Oh Baby, a Triple: The 3-Point Line ProblemFebruary 20, 2017
I thoroughly enjoy the game of basketball. Invented in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the game has gone through quite a few changes as time has passed. Originally played using peach baskets, it was a very simple, safe game. It soon became apparent that taller players could get closer to the basket than others, and came to dominate the game. Soon, different plays would start to develop to get different kinds of shots off, and eventually the 3-point line would be invented to reward players for taking shots from farther distances. This was a wonderful addition to the game, as it added a whole new element to the game. Up until the past few years, the combination between the outside shooters and big men brought a nice, varied dynamic to the game of basketball. Every team needed to have a great guy in the post, a phenomenal outside shooter, and another guy to get the rest of the team the ball. Every position on the floor mattered, and it was exciting to see the various strategies each team would use to complement their roster. However, all of this has changed with the emergence of an abundance of sharpshooters lead by Steph Curry.
All of these sharpshooters are extremely talented and they are changing the game. This isn’t uncommon, as extremely talented players often change how basketball has been played. From Bill Russell to Dr. J, from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to Michael Jordan, and the amazing prowess in the post seen from the likes of Hakeem Olajuwan and Dikembe Mutombo. These players made the strategy for each team different and fun to watch. For example, in the 90’s, you would have teams like the Jazz implementing dazzling pick and roll plays between John Stockton and Karl Malone. On another team, you would watch Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen team up for the one-two punch with offensive and defensive powerhouse gameplans. With the emergence of this sharpshooter generation, talented as they may be, it has changed the strategy of many teams. More often now than ever, there are teams that live and die by the three-point shot. The Warriors have Steph, Klay, and Durant. The Cavs have LeBron, Kyrie, and Love. The Wizards have Beal and Wall. The Celtics have everyone jacking up three point shots. Each of these teams have people that drive the ball to the basket, but more often than not, people are tossing up shots from downtown.
Looking at highlight reels from today’s NBA compared to those from just ten years ago, it is clear that teams are now more focused on the far, outside shot than ever. These shots are impressive, I’m not disputing that. But it becomes unfair to the viewer, as the game becomes less of a show with varied playing styles, and instead, for the most part, is a 3-point contest. At the end of the day, the line simply needs to be moved back. It’ll make the shooting guard position, and all the others around it, more special and more focused. Rather than having everyone playing a glorified shooting guard position, or in some cases small forwards, it will create a bigger variety in highlights and force players to get better at their own respective positions. If players can play more than just their position, then good for them, but it would be nice to get highlight reels with a few less 3-point shots.
Written by Rick Wronski