Ever since its beginning, the game of basketball has been an extremely popular sport among the masses. For some, it’s a passion and for the others, it’s a lifestyle. There are many legends that will forever be sung by the people, about the dramatic goals and wins.
The game evolved with moving time and rules kept changing for the better. In the modern basketball games, one can easily notice the most thrilling offensive move of the shooter: the three-point goal. As can be inferred from the name, the points gained by this shot helped the teams to quickly move up the point ladder and also required the rival team to widen the defense around the 3 point line distance.
The 3 point line distance is the longest in the basketball games of the NBA or National Basketball Association. Ever since its introduction, the three-pointers have received a different level of appreciation or rejection based on its impact upon the game. Some call it the “down town” or the “perimeter” as well.
This article endeavors to shed light upon the 3 point line distance and several aspects related to it. Being a fan or a player, knowing all about it will surely help you to understand better about the basketball game.
- 1 What is 3 point line distance?
- 2 Impact of 3 point line distance on the game
- 3 What is the purpose of 3 point line distance?
- 4 What are the rules related to the 3 point line distance?
- 5 What are the dimensions of an NBA Basketball court?
- 6 The best NBA 3 point line distance shooters till date
- 7 Conclusion
What is 3 point line distance?
Defining the 3 point line distance in a very general sense, it is an arc-shaped line drawn at a distance from the center of the basket goal at a pre-decided distance. All the goals which are shot from beyond this line take up three points. The goals made from a point within this line score two points and all the other free throws secure only one point.
In NBA, this three-point line is a system that includes three components- an arc in the center and 2 straight lines. The lines are drawn at a distance of 3 ft inwards from the sidelines and extend close to the free-throw mark. The arc intersecting the two lines is 23 ft and 9 inches away from the goal. The shortest throw from this arc would still be a 22 feet goal.
Different 3 point line distance in other basketball competitions
You might think that the three-point line is similarly distanced from the ring in all the games, well they are not. The distance varies as per the level of the competitions. Some of them are:
The arc of the 3 point line system in College level games is 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m) away from the goal. This distance is similar across the men and women category of the NAIA and NCAA divisions.
The basketball games of High School/Middle School have a 3 point line distance of 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m) from the goal.
History of 3 point line distance
The evolution of the three-point line system took a long time. It wasn’t adopted at once, the feature has to go through a series of tests and trials before it finally got adopted in 1979-80. Before it, the rules and tactics involved in the play were very different and the players focused much on the area near the basket.
The initial phase of gaming experiment
This new feature was first put to test at the college level game between Fordham and Columbia in 1945. The line was drawn at a distance of 21 feet from the goal and this entire set-up was not made a rule. A similar experiment was carried out between the teams of Siena and St. Francis (NY) in 1958 but with a 3 point line distance of 23 feet.
Institutionalization of the rule
The rule was officially institutionalized in 1961 by the American Basketball League under the guidance of Abe Saperstein. Everyone noticed how the three-pointer goals added to the thrill of the game. Saperstein decided to go on with this three-point experiment to get an upper hand over the NBA which hasn’t yet even considered this new feature.
They kept the distance of the line at 25 feet from the goal. However, the rule couldn’t continue for long as the ABL ceased to operate in 1963. The Eastern Professional Basketball League adopted it their 1963-64 session.
The American Basketball Association gave another great push to the rule in its opening season of 1967-68. The ABA aimed at innovation with blue-white basketballs, slam-dunk games, and the new 3 point line distance. This gave competition to the zeal of the NBA and they started introspecting the possibility of introducing it to their game.
NBA decided to give it a try
The merger of ABA and NBA in 1976 still couldn’t convince the NBA to include the three-point rule in their game. They were determined to retain the true core traditions with the least flexibility. It was only after three years in 1979 when NBA decided to adopt the rule on an experimental basis for their 1979-80 season.
That year onwards, a lot of experiments were carried over the adjusting of the NBA 3 point line distance. The other associations like the NCAA and FIBA also adopted the three-point goal system with varying distances. The NBA had originally decided to keep the distance of 23 feet and 9 in which was adhered to once again after an attempted change to make it 22 ft.
The NBA 3 point line distance became increasingly popular with many players making exciting goals and victories. The 3 pointers were now deployed by many teams as important winning moves. Their frequency kept on increasing after the 1990s and turned dramatic post-2015.
Impact of 3 point line distance on the game
The introduction of this concept wasn’t very well received by the coaches and players in the initial days. It required a lot of change in the set up of the game’s rules. Other than that, the two important things that needed to be renewed were- strategy of the team and the skills of the players.
