OK, do I love Gregg Popovich, or what? The coach of the 5-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs has come down hard on the 3-point shot, calling it a ‘circus kind of thing.’ In fact, basketball, and not just at the NBA level, has become nothing more than a search for the 3-point shot. The numbers crunchers will tell you the ‘three’ is the only thing that matters. What coaches used to call ‘standing around’ is now given the title of ‘spacing.’
The numbers crunchers will point to the Golden State Warriors, who make more threes than anyone, and who won the NBA title last last year and who are 23-0 this year. They will say that the Warriors are winning thanks to the 3-point shot. In part, that’s true. But they are doing all that not only because they are, scientifically, working for the 3-point shot. But the reason that are winning is this: THEY HAVE THE BEST 3-POINT SHOOTERS IN THE NBA. If they had so-so shooters, they would be a so-so team. I mean, if you have Steph Curry, that’s a head start on winning.
I said that ‘Desperately Seeking Threes’ was not just something particular to the NBA. The NBA is the most visible basketball league on the planet, so billions of people see how they play. Well, it’s also characteristic of the NCAA level, the high school level and, in the rest of the world, at the FIBA level. What has this done to the game … everywhere? It has reduced it a game of Pick & Roll and Threes. Ball movement? Player movement? Fast Break? Moving without the ball? Weakside action? The Pickup Jump Shot? All on the ‘Endangered Species’ list.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, even into the early 1990s, teams at all levels were using the entire court (fast break) and the entire shooting area (pickup jump shots, worth two points) and the game was, truly, Ballet on Parquet. Yes, the better teams, at all levels, still use the fast break and the pickup jumper. But, often, teams, at all levels, are made up this way: 3 real players and 9 guys that could be Olympic Triple Jump contestants. The result is a slow, physical, tactical, defensive, low-scoring game. And, just think: the ‘three’ was supposed to increase scoring.