“Steph Curry takes a pass from Kevin Durant, spots up, and drills the jumper from 32-feet. Another 4-pointer from the league’s best long-range shooter.”
No, the NBA didn’t all of a sudden add a 4-point line. It would be pretty cool if it did though. Teams around the league have started using a 4-point line of their own in practices. It’s one of the NBA’s latest trends.
Today’s NBA game is much different than it was twenty years ago, heck even ten years ago. Much of the game’s revolution is centered around scoring and specifically the 3-point shot. Teams continue to shoot – and make – more 3-pointers than ever in 2018. There is no doubt that trend will continue.
With the rise in 3-pointers comes another revolution of sorts. Coaches are now re-marking the traditional basketball floor. The court itself has not changed since 1951. The dimensions remain the same. Free throw lines and the lanes have not changed. The only addition has been the 3-point line, which has changed over time. Currently, the line stands at 22 feet from the basket at its closest points (in the corners) to 23-feet-9-inches at its farthest (at the top of the 3-point line directly in front of the basket).
As more teams figure out ways to create space to allow shooters like Curry to flourish, coaches have devised methods of dividing up the floor. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has followed suit and divided up the Sixers’ practice floor into a number of special zones. The use of the markings helps Brown teach his players how to correctly space the floor to get the best scoring opportunities, preferably 3-point attempts.
In February of last year, Brown added a single gray line to the floor – the 4-point line. The significance of the gray line is to remind players of the value of shots taken from behind it. While they are still only worth three points in an NBA game, these are the shots that Brown wants guys like Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick taking.
Like most professional sports leagues, the NBA is a copycat league. The Atlanta Hawks have a 4-point line on their practice floor. New head coach Lloyd Pierce installed it at the beginning of this season. Pierce was an assistant under Brown a year ago. The Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets have also added the 4-point line to their practice facilities.
In Atlanta, Pierce had the 4-point line painted onto the floor a full five feet behind the 3-point line. The line emphasizes the Hawks new approach to basketball – spacing. Atlanta acquired Trae Young in the 2018 draft and his skill set fits perfectly with the idea of the 4-point line. Young can shoot off the dribble from anywhere, including spots behind the 4-point line. To take away Young’s long-range shots, defenders are forced to play him almost as soon as he crosses half court. This creates the space that Pierce talks about in the Hawks offense.
The 4-point line will probably become commonplace among all NBA teams and their practice floors. The line helps to provide a visual reminder for players as they look to take deep shots and, ultimately, create space. The idea is to force defenses to cover more ground and make difficult choices. The plan seems to be working and that’s why the 4-point line is here to stay.