The Physics of the 3 Point Shot

So this title is a little misleading.  We aren’t giving a physics lesson on 3 point shooting.  When you want to learn that, go to the guys at the NOAH system and they’ll science you to death about the optimal entry angle, depth, etc.  They’ve captured millions of shots from all walks of life, so they have the data to back it up.

We’re going to talk about why they 3 point shot is widely accepted now, and the rise of analytics is not 100% the root.  It’s simpler than that, we think.  To steal a quote from Aubrey Marcus’ book, Own The Day, Own Your Life, “Physicist Max Planck famously said, ‘A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.'”

And that is what is happening in the coaching ranks.  10 years ago there were coaches who played at a time when there was no 3-pointer…at all.  Not a situation where there was a line, but it just didn’t count and everything was a 2…which we’re sure many grew up with.  And some of those names are the All-Time Greats!!  Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Larry Brown, Rick Adelman, Gregg Popovich…you get the point.

Our point, is that because they didn’t grow up with the 3 point line, they (always exceptions to the rules) never truly embraced it’s value.  And it’s easy to see why.  These legends beat the crap out of their colleagues for years and years by outscoring them with 2 pointers.  It’s easy to stay in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality when you’re winning titles.  We don’t fault that.

Fast forward to this season, and nearly every coach played with the 3 point line in college or professionally.  Pop, being an outlier, did not…but he’s really smart and has aged just as fine was the wine he imbibes…and has evolved with the times.  His teams 3 point shooting frequency has risen over the years and the slight variance from year to year usually is more dependent upon personnel than system.

Returning from that tangent to get the original point, more and more coaches that are influencing offensive schemes are native 3 point guys.  They grew up watching it on TV, hoisted them up every time they were in a gym, and used it as a real weapon when they played.  They’ve taken enough 3s in their life that they can’t yell at a player for shooting from deep.

That other cliche, “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile,” is also in effect here.  As soon as coaches (who shot 3s) gave players the green light to pull from deep, they’re seeing just how deep they can go.  If you don’t believe that, go watch LaMelo Ball play…or Steph Curry warm up.

It will be interesting to see who fills the open coaching spots in Orlando, New York, Charlotte, Phoenix, etc…While it would make sense for each team to embrace this style of play, especially considering the majority of NBA players are now shooting 3 pointers (and the population that will replace them in future years all shoot 3s), that may not happen.

Why?  Just as we noted with native 3 point coaches, not every decision maker is at that point…but, be patient basketball world.  The evolution has started, and natural selection is taking place.

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