Warriors changed the game | Philstar.com
“Winning is having the whole team on the same page.” –Bill Walton
It goes against everything we were taught about playing basketball growing up. Getting closer to the basket gives a higher shooting percentage. The closer you are, the more likely you are to get an offensive rebound if you miss. The three-point shot is a gamble, and should only be taken when your team is behind and you’re running out of time. Even when the American Basketball Association incorporated the extra-point basket into its game, the National Basketball Association scoffed. It was a gimmick.
When the current team of film producers Peter Guber and Joe Lacob bought the Golden State Warriors with the backing of a group of investment bankers for a record $450 million in 2010, people laughed. The team wasn’t worth that much and hadn’t been within sniffing distance of a championship since their third title in 1975. It looked like bad business, until they went over the stats of the league with a fine-toothed comb, looking for something to use to their advantage. What they noticed was that the number of shots attempted from just inside the three-point line and just beyond were virtually the same. Because what seemed like a little extra risk was a 50% greater reward. If you made half of your regular field goals and only 40% of your three-pointers, you would still be ahead. Even looking at the stats from 2021 (44.6% two-point field goal average and 34.2% three-point field goal average, the lowest of the last five years), you would still score more.
Golden State took the risk, trading their best player Monta Ellis, and decided that Steph Curry (who they drafted in 2009) would be a major player for them, pardon the pun. In 2011, the Dubs drafted Klay Thompson, and everyone who followed had to be able to play alongside Steph and Klay. The three-point shot was going to be their primary weapon. After Mark Jackson stepped down as head coach in 2014, Steve Kerr took over. Kerr had won five NBA titles as a player with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, and was an outstanding 3-point shooter.
To be fair, Golden State has had its issues. There was Thompson’s extended absence due to injury, the revolving door of players coming and going, health issues with Kerr and the move to a new arena. Yet, since they prioritized good people who are also good players, they managed to stay stable and consistently excellent. And they kept pulling out their bread and butter.
In the 2010–11 season, when the Warriors’ new front office took over, league-wide 3-point shooting was 22.2%. By 2020, it had risen dramatically to 39.2%. Regardless of volume, teams were now scoring 57% more from beyond the arc. Up front, the Warriors repeatedly broke 3-point shooting records. They have appeared in six NBA Finals and have just won their fourth championship under Kerr. According to CNBC, the franchise is now worth more than $5 billion, more than 11 times what it cost to acquire it in 2010. The non-traditional bet has paid off.