There’s been much talk recently about the three point shot and it’s effect on the game of basketball. I’ve heard some conversation about it ruining the sport as we know it and more specifically that the success of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry will hurt developing players at the high school level.
The Warriors are last year’s NBA champions and currently are on pace to put together the best regular season record in league history. Saturday night Curry led the Warriors to an improbable come-from-behind overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, and yes did so with a heavy dose of the three-ball. Curry tied a record for made threes in a game with 12, and broke his own record for made threes in a season, surpassing the mark of 285 makes with 24 games remaining on the schedule.
Curry is arguable the best shooter ever to step on an NBA court, and his incredible handle frees himself for open looks from behind the arc, with many releases coming from well behind the arc as did last night’s winning bomb one dribble past mid court. It’s a beautiful thing to watch greatness and you know Curry’s ability has captured the attention of every high school player working on their game. Over the last few generations players wanted to emulate Dr. J, Larry or Magic, and of course “be like Mike”. For the past two seasons all eyes have been on Steph.
With that in mind I took a look at our Section II boys basketball teams and the impact the three pointer has on overall scoring. I looked at made threes for all 90 teams, total points for those teams, and the percentage of points scored coming from made threes. I did the same for the top five section II scorers this season,and the top five Wasaren scoring leaders to see how much of their point production came from behind the arc.
In regards to the 90 Section II teams the average number of made threes overall was 108 per team. Fifty four squads knocked down 100 or more from deep, with Argyle and their 265 makes leading the pack. The percentage of points scored coming from three pointers, for all 90 teams, averaged out to 28.2%.
Below you’ll find the top five teams for made threes in Section II and how much of a factor the 3-ball figured into their nightly scoring.
Team Total Points Made 3’s % of points from 3’s
Hudson 1926 148 23.1%
Argyle 1847 265 43.0%
Glens Falls 1677 184 33.0%
Mekeel Christian 1674 244 43.7%
Shenendehowa 1602 232 43.4%
Here’s a breakdown of all eight Wasaren teams and how the three pointer impacted their scoring.
Stillwater 1364 140 30.8%
Mechanicville 1242 93 22.5%
Hoosick Falls 1216 139 34.3%
Cambridge 1190 73 18.4%
Granville 1141 115 30.2%
Tamarac 1058 81 23.0%
Greenwich 1048 145 41.5%
Hoosic Valley 1024 88 25.8%
Next came the top five scorers in the section with their total points scored, threes made, and the percentage of their total points that came from the long ball.
Player Total Points Made 3’s % from threes
Joe Girard III 813 122 49%
Chris Boucher 783 106 45%
Kobe Lufkin 754 123 40.6%
Tyler Matteson 559 29 15.6%
Mitchell Wayand 558 78 42%
Here’s the same breakdown but with the top five Wasaren scorers;
Mitchell Wayand 558 78 42%
Connor McCart 399 15 11.3%
Matt Fuller 347 45 39%
Evan Dunn 345 38 33%
Jared D’Aloia 319 45 42.3%
While that’s a lot of numbers, here are a couple quick observations. The average percentage of points coming from made 3’s for all 90 Section II squads was 28.2%. Yet three of the top five scoring teams saw 43% of their points come 3’s, and a fourth scored 33% of their points from behind the arc.
The impact of the long ball was more prevalent in individual scoring. Four of the top five scorers in the section saw 40%-49% of their points come from three pointers, while four of the top five point producers in the Wasaren used the 3-ball for 33%-42% of their points.
Now we know you can make numbers say almost anything you’d like but it’s a fact that four of the top five scoring teams in the section used the 3-pointer for a high percentage of their points. Yet at the very top, the Hudson Blue Hawks who averaged over 80 points per contest saw just 23% of those points come from behind the arc.
Good coaches recognize if they have a player or players proficient from behind the arc, and will create opportunities for them with the payoff being three points per rip. It’s a weapon that players and teams need to embrace if they can can knock down shots from distance.
But developing quality post players, pounding the offensive glass, or turning teams over and scoring in transition are other ways of putting points on the board. Just ask undefeated Section II Class B champion Hudson.
In short all sports, just like society in general evolve over time. Does the NFL look like it did 20 years ago, or how about Major League Baseball where soon we’re likely to see pitch clocks in stadiums forcing pitchers to work more quickly.
We should all enjoy Stephen Curry and his skill set, but in no way is he hurting players at the high school level by the way he plays the game. Smart players and teams will continue to work on their entire skill set, and realize what works best for them as an individual and more importantly as a team. If that includes the ability to shoot from long range, go get it, but anyone paying attention understands that the three point shot in this great game of basketball, is simply one piece of the pie.