In February of 2016, Golden State’s Stephen Curry appeared routine when he pulled up and nailed a 3-point jump shot in overtime to beat Oklahoma City. There was nothing routine about it. Curry’s 3-pointer came from 37 feet away and began a revolution of sorts.
In the 2013-14 season, a midrange jump shot was more than twice as likely as a deep 3-pointer, one classified as from beyond 26.75 feet. When Curry hit the shot that beat the Thunder in 2016, there were only 3.2 deep 3-pointers being shot per game. Four seasons later, that number is amazingly different.
NBA shooters are launching 8.8 deep 3-point shots per game this season. That’s an increase of 275 percent from the 2013-14 season. The long-range 3-pointer has become almost commonplace.
Last year in the first round of the NBA playoffs, Portland’s Damian Lillard released possibly the most iconic 3-pointer of the season. It was an unassisted 37-foot jumper that served to end the Trail Blazers series with Oklahoma City and send the Thunder home.
Lillard and Curry are two of the best long-range snipers in the game. For Lillard, the long 3-pointer is something he has honed over the years with trainer Phil Beckner. It started with a makeshift 4-point line and progressed to a drill known as the Celtic 50.
To complete the drill, a player must make 10 shots from five different spots around the 3-point arc. The best score, of course, is 50 with no misses at all. Shooting 50 percent with 20 attempts would give a shooter a score of 100. Like golf, lower scores are better.
The best of the best can usually shoot a 60. Lillard scores 60 95 percent of the time and his record is 52. Now, he is closing in on that record from the 4-point line. Others will almost certainly follow as the deep 3-pointer becomes the wave of the future.