Improve the Game Without Changing the Game: Putting the 4-point line at half court
Improve the Game Without Changing the Game: Putting the 4-point line at half court
“Curry, way downtown! Bang!”
Stephen Curry’s insane game winner from 32-feet to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, was not just the biggest highlight from this past season, but also a microcosm of a very common argument amongst NBA fans today: that there should be a 4-point line.
When the three-point line was established in 1979, teams barely even strategized for it. Now, in today’s NBA, and especially with the rise of the current Golden State Warriors era, the three-pointer is more significant than it has ever been. Teams are hitting and attempting three-pointers at historical rates in recent years, with more three-point records being broken by more and more teams as each year passes. The 24.1 threes attempted per game this past season was the highest rate all-time. Working to stop, create, and take three-pointers can now be considered as one of the most crucial basketball strategies in the game today.
In the NBA, the three-point line is 23 feet, and 9 inches away from the basket straight up, and 22 feet away at the corners. This by itself is a challenge, considering the league overall 3-point field goal percentage this past season was 35.4%. However, despite this percentage, many fans plea for the addition of a four-point line, calling for players to be awarded an additional point for making shots, within a range of 6-10 feet behind the 3-point line. Imagine what a 4-point line would do to the NBA, if the addition of the three-point line changed the way we treat basketball dramatically.
If a 4-point line was established, there would be a very high value in attempting, and focusing on these shots. Obviously, players would start training for that. Floors would be even more spread, and defenses would be even more challenged. The players in the NBA are the most talented, hardworking athletes in the world. If you give them a goal of a 4-point line, they will work to make themselves good at it. Now, how will the game look with players camping out 10 feet behind the normal three-point line in the NBA? Basketball legend, and current TNT color commentator, Reggie Miller, said it best,
“It’s comical. The league will be a laughingstock, and I will be in front of the line laughing the loudest. Why are we always trying to change and adjust the game? I just think a four-pointer would be a gimmick.”
A gimmick is right. Yes, it would be entertaining to hear Mike Breen yell, “Stephen Curry for the win, FROM FOUR!” But, would it be the best form of basketball to watch as teams spread the floor even more? However, if the line is added, there is no stopping players from attempting these shots at large clips, as another NBA legend, Larry Bird proved,
“Every ten, twelve, fifteen years, there’s something new coming in. You put that four-point line in there and people will start practicing. And once they start practicing, they get better at it.”
Yes, it would surely become a common thing. As stated, players now on the overall shoot 35% from three-point range. Seeing players launch shots from even further out there at a four-point line, with even less accuracy cannot be good for the overall watch-ability of the NBA. The four-point line being added at a do-able distance seems unnecessary and something that could seriously deteriorate the overall aesthetic of the NBA game today. I do believe there should be a four-point line; however, not in the typical way that so many fans beg for.
Here’s my plea for the NBA, and commissioner Adam Silver. The half-court line on the NBA court should be a 4-point line. If a player makes a shot behind half-court, they should be awarded four points. There are many reasons why I believe this would be great overall for the players, the fans, and the overall NBA product.
First off, the NBA is for the fans. Everything that comes about, all the rule changes, all the pressure to keep as many games as possible, keep competition up, and drive more and more stars to arise is merely for the pure enjoyment for the large NBA fan base. Many times during NBA games, players just don’t attempt the full-court of half-court heaves at the end of a quarter or game. The reasons for doing so are countless, whether it be a player not wanting to lessen their field goal percentage, a player thinking there be no point in shooting the ball, or just general thoughts on the shot not being worth it. It is so aggravating as a fan to watch these players just hold the ball at the end of a quarter and wait for the buzzer to signal the end of the quarter, when they could have just tried to make a half-court shot. Even if the shot doesn’t go in, as a fan, watching these stars shoot these long heaves down the court is extremely entertaining. And when they go in, fans go crazy. These shots are some of the most entertaining feats in basketball. Fans absolutely adore watching someone jack up a shot from 80 feet, especially when it is someone who is not known to be a shooter, and watching it miraculously go into the basket. It is a true thing of beauty. Having these desperation shots be worth an additional point would definitely increase the amount of attempts at the ends of quarters of these huge shots, reducing those awkward moments when these athletes just hold the ball and wait out the buzzer. Also, in the player’s perspectives, having this shot count as 4-pointers would mean that they wouldn’t decrease their three-point field goal percentage, as there would definitely be a separate statistical category for four-pointers. Hence, more of these attempts would go up, and players no longer avoid taking these shots at the end of quarters, it is astronomically better for the overall entertainment value of the game.
Having the 4-point line behind this far back, at half-court would definitely not negatively impact the game, and its overall beauty and spacing that is there today. Players wouldn’t be strategizing to take 4-point shots in normal live game sets, as opposed to if the 4-point line was placed a little further than the three-point line. The three-pointer that we have today would still be running the show on the basketball court. The game will be the same, and how the game is right now today, is at its peak. Ratings are better than ever, the salary cap is expected to rise to historical levels, and really take command as compared to the other main sports leagues today. The NBA Finals this year and last are some of the most watched basketball games ever, comparing to, and even some games beating, games in the Michael Jordan era. The game is perfect right now, and adding a 4-point line at around 30 feet would definitely be an unnecessary overreaction to a current trend, which would decrease the value of the game today. However, the insurance of a four-point line being at half-court, will not change the function of the game in any way; it will just provide a better chance for scoring more points in the best way that fans like it: crazy long distance buzzer-beating heaves. Lastly, it gives teams more of a chance in close, down to the wire ball games. When teams are down by 4, with very little time left, opposing defenses often let up, and allow teams to take an open three to avoid fouls, and allow the game to be over, even if the offense is able to hit an open three. Now, if this rule was implemented, teams would have a better chance to come back in these games, and have a chance to tie or even take the lead on a long-distance heave to end the game.
All in all, there are no disadvantages to putting a 4-point like behind half-court, as it will be more favorable for players to attempt these end-of-quarter shots, it would be significantly more entertaining to fans, as more of these long-distance shots will go in, and it gives teams a chance to come back into games late on miraculous shots. All this, without needing to change up the court, redefine expectations for anyone trying to learn and develop as a basketball player, nor completely ruining the beautiful court-spacing and style of play that we have in the game today.
I can see it now. Everyone thinks the game is over, as the away team is down by 4, with just 2 seconds to go and no time-outs:
“The baseline inbound. He throws up a heave at the buzzer, from 90-feet! Bang! Overtime!”