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Magic Johnson: ‘If I don’t see another 3-pointer from a Laker team, I’ll be happy’

Aug 1, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

Byron Scott, Magic Johnson, Mitch Kupchak Byron Scott, Magic Johnson, Mitch Kupchak

Mike D’Antoni likes 3-pointers. His run-and-gun Lakers attempted 2,032 shots from beyond the arc last season, a franchise record.

Magic Johnson dislikes D’Antoni. Johnson publicly celebrated the former Lakers coach losing his job.

Therefore, apparently using the transitive property, Johnson has convinced himself he dislikes 3-pointers.

Johnson, via Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times:

"The team is better than what we had last season, because we have more guys who can do more things than just shoot 3-pointers," said Johnson.  "If I don’t see another 3-pointer from a Laker team, I’ll be happy."

The Lakers actually shot pretty well on 3-pointers last year, making 38 percent of their attempts, third-best in the NBA. It was the rest of their skills that caused them to go 27-55. Outside shooting was a bright spot.

But as he’s wont to do, Johnson is speaking from a place not rooted in the reality of the present.

See, he didn’t need 3-pointers to become the greatest point guard in NBA history. Among the top 15 guards by win shares since the NBA added the 3-point arc, Johnson ranks last in 3-pointers made, last in 3-pointers attempted and last in 3-point percentage.

So because he didn’t shoot 3-pointers, his beloved Lakers shouldn’t.

Or something.

The 2013-14 Lakers scored 114.3 points per 3-point attempt. Johnson’s teams never scored more than 110.2 points per 100 field-goal attempts, and the league-wide record on points per 100 shots is 110.8 (set by the Heat last year).

In other words, the Lakers were more efficient on 3-pointers last season than any team has ever been on all shots.


Of course, if the 2013-14 Lakers shot only 3-pointers, their efficiency would have dropped considerably. I’m in no way suggesting their outside shooting was the greatest offensive weapon in NBA history. But considering how well that shot stacks up with the production of all-time great offenses – even the five Johnson-led teams in the top 30 of points per shot – 3-point-attempts from the 2013-14 Lakers were incredibly valuable.

That’s just the way the league is changing. Players are better than ever from beyond the arc, and those attempts help space the floor for interior scorers. Now, 3-pointers are a double-edged sword, giving teams efficient points from long distance and setting them up for efficient interior scoring.

Future Lakers teams shouldn’t spurn outside shots due to a bad association with D’Antoni.

Not that I count on Johnson-approved Byron Scott to fall into such a trap.

Hopefully, Magic doesn’t turn on Scott for not being Phil Jackson, too.

  1. smackingfools - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Thought Magic was a Cippers guy?

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      Yes, Magic Johnson, they guy who won 5 championships and played 13 years, coached and owned the Lakers, is a Clippers guy.

      • 22yearsagotoday - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:27 PM

        Sarcasm appreciated.

  2. patfic5 - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    What could you do as coach, Magic? Nothing. Quit again?

  3. shaner329 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    I’m honestly kinda confused by this. So you’re comparing the Lakers points per 100 3-pt shots vs other team’s points per 100 shots. Wouldn’t this be skewed since 3-pointers count for more?

    • dinofrank60 - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      You can’t question the numbers; you’ll get in trouble!

  4. jadaruler - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Sorry Magic it’s a new day. If you can’t shoot the 3 you better play lights out defense like Indy did for 3/4 of the season.

    D’Antoni might not be a good coach, but you can’t give a chef rotten food and expect a 5 course meal.

    • dinofrank60 - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      And maybe the Lakers need to find players who can shoot the 3; that would help. Nash won’t and do you want Davis and Boozer shooting 3s?

    • urodaddy07 - Aug 2, 2014 at 12:38 AM

      Yeah but all they did was shoot threes, to the detriment of other parts of the game. My big problem with D’Antoni wasnt the threes though, it was the lack of D. He arrogantly said when he came to LA that the team should score 110 points per game. He failed to say how he would prevent teams from scoring more than 110. He also failed to prevent teams from actually doing just that.

  5. shanelsweet - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Yeah, maybe. But, maybe he just doesn’t want to see the Lakers jacking up a bunch of 3’s just because they made 38% last year. When’s the last time a team was near the top of the list in shooting 3’s and actually won? Never. But hey, if Laker fans want to see 3000 or 4000 outside jumpers, then it’s OK with me. I’m pretty sure if I was a Laker fan, though, I’d be listening to whatever Magic says about winning ’cause he’s got to know what a winning team looks like.

    • muhangis - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      To shanel:

      “….in shooting 3’s and actually won?”

      Won ‘what’ exactly? You can’t be so vague in your comments, and expect a direct answer.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:06 AM

      Miami was sixth in 3PA in 2012-13, while Dallas was fifth in 2010-11.

  6. lakerade - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    Magic was using a common communicative device of exaggeration for effect called hyperbole.

    Looking only at stats, three-pointers can look potent. In the context of an actual game, their effectiveness is fleeting, a welcome burst but not a real primary option, but one employed by teams out of neccesity, teams without the interior presence or penetration to get higher percentage shots, and more often. Winning basketball is played on both ends of the court, and constant three-point shooting leads to many more transition opportunities going the other way, as opposed to shots taken at the rim, which usually result in fewer long rebounds and more makes, anyway.

