Once upon a time, the NBA game was played from the inside, out. With talented big men roaming the paint, it made sense for offenses to work the ball in low. But that was then.
Today, true centers have gone the way of the dinosaur and players have more all-around skills than ever before. Especially when it comes to shooting from 20-feet and beyond.
And with the new rule changes – zone defense in particular – players with the ability to shoot from distance have essentially made NBA basketball a much different game than it was 20 years ago.
"When you’re allowed to bring the weak side big over to the strong side, you have to have more shooting on the floor, and so that really changed the game," remarked Tom Thibodeau. "So now you see more teams are playing another perimeter player so you have four perimeter players in most cases. So the ‘stretch-four’ has become more prominent and it puts a lot more pressure on you."
Coaches are now placing more value on players who can connect from outside with the pick-and-roll being a staple of most offenses due to its ability to give shooters space for open looks.
"If you have good ball movement and you have a guy that can shoot, and if you have four perimeter players on the floor and one post guy, it does make the pick and roll more effective," Thibodeau explained. "When the roll occurs you have to collapse your defense at some point, you have to take care of the ball in the paint and react out. And now if you have a 3-point shooter, what happens is your defense, you have to have multiple effort to contain the ball, protect the paint and then get out to the line."
The Bulls are currently ranked 27th in three-point shooting percentage (33.4 percent) and 28th in three-point makes (5.9 per game). And even though they aren’t exactly setting the NBA on fire with their outside shooting, Tom Thibodeau thinks the new trend will be around for a while.
"Teams have figured out how to utilize it," he said. "And from a math standpoint there’s certain things you have to take away."