Is the NBA getting too boring? For legendary coach of the Bulls and Lakers Phil Jackson, the answer is yes. Unlike college basketball, NBA games are increasingly dominated by offense. This creates energy that fans like, but it can also lead to blowout games that don’t keep spectators engaged.
The answer? Add a new scoring option to the court. Instead of just the typical field goal and three-point shot, Jackson and other supporters of a more dynamic NBA suggest a four-point line be added. How would the game change if we saw this idea come to reality?
How Long for Four?
The current NBA regulation basketball court is 94 feet lengthwise and 50 feet wide. In this arrangement, it’s about 24 feet from the hoop to the existing three-point line. The three-point line has moved a few inches over the course of the league’s existence, but it’s a shot players are now comfortable with. Just look at Steph Curry’s remarkable 43 percent career average.
What distance is fair for a four-point shot? The number Jackson has thrown out is 35 feet from the baseline. The hoop is located 4 feet in from the baseline, so that makes a four-point shot a 31-foot jumper, or about 6 feet deeper than the current three-pointer.
Support for the four is anything but unanimous. Another legend, Larry Bird, has expressed approval for the idea, claiming that the game has to evolve and players will improve at distance shots once the new rule is implemented.
Famous three-point ace Reggie Miller disagrees, calling the new shot a gimmick. Even though players currently practice the three religiously, there are only about 10 current stars who can consistently connect from 24 feet, says Miller. What’s next, a half-court shot?
Changing the Game
All parties agree that by implementing this new idea, the NBA would affect the on-court dynamic in games. Defenses would need to respect players with the ability to shoot for four, which would result in a more spread-out court.
Passing would also be stretched out. You would have more opportunities for low-post players to create one-on-one situations, but also more difficulty moving the ball. It would force teams to be surgical in their ball movement and use a more layered approach to offense. Defenses would have to rely on their baseline players to handle power forwards and centers on their own.
Should the NBA Do It?
We think it’s worth a try… in summer league. After all, you can collect all the feedback you want from pundits like Miller and Bird, but the only way to truly see how the rule will play out is to implement it. They moved the three-point line for a season and then changed it back, so there’s no reason the NBA can’t try this new rule out and abandon it if it’s a positive influence.
The four-point shot could be a gimmick, but we won’t know unless we see how the game evolves around it. Why not give it a try? After all, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, no matter how many points they’re worth.