Enes Kanter doesn’t get in the game against Golden State and can’t run with Houston. Steven Adams didn’t evolve for the 2016-17 season and it seems like the Thunder are continually looking for a shooter and continually struggling guarding other teams’ shooters.
Meanwhile, Golden State shoots 3s from everywhere. Cleveland, too. The teams were in the top five in the league in attempts on 3-pointers in the regular season and have shot even more during the postseason.
All we hear about these days when it comes to the NBA is how the league is imbalanced, top-heavy with 20-plus teams essentially eliminated before the season even gets going.
Want to eliminate that imbalance? Tired of watching the Warriors meandering all around the 3-point line and the Cavs doing the same? Would you like to see the Thunder ascend to the same level they were at the previous half decade?
Well, something has to change then. Either the team is going to have to make a crazy, draft-day deal and hope it pans out, or trade for an All-Star player. Neither seem likely.
But that league, led by Adam Silver, the commish who said he’s not adverse to change, could fiddle with the one thing that’s killing the game. No, not Kevin Durant and super teams. The league could fix the 3-point issue.
Don’t move it back, that would only help Cleveland and the Warriors. Move it up. Make it closer. We could all be witnesses – to the re-birth of the mid-range jumper.
The Cavs and the Warriors have essentially bastardized the game to the point where it’s a game of who can get up more 3s (the two combined for 84 attempts in Game 4). The center position has become irrelevant and the Thunder’s strength (aside from Russell Westbrook) is, by all accounts, neutralized against the best teams in the league.
Move the line closer and Steph Curry isn’t near as useful and suddenly Andre Roberson, Victor Oladipo and a handful of other OKC players are. Sure, Curry and his teammates can still loiter like mall walkers from way deep and stretch the floor, and likely they’ll be more open than they are now, but there would be less value for that deep 3-pointer.
“I still hate it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said to CBS Sports a few years back. “I’ll never embrace it. I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing. But that’s just me, that’s just old-school. To a certain degree, you better embrace it or you’re going to lose. And every time we’ve won a championship, the 3-point shot was a big part of it. Because it is so powerful and you’ve gotta be able to do it. And nobody does it better than Golden State, and you know where they’re at. So it’s important. You can’t ignore it.”
There’s no need to completely eliminate the distance shot. There’s still important strategy in stretching the floor and looking for favorable matchups, but you can make the game more team-oriented, more well-rounded and less gimmicky if you move the line in.