ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh sent basketball nerds into a frenzy Tuesday when he published a column about the NBA having discussed adding a 4-point line. Haberstroh had written about such a Rock N’ Jock-inspired addition in a prior Per Diem post, suggesting it should be 28 feet from the basket. But Tuesday’s column focused on an interview Henry Abbott conducted with NBA president of basketball operations, Rod Thorn, who said the subject of adding a 4-point shot had “come up”:
“Oh man,” Thorn told Abbott, “Some of the players we have can shoot the ball from I assume it would be 30 feet? 28-30 feet. Somewhere in there. Some of the guys we have can shoot that as easily as a 23-, 24-foot shot.” One of those players? Vince Carter. Thorn recalled a moment when he ran the New Jersey Nets from 2000 to 2010 as team president and general manager. As players tend to do at practice, Carter would showcase his shot-making abilities from far, far away.
“I remember when we had Vince Carter in New Jersey,” Thorn said. “Well, he could shoot the ball from the seats and make half of ’em.”
“It would be unbelievable,” Thorn said. “But you know coaches would go crazy because now you’ve got another line out there. That’s crazy.”
Haberstroh goes on to talk about another concept — the three-point line — coaches once went crazy for before diving into some hypotheticals surrounding a longer, more rewarding shot. Of course, the one thing we want to know — above all else — is who would be the Ray Allen of the 4-pointer? Wait, here’s a more fun way of framing the question: “If the NBA added a four-point line, who do you think would be the best, and who do you think would be the worst?” Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, the answers are Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith (respectively), right? Right??? Right.
Based on Haberstroh’s analysis of shots taken from beyond the hypothetical 28-foot line, and extending out to 32 feet (anything beyond that is referred to as “Even If You Make It, You’re Probably Getting Benched Land”), Jamal Crawford is essentially a cold-blooder killer, shooting 60.9% on the season (14-23). The worst? Well, we spoiled it in the title, but J.R. Smith is shooting a cool 0.0% (0-11) from 28-to-32 feet. Funny how these things work out.
“No one at the NBA, nor the competition committee, has had any serious conversations about increasing the size of the floor or adding a 4-point line. Rod Thorn and Kiki VanDeWeghe were entertaining a line of questioning about out of the box ideas and ESPN.com chose to make a story that doesn’t exist.”
Okay, fine. We’re not getting a 4-point shot. But while we’re on the subject, here’s some other food for thought: a 4-point shot couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be from 28 feet out (as Haberstroh suggested). It’d have to be from half court. Put the line at 28 feet, and the floor gets stretched to the point where any half-decent center would have a field day against ZERO help defense on the interior. Also, pretty much everyone would start jacking up 4-pointers like there’s no tomorrow (wait ’til you get a load of Josh Smith and his ill-advised 4-pointers). Naturally, the downside of a half-court 4-point line is the inevitability of excruciating fourth-quarter half-court shootouts. Thus we need a compromise.
We’ll turn to Bill Simmons, who presented totally non-crazy suggestion in The Book of Basketball: make every shot from beyond half-court worth four points, but only during the first three quarters of a game. Imagine a hungover J.R. Smith, playing in a noon Sunday game at Madison Square Garden, just going full-on YOLO Andrew Bynum from mid-court. Admit it, you’d drag yourself out of bed to watch that. Plus, under Simmons’ system, the fourth quarter would play out like a normal game. Everybody wins.