December 31, 2013

Why not a 4-point line in the NBA?

Over at ESPN's Grantland site, Zach Lowe has a good, in-depth piece about how NBA teams (for the most part) are moving ever more toward 3-ball offense. And, it makes sense. The simple math says that a 3-ball at a 36-percent shooting accuracy is like shooting a 2 with 54 percent accuracy, and you have to be inside 17 feet, maybe a bit closer, to do that with a 2. So, shoot away is sound coaching, if you've got a team that can shoot the 3 that well.

But, not everybody likes this.

Lowe also notes some folks, like Stan Van Gundy and Billy King, are worried about this trend (as if Billy King actually has much idea of success in the NBA or how to get there), and how they and others are suggesting possible remedies.

One of them is to make the current field goal worth 3 and the current 3-ball worth 4, but Lowe notes that would diminish free throws and lead to Hack-a-Shaq late in games, at least if non-shooting fouls under such scenarios only got two free throws. (Or slow the game dreadfully if they drew three free throws, and make the whole process worse.

My alternative?

Don't make 3-pointers worth 4. Go one better.

Add a 4-pointer on top of the 3, and make Antoine Walker's dreams come true. Walker famously said "there are no fours" when asked why he jacked up so many 3-balls, a sentiment backed by actions that got him on Deadspin's NBA Shit List.

I'd consider moving the 3-line in from its current 23-9 if we did this. Probably not all the way to the 22-0, matching the corners, as the David Stern League did briefly in the mid-’90s, but maybe 22-6, or if not, 23-0.

Then set the 4-pointer at, say, 26-0. Maybe 27-0. But no further out. We want the 4-ball to have about 25 percent accuracy for top shooters, making it the equivalent of a 2-ball at 50 percent. Maybe a bit lower, but no lower than 22 percent. I don't want the 4-ball to become a temptation away from 3s, but I want it, if this seems wise, to be a halfway legitimate shot, and not just a lucky freak.

And Mr. Logo, Jerry West, is probably wishing he was balling in this league. If he played just with the 3 an option, he'd have scored 30,000 for sure. With this, and him actually chucking a few 4s, and having more room for 3s, he might have hit 35,000.

I mean, the league could at least try this in preseason for the next year or two and see how it flies, so to speak.

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