The Clippers, Nets, Jazz, Nuggets and Bucks, as of the writing of this article, are the top-five teams in the NBA in three-point percentage. Two of those teams — the Nets and the Jazz — are in first place in their respective conferences. All in all, they combine for a 133-70 record and are all seemingly playoff shoo-ins.
Coincidence? I think not. Take a look at the three teams at the bottom in three-point percentage: the Rockets, Cavaliers and Wizards. They combine for a 41-78 record. Sinking threes leads to wins in today's NBA, and it's a pretty open secret. There are exceptions to this rule, in rare occasions. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers, who are out to a 28-13 start (tied for first with Nets) and have gotten to where they are, in part, thanks to Daryl Morey's decision-making, but no so much due to their reliance on the long ball.
Morey joined "The Rights to Ricky Sanchez" with 94WIP's own Spike Eskin, co-host Mike Levin, and author Hugh Howey to discuss the three-point shot's impact on the league and his expectations for how the NBA may adapt to the ever-increasing power of the three.
"A three-pointer is such a devastating shot, especially if it's a high percentage shooter," Morey said, adding that he thinks it may be creating a one-dimensional game. "I don't think it's less aesthetically pleasing, but I think as someone who's really into games and winning in general... you can tell a game that's not well-structured is when there's only like one path to victory. Everyone knows it, and you know, we're getting there in the NBA."
As I previously mentioned, the Sixers are a slight exception to that rule, seeing as they rank 13th in three-point percentage and attempt the third lowest amount per contest.
"...We have two of the elite — out of maybe like seven in the NBA — people inside the three-point arc," Morey said. "If you have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and even Tobias (Harris) who's an elite sort of 15-foot-and-in player, you know, you can still win that way, but it's just so rare.
"There's so many more people who can shoot threes wide open than there are who can be efficient 15 feet and in. So... it's just too big of a bonus, right? You wanted the three pointer so people would have to space the floor and get more dynamic play, which has worked, but they just gave it too much, you know. It should be two-and-a-half (points), I mean that's really the bottom line."
You can dig even deeper into the three-point shot and find yet another advantage, as Howey brought up: the corner three. According to NBA.com's official statistics, the Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz — both first-place teams — are the only teams so far with a non-corner three-point percentage above 39 percent. However, half of the league shoots the corner three-pointer at 39 percent or higher. Evidently, it's a little bit easier.
So will the league do something about it?
"I expect that to happen," Morey said. "...A corner three is basically the same as getting a rim shot, a medium-guarded rim shot, which is sort of insane when you factor in fouls and everything else. So yeah, it's too big of a positive.
"I mean, I would be fine if we could reconstruct arenas, having the court be wider, push the line back and keep the corner three. Well, it's just you'd have to change out arenas and... I mean, it would take like 25 years."
Could we realistically see the 76ers' Wells Fargo Center turn into the NBA equivalent of the Red Sox' Fenway Park, with its incredibly short 302-foot right field fence? Or could Trae Young request that the Hawks' State Farm Arena ask for a Wrigley Field-esque corner extension so he can flex his limitless range?
Whether they customize the distance, eliminate the corner three altogether, or keep it exactly the way it is, it's an interesting thought experiment and debate that could alter the game in a big way.