The NBA took many steps to increase the popularity of the three-pointer. The All-Star Weekend was one such event that solely focused on contesting based on 3-point goals. They also experimented with the distance to adjust the new feature into the game.
After a lot of games in different seasons, the 3 point line distance adjusted well with the players. Their physical adaptability of the players grew with time and skill set improved with better training. They learned how to shoot from a farther range and when the three-point shot was actually required.
The introduction of the 3 point line distance changed the spirit of the game in a significant way. To adjust to the requirements of this new system, the players changed their mindset and started making more attempts in the court. They did so to improve the scores and the percentage of shots.
Thus, we see that despite the coaches hating it in the beginning, the 3 point line brought the game to its current stage in many direct and indirect ways. Initially, the players would only go for three-pointers in times of score deficiency. Later, it turned out to become an important part of the overall strategy and a team’s performance.
What is the purpose of 3 point line distance?
It’s very simple to understand, the line is named according to the points that a goal will be worth. The usual field goals carry two or three points variably. When the goal is shot beyond the 3 point line distance, the team gets three points.
One of the purposes of the 3 point line is to divide the players when free throws are made. The team going to make a free throw will place three players inside the line. One of them is the shooter and the rest stay near the block to attempt a re-bound of a missed free throw.
The opponent team stations four of its players near the block line. They also gawk at the chance of re-bounding any missed free throw by the first team. All the remaining players stand outside the three-point line.
The official rule book of the National Basketball Association has well-laid guidelines related to the 3 point line distance. The rule number five, named Scoring and Timing has a section I with the title Scoring. The article three in the section states that:
An attempt at a field goal from any point beyond the 3 point line, if successful, will incur three points to the team.
The player must have both/one foot outside the 3 point line before the goal attempt.
It's not necessary for the player to be touching the area inside the 3 point line.
The player may be touching the 3 point line area or be in the 2 point line area once the ball is thrown.
To confirm the commencing of a three-point shot, the referee extends a three-finger signal. The referee would then raise another hand with all fingers extended to confirm a successful attempt. It is important that the goal is recognized and fully reviewed.
If the shooter misses a 3 point goal because of being fouled, he/she is given 3 free throws. If the goal is successfully shot by the player despite being fouled, one free throw is the reward for the shooter. In the same situation, if the foul gets ruled as a Flagrant 1 or 2, the shooter gets two free throws.
What are the dimensions of an NBA Basketball court?
When we are discussing the 3 point line distance, it becomes equally important to know about the court dimensions of the NBA. This will add to your understanding of the working and purpose of the three-point mark. The NBA is said to have the biggest court dimensions for any international or domestic basketball game.
The court has a line in the middle of the space between the end lines called Half Court line. A circle with 12 ft diameter is drawn around the midpoint of the half-court line. This circle is embellished with the logo of the home team.
The width of the key is 16 feet and is 19 ft away from the foul line towards the baseline. The basket is hung at a height of 10 feet from the ground over a backboard protruding 4 feet outwards. A 4 feet arc is made in alignment with the goal’s center point within the key which is the restricted arc.
The 3 point line is an arc drawn from one side to the other of the baseline. The lines run straight for 16 feet and then curve into forming an arc at a distance of 23 ft and 9 in from the goal. A team bench area is carved out by a line that starts at the baseline and runs up to 28 feet till the court’s midpoint.
The best NBA 3 point line distance shooters till date
There have been legendary goals shot by the basketball players which made them a star. The first-ever 3 point line goal was shot by Chris Ford of Boston Celtics in the year 1979. The rookie season of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson was one of the reasons why the NBA adopted the three-point goal.
Shooting a three-pointer is not an easy task and the career of Michael Jordan is one great example. Many other players like Reggie Miller and John Stark were just fond of three-pointers and combined it with their different game styles. The players adopted it better to score faster and easily.
Stephen Curry was one such NBA player who popularized the 3 pointer goals as the winner’s move and revolutionized the game. He shot record three-pointers in a single game of 13 treys. He also has another similar record in a single season of 402 treys. You may want to see this video to have a look at the mesmerizing career of this player.
We see that the goals shot beyond the 3 point line distance are increasing in the basketball matches. The three-pointers are becoming the prime weapon of the offensive players of a lot of NBA teams. The average number of 3 point goals is more than 22 when seen in the past five years, and only increasing.
The percentage is also increasing, with the current average being around 36 percent. Simultaneously, attempts are also increasing. The trend won’t be going down at any time as a new four-pointer goal is also gaining advocacy.
Undoubtedly, the 3 point line distance changed the realm of basketball and added immensely to its excitement. The legacy of the arch is unmatchable. Just as history has been rich, the future is going to be surely blasting.