You Are Here > Basketball-Reference.com > BBR Blog > NBA and College Basketball Analysis

SITE NEWS: We are moving all of our site and company news into a single blog for Sports-Reference.com. We'll tag all Basketball-Reference content, so you can quickly and easily find the content you want.

Also, our existing Basketball-Reference blog rss feed will be redirected to the new site's feed.

Basketball-Reference.com // Sports Reference

For more from Neil, check out his new work at BasketballProspectus.com.

The “Bullies”

Posted by Neil Paine on November 7, 2008

At first glance, former Rockets forward Matt Bullard appears to be an unlikely hero. Despite standing 6'10", Bullard weighed just 215 lbs. and seldom mixed it up inside at either end of the floor, instead opting to hang around the 3-point arc and spot up for catch-and-shoot opportunities. He hardly ever drew fouls because he didn't attack the basket, and if you saw him dribble the ball more than twice before either passing or shooting, it was a rare event. In other words, Bullard was the kind of player about whom my high school coach would have derisively said, "He plays smaller than his height."

Despite his shortcomings as a player, though, Bullard was legitimately great at one thing: standstill jump shooting. Over the course of his 11-year NBA career, he knocked down 38.4% of his 3-point attempts, and made more than 40% on three occasions. Even more remarkable is the fact that Bullard made 599 career 3-pointers, and he turned the ball over only 319 times! For every turnover Bullard committed, he made 1.9 treys. Among players with 250 career 3-pointers, that mark ranks second only to current Miami Heat swingman James Jones (who has a whopping 2.7 3P/TO ratio in his 5-year NBA career). In 2000-01, Bullard turned in his most epic performance, drilling 86 threes vs. just 12 turnovers, for a staggering ratio of 7.2 3P/TO. Just let that sink in for a second... 7.2 threes for every miscue -- among players with at least one 3PM per scheduled game, no one else is even close to that ratio (the 2nd-best mark is Peja Stojakovic's 3.8 in 2007-08). Pretty impressive for a tall, skinny kid from Iowa who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, no?

That's why we want to honor Bullard's unmatched catch-and-shoot skills by giving out an award in his name to the player who leads the league in 3-pointers made per turnover. It's a great stat for identifying pure jump-shooters who lock and load from the outside with little concern for things like dribbling, driving, or getting anywhere near the lane, and Bullard was the unquestioned master, leading the league three times. The only qualification for the award is that you make at least 25 three-point field goals (13 for the 1999 lockout season). Here is a year-by-year rundown of "The Bullies" since Bullard himself entered the league in 1990-91:

1991 Winner: Trent Tucker

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1991 |    1 | Trent Tucker     |   64 |   46 |    1.3913 |
    |    1991 |    2 | Craig Hodges     |   44 |   35 |    1.2571 |
    |    1991 |    3 | Rod Higgins      |   73 |   65 |    1.1231 |
    |    1991 |    4 | Danny Ainge      |  102 |  100 |    1.0200 |
    |    1991 |    5 | Vernon Maxwell   |  172 |  171 |    1.0058 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

One-upping even Bullard himself, Tucker led the NBA in "Bullard Index" four times -- although it should be noted that the league didn't really start taking the 3-pointer seriously as a weapon until Bullard hit his prime as the designated shooter on one of Houston's title teams in the mid-90s. Still, Tucker was a pioneer of the modern long-range specialist, taking as many as half of his FGAs from deep at one point in the late eighties (an unheard of rate at the time).

1992 Winner: Rod Higgins

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1992 |    1 | Rod Higgins      |   33 |   15 |    2.2000 |
    |    1992 |    2 | Craig Hodges     |   36 |   22 |    1.6364 |
    |    1992 |    3 | Dana Barros      |   83 |   56 |    1.4821 |
    |    1992 |    4 | Brad Lohaus      |   57 |   46 |    1.2391 |
    |    1992 |    5 | Dale Ellis       |  138 |  119 |    1.1597 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

It's nice that Higgins won at least one Bully (albeit very late in his career), because he enjoyed 3 of his 4 best seasons by Win Shares after he started making extensive use of the 3-point shot in 1988-89. 5th-place finisher Dale Ellis also deserves special recognition for having won the Bullard Award in 1985 & 1986, long before the trifecta became a staple of NBA offenses.

