The style of basketball has changed tremendously over the last 15 years. The NBA has only had the 3point line since 1979, College has adopted it in 1986 and most High Schools in 1987. So logically it takes time for teams to adapt to those changes in rules. However since the year 2000 it seems that the 3 point shot has really become popular in the NA! Here are some interesting facts that you should know about shooting at the NBA level.
In the 2014-15 season there were 20 teams in the NBA , which is basically two thirds of the league, that attempted more than 20 3’s per game. In the 1999-2000 season there was only 1 which did that, which was the highly entertaining Sacramento Kings! I used to love watching that Kings team, they were truly ahead of their time in a lot of ways.
Think about what a big change in style of play that is! In only 15 years teams have really figured out the importance of having more shooters on the court.
You sometimes hear some old school coaches/players talk about how outside shooting is not that important. Byron Scott for example said that when he was hired that the Lakers would attempt less than 15 3’s per game when he is in charge (that is why the Lakers still suck I guess) and that you cannot win the championship relying on the outside shot (Charles Barkley). Thankfully the Golden State Warriors proved them wrong (well the Spurs have done so as well)!
You look at most NBA teams today and they do not play with a traditional power forward (a banger with post moves), instead they put in a versatile “stretch 4”. Someone who can operate from the perimeter and shoot 3’s and pick and pop and pick and roll situations. Most teams now end up with 4 players on the perimeter and only 1 inside player. The “stretch 4” has become one of the most important positions in the game – players like Draymond Green, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love etc are so important as they create a lot of space for other players to drive to the basket.
Last season the Houston Rockets attempted a league high 33 3’s every game out of 84 shot attempts! I know they are struggling so far this year but last season that style was good enough to get them all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
3 point shooting percentages have stayed pretty much the same over the years, it is just that the attempts have increased dramatically. Teams are figuring out the statistical advantage of shooting a 3 versus a long 2. Here is what Shane Battier who was one of the smartest NBA players had to say in an article on ESPN about the long 2 versus 3 in relation to Chris Bosh:
Chris Bosh wasn’t always on board with it. Shane Battier, his stat-savvy teammate, pulled him aside one practice last season and showed him that taking one step back from Bosh’s hot spot in the midrange could add more efficiency. Three is greater than two, and the payoff of a 50 percent 2-point shooter is equivalent to a 33 percent 3-point shooter. “He struggled with the spacing early on, because the footwork and the feel of the game is different,” Battier says. “But he got the math. There are only a few players in the league that can understand the math behind it and trust the numbers. He’s one of them.”
On an individual basis in the 2014-15 season 39 NBA players attempt more than 5 3’s per game. Only 15 years ago there was only 15 players who did that! So less than half of todays total!
It looks like this year those numbers are increasing even more! Stephen Curry is attempting 11.5 3’s per game, while shooing over 43%! Crazy…
Those numbers don’t lie and you can clearly see how shooters are at an all time high demand right now.
The game is played two ways at the moment – you either try and work toward a lay-up or you shoot a 3. Who knows how the game will evolve in the future, but I am pretty confident that this style of play will be the way to go for the next decade or longer.
Keep in mind that what happens in the NBA generally filters down to college and high school basketball as well. Think about it, most high school coaches watch NBA games and what they see there is what they will try and implement with their teams. So hopefully we will see much more ball and player movement with more consistent outside shooters over the next few decades.
This should clearly show you that coaches will try and find more players who can spread the floor. What does that mean to you?
If you become a great 3 point shooter you will have a very good chance of making at team! Who knows, your coach might allow you to take 7-10 3s per game! If you take 7 3’s per game and you shoot 40% then you get nearly 9 points per game just from 3’s!
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