The National Basketball Association has always had a revered history of competitive, and at times, volatile player and team rivalries. Rivalries such as Michael Jordan versus Isiah Thomas, Bill Russell versus Wilt Chamberlain, and the Boston Celtics meeting the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals have all been hallmarks of the league, and crossroads of captivation and excitement for the NBA fan.

The 'bud' effect

However, the new rivalries don’t seem to roll off the tongue quite as easily as the vintage ones did. The reason for this; there are simply no worthy modern-day counterparts that deserve this esteemed comparison.

The vintage rivalries were sprinkled with teams and players that hated one another. Now, today’s superstar players in this Charmin-soft league, ask for extra sprinkles with their soft serve ice cream, while they pal around with superstars from other teams. The edge, and competitive showmanship of wanting to upstage one’s biggest rival has been compromised in the process of everyone becoming “buds.”


In the 2003-04 NBA season, the Phoenix Suns led the league in three-point field goals attempted per game at 23.9 per game. In 2016-17, the Houston Rockets said, “Thank you, sir, may I have another, and another, and another” as they attempted an astronomical 40.1 three-point field goal attempts per game.

Math isn’t the strength of the average American. However, a community college student in remedial math can certainly see that the magnitude of these two numbers is statistically significant. Further illustrating this epidemic, in 2016-17, the Minnesota Timberwolves were dead last in three-point attempts per game at 21.0 per game, which would have been good for the 5th highest in the 2003-04 season.

So what changed? At one time, having a giant center with a competent back to the basket game, and a complementary power forward was a luxury. Now, having such players oftentimes has become a liability. For starters, the European basketball style has been significant and undeniable. Modern big men are often times more fleet of foot than their archaic predecessors.

Subsequently, these players are able to handle the ball and their bodies with more fluidity and have “evolved” to become “stretch four and fives" by becoming floor spacers.

Even though a player like Dirk Nowitzki is in the twilight of his career, his influence can visibly be seen in some of today’s youngest and very talented big men such as Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns. It comes as no surprise that as these individuals commenced camping out further from the key, they also began casting away more shots from afar. These factors, coupled with the inclusion of advanced statistics providing support that shooting from well beyond the arc isn’t a statistically unsound option, have all led to this style of play. All of these factors have no doubt greatly contributed to the increased total number of three-pointers attempted per game by each team.