1993 Winner: Trent Tucker

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1993 |    1 | Trent Tucker     |   53 |   18 |    2.9444 |
    |    1993 |    2 | Matt Bullard     |   91 |   57 |    1.5965 |
    |    1993 |    3 | Jim Les          |   66 |   48 |    1.3750 |
    |    1993 |    4 | Danny Ainge      |  150 |  113 |    1.3274 |
    |    1993 |    5 | Dan Majerle      |  167 |  133 |    1.2556 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Another win for Tucker, and we see Bullard appear among the leaders for the first time. Also, check out Suns teammates Ainge and Majerle, who took 51% and 40% of their FGAs from deep, respectively, as key players on Phoenix's Finals team.

1994 Winner: Matt Bullard

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1994 |    1 | Matt Bullard     |   50 |   28 |    1.7857 |
    |    1994 |    2 | Dale Ellis       |  131 |   75 |    1.7467 |
    |    1994 |    3 | Dennis Scott     |  155 |   93 |    1.6667 |
    |    1994 |    4 | Dan Majerle      |  192 |  137 |    1.4015 |
    |    1994 |    5 | Tracy Murray     |   50 |   37 |    1.3514 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Bullard wins his first Bully, taking an astonishing (for the time) 68.1% of his shots from long-range and committing just 28 turnovers en route to a championship with Houston.

1995 Winner: Dennis Scott

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1995 |    1 | Dennis Scott     |  150 |   57 |    2.6316 |
    |    1995 |    2 | Brad Lohaus      |   63 |   29 |    2.1724 |
    |    1995 |    3 | Dan Majerle      |  199 |  105 |    1.8952 |
    |    1995 |    4 | Steve Kerr       |   89 |   48 |    1.8542 |
    |    1995 |    5 | Sam Perkins      |  136 |   77 |    1.7662 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

People forget how deadly 3-D was in his prime, especially since his prime coincided with the NBA's new, shortened 22-foot arc. Meanwhile, Majerle continues his impressive run, and Steve Kerr makes the first of what will be several impressive appearances on the leaderboard.

1996 Winner: Steve Kerr

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1996 |    1 | Steve Kerr       |  122 |   42 |    2.9048 |
    |    1996 |    2 | Tim Legler       |  128 |   45 |    2.8444 |
    |    1996 |    3 | Brad Lohaus      |   51 |   20 |    2.5500 |
    |    1996 |    4 | Dennis Scott     |  267 |  122 |    2.1885 |
    |    1996 |    5 | Chuck Person     |  190 |   91 |    2.0879 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

It's no coincidence that Kerr and Legler had 2 of the highest single-season offensive ratings ever in 1996, with so many 3s and so few turnovers. Scott is equally remarkable for finishing 4th while recording the 2nd-highest single-season 3FG total in league history.

1997 Winner: Henry James

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1997 |    1 | Henry James      |   76 |   29 |    2.6207 |
    |    1997 |    2 | Steve Kerr       |  110 |   43 |    2.5581 |
    |    1997 |    3 | Wesley Person    |  171 |   76 |    2.2500 |
    |    1997 |    4 | Terry Mills      |  175 |   85 |    2.0588 |
    |    1997 |    5 | Kevin Gamble     |   54 |   27 |    2.0000 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

In what was easily the best season of his career, Henry James took nearly 60% of his shots from long distance and made 42% of them, while turning the ball over on only 10.7% of his possessions. If that's not a recipe for a great Bullard Index, I don't know what is.

1998 Winner: Matt Bullard

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1998 |    1 | Matt Bullard     |   96 |   39 |    2.4615 |
    |    1998 |    2 | Steve Kerr       |   57 |   27 |    2.1111 |
    |    1998 |    3 | Joe Dumars       |  158 |   84 |    1.8810 |
    |    1998 |    4 | Wesley Person    |  192 |  110 |    1.7455 |
    |    1998 |    5 | Dale Ellis       |  127 |   74 |    1.7162 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Hey, it's that Bullard guy again! In 1997-98, the 3-point line was moved back to the original distance of 23'9" and 22' in the corners, causing the league's 3P/TO ratio to drop precipitously, but Bullard kept firing away and had his best mark yet.

1999 Winner: Jud Buechler

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    1999 |    1 | Jud Buechler     |   61 |   21 |    2.9048 |
    |    1999 |    2 | Sam Mack         |   87 |   33 |    2.6364 |
    |    1999 |    3 | Dale Ellis       |   94 |   45 |    2.0889 |
    |    1999 |    4 | Dennis Scott     |   37 |   19 |    1.9474 |
    |    1999 |    5 | Wesley Person    |   75 |   41 |    1.8293 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Buechler is best remembered for his role on the second Michael Jordan-led Bulls dynasty, but he actually had his best season by Win Shares during the strike-shortened 1999 campaign, after he had left Chicago for Detroit. 61.7% of Buechler's attempts came from behind the 3-point stripe, he made 41.2% of them, and he turned the ball over on only 9.6% of his possessions, all of which added up to one of the top Bullard Index seasons of all time.

