NBA standings based on 3-point shooting: 76ers scorching the nets

James Harden. Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
James Harden. Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers are winners of eight straight. No team has been able to slow down Joel Embiid lately. The 29-year-old just set the franchise record for most 30-point games in a row (nine) and he’s about to face the Chicago Bulls back-to-back, a team he is 12-0 against in his career.

Right now, the Sixers are No.1 in Bleacher Report’s NBA power rankings — and just about every other ranking out there. Whether or not you believe Philadelphia can ultimately contend for a title, we are bearing witness to a special regular season stretch.

What stood out in Andy Bailey’s power rankings for B/R, however, was a specific statistical subcategory: catch-and-shoot efficiency.

NBA standings based on catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage

Since the beginning of his career, Joel Embiid has been at his best when playing alongside an elite table-setter and an ocean of shooters. Well, he’s currently teammates with the best table-setter he’ll likely ever play with in James Harden, and the Sixers’ front office has put in the work to surround him with quality floor spacers.

According to, Philadelphia has the best catch-and-shoot effective field goal percentage in the league (59.7). A lot of credit, obviously, goes to the individual shooters: Georges Niang, Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, and Shake Milton are all shooting 40+ percent from deep on the season. James Harden (39.0), P.J. Tucker (39.7), and Tobias Harris (38.7) aren’t far behind.

Next in line for credit, however, is Harden specifically. Again, best table-setter of Embiid’s career — with all due respect to Ben Simmons. Harden is a master manipulator, frequently drawing the defense on drives to the rim before dropping perfectly-placed passes right into the shooter’s pocket.

Embiid also deserves some credit: the Sixers’ shooters wouldn’t be so open if defenses weren’t so occupied with keeping multiple bodies between him and the basket.

Here are the NBA standings based on catch-and-shoot percentage.

Eastern Conference: 

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (40.3)
  2. Boston Celtics (39.2)
  3. Brooklyn Nets (39.2)
  4. Chicago Bulls (37.9)
  5. Milwaukee Bucks (37.5)
  6. Detroit Pistons (36.9)
  7. Washington Wizards (36.7)
  8. Orlando Magic (36.1)
  9. Toronto Raptors (35.8)
  10. Cleveland Cavaliers (35.5)
  11. Indiana Pacers (35.3)
  12. New York Knicks (35.3)
  13. Atlanta Hawks (34.6)
  14. Charlotte Hornets (33.6)
  15. Miami Heat (33.6)

It’s no coincidence that the three most intimidating teams in the East all land in the top five. Philadelphia is an offensive buzzsaw right now, which is why it’s easier than ever to picture Joel Embiid and company making a deep run into the postseason. That said, the Sixers will have to back up their offensive explosiveness with enough defensive support when the time comes.

Western Conference: 

  1. Phoenix Suns (39.8)
  2. Denver Nuggets (39.3)
  3. LA Clippers (39.2)
  4. Golden State Warriors (38.9)
  5. Dallas Mavericks (38.7)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (37.8)
  7. Sacramento Kings (37.8)
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves (36.6)
  9. Oklahoma City Thunder (36.6)
  10. Utah Jazz (36.5)
  11. San Antonio Spurs (36.2)
  12. New Orleans Pelicans (35.9)
  13. Los Angeles Lakers (35.6)
  14. Memphis Grizzlies (35.1)
  15. Houston Rockets (33.2)

Speaking of elite table-setters and MVP candidates, Phoenix has the literal Point God in Chris Paul and Denver has the awe-inspiring creation of Nikola Jokic spearheading their respective offenses. Again, it’s no coincidence that the most lethal and efficient deep threats in the West are the two frontrunners to win the conference. The ability to create and then convert easy looks from 3 is central to any good offense in today’s NBA.

The Sixers have the best catch-and-shoot numbers of any team by a solid margin. That’s just one more notch in their favor as we analyze which teams are the biggest postseason threats down the stretch. Embiid and Harden can both compromise the defense at will and the team around them continues to make shots. That’s a deadly formula.

Next. Embiid is the MVP favorite (TSS Podcast Ep. 255). dark