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Winderman: Summer shows love of the three not NBA fad

Aug 9, 2012, 11:29 AM EDT

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Well, this was quite unexpected, but apparently we’ve arrived in the summer of three love.

It started with the Heat dropping a championship-winning barrage of 3-pointers on the Thunder in the deciding game of the NBA Finals, Mike Miller somehow displaying anguish and rapture at the same time while hobbling from arc to arc on that late-June evening.

It has continued with a shoot-’til-you-drop approach from the U.S. Olympic team, which has been on a record-setting pace from beyond the shorter international circle.

And now, as the final coaching vacancy of the offseason is filled, Terry Stotts arrives in Portland with the proclamation that the 3-point line will stand among the lines of attack for his Trail Blazers.
And to think, only months ago, many, apparently including Dwight Howard, were deriding the Magic’s approach of loading up from beyond the circle.

Then again, among the offseason’s biggest moves was the Heat, already armed with the longball from Miller, Shane Battier, James Jones and Mario Chalmers, opting not to go for needed size, but instead for a pair of all-time 3-point marksmen in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

Nearly as surprising, at least in terms of dollars, was Ryan Anderson‘s shift from the Magic to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, a power forward coveted for his 3-point range.

This isn’t to say that coaches won’t continue to stew when the attempts from beyond the arc outnumber the attempts from the foul line.

But when the likes of Mike Krzyzewski, the somewhat stodgy Trail Blazers and the very stodgy Heat are approving of offense from distance, the Mike D’Antoni and Stan Van Gundy fad of recent years, even in their coaching absences, appears to have morphed into a full-fledged trend.

From an aesthetic standpoint, there is plenty to be said about the 3-pointer. Arguably, the most exciting plays in the game are the 3-pointer and the dunk. With the spacing provided by the 3-pointer, the dunks often follow, as witnessed by the Heat’s performance in the NBA Finals and much of USA Basketball’s play in the Olympics.

Inevitably, coaches will get back to talking about grinding and defense, because that’s what they always do, a controlled game perceived as a better-coached game.

But this offseason has presented possibilities for something really fun, something that should be given the opportunity to endure.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Aug 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    It’s not so much relying on 3 point shooting as it is prioritizing floor spacing.

    That’s why the Heat not playing a true center in the Finals was key.
    Bosh is a power-forward with one of the best mid-range jump shots in the game, and he has worked on improving his 3 point shot.
    With Bosh as a 3-point shooting Center dragging away Perkins/Ibaka from the basket and using Shane Battier and Mike Miller as established 3-point shooters gives LeBron space to operating in the post and Wade space to drive to the basket. Because LeBron and Wade are willing and able passers, the defense helping off of Battier/Milller/Bosh leads to a pass to a wide-open 3 point shooter. And if the defense stays on the 3 point shooters, you have LeBron and Wade operating in the paint with space.

    • eventhorizon04 - Aug 9, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      On the flipside, one of the issues with the Lakers is their lack of quality shooters.

      You have Gasol and Bynum most effective within 8 feet of the basket, and Kobe relying more on his post game than his ability to effectively drive to the basket. That clogs things up in the paint.

      The Lakers tried to solve that by having Gasol take up residence 15 feet away from the basket as a jump shooter, but while he’s a competent jump shooter, he is most effective offensively shooting and passing from the low post. Unsurprisingly, Pau’s numbers took a tumble this year as he was forced to operate further from the basket.

      It’s not about relying on the 3 point shooters to score so much as relying on them to allow other guys more room to operate in the paint.

      • Kurt Helin - Sep 2, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        They have Steve Nash, who is a very good shooter, and will be counting on Jamison and Meeks off the bench.

  2. thestudiokida - Aug 9, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    So the Miami Heat are “opting not to go for needed size”? I might argue with the ‘needed’ part of that statement. They played their centers about 10 total minutes in the NBA Finals. They played forwards 764 of 1200 possible minutes. Seems to me they have a roster full of relatively tall, athletic guys that can matchup with big and small teams.

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