    The plan is for Kobe in the post, so any threes will be inside-out threes that flow more naturally in the course of an offensive sequence as it forces the defense to contract as the ball releases to open shooters. Going outside-in, or just outside, relies on establishing that range first, as opposed to getting a layup or fouled. Ultimately just preference, but if you’re going by numbers, all things being equal, you always pick higher percentage more often. Then once that is taken away, you go to a counter, perhaps an open rhythm three as opposed to one in transition or off the dribble.

    • muhangis - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      I buy some of what you said, but if you have a 40% 3 pt. shooter, that is a high % shot. For 3 pt. 40% = 2 pt. 60%, which is high.

      Also 3 pt. shots also leads to higher offensive reb. %

      …. due to deeper or more erratic bounces. Your transition argument I don’t buy much, cause the 3-shooter is automatically in deeper, better position to guard the break. As well, I don’t think there are more breaks off a missed 3-pt.’er, due to more time the O has to react by the ball being up in the air.

  7. sportsfan18 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM


    They were 3rd in the league at 38% from 3 last season.

    33% on 3’s is the same as 50% on 2’s (2 of 6 3 pointers is 6 points like 3 of 6 2 pointers is 6 points)

    Uh Magic, 38% on 3’s is the SAME as 57% on 2 point shots.

    NO team shoots 57% as a team for the season on 2 pt shots yet that’s what the Lakers equaled on 3’s last season.

    Oh, last point Lakers fans. The Lakers did that well from 3 pt land last season because Kobe did NOT play…

    Kobe CAN’T shoot 3’s ya’ll. His 3 pt shooting, most yrs only helps the worst or 2nd to worst 3 point shooting team in the league. All other teams his 3 percentage HURTS teams 3 point percentage.

    The Lakes will NOT be 3rd in the league again if Kobe plays all year again.

    • musician0785 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      more Kobe hate….couldn’t help yourself could u? When all else fails blame the guy who got 5 rings…..

      • billtetley53 - Aug 2, 2014 at 8:25 AM

        The above posting from muscian0785 has been brought to you by Kleenex and Midol.

      • musician0785 - Aug 3, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        Everywhere i post, here you go right behind me… a groupie…..i would love for you to explain how this is crying….

  8. csbanter - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Once again some of the anti-magic comments are misguided. He is the Lakers G.O.A.T which make him highly qualified to make suggestions. Ball movement see the San Antonio Spurs on how to do this. Magic 5 rings D’Antoni 0

    • patfic5 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:13 PM

      Greatest player? No. That’s Kobe. And I can’t stand Kobe. Plus he couldn’t have done any better last year.

      • longtallsam - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:59 PM

        I would take Kareem.

      • 22yearsagotoday - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:28 PM

        Wilt Chamberlain or Jerry West.

  9. genericcommenter - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    “The 2013-14 Lakers scored 114.3 points per 3-point attempt.”

    Wow, that’s like impossibly good.

    • therealhtj - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:30 PM

      All they had to do was take two of those babies, and they could’ve gone 82-0!

  10. twinfan24 - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    I’d love to see them never make another 3 pointer as well. They’d go 0-82

  11. caeser12 - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Remember when Magic successfully coached the Lakers to a respectable record?

    Me either.

    Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.

  12. muhangis - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    I get tired of Magic’s mouth often times. He rarely has anything actually insightful to say. He’s hating the 3, cause he couldn’t shoot the 3 himself, and thinks the Laker team shouldn’t shoot 3’s… how sad

  13. 00maltliquor - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    You’re my boy Blue…I mean Magic, but I’d be careful what you wish for. That’d be allllllll kinds of bad. You’re anger is a little bit misplaced.

  14. polarbearsquares - Aug 2, 2014 at 3:17 AM

    Maybe Magic Johnson has the right to say whatever he wants. He’s the greatest Laker to play the game (although he’s said that title belongs to Kobe) and one of the reason the NBA came back to prominence in the ’80s. He’s got skins on the wall. Before this website was being thought of he was breaking records, winning championships, breaking down barriers and bringing jobs to impoverished areas in L.A.

    So, you know, let’s give him a break.

    Also I’m quite sure most Laker fans would trade in a few wins for the three-point efficiency record. Hell, I’d trade in the emphasis on three-pointers for a few timely defensive rotations. That’s just me tho.

    • muhangis - Aug 2, 2014 at 4:46 AM

      That’s the same type of thinking, as…. he committed a major crime OH LET’S CATCH HIM A BREAK CAUSE HE’S A FAMOUS STAR ATHLETE…. [same damn *mindset] like get out of here, you fvkn serious???

  15. muhangis - Aug 2, 2014 at 4:39 AM

    So no, he doesn’t have the right to say whatever he wants. That’s outlandish! He has the same consequences as everybody else does there my friend.

  16. scoochpooch - Aug 2, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    3 pointer has ruined the game.
    Deduct 1 point for every miss and I’ll be back in.

  17. El Pollo Loco - Aug 3, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Worry about the dodgers magic

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