The Duke Debates: 3-point shooting

Natalie Fiorilli and Julian Routh take opposing sides on one of basketball’s more hot-button topics: Is 3-point shooting good for the game?

AP Photo - Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left,  drives past Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Cleveland. The Warriors won 132-98.

AP Photo – Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, left, drives past Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Cleveland. The Warriors won 132-98

Perimeter game is necessary, fun

By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry, James Harden and Kevin Durant.

These current NBA stars all have a statistic in common: They lead the league in 3-pointers per game.

Some may argue that 3-point shooting is ruining the game by diminishing its physicality. In light of the Golden State Warriors’ surge in popularity, outside shooting is enhancing the game of basketball and the NBA.

Let’s face it; success in this category brings success on the court and with NBA fans when you put the 38-4 Warriors into perspective. Golden State is the most watched team in the entire league.

The Warriors lead the NBA in 3-pointers-per-game at 12.8 with help from the duo of Thompson and Curry, who combine for nearly eight per game. They also have career-highs of 11 in one game – 12 being the most in history.

Any 6-foot-8, 250 pound player, like LeBron James, can force his way through the paint, yet players like Curry can go .451 from beyond the arc and still manage a .499 2-point field goal percentage. James, a .556 shooter in 2-point range, on the other hand, can only put up a .294 average from beyond the arc, limiting the versatility of his game.

Post-play encourages the physical aspect of basketball that attracts some fans to watch; yet 3-point shooting promotes skill as opposed to size and athleticism.

Considering James’ 3-point ability, knocking down a three is not as easy as some NBA players make it look. While shooting from that range limits the contact between opponents, a nice shot from 3-point range can be a work of art.

At 185 pounds, Curry is definitely small in comparison to most of the players on the court, yet through practice, he has developed incredible accuracy. Curry and other 3-point shooters can be role models for the young fans who dream of playing in the NBA, despite their small stature.

The teams that competed in the 2015 NBA Conference Finals alone proved the importance of the 3-pointer; Cleveland, Atlanta, Houston and Golden State were the teams with the most 3-pointers made during the 2014-15 regular season.

The game is changing for certain, and teams must be able to produce from beyond the arc in order to reach the top of the standings.

AP Photo - Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) and Richard Jefferson (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Cleveland.

AP Photo – Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (2) and Richard Jefferson (24) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Cleveland.

More Physicality is Better Basketball

By Julian Routh | Editor-In-Chief

There was a pivotal sequence in the Chicago Bulls 1995-96 season that made people believe they were watching the greatest basketball team in the game’s entire history.

Down the stretch in a midseason showdown against the red-hot Orlando Magic, the Bulls repeatedly worked the ball inside against Shaquille O’Neal. It was a physical display of strength; electrifying dunks by Michael Jordan and nearly-impossible alley-oops to Scottie Pippen, made possible by Dennis Rodman’s rebounding clinic on the other end of the court.

The crowd at United Center was invigorated. This was old school basketball at its finest.

Oh, how times have changed.

New school basketball — embodied by Steph Curry and the 38-4 Golden State Warriors — has proven to be greatly effective, but perpetually boring. Teams live and die by the 3-point shot, a contrast that isn’t fun to watch either way.

In Monday night’s marquee matchup (or snooze fest) between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State attempted 40 3-pointers. Forty. The strongest showing of physicality wasn’t in the paint, but when LeBron James gently pushed Curry to the floor 25 feet from the bucket. Yawn.

But, as it goes, the Warriors dismantled the Cavs like they’ve done to teams all season – with a shoot-first mentality. Only 43 games into the season, Golden State has attempted almost as many 3-pointers as the ’95-’96 Bulls did all season, and more than twice as many as the famous ’86-’87 Los Angeles Lakers. Those were exciting teams to watch.

It’s obvious that the Warriors have mastered the art of shooting, which is a requirement to win in the NBA anymore. Even the Gregg Popovich-led Spurs needed the 3-point shot to win their title in 2014. And there’s no disputing that Curry is a remarkable talent, the likes of which basketball fans have never seen before.

But there’s a reason why fans packed the seats to watch Jordan, Wilt, Magic, Kareem and LeBron, and not Steve Kerr and Dale Ellis.

Basketball was meant to be a physical game. It was meant to be a struggle for position. A fight near the basket. A race to the inside. A war between the NBA’s strongest men.

It wasn’t meant to be a game won from 25 feet away.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!