This time last year Byron Scott was dismissing three point shooting offenses and his main objection as far as I could tell was there had never been a NBA champion whose points were heavily skewed towards perimeter shooting. Before last season began Scott said the ideal amount of three point shots he wanted taken in a game was 15, an obsessively low number that didn’t jibe with reality. The game lends itself to spacing; for bad teams especially so. In the absence of a star, if you can’t make long shots how are you going to score?
The Byron Scott 15 was widely mocked even as he was as serious as a heart attack.
“You’ve got a lot of teams that just live and die by it. Teams, general managers, coaches, they kind of draft that way to try to space the floor as much as possible. But you have to have shooters like that. You also have to have guys that can penetrate and get to the basket because that opens up the floor. I don’t believe it (three point shooting) wins championship. It gets you to the playoffs.”
Correction Mr. Scott. The number one three point shooting team, the Golden State Warriors, were crowned as champions. The second best three point shooting team, the Atlanta Hawks, won 60 games and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The fifth best three point shooting team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost in the NBA Finals.
During the 2014-15 season, the Houston Rockets took the most three point shots per game, dropping 32.7. Next were the Cleveland Cavaliers at 27.5. Followed by the Golden State Warriors at 27.0. All three teams made it to their conference final and two of the three played for the championship so the evidence is pretty clear that attempting 25+ threes a game pays off in the long run. It’s not what professed old school coach, though I just prefer the term old, Byron Scott, wants to accept but just because he doesn’t believe it doesn’t mean it is not true.
Even the Lakers bypassed Byron Scott’s 15 threes per game in 2014-15. They dropped 18.9 threes per game. Only five teams took fewer threes per game than the Lakers (Minnesota, Memphis, Sacramento, Washington, Milwaukee).
Perhaps Scott actually watched the NBA Finals because he now has an altered sense of his own antiquated philosophy. He’s done a complete turnaround as he proclaims he was on board with the drafting of D’angelo Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor. And now this. A three guard starting lineup with Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant. None can play defense worth a lick but they all have a certain value on the perimeter and all three are ball handlers. The addition of Lou Wiliams, reigning Sixth Man of the Year and a streaky three point shooter, plus the drafting of Anthony Brown, a three point shooter out of Stanford, nails shut the Byron Scott this is the 1980’s coffin. All praises to the Golden State Warriors for schooling Scott on how it’s done.
Byron Scott returned to his old team in 2014 with all of the 80’s tricks: toughness, discipline and mid-range shooting. His tough as nails approach screwed free loving Nick Young’s head. He caused Jeremy Lin to come unglued and in need of a long break and an eternal vacation from Scott. He overused the fragile body of Kobe Bryant and then had regrets. So there has been reason for Byron Scott bashing.
But if he has one definite coaching skill it is his high i.q. when it comes to young point guards. He had Jason Kidd. Before Kidd went ballistic it worked well enough to get them to back to back finals. He nutured a baby Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving and last season he took Jordan Clarkson, a 46th pick in the draft, and turned him into a starting point guard, an All-NBA rookie first team and Rookie of the Month. It seems a longshot that he’ll mess up Russell.
Now he’s toying with the idea of playing Bryant at power forward when teams go small. What the hell has happened to old school Byron Scott? He’s actually using words like versatility in sentences though to my knowledge he still isn’t sold on analytics. But rebirths are slow. Byron Scott hasn’t changed his mind about everything but he is slowing evolving and catching up to the year 2015. Welcome to the new NBA dude.
photo via llananba