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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Troy Murphy: Statistical Oddity


Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

The Hoop Doctors have unearthed 10 interesting facts while poring over data from the 2008-09 season. Among the findings:

Troy Murphy was assisted on 100% of his 3-pointers made finishing with 161, which was 12th best in the NBA. That helps explain how he finished 3rd in 3-point shooting percentage at 45.0%, even though he is a 6-11 forward/center.

Troy Murphy
Troy Murphy: On the receiving end 100 percent of the time.
(Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

This raised some eyebrows. As Celtics Hub's Zach Lowe e-mailed, "Every single one of Troy Murphy's 161 threes had an assist attached to it? Every one? There wasn't one instance when an assist wasn't deserved?" 

In the service of truth-squadding, I cued up Murphy's oeuvre of 3-pointers from last season.

You know what? 

Among the dozens of 3s, there isn't a single shot that doesn't warrant a dime, even if you subscribe to the strictest definition of assist.

Murphy gets his 3-point attempts in a variety of ways -- almost always near the top of the arc. He's particularly lethal in transition, which makes sense when you consider that the Pacers were the third-ranked squad last season in pace. Murphy is especially adept at trailing the ball handler on the break. As T.J. Ford or Jarrett Jack penetrates into the lane against the backpedaling defense, Murphy will fill the void in their tracks. Ford or Jack will then kick it out to the trailing Murphy, who hits. At other times in transition, he merely spots up where his teammates know to find him. 

In the half court, Murphy knows how to position himself for a clean pass from the post player.  As the defense collapses down low on the big man, Murphy will shift along the arc to create the easiest possible pass out of the post. Also in the half court, Murphy gets a bundle of 3-point attempts on the simple pick-and-pop out on the perimeter. Teams who trap Ford or Jack on that action repeatedly pay, as Murphy launches before the defensive rotation arrives.

Murphy wasn't the only sniper to be assisted on 100 percent of his 3-pointers. According to 82games.com, the list includes Matt Bonner, Mehmet Okur, Kyle Korver and Antawn Jamison.

Players on the other end of the spectrum? Dwyane Wade (29 percent of 3-pointers assisted), LeBron James (36 percent) and Steve Nash (42 percent) -- each of whom can be characterized as a guy who doesn't need a permission slip to shoot the ball.