Coach Scott’s De-Emphasis of 3-Point is Being Blown Out of Proportion by the Media

There’s been a lot of outrage by fans about Scott’s de-emphasis of the 3-point shot, so I thought I would give my take.

My general stance about coaching is that you put together a scheme that allows you to maximize as much as possible all of your key players’ strengths. I think most coaches try to impose their schemes onto every team they coach, oblivious of their players’ strengths and weaknesses. D’Antoni is perhaps the most guilty of this.

While Scott is guilty of de-emphasizing the 3-point shot, I think the media has blown it  out of proportion and jumping the gun a bit, as well. The last time the Lakers made a trey was the 3-point that Lin hit vs. the Warriors. Since then the Lakers have attempted very few threes and made none. So the media has used this as “evidence” for Byron’s detrimental de-emphasis of the 3-point shot. What the media has failed to acknowledge is that the roster Byron has out there now is not a 3-point shooting team by any means. In fact, the only guy who is considered a 3-pint threat out there is Ellington and we all know how badly he shot in the last game.

I think we all need to wait and see, before we jump the gun and conclude that Scott’s de-emphasis of the 3-point is going to be detrimental to this team. Wait until he has guys back who are healthy who can shoot threes and see how many threes the Lakers do put up.

Don’t get me wrong, It is true that Scott is not big on threes and his rational does appear to be misguided. I think he’s not big on threes, simply because he’s old school and a small part of it is also a reaction to D’Antoni’s coaching, which encourages threes. But Scott has said that he wants around 10 to 15 threes per game, so it’s not like he’s banning threes. 10 to 15 threes may still be a bit low, but I think it is right around what this team should be, given their roster, even with three-point shooters like Nick Young and Ryan Kelly healthy. So I think in this case, Scott’s de-emphais of the three (despite perhaps his irrational reasoning) isn’t going to hurt this Lakers team.

I also think fans and the media are making too much of the 10-15 number. It’s not like Scott is going to go out on the court and tackle the next player that is attempting the 16th three on the court. That 10-15 number is just an estimate of what he thinks this team should be, when the season hasn’t even started. I suspect that the Lakers will end up averaging around 20 thee-point attempts anyway, once guys like Young, Clarkson, Kelly, Lin, etc. are back. I think with Scott’s offense, he just wants threes to occur within the flow of the game, but not be THE game plan. Some teams have threes as THE game plan. Morey, for example, loves the three ball and D’Antoni is a coach that loves threes. So these guys are going to force their players to take only threes or shots at the rim, regardless of who they have on their team.

I think as long as Lakers make threes, Scott is not going to hold steadfast to the 10-15 estimate that he has given. The media, as usual, has jumped the gun and blown things out of proportion. It’s wise to just wait and see, before we conclude that Scott’s de-emphasis of the three is going to kill the Lakers. Again, as long as the Lakers attempt threes when they’re open within the flow of the offense, that’s perfectly fine with me.

This Lakers team is not a three-point shooting team. If Scott was coaching the Warriors and made the 10-15 comment, then I would be calling for his head. But the Lakers have a bunch of key guys who are mid-range players (Kobe, Boozer, etc.). Even Lin is more comfortable as a mid-range player and I think his two years in Houston killed his mid-range/short-range game, which is a big shame to me. And I hope he gets it back.

The short jumper is a lost art in the NBA and I think it is to the detriment of a lot of teams and players–especially point guards. Chris Paul is one of the few point guards who really capitalize on the short-range game. There are so many times when Lin would be better off stopping short and hitting a short jumper, rather than shooting threes or going all the way to the rim. I’ve made this comment numerous times when Lin was in Houston. So as a Lin fan, I’m actually very glad that he’s got a coach who is not going to force him to only shoot threes or drive to the rim.

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  • Dr. Gary Teng

    Dear Mr. Philosopher,

    I (grudgingly) admit that besides your expertise and insight on basketball, you also possess a wonderful sense of humor. 🙂

    I am not claiming that 3-point shot is THE weapon of mass destruction on the basketball court. However, nowadays in NBA, almost all basketball organizations have accepted the fact that the 3-pointer is an extremely valuable and potent weapon, especially during crunch time.

    So, just like you said that as long as Scott is NOT going to jump onto the court and tackle Lin who is attempting the 16th three on the court, I can live with the 10-15 number Scott envisioned for Lakers at present.

    Also, as the season progresses and the chemistry among Lakers’ teammates improves, I would like to see that number gradually increases to the 20-25 range.

    • Ha ha. Thanks, Dr. Teng!

      Threes are important. We’ll see how well this Lakers team does with the threes. If they turn out to be good at threes and Scott strictly enforces some sort of ban on threes, then I would start to worry. But if this team turns out to be a mediocre three point team (which I am expecting), then I think Scott’s plan is fine with me. If they could do 20 to 25, that would be great, as long as they can make them at a reasonable rate.

  • MrPingPong

    As it is often the case, I find myself in complete agreement with our Philosopher here.

    After only a few preseason games with the key players sitting out due to injuries, especially those who can effectively shoot 3’s, the fans and the media go nuts over the lack to 3’s. But I guess that’s what make sports discussion fun!

    3’s or 2’s, I just hope coach Scott would let Lin run the floor and “do his things”. Lin will gladly distribute the ball and there will be a good mix of 3’s and 2’s,I’m sure. Does anyone has the stats on how many 3’s the Knicks shot as a team and their 3’s percentage during Linsanity?

    • Yep, the jury is still out for me on whether or not Scott will truly let Lin do his thing. I think Scott is still trying to push the Princeton and other schemes. My biggest concern is whether or not Lin will get PnRs consistently. If Lin gets PnRs, then he’ll get all-star numbers, if not, then it’s likely that Lin will have average numbers.

      I don’t have the stats on 3’s for the Knicks during Linsanity. They did have Novakane/Smith and it was D’Antoni’s offense, so I assume they shot quite a number of threes.

  • Steppen

    Another great article!
    Andy, I’m 110% agreed with you.
    How many times we have heard, “win by the 3’s and die by the 3’s..” I’m absolutely fine with the team just attempting 10-15 Trey’s a night – and as long it’s in the flow of the game and not make it “the game plan” like you said. If there’s a will, there’s a way. If you make the three-point shot as the focal offense then that’s what you going to get. If you make your game an all-around game then you’ll have more ammunitions in your arsenal. For me, personally, it’s about adapting. It’s not going to be the same scheme every night against every teams. The team have to look not only at themselves but who they are going up against and their strengths and weaknesses.
    Formula = Tough defense + Higher % shots + Unpredictable offense
    That’s what I would like to see the Lakers achieved. There’s no short cuts. There’s no easy way out. It’s a grinding season: grits and more grits.