Sunday, April 10, 2022

3 Point Shot Breaking the NBA?


This video explains the evolution of the impact of the 3-point shot in the NBA but despite the title, it only superficially discusses whether it is breaking the NBA or not.

Analytics drove this change when the management of the Golden State Warriors — in Silicon Valley, dontcha know — decided to pursue this style of play around 2008-09

The reason for emphasizing the three-pointer: to increase offensive efficiency as measured by points per 100 possessions.

By essentially replacing some two-pointers with three-pointers, especially if you can shoot well above 33% on those threes, you can squeeze more points from an equal number of possessions. It’s just math: shooting 50% on two pointers is the goal, so if you can shoot sbove 33% on threes you get more points for a given number of shots.

This de-emphasizes the mid-range and low-post game across the league, causing changes in who teams draft and what skill sets they want, which means those changes have already rippled through the college game too.

All of that is expected as a natural consequence of making the three-pointer the focal point of the offense. 

But as always there are unintended consequences, which can change things in radical and surprising ways, and some of that is definitely happening here.

The following are just my observations, the way the game looks different to me, and listed in order of importance for me personally: 

  • Creates stagnation and reduces cutting and player movement away from the ball — many if not most posessions are four or five guys all standing 20+ feet from the basket near the three point line, with little cutting or movement away from the ball 
  • Reduces offensive rebounding opportunities and the effort and attitude that goes with that, which makes teams more passive overall and results in a lot of boring “one and done” possessions where no offensive player is within 20 feet of the rebound
  • Defense becomes less of a factor since closely defending players 24 feet from the basket is risky
  • Creates potential over-reliance on outside shooting, which some days is just not there, as every fan already knows has always been a risk — but now it’s even bigger

All big negatives for me. Others may disagree and I get that, but as a fan I have strong preferences for a very active style of play with lots of movement away from the ball (back door cuts etc), strong defense and high levels of effort and “want to” especially on the boards — and if you take much of that away, and there’s a lot of standing around, I start to lose interest.

For me, and many others I suspect, it’s just become a much different and less appealing game, even if others like it the same or even more.