In today's NBA game, players are shooting the 3-pointer more than ever before, and records are continually being broken. Last season, teams shot an average of 24.1 3-pointers per game, which was a league record. That record is already on pace to be broken in the 2016-17 season. Mike Wise of The Undefeated, highlights why this is happening and what it means for the sport.
Wise makes the argument that “The gunner is a good teammate, not a ball hog".
Last year’s MVP, Stephen Curry, broke the single-season record for most 3-pt field goals attempted with 886, and made with 402. The top-4 players in the NBA last season for both 3-point attempts and 3-point field goals made per game were Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and James Harden. These players are leaders on their teams, who are given the green light to shoot and are the aforementioned “good teammate”.
Wise points out that this is, in part, because NBA coaches have an evolving threshold for what they consider an acceptable shot.
Once, there were clear lines of delineation in the game, a side reserved for the showoff/selfish gunner, and another for the serious, play-the-game-the-right-way winner. Now, the modern NBA coach has to be OK with ridiculous circus shots from anywhere on the floor, the shots your scowling Catholic Youth Organization coach marched you to the bench for shooting in seventh grade.
Last season, Lillard broke the Trail Blazers franchise records for most 3-pointers made, with 229, and attempted, with 610. Perhaps indicative of the shifting landscape, the records that he broke were his own.
This goes beyond just Lillard. The team as a whole is making more threes than ever before, breaking the franchise record in 2015-16 with 864 on a record 2,336 attempts.
Shooting the 3-point shot, and making it is important in the modern NBA. Last season, the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers attempted the third-most in the league at 29.6 per game, while their opponents in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors, attempted the most at 31.6.
Last season, the Trail Blazers attempted 28.5 per game (good for sixth league-wide) and made 37.0 percent (tied for fourth).
As the game has changed, so has the value of being able to shoot from deep. Last year’s MVP holds 3-point shooting records. The top players in the game are given the freedom by their coaches to play freely and get in their shots. It will be interesting to see how long this trend of increased 3-pt shooting continues and at what point the numbers start to level off.
You can read Wise’ full article, here, at theundefeated.com.