Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas – While there had been prior experiments with the three-point shot in the history of basketball, it really came to the fore with the creation of the American Basketball Association in 1967. Back then, any opposition league to the NBA had failed. The ABA came in with a red, white and blue basketball and the three-point shot to add excitement to the game.
Indeed, the purpose of the shot, according to ABA Commissioner George Mikan (ironically, a big man, NBA Hall of Famer), was to “give the smaller player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the fans.”
THE THREE-POINT SHOT IS EXCITING, BUT …
Well, it really did start off as kind of a gimmick. Who determined that making a shot from long range was more difficult and worth more than a player who splits a double team, drives to the basket and double pumps around a seven-footer to score a lay-up? As far as this writer believes, this would be much more difficult (and, thus, worth more?) than somebody standing alone behind a line that is now too short (given how much shooting has improved in the last twenty years) and making an open (sometimes set) shot.
And it certainly doesn’t help just the “small player.” Seven-footers taking and making threes has become commonplace in the NBA (Dirk Nowitzki, anyone?). You get the point.
And it’s not like the great “smaller player” even needs “a chance to score.” Tiny Archibald, an incredible (and shorter) NBA player, is still the only player in NBA history to lead the league in points (34) and assists (11.4) in the same season. The three wasn’t even introduced until the end of his career.
What about the great Allen Iverson. An NBA superstar, he only shot 31.3% from three in his career. He certainly didn’t need it to be a great NBA player.
WHY NOT A FOUR-POINT SHOT?
Well, if you’re going that way, why not? 35 feet (guys like Curry and Lillard already have that in their game), 40 feet, how about half-court?
Maybe that’s a little ridiculous, but many thought the three itself was ridiculous when first introduced.
WHAT IF IT HAD BEEN AROUND IN THE PAST?
Well, for you old-time, forever Knick fans, you will remember Game 3 of the 1970 Finals. You know, Knicks v. Lakers. Series tied at 1, Knicks up 2, three seconds left. Jerry West (the one guy who would definitely have been one of the greatest three-point shooters ever) gets the inbounds, dribbles three times and scores on a 60-footer to tie up the game.
With a three-point shot, the Lakers win the game, take a 2-1 lead and, maybe, win the 1970 Championship. Instead we got Willis Reed, Game 7 and Clyde with (maybe) the greatest Game 7 performance ever.
BUT IT’S A DIFFERENT WORLD NOW
The first year of the three in the NBA, teams averaged 2.8 threes taken per game (all stats from Shot Tracker). This past season, they averaged NINETEEN threes per team per game. The analytics tell us that taking a three is better than taking a two, yet, two of the three best players in the NBA, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, are probably the two best “mid-range” shooters in the game.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Well, the three-pointer has, today, stood the game on its head. On three on one (or two) fast breaks, at least one (if not two) of the wings runs to the three-point line (as opposed to going to the basket).
That won’t change. But, at a minimum, the NBA has to move the three-point line back (and even widen the court so the corner three doesn’t remain such an easy shot). The players today have adapted to a shot that was considered a “bad” shot decades ago.
The NBA has to make it more difficult.
(Originally published in the Mount Vernon Press)
© Copyright 2019 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.