The NBA is at a crossroads and Adam Silver must address the declining quality of the NBA product. Silver is a forward thinking commissioner and has said he is open to ideas that improve the game. Mr. Silver, here is the solution: Increase the 3 point line to 27 feet. What is entertaining basketball? The golden era of basketball was the mid 80s to mid 90s, and it starts with the personalities. Jordan, Bird, Magic, the Bad Boy Pistons, remember when the Knicks were relevant? We spoke to Luke Kranzer of Fantasy Factor, a daily fantasy site that watches the NBA closely.
“Team strategy is dictated by the rules”, Kranzer explains, “Complex analytics show today’s desirable shots are free throws, layups, and 3 pointers, the least exciting aspects of the game. The goal should be incisive passing, players creating open mid-range jumpers, rewarding athleticism, and re-establishing the physical post-up game.”
The 3 point line was invented to spread the floor, and make the game more enjoyable to watch for fans. It worked, but the corrective pendulum has now swung too far and the 3 pointer is now destroying basketball. Only a Golden State Warrior fan enjoys run the floor, chuck a three, repeat. Boring. The 3 pointer was introduced in 1980, and has been tweaked a couple times (reduced to 22 feet for 3 years in the 90’s), so there is precedent for adjusting. 27 feet would reduce the 3 point attempts and bring back the battles in the paint. Kranzer points out, “unless a change is made now, the NBA will devolve into a 3 point contest.”
It should be at least 50% harder to make a 3. The field goal % of a mid-range jumper across the league is about 40% so the target success percentage for a 3 should be 20-30%, instead of the current 38%. Extend the arc by about 4 feet, to a uniform 27 feet, and that arc should be equidistant from the net, meaning no more corner 3’s.
Kranzer thinks that Lonzo Ball has the chance to become a great player and a big personality in the NBA. Ball has already drawn comparisons to Jason Kidd, someone who reached triple-doubles the old-fashioned way.
There were 18 triple doubles in the entire 1989-1999 season, about the NBA monthly average now. Westbrook had 42 last season. Westbrook is a great player, but at this rate he could end up with 200 triple doubles, eclipsing Oscar Robertson’s 181 and Magic’s 138. The triple double has been devalued. Fantasy Factor’s Kranzer notes, “Rebounds are easier than ever before as 3 point attempts crash off the rim and spill to shooting guards. And a kickout for a corner 3 counts as an assist. Come on.”
Increasing the arc to 27 feet would bring triple doubles back to earth, and give a boost to the play-makers, Lonzo Ball included. Lonzo has a long way to go yet and we’re watching and waiting. In fact, if you put Lonzo Ball in your NBA lineup and he gets a triple double, Kranzer says Fantasy Factor will pay you a $10 bonus. Also, if you have Westbrook or Harden in your lineup, they do not get a triple double and you miss the money, they will refund your entry fee.
However Fantasy Factor’s Kranzer is quick to point out that the explosion in triple-doubles and 3 point attempts is no joke, and he urges Adam Silver and the NBA to decide on acceptable levels of triple-doubles per season and 3 point FG attempts per game. He adds, “If you link the distance of the 3 point arc to those two metrics in a simple algorithm you would ensure balance and consistency in the NBA going forward.” It would also bring back basketball like it was meant to be played.