TORONTO — It’s definitely not this reductive. But, fundamentally, NBA’s three-point revolution comes down to kindergarten mathematics. It is widely understood that three is more than two. Thus, if you’re a basketball team and you want to score a lot of points — often a prerequisite to winning games — you ought to try to score three of them as often as possible. It’s just more efficient. It gets you there faster.
Of course, it’s not so easy. Three-pointers are harder to hit than two-pointers. You’re pretty far from the basket. On the perimeter, it can be difficult to get open. There are a lot of really tall dudes throwing their really long arms and really big hands in your way. And shooting is a lot like hitting for a baseball player. Sometimes you get hot and can’t miss. And sometimes, for whatever reason, you lose your feel for it completely. It can be maddening.
But, these days, most NBA teams are willing to accept the increased degree of difficulty, and increased level of variance, for the increased reward when its going well. Everyone’s letting it rain. And if you’re hitting a decent percentage, you’re probably going to win more often than not. That’s not the only reason why the Toronto Raptors crushed the Brooklyn Nets Friday night, 122-105. But it’s one of them.
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When the NBA adopted the three-point line for the 1979-80 season, teams attempted only 2.8 three-pointers per game. A decade-and-a-half later, in the 1994-95 season, teams suddenly began attempting 15.3 per game — a more-than five shot increase on …read more