January 28, 2024 

Paige Bueckers is having one of the greatest seasons ever

And it deserves more attention

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You may be familiar with the 50/40/90 club. You may even be familiar with the 50-2P%/40/90 club. But you’re probably not familiar with the 60/40/80 club — because it’s only been done a few times. Not at the WNBA level. Not at the NBA level. Just a handful of times at the high-major women’s college level. Only at the men’s college level by Sterling Brown his junior year at SMU.

Paige Bueckers is close to joining Brown as the only players to achieve something even greater.

Bueckers is currently shooting 60.8% from two, 49.4% from three and 80.8% from the line. If she makes her next two 3-pointers and then retires from the sport, she will be the founding member of the women’s basketball 60/50/80 club. (Or, at least the first member of that club in the Her Hoop Stats era.) To put that another way: Paige Bueckers, a natural point guard, is nearly as efficient scoring when she shoots inside the arc as she is when she’s at the free-throw line. While also being one of the couple best shooters in the entire country.

And Bueckers isn’t just feasting on open shots, either: per Synergy, she ranks in the 91st percentile in the rate of her 3-point shots that are contested. This is a sub-six-footer who two years ago led the entire country in field goal percentage in the two distance zones closest to the rim, per CBB Analytics. If the best pure shot-maker in women’s college basketball history isn’t Maya Moore, it’s Paige Bueckers.

Three completely unrelated stats to the shooting numbers: usage rate, assist rate and turnover rate. They measure how often a player is directly involved in the outcome of an offensive possession, how often that involvement turns into an assist and how often it turns into a turnover. Bueckers is currently just the third player in the HHS era to run at least 27% usage rate, a 24% assist rate and a sub-9% turnover rate. So, given her historic scoring efficiency, Bueckers is also touching the ball more while creating more efficient offense than almost anyone else, ever.

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For someone who won the Naismith and Wooden awards their freshman year, it’s hard to keep improving. Even harder is generating more media attention in later seasons after setting such a high bar.

That is a shame, because, in summation, Paige Bueckers is both having arguably the most dominant overall shooting season in the HHS Era while also being one of the few most efficient high-volume playmakers ever. This isn’t meant to be an argument that she should win National Player of the Year — Caitlin Clark is averaging 32/7/8/2 and is one 2-pointer away from shooting 60/40/80, Hannah Hidalgo is ridiculous in her own right, and Cameron Brink and Kamilla Cardoso have been the top players in the country on a holistic basis. But let’s not take for granted how truly mind-boggling Bueckers has been.

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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that no women’s college player had shot 60/40/80. Eight players have done so, including four at the high-major level (Breanna Stewart at UConn in 2015-16, Kia Nurse at UConn in 2017-18, Sophie Cunningham at Mizzou in 2017-18 and McKenna Warnock at Iowa in 2020-21) and Utah’s Alissa Pili is on pace to join them as well. The Next regrets the error.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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