2000 Winner: Dell Curry

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2000 |    1 | Dell Curry       |   95 |   40 |    2.3750 |
    |    2000 |    2 | Dennis Scott     |   71 |   30 |    2.3667 |
    |    2000 |    3 | Matt Bullard     |   79 |   36 |    2.1944 |
    |    2000 |    4 | Scott Burrell    |   82 |   38 |    2.1579 |
    |    2000 |    5 | Terry Mills      |   95 |   46 |    2.0652 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Curry is one of only 27 NBA players to have a career 3P% of 40% (minimum 250 3PM), and with 19.4 career Pts/36 minutes, he's one of the better pure scorers to win the prestigious Bullard Award.

2001 Winner: Matt Bullard

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2001 |    1 | Matt Bullard     |   86 |   12 |    7.1667 |
    |    2001 |    2 | Lindsey Hunter   |  152 |   68 |    2.2353 |
    |    2001 |    3 | Sam Perkins      |   38 |   19 |    2.0000 |
    |    2001 |    4 | Larry Robinson   |   44 |   25 |    1.7600 |
    |    2001 |    5 | Dan Majerle      |   57 |   35 |    1.6286 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

As was mentioned previously, the '01 season was Bullard's crowning achievement. His 7.2 3P/TO is akin to Babe Ruth leading the majors with 54 home runs while the next-closest guy had 19... If Babe Ruth were a one-dimensional standstill jump-shooter, that is.

2002 Winner: Pat Garrity

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2002 |    1 | Pat Garrity      |  169 |   68 |    2.4853 |
    |    2002 |    2 | Derek Fisher     |  144 |   62 |    2.3226 |
    |    2002 |    3 | Dan Majerle      |   79 |   35 |    2.2571 |
    |    2002 |    4 | Danny Ferry      |   43 |   22 |    1.9545 |
    |    2002 |    5 | Wesley Person    |  143 |   74 |    1.9324 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

This is the season that really solidified Doc Rivers' fondness for Garrity throughout the coach's stay in Orlando. I'll leave it up to Magic fans to decide whether that was a good thing or not, but either way, Garrity could really stroke the J in his prime.

2003 Winner: Michael Redd

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2003 |    1 | Michael Redd     |  182 |   74 |    2.4595 |
    |    2003 |    2 | Pat Garrity      |  161 |   77 |    2.0909 |
    |    2003 |    3 | Damon Jones      |   44 |   23 |    1.9130 |
    |    2003 |    4 | Glen Rice        |  101 |   55 |    1.8364 |
    |    2003 |    5 | Walt Williams    |   64 |   35 |    1.8286 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Today we think of Redd as a go-to guy, but early in his NBA career he was more of a pure shooter than a big-time scoring scoring threat. That all changed when Ray Allen was traded to Seattle in the middle of the 2002-03 season -- in his absence, Redd established himself as a deadly high-volume, low-mistake 3-point machine. Among players with at least 180 made 3-pointers, Redd's '03 ranks second only to Peja Stojakovic's 2007-08 in terms of Bullard Index.

2004 Winner: Richie Frahm

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2004 |    1 | Richie Frahm     |   34 |    7 |    4.8571 |
    |    2004 |    2 | Kyle Korver      |   81 |   41 |    1.9756 |
    |    2004 |    3 | Reggie Miller    |  134 |   68 |    1.9706 |
    |    2004 |    4 | Morris Peterson  |  126 |   69 |    1.8261 |
    |    2004 |    5 | Michael Finley   |  150 |   83 |    1.8072 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Richie Frahm just snuck in under the eligibility rules, but it's an impressive season nonetheless. Most Bully winners do it with a sky-high 3P%, but Frahm accomplished his remarkable 4.86 Bullard Index on the strength of an amazingly low 5.5% turnover rate.

2005 Winner: Donyell Marshall

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2005 |    1 | Donyell Marshall |  151 |   42 |    3.5952 |
    |    2005 |    2 | Fred Hoiberg     |   70 |   20 |    3.5000 |
    |    2005 |    3 | Brian Cook       |   78 |   29 |    2.6897 |
    |    2005 |    4 | Wesley Person    |   41 |   17 |    2.4118 |
    |    2005 |    5 | Damon Jones      |  225 |   98 |    2.2959 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Man, nobody used to be better at standing around in the corner and knocking down open treys than Marshall. In retrospect it was pretty much his last good year, but we can still take the time to appreciate the super-efficient 41.6 3P% and 7.4% turnover rate Marshall posted during his lone full season as a Toronto Raptor.

