Blazers this season, you’ve seen it: forward Josh Hart is open with the ball beyond the arc, only to pull down the shot and drive to the basket or pass to a teammate. If he lets it fly, the choice sometimes seems reluctant.

It’s a trend that doesn’t just show through the eye test, but in the numbers. During his six-year NBA career, Hart has averaged 4 three-point attempts out of a total of 7.7 field goal attempts per game. That’s good enough for a 51.9 percent three-point attempt rate.

Compare that to Hart’s numbers this season: 2 3-point attempts out of 7.5 total field goal attempts per game, and his 3-point attempt rate (now 26.7% ) is halved.

The trend would be less appealing if it involved a player with a broken jumper or one who was having a horrible slump, but Hart has been and continues to be a serviceable three-point shooter. For his career, Hart is shooting at a 34.7 percent clip from beyond the arc. With lower volume this season, Hart is still hitting 36.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

Our own Danny Marang asked Hart about the drop in his three-point rate in the locker room following Portland’s 124-118 win over the The Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday Night: A game Hart shot 3-3 from deep. Initially, Hart did not have a firm answer as to what was causing the change in shot selection.

“I don’t know,” Hart said. “I love getting to the rim. I definitely turn down some shots, but I don’t know. I just go out there and look. If I get shot [the three-point line] i get shot If I don’t, I don’t.”

After Marang followed up with another question about his three-point shot, Hart dug into his explanation a little more. He said he has taken on more of a facilitator role in an offensively potent first unit that includes three 20-point-per-game scorers in Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant.

“The first unit has a lot of guys that can score the basketball,” he said. “With me, I kind of take a back seat and try to make sure that when I get the ball I try to get into the lane and get guys easier shots… That’s what I took on, just trying to make sure [I help] spread the ball around on that first drive.”

This regression in Hart’s three-point attempts isn’t just a one-season anomaly. After averaging a career-high 67 percent from three-point attempts with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019-20 season, Hart’s attempt rate has decreased every season since.

In the 2020-21 season, Hart’s three-point attempt rate was 56.1 percent. In the 2021-22 season, in 41 games with the Pelicans and 13 with Portland, Hart’s three-point attempt rate decreased to 37.2 percent. It’s all led to another slump and his lowest attempt rate so far at 26.7 percent so far this season.

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