Behind the Arc: The Relevance of the NBA Three Point Shot
Introduced in the 1979-80 NBA regular season, the three-point field goal has since impacted the strategy of the game by leaps and bounds.
The most relevant case for this claim is teams saving space on their rosters for a three-point specialist (i.e. Rashard Lewis, Steve Novak, James Jones). However, the unexpected occurs when someone like a Shaquille O’Neal, who made a career in the paint, decides to launch one from 23 feet extended out from the basket. The shot worth three points is not exclusive to a select few players.
The pick and roll, before the introduction of the three-point line, was essentially one dimensional, as contradicting as that sounds, with the guard either passing it or driving for a lay-up, yet either option still only producing two points. Popularized by the combo of Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, the pick and roll ushered in the intensity of help defense. In the modern NBA, the pick and roll can be used as a more spread out option, with the guards starting further back and truly deciding if they have enough room to knock down the shot from behind the arc.
In the closing moments of the game, an added point with the three-point shot can make a whirl of a difference. With Steph Curry popularizing the shot from way, way behind the arc, the discussion of whether to include a four-point line or even move the three-point line has intensified. For the remaining games this season, the three-point line will stay where it is at and players will continue to take advantage of it.
In Game of East-Semis, the Washington Wizards won the game on a three-point shot from John Wall in the closing seconds, which had the crowd erupting in roars and cheers for the renewed chances of the victory.
The three of old was dominated by the guards and those players who were categorized as the smaller players. The emergence of Dirk Nowitzki being so tall and able to hit the long distance shot at a high percentage changed up the perspective on the impact of the three-point shot. In the last few seasons, players like Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo, are showing the height of a player does not confine them to a certain position.
Just like play-action in football, the attention paid to the three-point line will open up the paint. So either teams will adapt a strategy that cleverly prevents scoring from both options or the way the NBA runs offensive sets will change every few years. Eventually, the NBA could just be a playground/scrimmage style of basketball.
The present situation of the NBA shows more of a backing away from the basket. The excitement of the dunk contest just has not been there continuously. The flair of the NBA seems to be with the timing of shots and the excess of points for one player. There was 15 games this regular season where a player scored 50 points or over. The recent complaints have been of the defense, as many games have gone above 100 points. The state of the NBA is with offense and the three pointer is prominent.