It has been hypothesized that younger players may shoot threes better when their team is winning [1]. To see if this is true at the NBA level, I analyzed every shot of every game from the 2004-05 to the 2015-16 seasons. I found no statistical difference when shooting threes while losing or winning. I found the same to be true of free throws, but I did find a difference (p=0.037) when shooting twos. Interestingly, when the team is losing, the average player shoots 46.28%, but when winning the average goes down to 45.78%. However, the effect size is d=0.03, which is small.

Here is a density map of the three-point shots, along with the analysis:

t = -0.80358, df = 11738, p-value = 0.4217
alternative hypothesis: true difference in means is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.009613867 0.004023235
sample estimates:
mean of losing mean of winning
0.2918484 0.2946437

Here is a density map of the two-point shots, along with the analysis:

t = 2.0842, df = 15112, p-value = 0.03716
alternative hypothesis: true difference in means is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
0.0002954158 0.0096292267
sample estimates:
mean of losing mean of winning
0.4627997 0.4578374

Here is a density map of the free throws, along with the analysis:

t = 0.38493, df = 13994, p-value = 0.7003
alternative hypothesis: true difference in means is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
-0.004826125 0.007184844
sample estimates:
mean of losing mean of winning
0.7277869 0.7266075

The raw data can be download here.

[1] A. Glockner, Chasing perfection: a behind-the-scenes look at the high-stakes game of creating an NBA champion, First DaCapo Press edition. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, 2016. p. 85

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