The NBA's decision to restore the three-point line to its
original distance (established in 1979) of 23'9" at the top of
the arc, after three seasons at 22'0", should deter some
deep-threat wannabes from launching a trey whenever the urge
strikes. Here's who should keep shooting, who should proceed
with caution and who should stop.
GREEN LIGHT. Hornets swingman Glen Rice probably won't shoot
47.0% from three-point range again, as he did last year while
leading the league in long-distance accuracy, but he was around
38.6% in the four seasons before the line moved in. Pacers guard
Reggie Miller and forward Chris Mullin have hit 40% from the
longer distance. Bulls guard Steve Kerr was a 44.5% shooter over
six seasons from behind the deeper line. The Heat's trio of
swingman Keith Askins and guards Tim Hardaway and Voshon Lenard
can expect to come close to replicating last season's
performance--they combined to make 37.8% of their attempts as
Miami led the NBA in threes made--because they do much of their
damage from the corners, where the shot is a 22-footer.
YELLOW LIGHT. Trail Blazers point guard Kenny Anderson was 35.0%
on an average of 305.3 attempts per season during the closer-arc
era, but 29.4% on just 56.7 tries when the line was more
distant. Rockets guard Clyde Drexler hit a respectable 35.2% of
his threes with the line in but is only a career 29.2%
three-point shooter from behind the farther stripe.
RED LIGHT. The move back could be unkind to Suns guard Kevin
Johnson. Last year he was third in the league in three-point
shooting, at 44.1%. But according to former Bulls gunner John
Paxson, a TV analyst with Chicago, "he's someone you never
worried about at the three-point line when it was farther out."
For good reason: Johnson never shot better than 22.2% from the
longer distance. Johnson's new teammate Cliff Robinson averaged
36.6% at the shorter distance, compared with 25% at the longer.
Others who could have a tough time backing up include Wizards
forward Chris Webber (0% from 23'9" versus 34.8% from 22'0"),
his teammate guard Calbert Cheaney (4.3% versus 32.5%), and
SuperSonics point guard Gary Payton (21.0% versus 31.5%).
November 10, 1997
One player who probably won't be affected much by the move is
Rockets forward Charles Barkley. Sir Charles, who puts the chuck
in chucker, averaged 199 three-point attempts and made 28.9% of
them in his last two seasons at the longer distance, then
averaged 200 attempts and hit 30.2% with the stripe in. No
matter where the league draws the line, Barkley will take--and
miss--too many treys.