Saturday, May 19, 2012

Three point shot

When the NBA instituted the three point goal thirty plus years ago the feeling was that teams would only attempt the three when they absolutely needed to try a low percentage shot because time was short and the deficit was high.

If you played, but it has been a while since you have been on a court, take a basketball to your local park and try to hit a three point shot.  You will see that it is a heave.

The effects of the three point shot have been dramatic.  Before the three point goal, a team could be dominant, and only would be dominant, if they had a big man. For years the Knicks, my team as a kid growing up in NY, could not compete because they did not have a center.    If a basket from twenty feet counts as much as a basket from two feet away, then a big guy who could muscle in close and take an easy lay-up was a tremendous asset.  However, now if you have a team with two or three, long range shooters, then they become more valuable than a big center who will only score two points as opposed to the three.  You see players now with open lay ups passing it back to a teammate who will try a three.

There are few dominant centers now in the Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Walter Dukes mold.  It is not because there are fewer physical types. It is because they are--relative to their value in the 50s and 60s--insignificant.  Russell would always have been an asset because he was a winner and a terrific rebounder.  However, without three point shooting threats who knows how many championships the Celtics would have won.

This is even more evident in college basketball.  A big guy in college was your ticket to championships. UCLA had Jabbar (then Alcindor) and Walton.   And it went beyond the centers.  A player like Adrian Dantley was an outstanding college player because he was adept at getting the ball in low and taking/making short shots.  Dantley would not be a stud in the three point era whereas JJ Redick who could shoot the three was a featured player.

The three has changed the game for the better as it has precluded one big player from dominating a game.


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