By Jeremy Wittert
I’m going to come clean from the start, I am no authority on the NBA, either historically or currently. What I am is a fan, an enthusiast and very opinionated, and that is what this will be… my opinion.
I find myself admitting here, that a team I despise, the Golden State Warriors (GSW), have been good for the NBA.
If you were to bump into me on the street and say “Hey! What do you think of the GSW?” I would firmly say “They suck!”
But this is not because of their skill, not because of their success, but as a team, and the way they gained that success. But I won’t go into that as that isn’t what this is about. What this is about is what they did differently in the 2014 – 15 season that they have since continued to do and what they continue to do very very well.
Up until the success of GSW, the saying went “live by the jump shot, die by the jump shot”. If you were to look at a breakdown of the stats of the GSW and compare that to any other team in that first successful 2014-2015, it would show something very interesting, and that is how many 3-pointers they take, and more importantly, make. The GSW did, and do, one thing more consistently and better than any other team, and that is 3-pointers (with Steph Curry smashing the record for most threes made in a season in 2015).
As I referenced earlier, jump shots, e.g. 2-pointers, were the most common shot (other than perhaps a layup). The Warriors changed this. They made high volume three pointers part of the game. They combined a percentage three point shooters, with a very high paced, agile team full of high-quality shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and the GSW had a recipe for success like no other team had. This success has clearly proven to be effective by their success and I dare even say domination of the NBA in recent years.
This leads me perfectly onto my next point, which is if you were to look at the stats for every NBA team this season compared to previous years, you would notice something very interesting, and that is a clear rise in 3-pointers, and play styles representative or in answer to what the GSW introduced (just look at the highest volume three shooting team: the Rockets).This has also further been displayed by the decline in win % during the regular season for the GSW this season compared to the past two.
Further to this point, when you look at some of the best players in the NBA right now, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Paul George, just to name a few, have all become dominant 3-point shooters (if they weren’t already). The NBA has shifted from what was once almost exclusively a close quarters game with Shaq and Chamberlain, to what is now a far more diverse set of play styles with the three being a dominant feature.
This progression of play styles has given way to a whole new generation of All-Stars. For me, the past few seasons watching the dominance of GSW with their (at times) perfection of the three point era has left me sad and bored with the NBA. But with other teams following this make up (look to Houston and Atlanta Hawks), this will very soon become the base line of the NBA and create a whole new viewing experience, that will help continue to keep basketball interesting and fun!