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Why The NBA’s New 3-point Rule is Ridiculous

By Phillip R. Shoemaker

Recently, the NBA’s vice president, Stu Jackson, announced that it would change its rules for the 3-point shot for its developmental league, National Basketball Developmental League (NBDL).  The experimental rule, which will be instituted on November 19, will make all field goals worth 2-points, until the final five minutes of regulation and overtime, when the 3-point line will become a factor. 

This change was inspired by the increasingly low field goal percentages posted in the NBA and college games.  The NBA has had a 3-point shot for baskets made from beyond 23 feet, nine inches (22 feet in the corners) since the 1979-80 season, and the number of attempts has steadily risen over the course of the quarter-century in which the rule has been in effect.  If you look at the game overall, including the collegiate and high school level, since the inception of the 3-point shot, it’s being taken with an increasing amount of frequency, which in part has driven shooting percentages south, Jackson said.  The 3 have become a real focal point of offenses, and we would like to turn the clock back and see what the game is like without it and the effect it has.

So in a nutshell, the NBA has installed this new rule in an effort to improve shooting percentages.  Jackson hopes that his will make the game more exciting for its fans, by stimulating a more high-scoring style of play, and stimulating better fundamental shooting for its developing players in the NBDL. 

In my mind, this rule seems ridiculous.  The main reason is that the players most penalized by this rule, are the players that are actually considered ’good’ shooters.  These players, who are usually smaller perimeter players, will now be less effective as their 3-point shot will be taken away.  What are they suppose to do now?  Sure they must now learn to score from the interior, but the larger defenders in the key will predictably limit them to mid-to-long range jumpers.     

And what about teams whose offense are based around the 3-pointer?  Most coaches usually don’t go into a team instilling an offensive system where the 3-pointer is the focus.  They have to assess their players and develop a plan best suited to the strengths of the team.  If the team lack any legitimate size, but have good long-range shooters, then it is generally in the team’s best interest to adopt a system where the 3-point shot plays a significant role.  It is within this 3-pointer focused offense that the team will usually have the best chance to succeed.  Last season’s NBDL champions, Asheville Altitude, led the league in 3-point percentage at 35.4%.  Would they have the championship without the success of their 3-point shooting?   

It is important to note that the rule will no affect the NBA for this season.  This is a not a rule for consideration in the NBA and has never been discussed by the competition committee, said Jackson. 

Jackson said data would be reviewed after the NBDL season to assess what impact the rule had on mid-range jumpers, offensive coaching strategies and overall field-goal percentages.

In my opinion, this rule should never reach the NBA.  Could you imagine how successful teams like Sacramento (40.1%) and Dallas (34.8%), who are very dependent on the 3-point shot, would fare? 

Much fault from the low field goal percentage, and ever-reliant 3-point shooting, can be traced back to the NCAA college game, the true NBA developmental league, seeing that this is the source where virtually all NBA players are derived from.    

The current 3-point line stands at 19 feet 9 inches (compared to the NBA’s 23 feet, 9 inches).  With the closer distance, many college offenses over-rely on the 3-point shot as their strategy.  The NBA game does not revolve around passing the ball around the 3-point arc, as the college game does.  And the drawn-in 3-point line inflates the offensive abilities of many college players.  Then when these guys get to the NBA, without the security blanket of the 19’9" 3-point line, they suddenly have to learn how to pick and pass and move creatively. Some, obviously, don’t have this ability.  This is one of the factors contributing to the NBA’s stationary, static game. 

This is not meant as a diss to the college game, one that I find more enjoyable and entertaining than the NBA.  If the NBA wants to improve its level of play, then there surely are better ways to do that, rather than eliminating the 3-pointer for the majority of the game.  Much of today’s low scoring can be attributed to the lackluster free-throw shooting displayed by its players.  What is the NBA going to do about that?  Will they move in the line so that free throw scoring increases?  No – that would be ridiculous, but I could at least justify that move more so than its new experimental rule.  At least, by moving in the free point line, it might deter fouling, which would increase the fluidity of the game – making it more entertaining.     

ABOUT THE FAN:

Name: Phillip R. Shoemaker

Age: 32

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Occupation: Teacher

Favorite Team: (now) New York Knicks

Favorite Former Player: Willis Reed

Favorite Current Player: Kenyon Martin, Denver Nuggets

Most Hated Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Most Hated Player: Darius Miles, Portland Trailblazers  

Prediction for Eastern Champs: Indiana Pacers  

Prediction for Western Champs: Denver Nuggets

Prediction for NBA Champs: Denver Nuggets

 
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