3s can be fool’s gold
When the 3-point shot was adopted by the NBA and later by the NCAA, it was viewed as a “great equalizer.” Suddenly little guys could answer back against dominant big guys like Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell.
Now, it appears, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction, especially in high school basketball.
Many teams in this area are living and dying by their 3-point shooting, jacking up 3 after 3, regardless of success.
You have probably heard someone use the phrase “shooter’s mentality.” It’s the mindset of good shooters who have learned to forget about their misses and keep firing with confidence. The problem is, that is a frame of mind that is supposed to be reserved for good shooters, and if you don’t hit at least 30 percent of your 3-point attempts, you’re not a good shooter.
The math is pretty simple. A 3-point field goal is worth 50 percent more than a 2-point field goal, so you don’t need to hit as many to achieve the same point total (crazy, right?). Here’s the important part, though, for 3-pointers to be worth attempting, you need to hit at least two for every three 2-point field goals you would have hit. Or you can look at it this way. If a team makes 40 percent of its 2-point field goal attempts (which is nothing special, even in high school), it needs to be able to hit 27 percent of its 3-pointers to justify attempting them.
Of course, it’s not as simple as breaking down the math. Knocking down 3-pointers can motivate a team and a crowd, they can force a defense to open up inside and they can swing momentum in a flash. Because of all of those benefits, 3-pointers can also be fool’s gold. They can lure players in to tossing them up over and over, while their opponent runs in layups and runs away with the game. And the further a team falls behind, the more it feels like it needs to shoot 3s. It’s a slippery slope.
Yes, 3-pointers have benefits, and yes, there is a place for sharp-shooters in high school basketball. But team’s need to stop living and dying by 3s. Let your fundamentals and your game plan carry you, and sprinkle the 3-pointers as needed.
Greg Crews is sports editor of The Duncan Banner.
He can be reached at 580-255-5354 or at