What Made the Three-Pointer So Dominant in the NBA?


Mike Breen, a renowned announcer for ABC, raised his voice as the gun went off. “Curry! That’s downtown! BANG!” It was all over so quickly. On February 27, 2016, Oklahoma City hosted a regular-season game against the Golden State Warriors.

Meanwhile, the Warriors were on a remarkable run that would see them reach 73-9 before the playoffs, breaking the single-season victories record. Moreover, Stephen Curry won the award unanimously, making it his second consecutive MVP season. He accomplished it because no one else in history had ever used the three-point shot as a weapon.

That night, the game-winning goal against the Thunder signaled the start of a brand-new era for the NBA. In addition to ensuring another victory for the Warriors, it also solidified the three-point shot as a style play in the NBA. Moreover, after leaving the Thunder and joining Golden State a season later, Kevin Durant made an astonishing walk-up three-pointer against LeBron James, winning the 2017 NBA Finals. “That was the best moment I ever had,” Durant later told GQ.

The Evolution

On a dark day in December 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Dr. James Naismith created the sport of basketball. Since then, those 7-foot giants have dominated basketball for most of the sport’s history. These big giants are better able to score because they are situated closer to the 10-foot rim. Moreover, these giants had ruled the game from George Mikan in the 1940s to Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1970s, Moses Malone in the 1980s, Shaquille O’Neal in the 1990s, and beyond. However, the game’s emphasis has changed from the basket to the three-point line because players like the 6’2″ Curry.

The three-point shot was invented in 1961 and entered the NBA in 1979. It has been mastered, highlighted, disregarded, moved in, moved out, and, according to some, misused. However, Steph Curry is now the all-time leader in three-pointers made in the NBA.

‘Three Mills’

“I’d been practicing it even back in my high school days,” Terry Mills, the 90s sharpshooter, told The Guardian. “But the thing was [back then], big guys at 6’9″ or 6’10”, you weren’t really allowed to shoot the ball out there, just like you weren’t allowed to dribble the ball.”

The 6’10” Mills played for five teams in the NBA over 11 years. He boasts a career average of 38.4% from behind the arc, sinking 533 three-pointers. Meanwhile, Mills started his career at the University of Michigan, where he didn’t make a three-pointer. However, he eventually got the nickname “Three Mills.”

Mills played for the Detroit Pistons in the 1990s, where his coach Doug Collins encouraged him to practice long-range shooting. Moreover, during his time with Detroit, he helped define the concept of the “stretch-forward”. Meanwhile, Mills’ ability to shoot from long range led him to be called a pioneer of the modern-day stretch-forward.

“When I first got to the Pistons, I was primarily a post-player,” Mills says. “When Doug Collins came in, he recognized I could shoot the basketball, and said I could be a specialist. Of course, I wasn’t buying it at first. But it became a niche of mine. I’d come off the bench, they ran plays for me. All of a sudden, it started working. I was a believer.”

Steve Kerr’s Record

In 2016-17, Stephen Curry averaged more three-point attempts per game than Larry Bird did in his 13 years in the NBA. Like home runs in baseball and passing plays in football, there was an absence of three-pointers in the game’s early years. Meanwhile, in the 1980s, teams averaged just a few three-pointers per game. However, with the advent of the All-Star contest in 1986, the deadeye became more remarkable and respected. Meanwhile, NBA fans love long-distance shooters like Steve Kerr, who holds the record for three-pointers at 45.4%.

“I practiced at it,” said Mills, who lost the three pointers contest to the Sacramento Kings’ Walt Williams in 1997. “But it was just something totally different. I would consider myself more of an in-game-type of three-point shooter as opposed to stand still in front of a crowd and shoot.”

Mills was a lethal player during games, frequently executing the “pick-and-roll,” in which the ball handler exploits a teammate’s screen. Because of his size, Mills’ opponents frequently ran back in defense, expecting to meet him beneath the basket. However, they lost sight of him near the arc, where he was open for threes in his new position as a stretch forward. Meanwhile, the NBA’s three-point line was reduced from 23 ft. 9 in. to 22 ft. between 1994–95 and 1996–97. Mills shot a whopping 40.4% on nearly four attempts per game during that time, the highest percentage of his career.

“You still had the same principles of trying to stretch the floor even though they moved the line in,” Mills added, “I have no idea what the reasoning was behind [the league moving the line in]. It was just one of those rules that changed. If you were a guy able to knock them down, you were licking your chops.”

‘I’m Reaching the point of BOREDOM’

Now, players worldwide, from kids to adults, shoot three after three. So much so that many two-point shots that were once encouraged are now frowned upon. Meanwhile, “Seven Seconds or Less” was a run-and-gun offense pioneered by the Phoenix Suns in the early 2000s.

The former college coach Dick Vitale shared his thoughts on Twitter, writing, “Look, the NBA features the greatest athletes, but I’m curious as I admit that I’m reaching the point of BOREDOM watching @NBA PTPer firing up 50 3’s per game in many cases. (where is cutting/ ball movement etc.) /For me, it’s NOT FUN TO WATCH. Do u agree or disagree? @ESPNPR.”

Meanwhile, Ron Harper, the former Chicago Bull and three time NBA champion, replied, writing, “It’s call bad basketball @dickieV.”

However, Mills does not believe that the present flurry of long-range attempts is a problem. Moreover, he wouldn’t change the guidelines for using the arc either.

“One thing I can say is that times have changed,” said Mills. “People already remind me of the type of money I could make today. They say, “Man, can you imagine the type of money you could make right now?’ I tell them I don’t need a reminder! But no, I wouldn’t change anything. I’d leave it the same. The three-point shot is a major thing as far as basketball is concerned. I don’t think it should get [changed] to, say, a four-point play. It’s perfect the way it is. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Golden State Warriors Thrashes Portland Trail Blazers in the “Battle of Reserves”

Previous article

Russell Westbrook Gives Clarification to Viral Huddle Video During Their Preseason Loss

Next article

You may also like


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NBA