The NBA’s 35-year War Over the 3-Pointer

Terrific article by Tom Haberstroh of on the ever-changing role of the 3-pointer since its NBA induction in 1979. It’s a good read for any basketball fan (the numbers are mind-boggling: the 81-82 NBA Champion Lakers made THIRTEEN three-pointers all season? The average NBA team in 92-93 shot NINE three-pointers per game???), but there is some good coaching wisdom tucked away in here particularly from Mike D’Antoni and Erik Spoelstra. It amazes me how the old school purists refuse to even hear the analytic guys out. No matter how much they love the 3, they love the shot at the rim more (in fact, part of the value of the 3 is that the threat of it opens up the rim). Really cool article that is definitely worth the read, enjoy the weekend!

But unlike Riley and Pitino, D’Antoni wanted to space the floor to unleash his point guard, Steve Nash, rather than his bigs.

“How can you unclog the lane?” D’Antoni says. “If we became dangerous out on the 3-point line, we could really get into the lane and get layups. All I wanted to do was get layups. That’s all I was really searching for. And so, you can shoot more 3s, have a stretch 4. Wouldn’t it be great if your 5 could shoot 3s also? It goes right on down the line.”

When D’Antoni took over, he made the unconventional move to slide Shawn Marion from small forward to power forward and make Amare Stoudemire his starting center. That replaced the lumbering 7-footer Jake Voskuhl with another 3-point shooter, Quentin Richardson, on the wing. Richardson led the league in 3-pointers in 2004-05, D’Antoni’s first in Phoenix. Nash won MVP, and won another the following season.


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