Three-point field goal
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A three-point field goal (also known as a three-pointer, three, or trey) is a field goal in a basketball game made from beyond the three-point line, a designated arc surrounding the basket. A successful attempt is worth three points, in contrast to the two points awarded for shots made inside the three-point line. In 3x3, a formalized version of half-court basketball, shots from outside the arc are worth 2 points, with all other successful shots worth 1 point.
A three-point field goal is distinguished from a "three-point play" or an "and-1", which occurs when a shooter successfully scores a two-point basket while being fouled, and then makes the ensuing free throw. If such a foul occurs on a successful three-point shot, the resulting free throw gives the player a chance to earn a four-point play. If a player gets fouled while shooting a three-point shot but does not score they get three free throws. In 3x3, a defensive foul on an unsuccessful shot from behind the arc results in two free throws.
Three-point field goal percentage is a measure of three-point shooting accuracy calculated by the ratio of three-point field goals made to three-point field goals attempted.
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A three-point rule was tested in 1933 at the suggestion of Herman Sayger of Tiffin, Ohio. Sayger demonstrated new rules designed to eliminate the center jump and establish a new scoring system in a game played by high school athletes in Tiffin, Ohio.
The three-point rule was first tested at the collegiate level in a 1945 NCAA game between Columbia and Fordham. However, professional basketball was the first to adopt the rule on a permanent basis. At the direction of Abe Saperstein, the American Basketball League did so in 1961, becoming the first basketball league to adopt the rule. Its three-point lines were each a radius of 25 feet (7.62 meters) from the baskets, except along the sides. The Eastern Professional Basketball League followed in its 1963–64 season. The three-point shot later became popularized by the American Basketball Association after its introduction in the 1967–68 season. Then commissioner of the ABA George Mikan stated the three-pointer "would give the smaller player a chance to score and open up the defense to make the game more enjoyable for the fans." During the 1970s, the ABA used the three-point shot, along with the slam dunk, as a marketing tool to compete with the National Basketball Association (NBA). In the 1979–80 season, the NBA adopted the three-point shot despite the view of many that it was a gimmick. While Chris Ford of the Boston Celtics is widely credited with making the first 3 point-shot in NBA history on October 12, 1979, the person with this distinction is Kevin Grevey of the Washington Bullets on the same day.
The sport's international governing body, FIBA, introduced the three-point line in 1984, at a distance of 6.25 m (20.5 ft).
The NCAA's Southern Conference became the first collegiate conference to use the three-point rule, adopting a 22-foot (6.7 m) line in 1980. The first collegiate team to score a three-pointer was Western Carolina University. Over the following five years, NCAA conferences differed in their use of the rule and the distance they required for a three-point shot. The NCAA adopted the 19-foot, 9-inch line nationally in 1986 despite a strong debate over whether the shot was a gimmick. In 2007, the NCAA lengthened the men's three point distance to 20 feet 9 inches, with the rule coming into effect at the beginning of the 2008–09 season.
American high schools, along with elementary and middle schools, adopted the 19 ft. 9 in. line nationally in 1987, a year after the NCAA.
During the 1994–95, 1995–96 and 1996-97 seasons, the NBA attempted to address decreased scoring by shortening the distance of the line from 23 feet, 9 inches (22 feet at the corners) to a uniform 22 feet (6.7 m) around the basket. In 1995–96, Dennis Scott set a then-record for most three-pointers made in a season (267) and George McCloud set the record for most three-point attempts (678). From the 1997–98 season, the NBA reverted the line to its original distance of 23 feet, 9 inches (22 feet at the corners). Ray Allen broke Scott's record with 269 three-pointers in the 2005–06 season. Stephen Curry then broke Allen's record on the final day of the 2012-13 NBA regular season with 272 three-pointers.
In 2008, FIBA announced that the distance would be increased by 50 cm (19.69 in) to 6.75 m (22 ft 1.75 in), with the change being phased in, beginning in October 2010. In December 2012, the WNBA announced that they'll match FIBA's distance, too, as of the 2013 season.
The three-point line generally consists of an arc at a set radius measured from the point on the floor directly below the center of the basket, and two parallel lines equidistant from each sideline extending from the nearest end line to the point at which they intersect the arc. A player's feet must be completely behind the three-point line at the time of the shot or jump in order to make a three-point attempt; if the player's feet are on or in front of the line, it is a two point attempt. A player is allowed to jump from outside the line and land inside the line to make a three-point attempt, as long as the ball is released in mid-air.
An official raises his/her arm with three fingers extended to signal the shot attempt. If the attempt is successful, he/she raises his/her other arm with all fingers fully extended in manner similar to a football official signifying successful field goal to indicate the three-point goal. The official must recognize it for it to count as three points. Instant replay has sometimes been used, depending on league rules. The NBA and the NCAA specifically allow replay for this purpose. In NBA games, video replay does not have to occur immediately following a shot; play can continue and the officials can adjust the scoring later in the game, after reviewing the video. However, in late game situations, play may be paused pending a review.
If a shooter is fouled while attempting a three-pointer and subsequently misses the shot, the shooter is awarded three free-throw attempts. If a player completes a three-pointer while being fouled, the player is awarded one free-throw for a possible 4-point play.
The distance of the three-point line varies by level:
- NBA: Arc radius 23 feet 9 inches (7.24 m), no less than 3 feet (0.91 m) from each sideline
- WNBA: Arc radius 22 feet 1.75 inches (6.7501 m), no less than 3 feet 4 inches (1.02 m) from each sideline
- FIBA: Arc radius 6.75 meters (22.1 ft), no less than 0.9 meters (3.0 ft) from each sideline
- NCAA: Arc radius 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m), no less than 4 feet 3 inches (1.30 m) from each sideline
- American High school basketball: Arc radius 19 feet 9 inches (6.02 m), no less than 5 feet 3 inches (1.60 m) from each sideline
Major League Lacrosse features a two-point line which forms a 15 yard arc around the front of the goal. Shots taken from behind this line count for two points, as opposed to the standard one point.
In gridiron football, a field goal is always worth three points. NFL Europe and the Stars Football League have adopted a rule similar to basketball's three-point line in which an additional point is awarded for longer field goals; in both leagues any field goal of fifty yards or more in either league is worth four points.
The Super Goal is a similar concept in Australian rules football, in which a fifty-metre arc determines the value of a goal; within the arc, it is the usual 6 points, but 9 points are scored for a "super goal" scored from outside the arc. To date the super goal is only used in pre-season games and not in the season proper.
The National Professional Soccer League II, which awarded two points for all goals except those on the power play, also used a three-point line, drawn 45 feet from the goal. It has since been adopted by some other indoor soccer leagues.
- 50–40–90 Club, exclusive group of players with one criterion including shooting at least 40 percent of three-pointers
- List of National Basketball Association career 3-point scoring leaders
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- NBA.com's Top 10 three-pointers from past 25 years
- Article on Columbia's experimentation with the three-point field goal decades before its official introduction
- "Long Live the Three" by Steve Shutt, Basketball Hall of Fame