The Evolution of the Three-Point Shot

In the sixth episode of the StatMuse podcast “Stat Stories,” Chad Shanks and Justin Kubatko look at the history of the three-point shot and ask how the NBA went from it being considered a gimmick to Stephen Curry and the Warriors using it to redefine the basketball zeitgeist. Listen to the embedded audio and browse through the StatMuse searches mentioned in the episode (data accurate as of the date of publication).

A small sample of the 3-point records Stephen Curry and the Warriors have demolished in 2015–16.

most 3pm by a player in a season

most 3pa by a player in a season

most 3pm by a team in a season

most 3pm by a player in a month

most 3pm by a player in a week

most season games with 10+ 3pm by a player

most career games with 10+ 3pm by a player

most 3pm per game by a player in a season

The 3-point Shot Didn’t Exactly Take Over the NBA in its First Season.

most 3pm by a team in 1979–80

Brian Taylor has the distinction of being the NBA’s career-leader in 3pm after its inaugural season with 90.

most 3pm by a player in 1979–80

The NBA attempted just over 5,000 threes in the inaugural season, but that number actually dropped in the seasons after.

fewest 3pa by the NBA in a season

Compare that to 2015–16, where the NBA has broken the record by heaving over 58,000 three-point attempts.

most 3pa by the NBA in a season

Nine of the top 20 marks for 3pa per game by a team in a season have occurred just in 2015–16.

most 3pa per game by a team in a season

The Rick Pitino-led Knicks shot the three at a pace unheard of in the shot’s first decade.

most 3pa per game by a team from 1979–80 to 1989–90

The league had started to embrace the three-pointer more in the season before the line was moved closer.

most 3pa per game by a team in 1993–94

By the final season with the shortened line, however, teams were chunking threes like crazy.

most 3pa per game by a team in 1996–97

Teams take the Tobias Fünke approach to heaving 30+ threes a game.

Before being known for ranting about Steph and the Warriors ruining the NBA, Oscar Robertson was a bad, bad man. He’s still the only player to ever average a triple double in a season.

10+ ppg, 10+ rpg, 10+ apg by a player in a season

The 3-point shot is here to stay; and this shot chart is the harbinger of doom for any naysayers.

stephen curry cumulative shots by game this season