2006 Winner: Matt Bonner

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2006 |    1 | Matt Bonner      |  102 |   32 |    3.1875 |
    |    2006 |    2 | James Jones      |  110 |   35 |    3.1429 |
    |    2006 |    3 | Damon Jones      |  140 |   55 |    2.5455 |
    |    2006 |    4 | Travis Diener    |   25 |   10 |    2.5000 |
    |    2006 |    5 | Raja Bell        |  197 |   89 |    2.2135 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

Speaking of guys who had really good jump-shooting performances north of the border, Bonner basically took over Marshall's job as Toronto's designated 3-point ace after the defending Bully Award winner left for Cleveland. And he had a pretty nice approximation of Marshall's 2005 season in '06, before he left town for San Antonio.

2007 Winner: James Jones

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2007 |    1 | James Jones      |   90 |   28 |    3.2143 |
    |    2007 |    2 | Eddie House      |   75 |   27 |    2.7778 |
    |    2007 |    3 | Damon Jones      |   89 |   36 |    2.4722 |
    |    2007 |    4 | Raja Bell        |  205 |   83 |    2.4699 |
    |    2007 |    5 | Michael Finley   |  104 |   46 |    2.2609 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

As we mentioned before, James Jones is actually the all-time career leader in Bullard Index, though he's played a lot less than Bullard did -- we'll see if his nice 2.67 career ratio holds up over the course of his career. As one of many deadly Suns shooters in '07, Jones drilled 38% of his threes, but his most impressive trait was his remarkably low turnover rate (6.7%).

2008 Winner: Steve Novak

    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    | year_id | rank | player           | fg3  | tov  | fg3 / tov |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+
    |    2008 |    1 | Steve Novak      |   34 |    4 |    8.5000 |
    |    2008 |    2 | Rasual Butler    |   44 |   10 |    4.4000 |
    |    2008 |    3 | Peja Stojakovic  |  231 |   61 |    3.7869 |
    |    2008 |    4 | James Jones      |   91 |   28 |    3.2500 |
    |    2008 |    5 | Damon Jones      |  115 |   36 |    3.1944 |
    +---------+------+------------------+------+------+-----------+

In another case of a guy just slipping in under the qualifying rules, Novak shattered Bullard's old record for highest single-season 3P/TO ratio by making 8.5 trifectas for every miscue. In a case of things coming full circle, it's fitting that Novak should be the one to put together such an amazing season (47.9 3P%, 5.1% turnover rate, .696 3PA/FGA) -- like Bullard, Novak is a thin, 6'10" pure shooter, and actually had his record-setting year as a member of (who else?) the Houston Rockets!

ShareThis

7 Responses to “The “Bullies””

  1. Mountain Says:

    Wondered about Wally S. Cavs sure could use a guy meeting these specifications about Wally only broke 1/1 ratio briefly in a short stretch with Sonics and is at under 0.4 right now.

    4 time in a row top 5 guy Damon Jones traded away for Mo Williams a career less than 0.5 guy. That doesn't look good from this perspective.

    Sasha P. went from less than 1 career to 0 right now with no 3s made and turnover rate way up. Nobody making it easy for him. A consequence of PGs looking for their shot first.

  2. Mountain Says:

    Hey LeBron (and Mike Brown and Danny Ferry et al), Michael took time to get his 3 point shooters easy shots.

  3. Mountain Says:

    Well maybe LeBron helped Damon Jones but maybe not not helping enough others or maybe they just aren't the right type or the offense isn't the right type for producing those type of high reward low-risk shots. Regardless it is an area to improve.

  4. Mountain Says:

    To be fair I got around to checking and D West is at a 3 pt made / TO ratio that would make the top 5 most years right now. I don't expect it to last but I will update my comments to acknowledge it.

  5. nik Says:

    Bullard played one year for PAOK in Thessaloniki, Greece. The coach asked him to play like a big man and he really tried his best. Though he did hit some 3-pointers, all I remember of him is dunking and blocking shots. I knew him from his days in Houston and I was wondering if that was the same player. Then he returned to the NBA and his old habits, successfully as the numbers above indicate. Great post!

  6. Keyboard Says:

    That a very nice post!
    I'm gonna grab your rss feed to stay tuned to any updates on your blog.
    Cheers.

  7. Carville Says:

    This site is great. I wish I had more time to sit and read each post but I gotta get to work. I will be back for sure. Keep up the great work. Thanks.