Three-Point Illusions: Insights from NBA Fan Survey

We’re well beyond the halfway-point mark in the current NBA season, and so far this season, we have seen the trend continue of three-point shooting becoming more and more important and being an increasingly more important part of the winning formula. Heck, even the teams that aren’t winning rely on prolific three-point shooting to stay competitive. If you want to stay competitive in your betting this season, check out our NBA odds and our bet365 Bonus Code. Residents within North Carolina should check out this section on North Carolina Sportsbooks.

Although the average three-point field goals per game have soared to a historically high 12.8, this unprecedented feat hasn't resulted in a historic high in overall points per game. Currently, we're witnessing an average of 115.4 points per game, marking this season as the seventh-highest scoring in history. For context, the highest-scoring season on record remains the 1961-62 season, with an average of 118.8 points per game. The surge in three-point field goals per game is not solely attributed to an increase in three-point attempts, as the current season only ranks second historically. The 2021-22 NBA season retains the record for the most attempts per game with 35.2, while this season follows closely behind with an average of 35 attempts per game. 

This season, we're witnessing historically great performances from beyond the three-point line, with a success rate on par with other top seasons: a 36.7% three-point field goal percentage. This impressive percentage has only previously been achieved in the 2020-21, 2008-09, and 1995-96 seasons, with no season ever averaging a higher success rate.

Being consistently precise from beyond the three-point line is undoubtedly one of the traits that can transcend a player’s status from good to great. This important feat leads us to wonder: How do fans across the nation think they would perform if we hypothetically placed them in an NBA game situation and gave them ten attempts at three-pointers?

We surveyed more than 2,000 NBA fans across America to assess their self-belief on this topic. We asked them the above question, and these are the results:

A staggering one in four (25%) of NBA fans across the US believe they have what it takes to top the league average in three-point shooting percentages, claiming they can hit four or more three-pointers in an NBA game on ten attempts, and as previously stated, the league average is 36.7%. 

Perhaps underestimating the athleticism and skills of the NBA defenders, it’s also interesting to note that only 29% of American NBA fans don’t think they’d be able to hit a single three-pointer, despite being guarded by professional players. 

Further diving into the numbers, it’s clear that Gen Z is the most delusional group of fans. Almost half (46%) of Gen Z fans, aged 18-24, believe that they could top the league average in three-point shooting. The numbers would suggest that this delusional self-belief diminishes with age. Looking at Millennials, aged 25-34, the number is down to ‘only’ 38% of the fans in this generation thinking they would have superior three-point shooting. Aging further, with fans aged 35-44, 30% think they would score four or more three-pointers in an NBA game. For fans aged between 45 and 54, this number is down to 15%, and for the “boomers” out there, fans aged above 55, 11% think they could top the league average in three-point shooting. 

Upon further examination of the replies, it becomes evident that Generation Z stands out as the most delusional group of basketball fans. An impressive 46% of Gen Z fans, aged 18-24, express confidence in their ability to surpass the league average in three-point shooting. However, this unwavering self-assurance appears to diminish with age. Among Millennials, aged 25-34, the percentage drops to 38%. As we move into the 35-44 age bracket, the belief in one's three-point prowess diminishes further, with ‘only’ 30% of fans envisioning themselves scoring four or more three-pointers in an NBA game. This trend continues with age, as the percentage decreases to 15% for fans aged 45-54 and drops even lower to 11% for those above 55. Thus, the data suggests a correlation between age and the perception of one's basketball abilities, with younger generations exhibiting greater confidence in their skills compared to their older counterparts.

In the survey, we asked the respondents what NBA team they support. The numbers show that fans supporting the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors are the most delusional bunch. A whopping 43% of each team’s fans think they could top the league average in three-point shooting. On the other end of the spectrum, only seven percent of Sacramento Kings fans think they have what it takes. 


The research was commissioned by VegasInsider and carried out by Research Without Barriers (RWB). The survey was conducted between the 20th and 23rd October, 2023.  The sample comprises 2,003 NBA fans across the United States of America.

All research conducted adheres to the Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2023) & ESOMAR. RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (2018).

The raw data can be found here, where you can filter the results based on teams, state, and demographics.