The nature of basketball is rapidly changing, as teams around the NBA are relying more on their outside game for offense than ever before.
One examination around the league and you’ll see that the proof is just about everywhere you’ll look (via New York Times):
“Consider that 23 percent of all the field goals attempted by 7-footers through Wednesday’s games were 3-pointers, an increase from 14.6 percent last season and 8.9 percent in 2015-16. Less than 1 percent of 7-footers’ shots were 3-pointers as recently as 2000-01, according to NBA Advanced Stats.”
The aforementioned profile in the New York Times focused on Timofey Mozgov, recently acquired by the Brooklyn Nets. But the examples don’t stop there.
Nikola Vucevic, a 7-foot big man for the Orlando Magic, has suddenly developed a three-point shot and is now taking 4.8 attempts from long distance per game. His previous career-high was just 1.0 per game.
Since entering the league, New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis has increased his three-point attempts per game each season. This year, he is currently sitting at 5.0 per game – an improvement over the 3.4 per game rate from when he was a rookie.
Lauri Markkanen, the rookie for the Chicago Bulls who’s often compared to Porzingis, has come into the NBA dependent on his three-point game. He is currently averaging 7.5 attempts per game and is shooting from downtown with 40 percent accuracy. Markkanen attempts just 5.3 two-pointer per game.
New Orleans Pelicans sharpshooter Buddy Hield has taken just one more three-point attempt than Memphis Grizzlies big man Marc Gasol. Even though Hield was drafted as a long-distance threat while Gasol is a player heralded for his 7-foot-1 frame, Gasol has been more accurate as well.
These players help spread the floor and also present challenges to opposing defenses on pick-and-roll opportunities. It’s why players like Markkanen and Porzingis have become the faces of their big-market franchises – and why we will continue to see more players like them in the near future.